May 25, 2021
by Ariel Adams
The Laco Munchen (Munich, München) pilot-style watch is a very interesting modern interpretation of a historic classic. In essence, German Laco asked the question, “What if we made a watch as legible as a classic B-Uhr-style dial but with a chronograph complication? To do this, they inserted a Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement but made the chronograph subdials rather stealthy with a dark-gray-on-black application. The result is surprisingly stylish, whimsical, and also exclusive as part of a set of just 200 watches.
There is no logical, or at least practical, explanation that can describe why the Laco Muchen pilot watch chronograph is as cool as it is. There isn’t much practical reason to trade some chronograph legibility for added main dial legibility, yet the result feels quite clever and inspired. It is unfair to say that the chronograph and subsidiary seconds subdials are not possible to read. The dark gray markers contrast well enough against the black main face. Yet when veered at, the subdials seem to exist on another plane as those of the hour markers and blued steel hour and minute hands. Laco really did faithfully answer the question of how one can make a pilot watch chronograph as legible as a B-Urhr.
The Munchen watch case in sandblasted steel being 42.3mm-wide, 14.75mm-thick, and with a roughly 50mm lug-to-lug distance. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and has a domed AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. For a bit more money, you can even order it with an additional layer of AR-coating on the upper part of the crystal.
Luminant volume is exceptional, and this is a very bright dial even after just a few minutes in light. Going with the theme, only the chronograph main dial seconds hand has Super-LumiNova paint on it; the subdial markers and hands are not painted in luminant. I also like that the day and date windows are given the same gray-colored font treatment. Those who know about watchmaking also realize that Laco needed to get custom calendar window disks for this effect to work (meaning these watches cost just that much more to produce).
What I like to do with the Munchen is to have the chronograph activated all the time. That way, the chronograph seconds hand simply mimics the look of a typical central seconds hand. That sort of completes the illusion that this “just” a time-only watch when looking at it from a glance.
The movement inside the watch is Laco’s Caliber 50, which is called the Swiss Made ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic — it operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. It features the time, 12-hour chronograph, and has a date/day complication. The rear of the watch has a military-style designation chart that helps promote the “found military instrument” theme that Laco does well. Being one of the original German pilot’s watchmakers, the company does have the legitimacy to go with its prolific playfulness when it comes to rendering a classic pilot-watch look for timepiece enthusiasts, today.
Attached to the case is an attractive, thick brown-leather pilot-style leather strap with dual rivets on each end to complete the classic pilot watch-style theme. The overall appeal of this watch is for those who have probably dabbled somewhat in classic military watches and want something new that they haven’t yet seen before. The Munchen is just a design exercise and even though it is cool, something like this is most appropriate as a limited-edition product. Seeing the product in person will be what promotes it best, but I have a feeling it won’t be hard to find 200 watch enthusiasts out there who can see the fun in wearing one of these. The Laco Munchen chronograph pilot watch reference 862124 watch has a retail price of $2,400 USD. Learn more at the Laco website here.
>Model: Munchen (München) Chronograph Pilot Watch reference 862124
>Price: $2,400 USD
>Size: 42.3mm-wide, 14.75mm-thick, and 50mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a fashion-forward WWII pilot watch with a slightly modern edge to it.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Seasoned vintage-style sports watch enthusiast with a taste for the unique.
>Best characteristic of watch: Satisfactorily answers the question it was meant to answer and looks handsome in the process. The pilot watch that was never meant to be but is fashionable enough to have a reason to exist.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Not everyone will “get” why the watch is interesting, but the limited-edition production is answer enough.