Undone’s latest is a whimsical tribute to pilot’s watches of the past that takes a different slant than many other similar watches in the genre. The new watch, dubbed the Aero, uses a locking bezel to pay tribute to a sometimes forgotten feature of early aviation watches. The watches are styled to bring to mind a specific era, but with modern sensibilities in a package that is meant to appeal to a broad audience.
The conceit of the Aero is that in addition to the large cases, glare free finishing, or easy to read dials that were hallmarks of the earliest pilot’s watches, a rotating bezel that could be used for navigational purposes was equally important. Undone argues that while many associate the rotating bezel as an innovation in dive watches, it was actually P.V.H Weems that invented the bezel to assist pilots in flight. This type of celestial navigation was critical for early pilots as a backup to radio navigation, and required skill not just in the mechanics of flight, but in math and science as well.
The Aero comes in two variants that they are calling the Scientific and the Commando. The Scientific features a cream dial, syringe hands, and Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9. Concentric circles on the dial create tracks for the seconds, minutes, and hours, with each hand lining up precisely to read the appropriate track.
The Commando takes inspiration from both classic field watches and notable aviation watches of the past, and uses a black dial that Undone has given a prominent faux-patinated look to play up the vintage vibes. This variant features longer and more prominent hands than the Scientific, and has Arabic numerals at every hour, save 12, which features an orientation arrow that is so common with watches of this type.
Both variants make use of a wide steel bezel with a K1 glass insert that locks in place using the crown at 2:00. When the crown is unscrewed, the bezel rotates freely, but clamps down when closed to keep it from being jostled about. This gives the watch a tool watch look that is both retro and functional.
The Aero is 40mm in diameter, 48mm lug to lug, and 15mm thick, and the case has alternating polished and brushed finishing. The polycarbonate crystal, which is highly domed, is an additional vintage cue. Both variants are powered by Seiko’s NH35A automatic movement and carry a retail price of $ 365.
There’s something quirky about the Aero and the way it calls back to a feature of vintage pilot watches that we don’t often associate with modern incarnations of the genre that’s a lot of fun. While it’s not likely an Aero buyer is going to use the locking bezel on the watch for anything that he or she wouldn’t use it for on a dive watch, it’s nice that Undone was able to make a connection to important watches of the past with the Aero at an easy to access price point. Undone