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Issue One Winter 2011

Big Pilot Watches - The BeastWatch Favourite Conclusion by Adrian Ainsworth

We have looked at three Pilotʼs watches, the Christopher Ward C8MkII, the Steinhart Nav B- Uhr II 44 both in 44mm cases and the 46 mm Hamilton Big Pilot Watch and given them all 3.5 stars out of 5. It would seem then that there is nothing to choose between them and basically this is indeed the case. Really it boils down to personal preference.

However, having said that certain factors would affect the ultimate choice. For example if you had a maximum budget of £350 then the Hamilton which retails at £655 in the UK (June 2011) would have to be ruled out. Similarly if you were a stickler for detail and heritage then the fact that the arrow at 12 oʼclock is upside down for a classic aviator watch on the Hamilton would also rule it out. Finally, the Hamilton is a whopping 46mm and if that was more than your wrist could stand then the other two at a merely huge 44mm would again take preference.

Price point, size and a design faux pas seem to be knocking the Hamilton into third place. But... it does have a day date and it does make a huge impact on the wrist - it has presence - and if these factors are important and you can carry off a 46mm case on your wrist then there is no choice but the Hamilton.

The Christopher Ward C8 MkII is the one I am in truth most familiar with, as a friend and contributor to Beastwatch Michael Burnett has one. It is virtually faultless in my eyes

and there is just one small issue that would hold me back on this watch. When you order one off the Christopher Ward website it comes with either a Selitta or an ETA movement. The case back states 25 jewels which is correct for an ETA but not for a Selitta, which has 26 jewels. You cannot pick your movement when ordering and if it comes with a Selitta then your case back stating 25 jewels is technically incorrect. There is nothing to choose between the movements so that is not the issue it is quite simply this attention to detail which would irk me were my watch to arrive with a Selitta movement. I stress the issue would not be with the movement but with the incorrect description on the case back!

The Steinhart is a very obvious competitor to the Christopher Ward watch. Both are 44 mm, both are at virtually the same price point (about half that of the Hamilton) and both are inspired by the iconic B- Uhr watches used by the Luftwaffe in the late 1930s and then the RAF.

I mentioned in the review of the Steinhart how much I loved the face and the blue hands and the sheen on them against the black face. It really is beautiful. The lack of any writing on the face adheres to original styling too and yet, in a way I almost donʼt like this. I want the watch to proclaim Steinhart, to be proud of what it is. I know why there is no writing on

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the face but at the same time it makes me think that being a “Steinhart” is some kind of dirty little secret and as I have said I am not sure that I like that..

In conclusion there is nothing to choose between the C8MkII and the Steinhart - one has a “dirty little secret” and the other potentially has an incorrect description on its case back. It is simply personal choice between these two. The Hamilton stands apart. Less value for money due to price point but a huge statement. You might be laughed out of the RAF mess wearing it as it fails to conform to traditional styling cues but again it is big it is sassy and by gum despite its shortcomings I love it. It is the Hamilton then by the margin of an upside down arrow on its face!

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