Thanks to Nadia and a bunch of awesome friends who chipped in, for my birthday this year I got my very first mechanical watch: a Techné Goshawk (ref. 411.152). And, yes, it’s a pilot watch :)
I would have been super happy to have either of these as my first mechanical watch but, in the end, the Goshawk won out. This was partly because, at the time of purchase, it was slightly cheaper than the Aachen. But, more importantly, because it was the more unique of the two.
That second point was driven home by a recent Kickstarter campaign from a new watch brand called Air Blue. Air Blue is a spinoff of Deep Blue, a brand that makes affordable dive style watches. The Air Blue Kickstarter is for four lines of watches, and each of these lines borrows from (and, sadly, waters down) the design of a much more expensive pilot watch currently on the market:
Their non-Kickstarter lines (which you can find in their brochure) also borrow design elements from much more expensive watches currently on the market:
But you know which watch design isn’t up there? That of the Techné Goshawk. Or of any of Techné’s aviation watches, for that matter.
Which means that, not only is the Goshawk a gorgeously designed watch in and of itself, because it’s a new-ish design from a boutique watchmaker, there aren’t many other watches out there that look like it.
There are, on the other hand, lots of B-Uhr style fliegers in the market. Because of this, watchmakers tend to go in one of four directions to differentiate their B-Uhr from everyone else’s:
- Authentic: They go super-authentic and make a B-Uhr replica that looks almost exactly like the original – like the Laco Aviation Observer Watch Replica.
- Up market: They borrow from the original concept and make a watch that is fabulously designed and beautifully constructed – like the Hamilton Pilot Auto or the IWC Big Pilot.
- Enthusiast: They keep the watch design relatively similar to the original but add or remove components to cater to different price brackets – like the range of Laco Type B watches available.
- Cheap: They stick mostly to the original design but they use cheaper components to drastically lower the price point – like the Tisell Type B Pilot.
Actually, there’s probably a fifth direction. In this, watchmakers change the design so much that you can’t seriously call their product a B-Uhr flieger anymore – though you can still tell that’s where the design originally came from (like the Orient Flight).
So I had a choice between going with a design that lots of brands are covering or a design that’s unique and interesting, but still has plenty of history behind it. And, though I will eventually get a flieger for myself (next birthday, perhaps?), I figured the Goshawk would be a cooler pilot watch to start with.
Now, onto the watch itself…
About the Techné Goshawk
The Techné brand
Techné Instruments is a boutique aviation watch brand created by Francis Jacquerye in 2007. Jacquerye was a senior designer and analyst at Longines before he went independent and became a horological product management consultant.
Now he and his wife run VANTGARD, a company that consults with watch brands and start-ups. They also design and manufacture (through outsourcing) custom watches for clients and for themselves. So far Techné is VANTGARD’s only in-house brand.
The Goshawk was Jacquerye’s second Techné watch and it was launched 2010. It has since been updated slightly from the original (e.g. the current model uses a sapphire crystal display while the original used mineral glass).
The Goshawk has what you would call a ‘neo retro’ design.
Its design is based primarily on an aircraft mission timer built in the 1940s by two American watchmakers, Elgin and Waltham. These mission timers were installed in Grumman F9F Panther aircraft in the 1940s and F-9 Cougar aircraft in the 1950s and 60s.
This is what those timers looked like:
This is what the Goshawk looks like next to the Elgin version of that mission timer:
And when you throw a regular Elgin aircraft clock from the 1930s into the mix, you can see how those retro dial and hand designs were combined and modernized by Jacquerye to create the Goshawk:
There are a number of specific things I love about the Goshawk’s design but I’ll go over those in a separate post. (UPDATE: That post is now here: 'Techné Goshawk: Attention to design detail'.)
For now, you can read this review from Worn & Wound or just watch their review video (note: Blake pronounces “goshawk” as “g’SHAWK” when its actual pronunciation is “GOSS-hawk”):
The Goshawk’s case is made from 316L stainless steel with a matte black PVD coating. It has a diameter of 41.1mm and a thickness of 13.5mm. So, while it’s not that big on my wrist (I have a 7.5 inch wrist), it is reasonably thick.
The case has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal on the front and an exhibition window on the back. It has a matte black dial, silver minute marks, and its hands and hour marks are coated with C3 luminous material (one of the brightest available). The lume on the 24-hour hand is orange, which is a nice design detail.
The watch uses on an automatic Japanese movement: the popular Miyota 8217 from Citizen. This is a non-hacking, self-winding plus hand-winding, 21 jewel movement. It has a 40+ hour power reserve and is accurate to -20/+40 seconds per day. It has three regular hands (hours, minutes, seconds); a quickset date; and a 24-hour hand.
The Goshawk is also shock resistant; water resistant to 50 metres; and is ISO certified for anti-magnetism (useful for pilots).
I’ve only had this watch for about four hours but already I love it to bits. I love how clear its layout is and how quick and easy it is to read time from it – even from oblique angles. Its lume in spectacular, too.
Mostly, though, it looks great and feels great on my wrist and I’m really enjoying wearing it :)
I’ll have more to say about the Goshawk’s design next time. But, for now, a big, heartfelt thanks to all my friends who contributed towards this watch and have helped me take off on my mechanical watch collecting journey.