The Mercer Watch Company Airfoil is a solid-value-proposition pilot’s watch that I’ve really grown fond of from a small East Coast watch brand located in historic Central New Jersey. For those not familiar with it, airfoil is an aeronautical term referring to a shape of wing that essentially provides lift at a given angle. Given the design and shape of the watch, Mercer found the term to be apropos.
The pilot watch has been around since the early 1900s and has provided pilots a personal instrument to help calculate fuel usage and total flight time. Over the years, the pilot watch has evolved technologically by adding more functions such as the chronograph, and the GMT function to keep time in multiple time zones is a particularly appropriate complication for pilots. As the popularity of pilot watches has grown, more and more companies have developed such designs.
The Mercer Airfoil is perfectly sized (well, in my opinion, at least) at 40mm diameter with an 11mm-thick, hardened and ruggedized case made from stainless steel. This case has a nice brushed finish, which provides very clean lines and an industrial aircraft feel to the watch. Although the Mercer Airfoil does not have a black PVD case, the watch has a sense of stealthiness to it by its chosen color pallet. Mercer Watch Company is using the same method as Sinn and Bremont to harden the cases, and although the method is expensive from a manufacturing standpoint, the end result is worth it. An Instragram video here by Mercer Watch Company shows the grit and resistance of the watch case against scratches. In the video, a nail attempts to scratch the surface of the case to show the true resiliency, and once the test was complete, the case was indeed unscratched.
Often, a pilot’s watch can be much larger in size than 40mm (I have a pilot watch measuring in at 43mm) to aid legibility, but the Mercer Airfoil opted to utilize the contrast between the matte black dial and the large raised silver numerals and keep size down. Some might find 40mm to be small, yet I find it to be the “norm” for mainstream sizes nowadays. For my 7-inch wrist, the Mercer Airfoil has plenty of presence along with readability. The Mercer Airfoil sits really flat on my wrist, making it an under-the-cuff watch, which is nice, and sometimes hard to find with the larger watches on today’s market. So, if you can’t tell by now, I’m very pleased by being able to get what I want from a pilot’s watch that’s normally a little bigger but in a size I’m comfortable with.
Both the minute and hour hand have Super-LumiNova to match the luminous glow of the indices. Its many layers give the watch dial great depth; there are large and small white contrasting pips located on the outer portion of the dial, aligning perfectly with the numbers surrounding the dial. An automatic Sellita SW200-1 powers the Mercer Airfoil which you can see through the sapphire crystal exhibition case back.
The Mercer Airfoil watch comes on a black shell cordovan strap with an additional red perlon nato strap that gives the watch a nice pop of color. Rather than boxed stitching, the cordovan strap has a minimalistic look to it, giving it a vintage feel that adds to the overall appeal of the watch.
When I consider purchasing a watch, a must-have is a symmetrical dial layout, and the Mercer Airfoil’s dial delivers. Mercer Watch Company’s logo is located at the vertical center of the dial and just under the 12 o’clock position, and the text “Airfoil” is just above the 6 o’clock position. Contrast against the matte black dial comes from the minute hand, 12 o’clock triangle, and “automatic” text that are all in red. Change the strap to the red perlon nato, and the red accents become much more intriguing to the eye. Ah, so symmetrical. I know it’s a quirk not shared by all watch people and a bit hackneyed, but it really is something I love in design.
After having the watch for many months, I can say that the fit and finish looks and feels like one that you wouldn’t immediately guess is in the sub-$1,000 range. The refinement along with the sheer ruggedness of the case, as evident by being able to withstand everyday wear and tear and maintain its handsome looks, is great. That is especially so when you consider that even this investment of money is more than a lot of people would spend on something like a wristwatch. You can wear the Mercer Airfoil day in and day out and it’s no worse for wear.
I have to say that the cordovan strap feels to be a bit under-quality, but it definitely works with the watch from an aesthetic standpoint. What makes up for it, though, is one of my favorite aspects of the watch, and that is the color pallet. Silver, red, and white play nicely with the matte black dial. With the red nato strap, this watch could easily be one of the summertime favorite combinations in my collection.
Pilot watches are ubiquitous in today’s market, and many range well into the mid-five-figure price point. Mercer Watch Company has created the Airfoil with the intention to provide competition without the heavy price tag. Quality control is everything to Mercer Watch Company, and to ensure their customer’s highest satisfaction, Mercer will be hand-assembling these pieces in their New Jersey headquarters. Each Mercer Airfoil will be numbered, and a limited quantity of 250 pieces will be produced. With a price point of US$899, the Mercer Airfoil is a nice piece and a very affordable automatic watch in today’s market. mercerwatch.com
>Brand: Mercer Watch Company
>Size: 40mm wide, 20mm lug width.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone looking for a reasonably priced automatic pilot watch.
>Best characteristic of watch: Fit and finish.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Quality of the cordovan strap & flimsiness of the buckle.