The B-Uhr watch is a watch that has stood the test of time since it was first created and was used by German bomber pilots to guide the pilots. The watch was a synergy of swiss and german watch making engineering, and if you can find an original will cost you quite a lot of money in todays market, but a good one is probably a good investment.
A lot of watch makers make homage versions of the original pilots watch, and the design style can be seen in a whole host of modern watches. The original watches were big at around 55mm so that they could use the readily available pocket watch movements, but the design style was unique. The style is distinctive with the classic marking on the side FL23883
The FL standing for Fyler in a direct translation, and the 23 designating a Navigation watch. The example seen above will currently cost you in the region of £7,500+ and can be seen here.
The companies that are known for the original B-Uhr are “A Lange & Sohne”, “Stowa”, “Laco”, and “Wempe”. Two companies used swiss movements and the other two used in house german movements. An internet search will easily provide full details on the movements as there are some exceedingly good online articles covering the history of these watches.
The focus of this article is the current current available watches that are crafted by this design style.
Laco offer a whole collection based on their original pieces, one in particular is a directly made copy of the original.
The shop can be found online here, and has some great pieces, and if you don’t want a full size version you can get a mini version at 42mm with a Sapphire crystal back. (Beautiful watch in my opinion)
You can expect to pay €3000 for the full size replica, and €1500 for the 861951 mini replica smaller version.
Stowa have their own version available, and of course are perfectly within their rights as they were one of the original manufacturers. They take a more modern approach to their styling for the Type B, but still a beautiful watch.
If you would like the side markings “FL23883” in homage to the original design, for a small fee when you purchase the watch Stowa will happily engrave it for you.
The Stowa online shop can be found here and sells at around €1270.
Wempe make an aviator watch in tribute to their heritage, the design style is modern, and more in line to the Type A than the Type B (inner hour dial)
If you are in London you can of course try one on, retail is currently hard to track down it appears, but a search of Chrono24 allowed me to find a few models not currently featured on their web site, of the Type A & B style, and varying in price dependant on wether you wanted Platinum or not.
Both watches above can be found currently for sale on Chrono24 (click here)
A Lange & Sohne
This company has moved on from aviator watches and is now known for very high end watches of extreme craftsmanship, but the original pieces they made are very highly valued and can be found on places like Chrono24, and bring a high price tag as previously stated.
Pedro is a master watch maker in Spain and has created a homage piece to the style of this time piece, the watch retails on web site at around €4000, but you can shop around and possibly find a second hand one for around €2000, see here.
Pedro hand engraves parts of the movement, and hinges the back of the watch so you admire the craftsmanship
Bell & Ross
French watch makers Bell & Ross have a homage piece also, they market it in their WWI section and say the following
The Vintage WW1 (Wrist Watch 1) pays tribute to the first wristwatches worn by pilots in the 1920s. It features a distinctive large fob watch type diameter, wire lugs welded to the sides of the watch and a thin elegant yet strong leather strap.
With its matte grey steel case and distressed strap, the WW1 Military is the authentic military version of the WW1. Its reading is inspired by the so-called navigation or observation military aviator watches: the graduation emphasizes the minutes on the large face.
This watch is readily available from stockists for around £2000 new, or less if you shop around.
The Rest of the World
You can see the design style and design influence in many watches these days from the big design brands like Breitling and Bremont, but there are other pieces and replicas of this distinctive style, it pays to look around and do your research, a simple search of shopping sites for example brought up pieces of the style to suit many and all pockets, other models from the Laco range (they have many), and some hybrid pieces made from pocket watch movements, converted to wrist watches, with repainted dials.
Hamilton have made a version, Citizen have made a version, as do Tisell and Parnis.
Below is a gallery of watched from this genre available that are not previously mentioned above.