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In describing Albert Einstein’s rules for work, the eminent physicist John Archibald Wheeler ascribed the oft-embellished quote to Einstein: “…in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” The quote itself may be apocryphal, but the sentiment certainly rang true to Raymond Weil. In 1976, at the height of quartz crisis — a period of disastrous upheaval for the Swiss watch industry — Weil decided to start his own watch brand. A risky proposition if ever there was one. But Weil succeeded, not by competing directly against the burgeoning Japanese industry, but by embracing the traditional craftsmanship and knowledge that the Swiss had acquired over centuries and building a business that would stay in the family for generations to come. Today, Weil’s grandchildren pay tribute to the founder’s love of aviation with their newest release, the Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph.

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When Raymond Weil started his eponymous brand, he did so with an eye toward combining watchmaking with his life’s passions, especially music. Throughout the brand’s lineup, you’ll find watches and lines inspired by everyone from Mozart to David Bowie. This tradition continued even when Weil’s son-in-law, Olivier Bernheim took the helm in 1996. Now in the hands of Bernheim’s son, Elie, Raymond Weil continues to find inspiration in music, while ensuring that they never stop experimenting and innovating, using inspiration whenever and wherever it strikes. In the case of the Pilot Flyback Chronograph, that inspiration has come in the form of the man behind the brand and his other core passion — flying high above the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva in his airplane.

The magic of the Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph begins with the case. Coming in at 42mm in diameter, the stainless-steel case attains its deep, gunmetal hue through the use of a PVD coating. The coating gives the case a unique hue that’s reminiscent of the fuselage on a vintage single-prop fighter, yet its unique luster gives the watch a stealth elegance all its own. The lugs on the watch are angular, but the transitions are soft, avoiding the watch becoming overly aggressive in its lines — a technique that works especially well when coupled with the soft brushing across the case.

Raymond Weil outfits the Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph with an onion crown, a hallmark of pilot watches since their start. Raymond Weil didn’t forget the details, though, adding its RW logo to the crown. You’ll find a sapphire crystal on both sides of the watch, with a special treat on the caseback: an engraved propeller motif that’s a reminder of the exclusivity of the watch, as it’s one of only 400 pieces.

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If the case is the stage, the deep green dial is the star. The applied Arabic indices are filled with Super-LumiNova, their snow-white hue contrasting against the green backdrop. Raymond Weil throws in a few aviation treats as well, with arrow indices at 3 and 9 o’clock and an hour track textured to evoke the tarmac of a runway — a perfect contrast when set against the smooth center of the dial and dual registers textured with concentric rings.

If there’s one thing pilot watches excel at, it’s legibility, and the timing functions of chronographs need to be instantly readable. The yellow chronograph seconds and minute hands do just that. Even better, as the name would suggest, the watch is a flyback chronograph, perfect for timing intervals without worrying about stopping the chronograph. Making this happen is the RW5530 caliber.

The RW5530 automatic flyback chronograph movement is a fully integrated column wheel chronograph that features 56 hours of power reserve, 29 jewels, and, of course, instant restart capability with the flyback function. And Raymond Weil doesn’t skimp on the decoration; you get plenty of perlage and Côtes de Genève, along with a W-shaped oscillating weight that sits atop the thermally blued column wheel.

Tying the entire piece together is a brown leather two-rivet strap, a classic callback to pilot watches from the past. Taken together, the Pilot Flyback Chronograph is a fitting tribute to Raymond Weil, a watch that’s as suitable today as it would have been on Weil’s wrist as he flew the blue skies above Geneva.

Limited to just 400 pieces, the Raymond Weil Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph is available now for 4,195 USD. To learn more about Raymond Weil and the Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph, please visit the brand’s website.

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