Undone Aero Scientific

I have long hoped some intrepid microbrand would produce an affordable Weems homage. Well, today is the day! The prolific team at Undone has just launched the Aero, and I was lucky enough for them to give me one of my own in exchange for this hands-on review. 

Undone Aero Scientific

Ages ago, when I was first getting into watches, I stumbled across a photo of something really cool. It was an old pilot's watch with a dual-crown setup, except the upper crown was actually a locking mechanism for the bezel. As you may have already guessed, that watch was a World War II seconds-setting navigation watch, invented by American Navy Airman Phillip van Horn Weems. The Weems watch was the first with a rotating bezel. Several watchmakers produced the design during the war. Most associate it with Longines, although several other manufacturers produced the design as well, like Movado, Omega, Zenith, and LeCoultre. The watch even played a central role on Tom Hardy's wrist in Dunkirk (2017) and was, arguably, the best thing about the movie (fight me). 

LeCoultre Weems Classicwatch.com
An original WW2-issue LeCoultre sold by ClassicWatch.com

The platform for Undone's project is its excellent Basecamp model. As I have mentioned before, the pleasing vintage-inspired proportions, sound Seiko NH35 automatic movement, 100m water resistance, and domed Lexan Polycarbonate crystal make this my favorite of all the Undones. Everything about it just feels right. 

Undone Aero Scientific wrist shot

The original Weems watches were anywhere from 27mm on up, but most were in the 33mm range. Of course, 33mm is a hard sell these days, so I am perfectly pleased with the 40mm Undone case. It is large enough to fit the modern tool watch fashion, but not grotesquely so. I find the 40x48x12mm dimensions (actually 15mm thick once you factor that sweet dome) to be just right on my 6.75" wrist. The generous bezel-to-dial ratio also makes it appear slightly smaller at a glance.

Undone Aero Scientific

Like the other Basecamp versions, this one wears a brushed top and polished sides with a neat bevel bisecting the two surfaces. It uses the same signed, octagonal, screw-down crown as the others, and this is perhaps the one thing I had hoped they might change. Not that there is anything wrong with it, mind you. Despite its odd shape, it operates quite easily. I just would have preferred a coin-edge on this one to better suit the overall throwback quality of the design. I know it's not a big deal, but I had to put it out there. 

Back to the original Weems for a moment. P.V.H Weems devised the rotating bezel to track seconds. At aircraft speeds, a miscalculation of several seconds could put the pilot hundreds of miles off course. With the Weems system, the pilot could synchronize his watch to a GMT radio signal, then lock the bezel in place. The 2 o'clock crown (sometimes 4 o'clock) that performed the locking function was always larger than the primary crown, and so it is here as well. As on the originals, the wide bezel is all steel, with an engraved and painted seconds index. The red "60" is a nice touch. Of course, the bezel functioned perfectly, moving smoothly in both directions and easily locking in place. 

Undone Aero Commando

Undone offers two versions of the Aero. The black dial Commando features blunt post hands and a more familiar pilot's watch layout with a navigation triangle, and a field watch style 24-hour index printed in red. The Scientific, which I received, has a cream dial, Arabic numerals for the primary hours, and blued syringe hands. Both incorporate elements of original Weems dials while adding a novel Undone twist. Of the two, I think the cream Scientific is more distinctive than the Commando's more common military layout. 

Undone Aero Commando

Working from the perimeter inward, you will notice a cream ring that gives way to silver inset seconds track before the main dial resumes with another index and lumed hour markers. Finally, you reach the primary markers in the most central section. These concentric indices enhance the illusion that the Aero Scientific is smaller than its 40mm diameter, without sacrificing its modern wrist presence. Nothing clutters the dial. The only text is "Self-Winding" and "24 Jewels" in the lower half. As always, the Undone brand name is discreetly tucked at the very bottom at 6 o'clock

Undone Aero Scientific lume

Both versions get a vintage lume treatment, although only on the hands and dial, not the bezel. The initial burst on my Scientific dial was pretty even, but the lume on the markers could not keep up with the hands.  

Undone Aero Scientific

As with every Undone watch, the buyer may choose from their catalog of straps as well as other personalization options. Mine arrived with an exhibition caseback and a 20mm Italian leather strap on quick-release pins that displayed a fantastic, and appropriately broken-in, pull-up effect when bent. 

Undone Aero Scientific

A properly sorted wartime original Weems can easily cost thousands of dollars and even the 1990s-era Longines reissue is no bargain (And it had a date window! Why? Why!). The Undone Aero goes on sale today for the very reasonable price of $365. This is spot-on for a watch of these specs and absolutely peanuts for anything that will even remotely scratch that Weems itch. 

I love my Undone Aero and heartily recommend it. For more info or to order one of your own, visit the Undone.com. ⬩

Undone Aero Scientific movement

Undone Aero Scientific


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