There’s so much to love about the Junghans Meister Pilot series. The German-based company was really ahead of the whole “reissue” craze when they re-released this beauty a few years back based on a 1950s pilot model. But I chose to review this particular model because it has one detail that people just love to hate: A patina-influenced, old radium style ecru-colored lume. The pejorative du jour for this style of luminous paint would be “faux-tina.”
I’ll get this rant out of the way first. I find this argument beyond silly. It’s like trying to convince people not to wear pre-faded jeans or khaki anything. Don’t pre-bend your straps! That might make it look like fake wear! Everything simply must look fresh and new or it’s phony and you are a phony by extension!
I can kind of get the annoyance, really. We are in the midst of a vintage boom where the hopelessly hip obsess over spider-dials, damaged dials, which shade of patina is appropriate for each reference number. Every year, a new trend seems to influence the supposed trend makers. Maybe 36mm was in last year, but if you’re caught wearing anything over 34.5mm this year, you’re out of the Ironic Nato Club for good. We mean it this time! And don’t forget your beard balm and suspenders at the next meeting, poser!
All jokes aside, I really believe people need to get over this particular discolored lume discrimination. It’s a simple stylistic preference. The reason a beautiful, warm patina is coveted by collectors is because the color is eye-pleasing. It brings a subtlety and calmness to the dial just not achieved by the comparatively plain white or green of C3 or C1 Superluminova. So, there, I said it. Rant over.
On to the watch:
I find it absurd that I have a mild obsession with pilot’s watches, especially considering that the only time I’d really need to use one on a plane would be to time popping a Xanax for maximum flight anxiety relief. But I just love the look and feel of a well-done fleiger. Much like a well-designed diver, it is a very versitile timepiece. Is desk-flying a thing?
The Junghans Meister Pilot (this one is the “vintage” model) is one of five iterations of the current lineup. And it’s really unlike other pilot watches on the market. The main standout feature is the scalloped bezel, which makes the watch a pure joy to view at any angle. Based on a historic Junghan’s reference from 1955, this faithful reissue combines beautiful modern finishing with the unique original design of its elder. The concave subdials add a sophisticated feel and the matte dial and smooth printing is damn near perfect.
The case profile belies the stout 14.4 thickness with a clever trick: The caseback is dramatically rounded, hiding in the wrist and the beveled mid-case gives the appearance of a much thinner watch. The thickness is needed to house the modified ETA 2892 with chronograph module modification. This is smart engineering and other companies using this chronograph setup should take note. It makes the watch extremely comfortable and attractive.
The beauty of angles extends to the right side of the watch, where oval pushers protrude past the crown, really giving it that vintage chronograph look. The fine brushing is carried throughout the case and works wonderfully. This is a watch that is just a joy to look at from any angle. While the bezel is a standout feature, it’s also thin, giving plenty of room to showcase the dial details. The watch is 43mm in diameter without the crowns, but wears larger because of all that dial real estate. It’s definitely an attention-grabber.
•Self-winding movement calibre J880.4, 38 hour power reserve, chronograph functions
•Stainless steel, srewed stainless steel case back, Ø 43.3 mm, height 14.4 mm, bi-directional turning bezel
•black dial, appliques and hands with environmentally friendly luminous substance
•Riveted leather strap with stainless steel buckle
I just can’t hide the fact that I love this watch. It was well-covered in reviews when it came out in 2016, but I felt like I just wasn’t seeing it enough in the wild of facebook groups and instagram. I think it might be overlooked – a victim of the brand’s success as a designer of bauhaus-themed pieces. And it would be a shame if this reference is lost in the mix. This design should be downright iconic. It has historic bonafides and is different from just about any pilot watch currently on the market.
There are a couple new options for 2019, including two fun DLC-coated cases with brown and blue dials and a panda setup. While those were certainly appealing, I wanted to focus on this classic setup as it aligned with my own tastes and I think it is a perfect representation of the style. With a reasonable but not inexpensive price point of 2,240 Euros, the Meister Pilot is accessible and a worthwhile purchase for pilot watch enthusiasts – or anyone who can appreciate a stunning design. There is a plain white lume option for those who just can’t get over the patina lume. But you already know how I feel about that subject. Everyone should be happy with the options, even my handlebar mustashioed friends. (Yes, I got jokes).