The Early 1990s brought with it the Breitling Aerospace watch line. It was an impressive and technical looking watch that broke the mold by placing a quartz movement in what was typically a mechanical watch. To be fair, the watch had a robust feature set and contained not just any quartz, but a Breitling “Super Quartz” that was accurate to within 5 seconds a years. These special quartz movements were referred to as thermoline quartz movement watches. Search for the term on my site if you want to know more about them.
Now about 15 years later, Swiss Army decides to release a bit of a doppelganger, but sure isn’t the only one the new Swiss Army Classic XLS MT watches are a analog-digital version of the standard Classic XLS line that features roughly the same styling and features as the Breitling Aerospace. Gone is the thermoline quartz movement, but also is gone the double or triple price of a Breitling Aerospace versus the Swiss Army watch.
The large 45mm Classic XLS MT is housed in a 12mm thick black PVD coated high grade steel case that is resistant to 100 meters. The bracelet is very thick at 23mm, which might be too thick for some people, but I happen to like it. Inside is an ETA 988.333 quartz movement, that handles the time, chronograph, countdown timer, perpetual calendar, and alarm, and GMT function; all from the single crown. It might see a bit too simple to have just one crown operate all these features, but the user gets used to it, and the learning curve is not so steep.
While these watches are clearly bred of the same pedigree as other Swiss Army watches, they have a distinct look, which is very technical in style. As though these are watches meant to evoke this centuries Swiss Air Force, not last. The hands are very new. The Stepped tapering on the hands is something you either like or don’t, but if you approve, there is a lot to applaud in the casual yet mecha-informant style of the face and dial. A few part of the watch seem to lose cohesion. Line or curves that just don’t really have a good place to end. In design, this is a very important concept, but can be temporarily excused in the same of efficient functionality.
Junghans had their try on creating a Breitling Aerospace clone watch with the Junghans Aviator Chronograph. The Junghans was a bit of a different approach, and added a radio controlled movement. Here, the Swiss Army Watch gives it a bit of that brand’s character, as well as a different vision of the face and legibility. The dial design was so classic in Aerospace watch, perhaps not then, but it is today. The Swiss Army XLS MT gives full Arabic numerals all around, and more “metallic” look, adds a tapering curvature to the LCD panels, and of course places everyone’s favorite Swiss Army shield on the dial. The watch is handsome and will no doubt yeild plenty of sales even though the price is a bit high at around $1000. Despite that, you get an attractive PVD coated steel case, nice dual reverse toned LCD displays, and an pleasing design. The are available now.
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