Aviators have lots of good reasons to strap flight instruments to their wrists.
Family-owned watchmaker Raymond Weil has added another to the list with the Freelance Piper, a chronograph inspired by the founder’s personal airplane. and love of aviation.
Raymond Weil turns 40 anni next year and sits alongside Rolex and Patek Philippe in the small group of independent watchmaking brands.
Its CEO, Elie Bernheim is the grandson of founder Raymond Weil, as an early anniversary celebration Mr. Bernheim decided to commemorate his grandfather’s other passion: aviation.
Mr. Weil owned and flew a Piper airplane, so the brand partnered with the aircraft maker to bring some details from the ‘bird”to the aviation watch.
The Freelancer Piper starts out with a 45mm titanium case that has been brushed all over, including the engraved tachometer bezel. The lack of polished surfaces works really well, making the large case less flashy.
While the 13.7mm thickness does make the watch wear a little high on the wrist, the lugs are arched at the proper angle and the strap is flexible, helping keep the height problems to a minimum.
This watch is meant to be a useful tool for someone piloting a Piper airplane.
Raymond Weil included more functionality than found in its other Freelancer chronographs. In addition to hours, minutes, and seconds, there is a chronograph that counts up to 12 hours, a date window at 4 o’clock, and a GMT hand for tracking a 2nd time zone.
Even with all this info, the dial’s bold black-and-white color scheme makes it easy to read, while the blue and red accents make the chronograph and GMT legible even at a quick glance.
The nod to the Piper airplane have are understated so it does not look like an advertisement for the airplane. The most obvious are the altitude line pattern that sits in the secs dial at 9 o’clock.
The main hands have small stripes on the tips and a special shape, both of which nod to the Piper’s propeller blades, and the Red GMT hand was designed to look like the needle on the plane’s internal compass.
The Freelancer Piper chronograph is limited to only 1,500 pieces worldwide, with the 1st watches being delivered in a few weeks. Each watch comes packaged in a special Piper-branded box with a model of the new Raymond Weil Piper airplane. It is priced at US$3,495.00.