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Introducing the Chotovelli Flieger

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It was early last year when we first introduced you to the Italian brand, Chotovelli & Figli.  While that last watch was firmly in the world of the automotive, today’s watch takes us up into the skies.  In some ways, it’s continuing a theme I’ve noticed in watches crossing my desk lately – aviation seems to be a popular segment as of late.  And, of course, the Chotovelli Flieger furthers that supposition.

Right off the bat, the Chotovelli Flieger should feel instantly familiar.  You’ve got the handset shape that we would expect, and you’ve got the inner hours track marked out as well, and you have a crisp, high-contrast white-on-black color scheme.  There is no dotted triangle up at 12 o’clock, but I’m still comfortable referring to this as a flieger.

One of the first things I noted about the Chotovelli Flieger when I got them in was something not readily apparent from the photos I had first seen of them.  These dials actually have a bit of a layering to them.  The central hours track is printed on the dial, but the numerals are raised up, and then outer minutes ring is of a separate piece as well.  We normally don’t see this sort of dimensionality to a pilot watch, so this was a tidy change of pace.

Also changed up on the Chotovelli Flieger is the crown.  You might expect a larger diamond crown here, but instead, you’ve got a simple round one, albeit one with a groove cut into it with a red line that picks up the red on the tip of the seconds hand.  It does protrude a bit, but it wasn’t anything I had a problem with it digging into my wrist.  Which is surprising, as the diameter spec for the watch is 44mm.

Perhaps it’s because the Chotovelli Flieger is a relatively thin watch (at 12mm), with a tapered profile from front to back.  I like that the brand has done that.  Along with giving that profile a different look, it’s also an embracing of the fact that it’s not some massive mechanical movement inside.  Here, we’ve got the Seiko VH31A quartz movement (which brings a sweeping seconds hand to the party).

That movement is actually the reason for the one design question I had around the Chotovelli Flieger – the handset.  To my eye, they just look a bit too small for the watch.  It’s not something that impacts reading the time, they’re just not as large as I think would look appropriate for the watch.  When I spoke to the brand about this, they did admit they were smaller than they might prefer as well.  However, as this is the first time using this particular movement, they did not want to risk overburdening the drivetrain, nor run the risk a hit to the watch causing it to come off of the spindle.  The good news here is that they are eying increasing the size in a future revision, so we’ll see what comes down the road.

For our review, we were sent two versions of the Chotovelli Flieger to have a look at – one in a blasted finish on a brown strap, and a black PVD version on a black strap.  The straps have a nice soft touch to them, being made of calf leather, and have an almost sueded feel to them.  I did notice some squeaking from the strap, which seems to be due to the edge finishing.  Surprisingly, it was not from the lugs, but actually from the buckle end of things, a first for me.

I’ve worn both versions, on and off, to the office, around the house, and just in general, everyday life.  As you would expect from a slim quartz watch, the Chotovelli Flieger does not weigh down the wrist, and slides out easily from under a cuff when you need to check the time.  As I mentioned in passing earlier, reading the time on the watch is quick and easy to do (even with the smaller handset).  While the styling is instantly recognizable (for those into watches, I suppose), it’s what I would call an understated interpretation, meaning that the watch would fit in just about any setting short of a suit.

The Chotovelli Flieger is taking a different route to getting on your wrist, as well.  At least, that is, from an established brand.  You see, the watches are going to be available via Kickstarter.  While the MSRP of the Chotovelli Flieger is expected to be $180, you’ll be able to pick one up via the project for just $103 (super early bird; 300 backers) or $125.  And while it is a KS project, the brand is not expecting to be varying things from what you see here in this review.  They’ve got all the components on-hand, it’s just a matter of building them up for you, their new customers.  Watch snobs might turn their nose up at quartz, but there is certainly a time and place for those movements.  And when it comes to a tidily built everyday sort of a watch, it’s in a good home.  Be sure to let us know if you pick one up when the Kickstarter launches later this week, as well as what your favorite Flieger-Style watches are. chotovelli.com

UPDATE:  The Kickstarter Is live

 

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Chotovelli Flieger
  • Price: $180 (MSRP) / $99 (Kickstarter pricing)
  • Who we think it might be for: You want an understated Flieger interpretation that can be picked up at any time, ready to go
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? Probably not – just not my particular style
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: After the hand size adjustment, I’d say shrinking the overall diameter a bit would be nice
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: It ended up being the multi-layered dial
Tech Specs from Chotovelli & Figli
  • 44 diameters
  • 12 mm thickness
  • Stainless steel316 l
  • Movement
    • Seiko Cal. VH31A  Analog quartz
    • 2 jewels, sweepsecond.
    • 10-1/2”’ / 4.15 mm
  • Manufactured in Japan
  • Italian calf leather strap
  • Hardened mineral glass
  • Layered dial, applied numerals luminous
  • WR:  50m /5atm /170ft

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