Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Chronologia R003 Pilot Watch

Back in July, I reviewed the Chronologia R004 Dive Watch. This was the first model in what will be a complete stable of tool watches for Air, Land, and Sea. Today's review sample is the R003.6 Pilot Watch from their Air series. Like the Dive Watch, it is large, lightweight, and tough as nails. I put it through its paces here at the prestigious Time Bum Laboratories and found I liked it even more than the Dive model, although I did have a quibble or two.
Like the Dive Watch, the Pilot is big. Its carbon fiber case is 45.5mm wide, 52mm long, and 14mm thick from its stainless steel case back to its flat mineral crystal. This is larger than my usual fare, but it is perfectly appropriate as aviation watches are traditionally oversized. Big though it may be,  a combination of lightweight case material, curved lugs, and the low profile of a 24mm nylon NATO strap minimizes its bulk. As a result, I found it easy to wear and not at all out of place on my relatively small (6.5") wrist. 
The carbon fiber case is fascinating in that it is one of the more "fibrous" that I have seen. It is not the glossy woven pattern we normally associate with this material, neither is it a flat matte black, nor the pronounced marbled effect found on the Tempest Carbon. Instead, it is a dense dark grey with visible tonal variation and a discernible tooth to the texture. It looks almost fuzzy. To my eye, the carbon texture most closely resembles that a grey flannel suit. Granted, it would make the hardest, toughest, and least comfortable suit imaginable, but you get the idea. The nature of this material is most apparent in the bezel. A smooth black ring set into the perimeter provides a stark contrast to the mottled material. The carbon bezel has a rough edge – possibly a bit too rough. There is a void at 9:00, creating a small divot. I like the fact that the case surface is not perfect as I think it adds to the unique and rugged character of the watch, but a divot in the bezel might be too imperfect for some.

The large push-pull crown at 3 o'clock is ringed with fat cogs and decorated with the Chronologia logo, as is the screwed-in case back. Between the two, the watch is good for 100 meters water resistance. This is greater than many aviation watches and makes the R003 a more useful tool. Inside is a Swiss made Ronda 763 quartz, a 5 jewel, gold plated unit with a 40-month battery and an end of life indication. 
Chronologia took a conservative route for its dial, using a combination of applied bars and numerals for hours, a printed seconds index on the inside of the dial, and white sword hands. It is medium grey with a pebbled matte surface that plays nicely off of the darker case. A white on grey chapter index surrounds the dial. T25 Trigalight tritium gas tubes light the hands and four bars. The remaining markers are treated with SuperLuminova. I like tritium tubes because, unlike phosphorescent materials, they do not need to be charged by a light source and will produce a steady glow for decades. With that in mind, I wish Chronologia didn't use them so sparingly. A tube at every mark would be far more useful. This caveat aside, it is a handsome, businesslike layout.
Other versions have more colorful accents and the option of a silicone strap, but I was taken with the somber black and grey NATO combination. The strap is better described as a Zulu, owing to its heavy weave and rounded rings. The buckle is a conventional design with a spring pin and rounded frame. It is signed, but the text is printed, not etched. 
Like its Dive Watch sibling, the Pilot Watch is a good choice for an all around tool watch. The case material is light and durable and has a unique quality. 

The R003 Pilot Watch is available directly from Chronologia-Watches.com for $350, but Time Bum readers can get a special deal. The first three buyers to use CHROTTBUM30 will get 30% off. The first 20 to use CHROTTBUM15 will get 15% off. Both coupon codes expire October 31.

Pro: Cool carbon case, tritium tubes.
Con: Some rough finishing on the case, could use more tritium tubes.
Sum: A different take on the traditional pilot's watch. 

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