There’s something immensely satisfying about a good pilot’s watch. There’s an understated simplicity to their design, due to their focus on legibility and precision, that means they always sit in the goldilocks zone of durability and style. All of which is true of Brellum’s latest limited edition wristwatch, the Brellum Pilot GMT LE.1 Chronometer.
Structurally, the Pilot GMT LE.1 has a 41.8mm stainless steel case with contrasting brushed and polished surfaces and a knurled crown and pump pushers. The design of the crown and pushers are designed to make the watch easy to operate while wearing thick leather gloves. Which is something that would’ve been important in the early days of aviation when, frankly, being a pilot would have been a miserably cold experience. They give the watch a vintage flair that’s further emphasised by the retro style box sapphire crystal.
However, what makes this limited edition special is the dial, which features both a chronograph complication and a GMT function. Both of these function have a special place in pilot’s watch design. Before navigation was handled almost exclusively by computers, pilots relied on good old fashioned directions and landmarks – fly north-east for 20 minutes until you see the lighthouse by the cliffs then head south for 15 minutes and that’s where the airfield is (can you tell I’m not a pilot?). Without an accurate timekeeping device, it would be easy to get lost to disastrous effect. A chronograph allows you to track your journey without having to do mental gymnastics.
A GMT function is less about utility while you’re flying and more about keeping your bearings once you’ve arrived in a different time zone. The red GMT hand of the Pilot GMT LE.1 points towards a peripheral 24-hour scale, showing the time in a second time zone in addition to the main local time display. It’s primarily used to track the time back home while you’re overseas.
At first, the amount of information available on the Brellum Pilot GMT LE.1 Chronometer’s display seems like a lot. There’s hours, minutes, chronograph seconds, small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, a 30-minute timer at 12, a 12-hour timer at 6 with intersecting date window and GMT hand with peripheral scale. However, Brellum have done a superb job of making everything exceptionally legible thanks to the high contrast between the white dial and black accents and also the slightly recess of the subdials that gives structure to the display, making everything clear. Sort a pilot version of last year’s Pandial Chronograph.
The piece is powered by the automatic calibre BR-754 GMT, which is based on the Valjoux 7754 and has a 46-hour power reserve, plus it has COSC chronometer certification to boot. Aesthetically, it’s finished to a high degree with perlage, Geneva stripes and a gold coated rotor, all of which is visible through the exhibition caseback. The rotor also has an engraving denoting the watch’s limited edition number out of a total of 23 pieces.
I love that this watch is just a really well executed pilot’s watch. There’s no wacky gimmick designed to trick you into buying it, it’s simply classy and elegant with all the utility you could ask from it. I can get down with horological insanity but it’s watches like the Brellum Pilot GMT LE.1 Chronometer that I actually want to wear regularly. Plus, with a price of £3,120, picking one up is not an unrealistic prospect for most collectors, except for the fact that it’s a limited edition of 23 pieces.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Brellum Pilot LE.1 GMT Chronometer
- Case/dial: 41.8mm diameter x 11.7mm thickness, stainless steel case, multi-level silver/white opalin dial
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Brellum calibre BR-754 GMT, based on Valjoux 7754, automatic
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 46h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT hands, 12 hour chronograph, stop seconds
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet and additional black nubuck pilot strap included
- Price/availability: £3,120, limited to 23 pieces
More details at Brellum.