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Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

Los Angeles-based watchmaker Cameron Weiss recently introduced this limited edition “Ultralight” version of his American Issue Field Watch produced with a grade 5 titanium case and using 7075 alloy aluminum for the movement’s major bridges. It’s a lovely composition that takes the vintage military field watch style look of the American Issue Field Watch and puts it into a rather lightweight package — 56 grams (with the strap), according to Weiss. As the “Ultralight” name implies, it does feel significantly less heavy than most similar watches in steel.

It was probably brands such as Richard Mille (with the original Nadal watch) that offered an alternative idea of what a high-end watch should feel like. Traditional wisdom says that a good timepiece is heavy because it uses either gold or other solid metals in the construction. Thus, a heavy watch was supposed to be solid and reliable, whereas a lightweight watch was cheap with questionable durability. In our modern times with access to loads of exotic lightweight materials — the paradigm has changed.

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

The new paradigm is that, in addition to heavy, solid watches, a high-end watch can be solid but extremely lightweight. Not only is creating a lightweight structure its own special engineering challenge but wearing a lightweight watch is actually more often than not a superior experience to wearing a heavy one — if only when considering comfort.

To make this 42mm-wide American Issue Field watch lightweight, Weiss uses grade 5 titanium for the case itself. Brushed very nicely, I’d say the case is a high point of the Ultralight watch. The case is further 12.8mm thick and water resistant to 100 meters. Over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal, along with another sapphire crystal over the rear of the case offering a view into the movement.

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

The simple, manually wound movement is known as the Weiss caliber 1003, and it is a further evolution on the type of manually wound mechanisms Cameron has liked to work with. Aside from a few specialized parts, the movement is crafted by Weiss at his workshop in Los Angeles. This 3Hz, 46-hour power reserve movement architecture began life a long (long) time ago as a pocket watch movement and has been modified and re-rendered for wristwatches many times over. In this form it is entirely unique to Weiss and accordingly the the 1003 has major plates, colored black (anodized), produced from 7075 aluminum. Weiss mentions how this same aluminum alloy is used for a series of aerospace applications.

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Aluminum is a great material for use in watches, but rarely as an actual case material given how soft it is. It makes sense how it is used in the American Issue Field Watch Ultralight because it is visible, but not touchable… and it helps the movement be lightweight since these places would normally be in colored brass. The neat look of the movement is certainly a highlight of this timepiece.

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

The American Issue Field Watch Ultralight in this limited edition form has a deep blue dial with white printed indexes. The dial design is simple and consistent with the “field watch” style Weiss is going for. The proportions are good, but there are some issues in my opinion with the detailing. The most important issue to me is not with the dial, but with the insufficient application of AR coating on the sapphire crystal. While the dial is legible, it will experience glare in most lighting situations, which is advisable to avoid. To do this Weiss needs to use more anti-reflective coating or a less-domed (or flat sapphire crystal).

The next issue is with the polished hands. The hands are stamped and thus slightly rounded all over, as opposed to being flat. Being flat would avoid the light blurring that occurs when light is reflected off of curved surfaces. Thus, if Weiss wants to improve the hands, the company should either give these hands a non-polished finish or make the polished surfaces perfectly flat. This isn’t a huge deal, but in my experience, a lot of watch enthusiasts specifically go to brands like Weiss because of their boutique nature and because of the idea that a solo watchmaker is ensuring that all of their products meet high standards. Thus, small things like improving the hands could allow Weiss to even better connect with those customers who love the idea of a small volume vintage-style watchmaker located in Los Angeles (my home town).

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

I am also a bit ambivalent about the dial text, which reads “Cal 1003 Ultralight, G5 TI + 7075 AL.” I think that second line can go and be placed on the rear of the watch. I know that these two lines of text make the dial feel a bit more balanced, but the information about the case and movement material on the face just doesn’t seem too relevant after viewing the dial many times in a row during daily wear.

Attached to the case, Weiss pairs a 20mm-wide Horween leather strap in a handsome, honey/tan color. The strap is comfortable and on par which what a watch at this price point and style should have. What I look out to avoid are overly stiff straps — and thankfully, this is not one of them.

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

Weiss American Issue Field Watch Ultralight In Titanium And Aluminum Hands-On Hands-On

Weiss indicates that this American Issue Field Watch Ultralight in the 42mm-wide titanium case with the blue dial is a limited edition of just 100 pieces. Pricewise, you pay for the exclusive nature of the watch, as well as for the benefit of getting something from a boutique brand. For the money, you can get a more complicated watch in terms of overall construction from a larger group — but when getting a Weiss watch, you at least know you are directly supporting the watch maker. Price for the Weiss America Issue Field Watch Ultralight is $2,800 USD. Learn more at the Weiss Watch Company website here.

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Comments

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  • SMB

    Interesting idea to produce a light weight version of a fairly common style for a point of difference. However, for this price I would prefer something a bit more refined. In particular, the lugs are too blocky for my taste. Some bevelling or polishing on the case and lugs would make it more interesting.

    • Ugo

      were the first thing i noticed.
      in general, love the idea of anodised alu movement plates, but the case seems to me a little chunky…

  • Lingua Franca

    The new paradigm is that, in addition to heavy, solid watches, a high-end watch can be solid but extremely lightweight.

    I, for one, welcome our new lightweight overlords. I find your ideas intriguing and would like to put in my order for a hardcover first edition of Signalling Solidity in the Age of the Weightless Wristwatch!

    • Ugo

      on the other hand, a decent 38 mm watch would be lighter anyway…
      ?

  • Swiss Made or Weiss Made ??

    Agree with Ariel, text metal fatigue (pun intended) on the dial, engravings should be on the caseback. OR just do a Star Wars Intro crawler… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eb67176a92ba28ffec6c72c9799b97c667f5ddb56cb1cc546c8cf8307f24ad01.jpg

    • SMB

      Like Rolex.

  • Jason Mirabello

    The lugs look horrible

  • This is a nice design, but the finishing is not on par with a 3K watch. In fact I would say it’s barely on par with a 1K watch.

  • Berndt Norten

    The Weiss is nice
    But the price isn’t right
    A bit too high
    Oh my

    And why, tell me why
    This L.A. Faced beauty
    Evokes the Riptide & Simon and Simon
    Nerd in me?

  • BNABOD
  • Alex A

    I don’t know why I like this watch so much. But the lack of anti-reflective coating (not visible on the pictures though) is a deal breaker for me. Especcially at this price point.

  • Independent_George

    Nice review, Ariel. I appreciate the constructive criticism, particularly about the hands. It’s a detail I rarely read about on watch reviews, but it’s important, and it really helps collectors make better decisions, especially with small independents that are difficult to examine live before purchase.

    The AR, or lack thereof, does seem to be an issue. I think you got one good shot of the movement (which I like), but y’all seemed to struggle finding a decent angle to avoid the glare for a clear, sharp picture of the dial and face.

  • mach2guy

    Looks nice to me. But being picky for a moment, I’d like this better in a 40 MM with the seconds sub dial at the 6 o’clock position for symmetry. Kudos for being a USA brand!

    • Movements with the form factor of an ETA/Unitas 6497/6498 are 37.20 mm overall width. So to have a 40 mm case with this size movement, the case walls would be about 1 mm thick on each side. Too thin for structural rigidity. Plus fitting a case back would be tricky also with the little difference between the movement size and the case diameter..

  • Tony NW

    This is a miss for me. I like sub-seconds watches, and non-dress watches, although generally I prefer applied markers rather than printed on a > $150 watch. Still, looking at other slender sub-seconds no-date watches, the Nomos Club Neomatik Atlantic is much slimmer, similarly priced, better finished and squeezes an automatic movement into that slimmer case. I prefer the Epos Original 3408, which is not only a hella lot slimmer but about half the price.

    • 12.8 mm isn’t that thick, but you are right that it could be thinner. Here are the dimensions for a minimal thickness 6497/6498 movement based watch:
      2.0 mm top crystal (1.5 plus 0.5 dome)

      0.3 mm clearance over the hands
      1.8 mm hand fitting (pinion heights)
      4.5 mm movement thickness
      0.3 mm bottom clearance
      1.0 mm bottom crystal
      9.9 mm total – but this is the bare minimum. Thicker crystals or greater hand clearance bumps the figure up even higher. But 12.8 is more than necessary. Cheers.

      • egznyc

        Good to see you posting again. Did you see the recent article about the Joseph Bulova collection? Their Commodore model looks like it stole its lugs from you!

        • Some similarity (the Bulova Commodore and my Ka La cases) but they forgot to extend the lugs and join them, ha ha. Isn’t it time you bought a watch from me?

  • Jonathan Fisk

    7075 is a high strength aluminium alloy, but that really is of no value in a wristwatch. It has the same stiffness as any conventional (cheaper) alloy, which I believe is more important in a bridge than strength. And if you’re going to mention the metals on the dial, then at least get the chemical names right; Ti and Al, not TI and AL. Rado and others have been using ceramics for decades and silicon springs are readily available. I don’t see this advancing watchmaking materials one millimetre.

  • Esteban

    Also flat lugs, they should curve.

  • NaJo

    Wanna hv unitas mvmt watch? Go for germans and you can find all ranges from well known and macro brands at a reasonable price.

  • Jared

    whats the accuracy like on these? they don’t say on their website which isn’t a good sign

    are we talking +/-20-40 seconds/day like a NH35/Myota or more like +/-10 seconds like ETA?

  • gw01

    Seem like a decent value proposition. Nice specs on paper… Im curious!

  • Yeah the Crash of ’29 is definitely a “statement piece”. If you ever change your mind, send me an email and I’ll do you a great deal.

  • Sylvio Bertoli

    It looks like then Longines Heritage Military 1938 with the seconds subdial on a different position in order not to make it so obvious.

  • Dan F

    I love the sheer audacity of the “Los Angeles, CA” on the dial in place of “Swiss Made” is!
    the idea of an ultra light traditional Pilot’s watch is very intriguing. Nice that they managed to squeeze the movement into a 42mm, cuz a Unitas watch is usually just too big. But the price is a bit high, so my Alpina Startimer is safe for now…

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