There are a few general styles of watches that are all but iconic, and the Flieger, or Pilot watch is certainly in that class. Given that most of the designs are based on German specs of the 1940s – or watches built to those specs – many of the Flieger watches available today share a lot of similarities. This can give things a welcome consistency, and make it absolutely clear what sort of a watch you are dealing with. This can also make it somewhat trickier to tell various makes from one another. With that in mind, let’s have a closer look at what sets the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf apart.
At first glance, it may not seem like there is a lot different about the watch. This owes to the fact that the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf was designed to the Baumuster A (aka Type A) dial specification. This is where things like the dotted triangle and Arabic numerals are specified, as is the large diamond crown (the better to turn when wearing flying gloves). Now, I am guessing that many of us reading this are hardly pilots, so how closely the specs are hewed to is less critical. So, let’s see where the watch diverges.
The feature that caught my eye immediately was the fact that there is a power reserve indicator on the watch. This is something that I have not seen on very many Fliegers. In practice, it can be a handy little dial to have, especially if you are rotating through a few watches in a week. At a glance, you can know if you need to wind the watch. You may also notice something odd about that subdial – it actually goes past zero. I asked the brand about this, and they had the following to say about it:
Think of it as the fuel reserve tank in a car. The movements have 40 hours of guaranteed power reserve, with a bit extra in reserve as a safety – a nice and important feature for pilots that relied on their watches for timing especially during the Flieger period of the 1930’s.
So, it initially seemed quite odd, but it it does make sense, in a way. Sort of like setting your clocks forward 5 minutes to get yourself to leave on time – that sort of thing.
The next changeup comes courtesy of the date display window. While this is certainly an option here and there on Flieger watches, I imagine having the date displayed was not exactly part of the original spec. Here, it gives the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf more functionality in day-to-day life on the ground. Thankfully, Panzera put a color-matched wheel in place, so it keeps things nicely coordinated with the dial. It’s also interesting to note where on the dial it shows up. Sometimes on these larger watches (47mm in this case), the date window shows up way inset, which simply highlights that a tiny movement was shoved into a big case. While I would not have minded seeing it a bit further outboard, I think it’s reasonably placed here, and points to some thought going into matching a movement to the case.
Speaking of that movement, it’s rather likely that no one has heard of 2BA0 movement. As you might accurately guess, it is sourced from China. Specifically, it comes from the Hangzhou Watch Company. This is a firm that has been making movements for over four decades, and Panzera is specifically sourcing just those movements that are graded as AAA. These are then sent to the manufacturing partner based in Hamburg, Germany, where modifications (if any) are made as part of building the watches. Panzera was also eager to note that by working with the German partner – rather than going directly to China – they were able to achieve a higher level of quality. In the limited amount of time I had hands-on with this piece, that’s hard to specifically verify. That said, the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf felt like a solidly built watch, and I had no issues with it, or it’s timekeeping in the time I spent with it.
Now, back to what differentiates the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf from others in its segment. The last changeup is one that I am not as big of a fan of, and that would be the amount of text showing up on the dial. Looking north-south on the dial, you have a very balanced look, with the power reserve and sub-seconds dials complementing each other. Look east-west, however, and things are not nearly as balanced. Sure, you have text on both sides, but the logo (plus model name) outweighs the simple “Automatic” showing up by the date display. Frankly, when it comes to Fliegers, I am more drawn to a clean, almost sterile, dial. While the extra ink does indeed differentiate the watch, I think it may be somewhat detrimental here. If it were up to me, I’d drop the “Automatic”, and if the logo needed to stay, perhaps opt to print it in a high-gloss black or dark gray that allows it to be present, but not make the dial feel cluttered and unbalanced. Of course, these are the sort of things you notice when you’re poring over the watch – in daily wear, a detail like that is less of an issue.
Daily wear was another area that I was curious about with the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf. Why? Well, the 47mm case is a good bit larger than I prefer to wear, so it would be a “shock to the wrist,” so to speak. Fortunately, though the case is large, the weight of the watch (124g) is really quite reasonable, so it did not feel like I was hauling around a brick throughout the day. I also, rather fortunately, did not experience any issues with the crown digging into my wrist, which would be a valid concern with a watch of this nature. Wearing it to the office (and even with a suit at times), the watch worked in my daily routines. I found it eminently readable, and found no issues in that regard.
All was not completely perfect though, in my book. There were (at least for me) some issues with the included strap. Yes, it’s a decent leather strap for a stock one, and it did its job of keeping the watch in place. I did notice some squeaking from the lugs now and again, which fortunately went away after some longer wear. The bigger issue I had here was with fitment. Now, my 7.25″ wrist is not what I would consider to be small. With the strap on the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf, however, I ended up adjusting the deployant to the smallest setting. This is somewhat due to the nature of how Fliegers are designed (so they could ostensibly be placed on the outside of a jacket). For anyone with a wrist under 7″, that means if you like this watch, you’re likely going to be getting a different strap, or punching some additional holes in the stock strap. Again, not the most difficult thing in the world to rectify, but something buyers should be aware of.
So, as you can see, the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf was a mix of interesting design elements combined with a few aspects that were less than optimal from my point of view. Most of these are easily corrected (or simply looked past), however. If you’re in that camp, then you will be able to get your own for $450 in either the Wulf color palette as we shown here, or one of the other colorways they have available. Regardless of the color chosen, the watch carries a two-year warranty, should something go awry. While comparisons to other “big” pilot watches are inevitable, I think the Panzera Flieger F47-02D Wulf offers some features that make for a decent (and affordable) option. panzera-style.com