I love a good military aviation timepiece which means I love Laco. The heritage German watch brand is synonymous with tough, tool pilots’ pieces that look built to survive a crash landing. Now however the German watchmaker is heading outside of its comfort zone, leaning more towards First Class than First Officer in its new Frankfurt GMT.
Laco watches tend to have a specific formula, in the same way the Dirty Dozen watches did: clear white-on-black dials, oversized fluted crowns and chunky leather bracelets. They’re the kind of things a professional pilot needs; knowing what the time is halfway around the world is not, generally speaking, one of them.
Yet despite the departure from what the brand is known for, the new watch is still firmly a Laco. Sure, there are some design differences from the purely functional watches like the Westerland or Augsburg, but the Frankfurt GMT is still a solid piece of watch.
In many ways it’s the perfect halfway house between a pure tool watch and the usual classical travellers’ watches. First, the 43mm stainless steel case is nicely chunky, with a good weight, but thanks to its short lugs feels like a far smaller watch on the wrist. Its gunmetal colour and grey-black palette as a whole give the watch an under-theradar stealth look, but flashes of orange make it add a nicely sportier twist.
The GMT function itself is as stripped-back as possible. There’s no exterior bezel to be knocked about, instead opting for a rotating inner bezel, operable using the top screw-down crown. The ring displays only every other hour, with an orange triangle in place of the 24, pulling away from the cockpit-inspired, technical look of previous Lacos.
Both crowns are protected using an asymmetrical case construction. As you screw them down, they settle nicely into the side of the case; unscrew them and they’ll spring up, ready and easy to use, even with gloves thanks to the fluted grips.
The Frankfurt GMT is powered by a riff on the classic workhorse movement of the ETA 2893-2, a reliable rather than racey calibre. It’s the kind of movement you don’t really need to show off, hence the engraved rather than exhibition caseback here. The engraving itself shows a military fighter jet, the same (I assume) as the counterweight on the central seconds hand.
This particular Frankfurt came on a water-resistant treated leather strap which was fine enough. It did however also come with a far cooler canvas number with an orange strip to perfectly match the tip of the GMT hand and the 24-hour index, definitely the option I’d choose. It just depends whether you want to hammer home the military credentials or prefer the whole jet-set traveller scene.
Understated style paired with practical tool-watch vibes, the Frankfurt GMT is a welcome departure from Laco’s military heritage, the perfect balance of pilots’ and travellers’ watch – and at £1,500 it’s incredibly well-priced, too.
Price & Specs:
Model Name: Laco Frankfurt GMT
Case/Dial: 43mm, dark sandblasted stainless steel
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Modified ETA 2893-2, automatic
Power reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, 2nd time-zone
Strap: Black Nytech (Nylon leather lined), plus a Grey & Orange Nylon strap
More details at Laco’s website.