What makes a flieger fly?

If you’re looking for a great pilot’s watch, you’re spoilt for choice. For those with deep pockets, there’s all the Bs – Bremont, Breitling, Bell & Ross or Breguet. And then there’s the timeless appeal of an anything from an Archimede through to an IWC and Zenith to consider.

But what if you want to enjoy the classic design cues of all these watches without breaking the bank? A few more affordable watchmakers do it well – Junghans, Farer, Oris and Longines come to mind – but you can still expect to pay £1,000 or more for the privilege.

The problem with some of the more mainstream brands is that, in trying to appeal to mass-market fashions, they become the antithesis of the timepiece to which they are paying homage. A flieger shouldn’t be cluttered with plastic bits, gimmicky gauges and RAF roundels.

It should be an example of clear, minimalist design that displays everything a pilot needs to know at a glance. Add to this a large face for legibility, and an oversized  crown that can be operated wearing leather gloves, and you have yourselves the hallmarks of a flieger.

That’s what we set out to do at Sidewinder – create well-engineered, affordable watches that retain the design integrity of classic cockpit clocks. The challenge was to make 80-year-old designs feel contemporary. In other words, create a range of watches people of all ages and interests would be proud to wear.

And the distinction we made was this: It’s not about being fashionable. It’s about being timeless.

For inspiration, we looked to such examples as the Longines Heritage collection, Christopher Ward and Steinhart; watches defined by simplicity, quality and attention to detail. Our mission was to create a similar aesthetic for a fraction of the price, while still focusing on quality.

The result is the Sidewinder Spitfire. Its story appeals to aviation buffs and those with an interest in military history. But it is also appreciated by anyone who loves watches and classic design. At under £200 for a hand-assembled watch with sapphire crystal, Swiss movement and a premium Italian leather quick-release strap, it wins hands down. Or Hans down, if you like a good fighter pilot pun.