I have noticed a trend: luxury watch brands are pairing off with other brands to create new versions of their existing watches. Now, this is by no means a new trend, but it is one that seems to have had an appreciable uptick as of late. Unsurprisingly, these collaborations focus in on other accouterments of a luxury lifestyle. When it comes to status symbols, owning your own plane certainly is up there, and for those who feel drawn to the products from Piper Aircraft, the new Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper will mean an interesting continuation of that trend.
Surprisingly enough for a collaboration like this, I see no mention of Piper Aircraft on the watch at all (we confirmed with the brand that the Piper logo only shows up on the box). This makes for an odd collaboration, but it also makes it a bit more flexible for those who are not flying Pipers: it’s simply a pilot watch from Raymond Weil.
Specific branding aside, the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper definitely has a full swath of airplane-inspired cues. What caught my eye at first was the sub-seconds dial at 9 o’clock, which brings along the look of an attitude indicator that would be found on the dashboard of a plane. Past that, the handset subtly depicts the rotor blades found on the front of the plane, which I do really like. Along with being a nice design nod, the handset looks to be well-sized for the watch.
Outside of that, we are really left with the complications that help to comprise what is considered a pilot’s watch. I of course like the GMT complication (with the hand being red only at the end, that should cut down on distraction on the dial), and then there is the chronograph as well. For that, you have the chrono minutes at 12 o’clock, and hours down at 6 o’clock; that complication is rounded out by the tachymeter bezel around the AR-coated sapphire crystal. All of this is made possible by the RW5020 chronograph movement tucked into the case.
Speaking of that case, we generally expect pilot watches to be a bit larger, as that was how things were done “back in the day” to enhance legibility. Here, the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper comes in at 45mm diameter (just under 14mm tall), and is made of both steel and titanium. While we do not have word on what part of the case is made of titanium, this should help cut down on the weight a bit, which is beneficial on bigger watches like these. This same combination of materials shows up on the deployant clasp, so there is a welcome consistency in materials (and, one assumes, finish).
With the combination of GMT and chronograph complications, as well as the obvious airplane-derived cues, the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper is definitely aimed at those who are pilots (or at least like to pretend that they are). While the Piper Aircraft collaboration is called out, it is surprising to not see something more on the watch that would separate it from “just another” Raymond Weil watch. For those picking up one of the 1,500 pieces of the Raymond Weil Freelancer Piper at $3,495, you’ll also get a model of a Raymond Weil-branded Piper airplane – you must supply your own sound effects. You’ll have time to practice, though – these aren’t expected to be available until early Fall 2015. raymond-weil.com
Tech Specs from Raymond Weil
- Movement: Automatic Chronograph – RW5020
- Power Reserve: 46 hours
- Watch Central hours and minutes, small seconds hand at 9 o’clock
- Date window at 4 o’clock
- Central GMT hand
- Chronograph Start, stop and restart using push-button at 2 o’clock
- Reset using push-button at 4 o’clock
- Central chronograph hand
- 30 minutes counter at 12 o’clock
- 12 hours counter at 6 o’clock
- Tachometer ring
- Case Round – Titanium and stainless steel
- Diameter: 45mm
- Thickness: 13.7mm
- Crown: Screwed and fluted with RW monogram
- Crystal: Sapphire crystal with dual-sided antiglare treatment
- Dial: Black, Indexes Arabic numerals enhanced with luminescent material
- Hours / minutes Black, barrel-shaped, enhanced with luminescent material
- Second at 9 o’clock Red, baton type
- Chronograph Blue, barrel-shaped
- GMT Black with red pointer and enhanced with luminescent material, barrel-shaped
- Case back: Screw down, with sapphire crystal
- Bracelet: Black open work genuine leather strap with a RW titanium and stainless steel folding clasp with double push-button security system
- Water resistance: 10 ATM