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Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

For their first pilot watch, Raymond Weil decided to partner with Piper Aircraft. Not that anything about the watch itself says or indicates Piper, but the airplane maker is in the official name of the watch, which is the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper – and it exists as a limited edition. It isn’t clear why Raymond Weil decided to produce a pilot watch, or why it exists in the Freelancer collection. It is, however, not bad, and has some unique elements which help it stand out (if even just a bit) from the larger context of Swiss pilot-style mechanical watches.

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I should also mention that I am happy to see Raymond Weil doing something new. It has been a while since we’ve covered a new sports watch from the brand – which, for the most part, exist in their Nabucco collection. You might recall that we recently covered the brand’s first tourbillon, which was the Raymond Weil Nabucco Cello Tourbillon (hands-on here). So what about the Freelancer Piper?

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

aBlogtoWatch’s Patrick Kansa first covered the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper pilot watch here. Upon debuting the watch, it was difficult to come to a total conclusion on it, since we’d really never seen anything like that from Raymond Weil. Even as a limited edition, it was curious for us to understand how Raymond Weil wanted to differentiate their pilot watch from the many (many) others which exist out there for sale. Now, luxury Swiss sport watches are a popular but crowded area. I don’t know if after reviewing the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper I can answer the question of “why it exists or how it fits into the brand’s larger strategy,” but I can share my feelings on who this watch might be good for.

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The purpose of a pilot watch these days seems to be mainly as an object that allows pilots and aviation enthusiasts to celebrate their passions. No pilot really needs a mechanical pilot watch, and those that do wear watches for professional use often rely on digital or quartz watches. Like sailing or boating watches, pilot watches are very much lifestyle emblems. With that often comes a host of design cues meant to recall the world of aviation. This can either be plane-inspired design elements on the watch, or a design that echoes the look of cockpit instruments. Sometimes watches are a combination of both – as seems to be the case with the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper.

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At 45mm wide in titanium with some steel parts, the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper wears boldly, but rather comfortably. While modern in terms of angles and finishing, the case is nevertheless rather traditional in its actual design, with simple pushers and lugs. This is almost an intentional contradiction which makes the overall composition of the design something that each person will have to personally evaluate whether or not they like. So, basically, you have a traditional looking case that is on the larger side and in titanium at 13.7mm thick.

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Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I do appreciate the 100 meters of water resistance that I feel is a minimum for “real” sport watches. It irritates me when there is an otherwise great looking sport watch that only has 50 or even 30 meters of water resistance. That just screams “for sport-looks at dinner and the office,” and I really want to think any sport watch I wear can at least survive a dip in the pool or ocean. Over the dial of the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper is a domed sapphire crystal with a handsome amount of AR-coating. I appreciate the lack of distortion and glare.

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper Pilot Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Inside the watch is a modified Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic movement. Raymond Weil calls this their caliber RW5020, and it is basically a 7750 with a GMT hand. You can see the movement – which is decorated nicely – through the sapphire crystal caseback window. The movement provides the time, 12-hour chronograph, date, and GMT hand. There is a black and silver scale for the GMT hand around the periphery of the movement which adds a nice dimension to the design. With that said, in my opinion there are a few too many markers on the GMT scale for it to be easily read at a glance. That means it is more difficult to read the hours in the 24-hour format with the smaller red arrow-tipped GMT hand.

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Comments

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  • ETA 7754 (vice a modified 7750) perhaps?

  • SuperStrapper

    Ho hum. The finishing of the case is the biggest concern for me, I would have liked to see something better there. Also not a fan of the confused use of colour: the blue and red elements clash with each other. If your main is blue, match with splashes of green or yellow, and if your main is red you should reconsider and choose something other than red.

  • Stick hour markers, rather than Arabic numerals might have made a better choice, given the surfeit of numerals on the dial and the bezel. Personally I would have chosen yellow as the color detail over the red/blue combination, or, even just the blue alone. Or better yet, attempt to mimic the instrument panel of Piper M500 (that’s the model of the…um, model that’s included with the watch).

    I have a special place in my heart for both titanium and GMT watches; this is the first Raymond Weil that I’ve looked twice at, but I’m not exactly falling over backwards at any of their 65+ references.

  • iamcalledryan

    If I overcome my prejudice towards this brand, the overall look of this is quite nice. The price is not bad for the complications and material, a bit north of what you might hope.

    But a little issue that nags at me is the screws, which funnily enough were discussed by Ariel this weekend. In this case it’s the slots. A good screw should be designed so the driver does not make contact with the base of the slot. In this movement, either the driver has rubbed away the blue, or it was never there in the first place because it was not fired. The sides of the screws also look grey, suggesting it’s the latter.

    • I’m going to replace the movement screws in all of my watches with 100 Euro German-made screws. Also, this summer, I’m planning on rebuilding my deck with $50 Japanese nails. You should see my stapler at work.

      • iamcalledryan

        I approve of this plan.

  • BNABOD

    No matter what brands like RW do they will be criticized for being mall brands. RW is still independent which is not a bad thing and frankly one has to look past the name on the dial. This is a nice effort while too big (for me) at 45 it is nicely executed with the altimeter in the seconds dial the hour hand like the tip of the propeller. It is restrained and effective. While we compare apples and oranges (earlier article had 100 euro screws) said model cannot be compared to anything made in the tens per annum. That is why it is 3k. Here you have nice features very strong and nicely finished movement and it will be 1500 bucks before you know it so not a bad deal.

    • I think the sub-dial at 9 (running seconds) was meant to resemble an attitude indicator/artificial horizon not an altimeter. Sorry to be pedantic…

      • BNABOD

        Yeah my bad not sure what I was thinking the classic T escaped me somehow. Nowadays on glass cockpits the altimeter indicator is incorporated to the right of the attitude director indicator when It is electronic.

  • ??????

    I rarely find the RW model that attracts my attention, but this one does. Nice limited edition, reasonably priced and has connection to the brand. The plane model included is a nice touch, I appreciate such things. Good to know that the founder of manufacture had this plane himself.
    Well, I’ll just state pluses and minuses according to my point of view:
    + looks quite interesting from distance and closer as well;
    + the dial execution looks solid for this price range;
    + titanium case and buckle;
    + handsome strap;
    + solid movement with GMT and not bad finishing;
    + nice design elements like altimeter, well-designed crown guard and some more;
    + connection to the father of the brand, planes, model in box;
    + reasonably priced;

    – too big;
    – hands and screws could be thermically blued, not painted: it really cheapens the look;
    – a bit too busy for my taste;
    – the date window can be done at 90°, study from Bell & Ross.

    All in all, this is, probably, the first RW watch that makes me want to try it on and maybe even buy after it gets further discount. Solid competitor for more expensive B&R watches.

  • commentator bob

    It is getting hard to find 7754 based gmt chronos. Correct me if I am wrong but with the Swatch group I believe one must step up to an Omega to get a gmt chrono. Possibly Longines offers one but I do not believe Hamilton, Tissot or Certina do. Which is unfortunate because the grey market price would probably be under $1,000.

    However, for about the same market price as this watch a Glycine Airman gmt chrono can be had. I would recommend the Glycine history over the model plane that the poor buyer is going to have to keep track of for the next buyer.

    • ??????

      Below 1000? Check Orient Star WZ0061DJ / WZ0071DJ / WZ0081DJ: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/nanaple/item/wz0061dj/

      Priced around 750$, look great and very well-finished.
      http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YCxhwyu02VU

      • commentator bob

        A nice watch, but only gmt, not also a chronograph.

        • ??????

          Oh, right…

    • Seems that Swatch Group only does not want to be forced to sell to others. But some brands don’t appear to be on their “rather not” list and still get movements. My guess is that they really don’t want to supply LVMH and Richemont, but the smaller or independent brands are still getting what the want from ETA.

  • wallydog2

    No doubt a fine watch. But, personally, TMI. (I learned that “TMI” expression from my daughter when I asked her if she wanted to hear about my colonoscopy. I think it means “too much information”.) My tastes – and eyesight – go for simplicity and quick readability. In the meantime, Raymond Weil remains very high on my “reasonably priced” wish list.

    • Funny how other people are not nearly as interested in your colonoscopy as you are. I’ve noticed the same thing.

      • JimBob

        The most interesting part is hearing about the effect of Pico-Salax.

        • wallydog2

          Is that the 20 gallons of foul liquid I had to drink the night before, the stuff that tasted like Cream Soda and Dubble Bubble from the 1950s?

          • JimBob

            I got two little packets of Pico-Salax powder which you mix with liquid and drink. I don’t remember what it tasted like. Then you drink gallons of water over the next 12 hours. There may be other ways to administer it.

          • wallydog2

            JimBob, You’re right. The Pico-Salax was the laxative I had for my sigmoidoscopy. Think of Mount St. Helen’s sitting down.
            Off topic, are we?

      • wallydog2

        Remember the Mr. Bean skit where he lost his watch inside a turkey? I think I am now a proud owner of a Hublot Big Bang where the sun don’t shine. The doctor blamed it on his teenage Med student.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Ive always wanted one of Raymond’s watches ( because of the name if you didn’t guess )……. but not this particular model. A watch is not a plane. And does a pilot need a chronograph ?……….answer………..no.

  • Chaz

    So RW hired away the designer from Revue? What a coup.

  • Ulysses31

    Quite nice, but overly busy and the case is a fingerprint magnet. Would have preferred no infill on the tachy scale, as that stuff tends to fall out over time, ruining the look (unless it’s lasered, can’t really tell).

  • theuqbar

    A little bland looking, and the finishing on the case appears quite poor at this price level. I know you’re paying a premium for titanium, but still, for a pilot chrono over $3K, I would certainly go for a Sinn or Damasko, which will probably have much better fit and finish, rather than this. In fact, a Sinn 103 in titanium comes in at just under $3K. It’s hard for me to see why one would buy the Raymond Weil instead of that, and the finishing on that watch rivals that of a Rolex.

    http://www.watchbuys.com/store/pc/Sinn-103-Titanium-TESTAF-on-Bracelet-4p1774.htm

  • Leland

    A page an a half of describing all the airplane-themed parts of the watch and Ariel says, “Other than that, very little, if anything, about the watch says ‘aviation’.” Hang on, what were you writing about? Should also rewrite the “Worst characteristic of the watch” postscript since he learned in the article about RW’s founder being a Piper pilot himself.

    Anyway, it’s a neat watch, and that it’s a family tribute to the company founder makes it a little more fun. RW can keep doing what they want to do. Plenty of room in the watch world for a company like this.

  • Centric Locus

    As usual, a lot of complaint from people who generally know very little about watches. RW makes a quality product, especially when you look at the insides, which none of the posers here know anything about.

    I like it. Very toolish for RW.

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