The still newly relaunched Waltham watch brand recently released their second major model family with the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm collection. Smaller and lower-priced than the brand’s beefier 47mm-wide AeroNaval collection (aBlogtoWatch review here), the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm also comes in a range of colors that offers a personality-rich and masculine answer to those looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary but still interesting and maturely designed.
While certainly not cheap, the debut watches of today’s Waltham brand had a distinct coolness, mixing video-game era futuristic looks with a refined European design and high-quality materials that prevented them from looking like well-made movie props. At about 3mm smaller than their larger, slightly more complicated relatives, the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm models do tend to wear better on more wrists. The cases haven’t just been reduced from the roughly 47mm-wide AeroNaval collection, but are also redesigned with a new shape all around. You’ll notice a prominent 12-sided outer bezel and an overall design clearly meant to emphasize strong angles and hard lines.
Waltham offers a few color versions that not only play with dial colors and straps, but also natural steel versus black-coated steel elements for the case, offering further variety to the collection. Waltham does make an impressively nice case in terms of not only wearing comfort but also construction quality. You’ll also find that the cases are water resistant to 100 meters and over the dial is of course an AR-coated sapphire crystal.
The Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 lacks the black ceramic bezel of the brand’s larger AeroNaval 47mm collection of watches, but the cases are designed in such a way that wearers likely won’t mind. A principle distinction point of the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm watch is the slightly simpler movement as compared to the other collection which offers a model with a subsidiary seconds dial, a chronograph, or a GMT.
I believe that Waltham used movement maker and supplier Dubois-Depraz for the movements inside of the larger 47mm AeroNaval collection. Dubois-Depraz (the last time I checked) doesn’t make full movements, but is rather a specialist in making modules or otherwise modifying other Swiss movements. Inside the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm is a three-hand automatic movement with the date that they call the caliber W.DB-004 which is a base Swiss ETA. You can see the movements through a sapphire crystal partial exhibition caseback which was not available on the brand’s initial collection of larger watches. Notice the welcome, albeit slight, level of decoration on the movement.
Operating at 4Hz (28,800bph), the movement has about 42 hours of power reserve. Even though the dial layout is more traditional on these Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm models, Waltham does a good job of injecting enough brand personality on the face of the watch. The dial itself is textured and the hour markers are applied. Accent colors vary depending on the model, and overall the faces are both legible and interesting-looking while maintaining an individual personality that is unlike that of other brands. Being able to make something effective and familiar, while at the same time visually distinct (so that people recognize it as being part of a specific brand) is difficult to do and requires a great deal of design talent, in my opinion.
Those looking for a modern aviation/military-inspired look that also has a sense of sporty fun should carefully consider the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm watch collection – especially given the pretty reasonable pricing. At $7,000 – $8,000 there is just too much competition from big established brands out there; but at around $3,500 with a decent brand name and impressive quality, you can easily consider this as offering the bold, entertaining masculinity of an Audemars Piguet or an Hublot but with more individual identity and, of course, a more reasonable price.
Waltham is getting creative with the color palettes they are experimenting with for the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm watches and you can get a more traditional monochromatic look, play it “sporty safe” with red or yellow accents, or think outside the box a little bit more and opt for blue. According to a recent note from the brand, there will be about nine total style versions of the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 based on a natural or PVD-coated black case and the various dial color accents. Waltham is even getting more fashionable with the straps which were once only high-end rubber with what I think was a Kevlar lining. Now rubber is joined with leather, and on the fitted straps the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm watches are both good-looking and, as I mentioned, really quite comfortable.
There will always be a market for the larger-sized 47mm collection, but with the smaller and cheaper Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm wide watch Waltham really hit a sweet spot for today’s consumers, in my opinion. Let me remind you that at 43mm wide with very wide lugs, this watch does not wear small at all, but rather the dimensions are more appropriate for a wider range of wrist sizes and offer improved comfort for many wearers.
Prices for the Waltham AeroNaval AN-01 43mm watches start at $3,500 and go up to $3,850 with the case in black. Of course, that price isn’t per se inexpensive, but it is a lot more along the lines of what I think consumers are willing to pay for a product from a much more niche brand that will appeal to those who want something different and less mainstream. So there is a price to pay for a bit more “brand exclusivity,” but the premium isn’t too bad and the overall price is at least 30% lower than what we’ve seen over the last few years in timepieces of this ilk. waltham.ch