February 17, 2017
Since 2001, Xēzo has been producing limited-run timepieces that offer a whole lot of bang for the buck. I recently had a chance to spend some time with two of their pieces, the Xēzo Air Commando D-45R and the Air Commando D-45S chronograph. Though made with the same backbone, each watch offered a unique experience for those seeking a robust, affordably priced Swiss watch that could easily become an everyday wear.
I’ll start with the Xēzo Air Commando D-45R, which is definitely the sleeker of the two. The case is crafted from surgical grade 316L stainless steel and is sized at a prominent 45mm. The case weighs 213g, so you’ll feel it at first, but throughout the day the D-45R actually disappeared into my routines. Really, it’s an aggressive, masculine mechanical watch with an attitude and style that matches its size. The style, size, and design are all in sync and proportional.
This piece features two rotating bezels, with one being used for the obligatory measurement of time passage should you choose to test its 300m water-resistance while diving, and the inner bezel acts as a partial third time-zone. The red hand offers a GMT function, of course. The inner bezel is rotated using the crown located at 10 o’clock. The watch is further guarded against aquatic devastation with a screw-down crown for extra security. As I noted, there is a lot of bang for the buck here, and plenty of little details like this are sometimes skimmed over with brands in this price range.
The dial is a crisp black beneath an anti-reflective-treated sapphire crystal with a magnified date window. Aside from the red accents, the dial is an industrious two-tone with white numerals and under Xēzo’s branding you can see that this is a limited edition of 500 pieces. Both the hands and the numerals have been treated with Swiss Luminova, and I personally had no trouble seeing this one in the dark. Xēzo set out to build a tough watch, and from a purely aesthetic standpoint, its design helps communicate that intention.
I think they delivered on that front. I did wonder why a watch called Air Commando would have such great water-resistance but I’ve never been one to complain about a watch being too highly rated for such a thing. If anything, it’s the other way around. Another thing I really liked about this watch is the bracelet, which creates a tough visual contrast between the smooth, serrated links.
For the movement, Xēzo used a tried-and-true ETA 2893-2 automatic that puts out a 42-hour power reserve and features an Incabloc shock absorber for added durability. In other words, for the jewel that supports the balance wheel, it functions as a spring-loaded support system to help protect against drops or other extreme tumbles. A look at the back and you can see that the screw-down case-back is outfitted with another sapphire crystal for a view of the movement and the branded rotor as well.
Moving onto the Xēzo Air Commando D-45S, you see a lot of the same design language, but also some distinct variations. Created in honor of the 70th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Air Commando Flight Group, the Xēzo Air Commando D-45S also measures in at a hefty 45mm and is a little bit heavier at 224g, but this could be forgiven as it is a chronograph. The dial features an interesting array of color with black panda subdials juxtaposed with light blue hour markers that are positioned above Swiss Luminova-painted indexes, and the hands have received the same treatment.