March 11, 2023
by Celine Simon
In 1928, 22-year-old Captain Emilio Carranza embarked on a goodwill flight from Mexico City to Washington D.C. Nicknamed the “Lindbergh of Mexico,” Captain Carranza was already a hometown hero, having completed several record-breaking flights. Tragically, the young aviator would never touch down in his beloved homeland again. His plane, the Excelsior, crashed shortly after taking off from New York as he was making his way back to Mexico. Watchmaker Cuervo y Sobrinos is now paying tribute to the legacy of the pioneering Mexican pilot with three new Vuelo pilot watches. The trio includes the Vuelo Emilio Carranza, the Vuelo Emilio Carranza Bi-Compax, and the Vuelo Emilio Carranza Cronógrafo.
For those who aren’t as familiar with the Cuervo y Sobrinos name, it was Havana’s most prestigious jeweler and watch retailer during the first half of the 20th Century (up until the Cuban revolution). Thanks to Havana’s thriving economy and cosmopolitan culture, the city was known as a playground for wealthy jetsetters who were more than eager to shop for luxury goods while on vacation. It’s not uncommon to find vintage Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Vacheron Constantin dials co-branded with the Cuervo y Sobrinos logo.
The Cuervo y Sobrinos marque was resurrected in the late-1990s, and its headquarters is now in Lugano, Switzerland, along with a museum and boutique in the central historic district of Havana. The Cuervo y Sobrinos of today earns its keep by blending Swiss watchmaking and Latin heritage.
This brings us back to the new Vuelo Emilio Carranza watch collection that debuts with three models: a three-hander date, a bi-compax, and a GMT chronograph. These watches all have the signature design characteristics you’d expect from vintage-inspired pilot watches. Large 44mm steel cases, black dials with oversized Arabic numerals, and prominent cathedral-style hands, to name a few. There’s also generous lume on the dial, and, as is customary for old-school watches these days, the luminescence is rendered in a warm beige tone to mimic aging. The company’s crest appears both at 12 o’clock on the dial and engraved into the fluted winding crown.
Another design detail to note is the hefty arched lugs with deep grooves and visible screws, which are characteristic of Cuervo y Sobrinos’ Vuelo watches. Secured to these lugs are brown leather straps with ecru upper stitching and steel pin buckles.
The simplest of this Cuervo y Sobrinos Vuelo trio is the Emilio Carranza ref. 3202.1CN, which is home to the hour, minute, and seconds hand at the center of the dial, along with a date window that cuts off the very top of the 6 o’clock marker. The red-tipped seconds hand stretches to reach the track around the periphery while the steel bezel features a dozen engraved marks, one at each hour. This version runs on the CYS 5103 Soprod M100-based automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve.
Next in the fleet is the Emilio Carranza Bi-Compax ref. 3202.1CN.BI with center hour and minute hands, accompanied by two subdials at 9 and 3 o’clock to indicate the running seconds and the date, respectively. The snailed finishing on the duo of subdials is a handsome subtle touch, as are the alternating colors of their hash marks. Inside the case of this model is the CYS 5160 SW 295-based automatic movement with 38 hours of power reserve.
Finally, the third and most complicated of the series is the Emilio Carranza Cronógrafo ref. 3201.1CN, which combines a date, chronograph, and GMT. The long central red-tipped chronograph hand sweeps around the dial to point to the tachymeter-engraved bezel, while the shorter red-tipped GMT hand points to a 24-hour ring towards the center of the dial. Some parts of that 24-hour scale are obstructed by the pair of registers on top of it (chronograph minutes at 9 o’clock and small seconds at 3 o’clock). This could make it a little tricky to read the second time zone during certain hours, but it may just be a matter of getting used to it. The date window is also positioned on the same scale, right at the 12th hour.
The pair of chronograph pushers that flank the winding crown feature decorative indentations that nicely complement those sweeping curves of the adjacent lugs. Powering the Cronógrafo is the CYS 8120 Dubois Dépraz 30342-based automatic movement with 40 hours of power reserve.
Regardless of the specific reference, all three Cuervo y Sobrinos Vuelo watches have details to remind you of who this watch honors. For instance, there’s the depiction of Capt. Carranza’s plane on the dial, as well as his portrait and name engraved into the caseback. This isn’t the first time the company pays tribute to a pilot; the Vuelo Emilio Carranza series follows the similarly styled Vuelo Domingo Rosillo watches, made in honor of the Cuban aviator who piloted the first successful flight between Key West and Havana in 1913. We’ll likely see other watches that salute notable pilots added to the Vuelo lineup in the near future.
The Vuelo Emilio Carranza watches lean into that vintage aviation style that’s proven to be popular today, while retaining a design flair that has gained Cuervo y Sobrinos plenty of fans. It’s worth noting that the watches are only water-resistant to 30 meters (100 feet), which may be a deal-breaker for some.
The prices for the new Cuervo y Sobrinos Vuelo Emilio Carranza watches vary quite significantly depending on the model: $3,525 USD for the three-hander/date, $4,125 USD for the bi-compax, and $5,925 USD for the GMT chronograph. Similar to all modern Cuervo y Sobrinos watches, the Vuelo Emilio Carranza models come packaged in beautiful humidor boxes. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.