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Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

The Cuervo y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT isn’t a new model, but rather just a watch that caught my eye from a brand that’s always evaded closer inspection. The Swiss brand with Cuban history and “Latin DNA” creates some pretty impressive cases that house unrestrained design exuding personality. It’s anything but generic, and the brand doesn’t seem to mind the divisiveness that goes along with that. You may not guess it at first, but the Vuelo is the brand’s more “contemporary” collection that aims for the sportier side of elegant. Some other Vuelo lines hit the “sporty” side more than the GMT, such as the Domino Rosillo. Categorizations aside, I went from initially indecisive to a legitimate fan of this flamboyant and very well-made travel watch from Cuervo y Sobrinos.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

The Cuervo y Sobrinos design ethos is about as far as one can get from the pathological minimalism that’s run rampant in contemporary watch design. The word “flamboyant” is apt when looking at the case and dial of the Vuelo GMT. In fact, I couldn’t help but think of some of the form-over-function classic automobiles known as “Yank Tanks” that are so common in Cuba. Anyone remotely familiar with Cuba knows that American classic cars from the 1940s and 1950s are everywhere, after many decades of car scarcity following 1959 due to the U.S. embargo after the fall of the Batista government.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

It’s somewhat important to note that Cuervo y Sobrinos isn’t, and wasn’t, a Cuban-made watch. The story of the brand can be told in two chapters, the first of which runs from 1882 to approximately 1965, which marks the period between the boutique opening in Havana through the time right around 1965. The events of the 1959 revolution are what caused Cuervo y Sobrinos to suffer and essentially disappear for about four decades.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

The second chapter begins around 1998 and runs to the present day.  When the brand was revived by Marzio Villa around the early aughts, he relaunched it from Switzerland, and it wasn’t until 2009 that the brand again had a presence in Cuba when they opened a boutique and shop across the street from their original location. In 2018, Cuervo y Sobrinos was purchased from Marzio Villa by a group led by Massimo Rossi, who had been involved with the brand for some years. They relocated the headquarters and production to Le Noirmont in the Swiss Jura.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

The curves and soft recessing of the lugs are stamped with a large screw affixing each of the four to the case of the Vuelo GMT. Even though the Vuelo is more associated with aviation (the word does mean “flight” in Spanish, after all) the curves and scoops of this warm-industrial aesthetic immediately recall some of those old Ford, Buick, and Chevy cars we see in so many photos.

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Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

The 44mm-wide and 15.15mm-thick case does wear on the larger side with a lug-to-lug measurement of just around 56mm. The case is otherwise quite well-done with alternating brushed and polished finishes, and I again want to point out how nice the lugs are. They are certainly not for everybody (and I could do without the plate reading “Vuelo” on the left side of the case), but they’ve got a distinct personality and a style that is executed meticulously. That’s saying a lot these days as we’ve seen the proliferation of cookie-cutter design. The sapphire crystal on the dial and exhibition caseback is done with ample AR coating and glare isn’t much of an issue, thankfully. The crown isn’t screw-down, which plays a role in the passable, but certainly not worry-free, 30M water resistance.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

The dial has a lot of that Cuervo y Sobrinos flair that isn’t shy about its use of stylized fonts and shapes. Fortunately, by sticking to black, red, and white along with the silvery applied indices/numerals, everything is actually very easy to read and totally legible. The black dial makes the various levels of the rings a bit hard to appreciate in photos, but it does add that extra level of finish to the Vuelo GMT.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

I did initially assume the seconds hand with its skeletonized red triangle was the GMT hand until a brief closer inspection showed that it’s both too long and large to play that role. Such a top-heavy seconds hand isn’t one that I’m too used to seeing and, while I appreciate that it frames the Cuervo y Sobrinos logo at 12 o’clock, I couldn’t help but imagine the dial layout with a more subdued seconds hand.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

Turning the Vuelo GMT over reveals the exhibition caseback, with a view of the CYS 5123 movement, which is based on the Sellita SW 330. Cuervo y Sobrinos certainly are more focused on design and finishing rather than upping costs by getting pulled into highly modified or in-house movements. On several occasions, brand head Massimo Rossi has said he does not want to go past that ~$2000-$8,000 range, and the use of third-party movements is a major factor here. Operating at 28,800vph and with a 42-hour power reserve, the Vuelo GMT gets the job done. Now, there is finishing done on the rotor which the brand refers to as “fan decoration.” It’s nicely done, but I may actually prefer to not have it there since it too closely verges on tribal tattoo for my taste.

Hands-On: Cuervo Y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT Watch Hands-On

It’s not easy to achieve so much personality without coming off as desperate or starved for attention, but Cuervo y Sobrinos pulls it off with some impressive case finishes to boot. I have a lot of respect for a brand that doesn’t go wherever the wind blows. The Cuban design DNA is very strong in all of their watches, the Vuelo GMT included. That may turn some people off, but it’s clear that this low-production watch brand isn’t trying to appeal to a wide group of buyers. I’m glad I took the time with the Vuelo GMT, and I suggest that anyone slightly enamored with it go and check it out in person because the finishes and case need to be held as well as seen. The Cuervo y Sobrinos Vuelo GMT is priced at 4,950. CHF. You can learn more at cuervoysobrinos.com.

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  • Mikita

    Badassy-looking watch. Cuervo & Sobrinos appeal to many fellow watch enthusiasts for having unmistakably distinct style, especially their Torpedo line. Personally, I am not sold on their thick lugs and massive cases, while I appreciate the dial / hands work. This one is not an exception.

  • Pete L

    Interestingly different. They almost get away with the date window being so far in as it fits with the 24hour scale but I couldn’t live with it cutting into the 3 like that. It works on some watches (ROO where more than one numeral are cut out – but importantly the 3 is completely missing for the date) but where you only have 3 numerals in total, cutting one in half seems lazy design.

  • Agnar Sidhu

    I like the lugs and case (agree that the writing on the case side is “unnecessary”). There are some nice elements on the dial, but also some that I don’t like, especially that minute hand! And all together there is to much going on at the dial for my taste.

    I applaud them for maintaining their design identity!

  • Iñaki ML

    Not my cup of tea but an interesting watch. Seems a bit reminescent of some Parmigiani watches

  • I would put this in the “close but no cigar” category. Cutoff “3”, seconds’ hand too large and not enough lume on the hands.

    Still, it gives me a nice Patek vibe at 1/10th the cost and I would probably overlook its shortcomings, if I saw it up close.

  • Alex A

    Very nice watch.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I feel really sorry for that 3.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’ve liked this brand a long time. Flamboyance has never really been my thing but CyS has always just had an attractive take on it that I admire. They usually have really nice and unique handsets as well; I might actually consider this to be one of their more reserved watches.
    This GMT is nice but I’ve long enjoyed the Pirata World Timer in the Torpedo range:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e767346275737e7b7d3d371a015e39a58b66a623d1a15786c895346874018b4.jpg

    I know this is not the first CyS article here but it might be the first hands in. Glad to see the brand getting exposure, i think they have a real place in today’s market.

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    When you move the date window so much inside at least let the 3 be properly applied. Just make it 45mm and you’re done with that flaw. The other, well, that’s life.

  • Daniel Harper

    Ah man, the mention that the seconds hand perfectly frames the logo; pics or it didn’t happen! Plenty of respect for this brand. I love their personality

  • Independent_George

    Not really a brand that I know much about. I once was shown a few used models, in passing, while looking at other watches, during a trip to Miami, but really have little knowledge of the brand. That said, from browsing the website, I do like some of their watches. Their case designs do have a flare to them.

  • Jon Heinz

    Not especially feeling the lugs but I really like the overall dial appearance. The name would, I fear, leave me constantly craving a shot of Tequila.

  • Lamont Cranston

    Too big…about ten years (or more) past its’ “best by” date…Its’ like the wife of an older friend of mine – she still dresses and decorates as if “Dynasty” still rules the small screen…all that is missing here is it being diamond encrusted and being made of the showiest of yellow gold…

  • egznyc

    I hadn’t been familiar with this brand until a cruise last year where they carried this brand along with more of the usual suspects. Their designs are distinctive and they appeared well made, regardless of whether you like a little Rococo on the wrist ;-).

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