After being stuck in a rut of department store fodder, it seems that Raymond Weil has been hitting its stride over the past few years. While some may be keen on its musically-inspired watches, it’s the Freelancer collection where the brand is really starting to come alive. Thankfully, it’s also where the brand appears to be focusing a lot of its efforts, with skeleton dials, chronographs, and GMTs all showing an edgier side. Now, Raymond Weil is stepping into the pilot watch game with the new Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph Limited Edition.
The only pilot style watch in the brand’s entire collection, the Raymond Weil Freelancer Pilot Chronograph LE may throw you off with its case finishing. While it certainly looks titanium, 42mm case is actually stainless steel with a grey PVD coating. The coloring along with the brushed finish gives the watch a more rugged look which I think works well with the green dial and the style. The case’s form is continued from the rest of the Freelancer collection, with long, beveled lugs that don’t seem to offer much curve to soften the dimensions. The 2 o’clock pusher is used to stop, start, and restart, while the 4 o’clock pusher operates the reset and flyback functions. The screw-down onion crown—a pilot watch staple—helps to bring the water resistance up to 100m and features the RW logo. At 13.8mm thick, this watch should offer balanced proportions on the wrist, so long as you can manage 42mm. The watch is paired with a riveted brown leather strap with curved ends that evokes classic pilot straps and closes with a push-button deployant clasp.
Under the sapphire crystal, the army green dial reinforces the military and tool vibes of the watch. A number of finishes are working in concert for what appears to be a lovely dial: rough graining on the hour track (meant to evoke the texture of a tarmac), fine graining on the sunken center, and circular grooving on the subdials, which sit on the same plane as the center dial. The serif hour numerals are filled with Super-LumiNova, as is the almost propeller-shaped handset. The dial is offered a bit of pop with the yellow central and subsidiary chronograph hands that count off seconds and minutes. The dial is completed with the running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. While there is certainly plenty of room, the brand opted to forgo a date window, which in the wake of a certain recent pilot chronograph release, will likely be welcome by most.
The Raymond Weil Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph is powered by the automatic RW5530 caliber. Seen through a sapphire crystal etched with a propeller design and limited edition numbering, this flyback chronograph movement features a column wheel mechanism, for crisp action. The flyback mechanism means you can restart the chronograph without resetting it, allowing for rapid timing of consecutive events (or just an entertaining function while you kill those last 10 minutes at work). The caliber offers a respectable 56-hour power reserve, though details beyond that and the 29 jewels are sparse. This appears to be an entirely new caliber for the brand and it has not provided any other details.
This is what I might describe as a “stylized” pilot watch. While it has some classic elements, it doesn’t exude the practical sterility of more classical pilots watches like those from IWC, nor the complicated displays of those from Breitling. This is Raymond Weil getting its toes wet and offering a pilot watch that’s a bit more fun and lighthearted than those which may appeal to the diehards, and it’s consistent with the brand’s cautious but well-executed forays into less ho-hum offerings than those which have defined it for years. The Raymond Weil Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph Limited Edition is priced at $4,195 USD and limited to 400 pieces. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.