For review today, Aurelos Watches has sent a prototype of their upcoming Zephyr model. This piece gives a nod to the Italian military pilot watches of the 1960s. If I had to guess which one I’d wager the beautiful Zenith Cairelli.
I’m a sucker for chronograph watches, I’ve always liked them, so when one crosses my path that has really nailed all the details I’ve got to do my best to keep the drool off it. The Zephyr has done just that, it’s nailed all the small details and also made some very clever decisions to make it affordable which I’ll get into shortly.
I’ve been sent the black bezel on black dial with silver indices and hands. One of 3 models, which also include a black on black with gold accents, and another which has a flashy blue bezel which in my opinion is absolutely stunning.
The bezel is so well done it should give lessons to a lot of the dive watches I’ve seen. It’s a 120 click polished ceramic and is fully lumed. The action is crisp and precise and it aligns perfectly. (Seiko QC should really note of this) the dial is a deep flat black that’s all business. The applied indices are a great touch and are filled with extremely potent Superluminova (I’m guessing C3) which is so bright I was really blown away considering it’s a pilot watch and not a diver. This thing lights up in the daytime even. The sword hands glow just as bright and are proportioned perfectly in the dial. The chronograph second hand is elegant and balanced and is just long enough to kiss the second markers as it sweeps past when running. There are two sub dials. At 3 o’clock is the 24 hour clock reminding you if it’s AM or PM just in case you’ve somehow forgotten. And at 9 o’clock is the minute timer for the chronograph.
The 42mm case is polished on all surfaces and is beveled nicely along the gently downturned 22mm lugs and shows a nice attention to detail and finish. The pushers at 2 and 4 actuate with a satisfying click and the pull/push engraved crown is where it belongs between them at 3 o’clock. The piece is made from 316 Stainless Steel and the case back is screwed down. Like most pilot watches it’s water resistance is only 50M, so if you’re a pilot, try not to crash in the water.
The genuine leather hand made padded strap is 22mm wide and has a slight taper to the clasp. It is black with black stitching which at first I though was a bit plain, but after a moment I began to appreciate the watch for what it was, and it really grew on me. It’s comfortable and elegant and I like having the quick release spring bars for easy changes if needed. I think it might look great on a colareb or bund. The clasp is polished SS and not engraved.
Now the movement is where I think the Zephyr was really well thought out. Before I go any further, I’ll admit I’m an automatic movement snob. (As are a great deal of watch enthusiasts) there’s something magical about not needing a battery, about the spinning and oscillating of gears and springs. The smooth sweep of a second hand and the bejeweled movements peaking out from exhibition case backs or open heart dials. But this watch doesn’t have an open heart, an exhibition case back or even a second hand! And that’s what makes the Seiko VK64 mechanical quartz movement such a great choice. It’s going to mean that this Watch will remain affordable, and considering the fantastic specs it comes with it will punch well above its weight class for this reason.
Now here’s what I feel is the best part about the Zephyr. It really feels like your wearing an automatic. Because there is no second hand sub dial to give it away with a ticking motion. And the fact that the chronograph function is mechanical means that when you press the timer button it clicks like a Valjoux, and pushing the reset button sends it flying back to zero instantly. I’ve had a few other watches with this movement and really wanted to like them, but just couldn’t manage to fall in love. The tick tick tick motion has always betrayed what lies beneath. This watch bridges the gap. It beguiles you with it’s classy yet sporty looks and fantastic specs. I warn all you snobs of the automatic movement regime. This watch is coming for you, and when it finds you it will conquer your wrist, steal your heart, and change your mind!
To sum it up this piece has done a fantastic job of paying homage to the Italian military chronographs of the 1960s. It is very well equipped, comfortable, versatile and fits like a dream. Even the packaging is well presented and feels of high quality. I’ve used the box in a few of the photos because it is so nice. The only 2 areas I can think of for improvement would be an improved water resistance rating to 100M and a more exciting clasp as this one is rather plain, but in all honesty how much time will you spend looking at the clasp. Please Check them out here and join the mailing list to find out when they will be available. This is a piece that you won’t want to miss. Early bird pricing on this Watch will be under $200 which is spectacular so be sure to get your name down first when they are launched on Kickstarter.