December 25, 2019
by Ariel Adams
The mandate responsible for the creation of this watch was for Germany-based Laco to develop an attractive, classic pilot watch for under $500. To do that, they reached for a Japanese Miyota automatic movement (as opposed to a Swiss-made caliber used in most of their other watches). I’ll have more to say on the movement below, but I want to talk about this Laco Pilot Augsberg Taupe 42 watch because of how attractive I think it is, at any price point. Blue and green dials — you’ve had your fill. The world is now ready for taupe!
Taupe is a color we don’t hear too much about in relation to wristwatches these days, but the color has a lot of promise. Why? Because, for many, it could be the perfect intersection between gray (which is highly popular) and brown (which has struggled with popularity). Over the last few years (less nowadays, admittedly) lots of watch brands tested their luck by offering brown “chocolate” dials. Despite the sweet-sounding name, many of these brown watches simply didn’t do very well — though at times, when brown is matched with the right color gold, the result is very handsome.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with U.S. retailers nearly a decade ago about watch colors that didn’t sell, and “brown” was ranked highly among those they felt consumers didn’t have positive reactions to. I can’t necessarily explain it, but I, too, find brown-dial watches are a challenge to enjoy wearing. But no doubt there are some niche audiences for whom brown watch dial colors match their body and style perfectly.
Taupe is, essentially, gray with a hint of brown. Laco created a lovely metallic taupe dial and paired it with a matching strap for this Pilot Augsberg Taupe 42 watch. The slight amount of light brown in the dial and strap give the watch some needed warmth that would be absent if the watch were strictly gray. Gray watches are popular because, like black watches, they match with most other colors someone might be wearing as part of their current attire. Taupe adds some warmth that helps please the human eye a bit more. You could also ignore my color analysis discussion and simply come to your own personal conclusion about whether or not taupe makes for an attractive watch dial color.
As the name of the watch implies, the Pilot Augsberg Taupe has a 42mm wide brushed steel case topped with a sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 50 meters. The case is 11.75mm-thick. The 20mm-wide taupe-colored leather strap has two rivets in each end as per the iconic pilot watch style Laco does such a good job of keeping alive. In most ways, this is a very standard German pilot style watch — which is made just that much more interesting due to the nice and uncommon dial color.
Legibility is excellent with white luminant-painted hands over the sunburst-finished dial with lume-painted hour numerals. The flat sapphire crystal over the dial does a great job at not producing glare, which further enhances already good dial readability.
Inside the Augsberg Taupe 42 is a Japanese Miyota 821 A automatic movement, which is, for me, the biggest weakness of this watch. The movement performs well enough and, aside from the uninteresting automatic rotor, is not badly decorated. My gripe with the movement is that this and many other Miyota automatic movements are loud. This noise comes from the operation of the automatic rotor and not the escapement, ironically enough. The Swiss don’t have these noise issues and, apparently, neither do some other Miyota movements. That said, I’ve recently had more than one experience of loud rotors in Miyota movements, and I find it to be unpleasant to hear it spinning around in the case. Some might be charmed by the audible reminder that you are wearing an automatic watch, but I think it cheapens the wearing experience and will likely turn off some buyers.
The solution? Since the Pilot Augsberg Taupe 42 is a limited edition of 500 pieces, all Laco needs to do is make the next iteration include a movement that isn’t as loud. I think the attractiveness of the color means that the Taupe has more life to live in Laco’s pilot watches. I also think that, despite the really attractive price of this model, consumers are willing to spend a bit more if it means a more silent wearing experience. Price for the Laco Pilot Augsberg Taupe 42 watch is $460 USD. Learn more at the Laco website here.