RESERVOIR Airfight Chronograph : RESERVOIR firewalls the throttle !

Dark brown, light beige, and light teal cockipt pilot uniform.

 Introducing the Airfight Chronograph : the very first RESERVOIR Chronograph dedicated to the world of aviation. As such, it joins the Airfight collection, to which it adds its distinctive Bi-Retrograde display, celebrating the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter 

Right from its inception, RESERVOIR has put down roots in three elements: air, earth, and water. Each is embodied in the brand’s distinctive approach to mechanisms: semi-circular displays, retrograde hands, and innumerable style touches. But the iconic complication for aviators, the chronograph, is a challenge on another level altogether. Are you ready for take-off?. 

— Check List 

Technical and aesthetic prowess usually move forward in tandem, like two sides of the same coin: each needs the other, but the two never meet. RESERVOIR, however, sees this commonplace as heresy. Indeed, it holds the contrary belief that an intimate, symbiotic union of technique and style, resulting in a coherent, innovative and operational whole, is what makes a watch worth owning. 

The world of aviation is the perfect embodiment of that mindset. The controls of any aeroplane, from light aircraft to huge military transports via legendary war planes – such as the P-51 – are all designed by and for pilots to address precise, standardised functions. The saying may be that ‘form follows function’, but here the two become one. Each colour, material, and location is carefully chosen to fulfil a single purpose. 

— Lined up  

If there’s one plane that distils the essence of this relationship between form, function, performance and aesthetics, it’s the P-51. The North American P-51 Mustang (to give it its full name) is by far the most widely known and best-loved of all warbirds, inspiring design in many other fields including watchmaking. However, very few firms have taken a good look at the instruments inside the cockpit, and only pilots really know how to read them. RESERVOIR has thus chosen to focus its efforts on bringing to life a dial that itself draws inspiration from the aesthetics of the P-51 to develop a thoroughly operational watch. 

— Takeoff 

The Airfight Chronograph will appeal to two categories of people in particular: enthusiasts and pilots, who share the same love of aviation from slightly different standpoints. Enthusiasts will immediately spot the numerous aircraft-inspired details on the dial: the iconic hours and minutes hands, black with a large white luminous triangle at their tips, echo the design of the indicators used on the P-51’s instrument panel, for instance. Pilots will instantly recognise the nods to the ‘Badin’ airspeed indicator (which takes its name from its inventor, Raoul Badin), the vertical speed indicator measuring ‘up’ and ‘down’ variations in feet per minute, the tachometer measuring rpm, and other instruments. All of them are at the centre of the P-51’s instrument panel. 

At the same time, the Airfight Chronograph dial features sectors in green, orange, and black. Here too, aficionados will instinctively realise that each indicates a different status: normal (green), danger (orange), and prohibited (red). While this colour code is universal, pilots in particular will recognise more specific indications relating to rpm, stalling speed (VS) and carburettor temperatures (with the risk of icing in certain weather conditions triggering carburettor heating). 

— Navigate 

Each of these features serves a specific operational purpose, just like their muses in the P-51. At the heart of this system lies the key flight instrument, the chronograph, measuring elapsed flight time, marking off waypoints, and allowing range and remaining available flight time to be calculated. Each flight is carefully timed, from engine on to full shutdown via every phase of flight. It’s vital for any aircraft (be it private, commercial, or military) to have a chronograph on board. The instrument sits right at the top of the Minimum Equipment List (MEL): without a chronograph, no aircraft can leave the ground. 

With that in mind, RESERVOIR has designed a highly readable chronograph that’s just as functional as it’s operational. The piece is divided into three parts: the large seconds display is central, the 30-minute counter is at 12 o’clock, and the hour counter at 6 o’clock. 

This vertical layout along a single axis is the most user-friendly; in operational conditions, it’s the easiest to read. The distinctively different markings (0-30 for minutes, 12 hour increments for the hours) prevent any possible confusion. The jumping minutes avoid any risk of the errors that might arise with a display in which one minute gradually gives way to the next.

— Flying instrument 

Either side of the chronograph’s central axis, RESERVOIR has arranged two 120° arcs displaying the green, orange and red colour scheme. The first, on the left, has markings from 0 to 30, indicating retrograde seconds. Indeed, the retrograde complication has been one of RESERVOIR’s hallmarks, right from brand’s earliest days, embodying the desire to have a rare complication alongside a creative display that brings life to any dial. 

To the right sits a second segment, graduated from 1 to 31 to indicate the date; this too is retrograde. The first day of the month is at the bottom, the last at the top: this vertical progression is also inspired by the various instruments on the P-51 panel, such as its temperature and fuel gauges. 

The aeronautical display is powered by an in-house complication within the RSV-Bi120 Calibre, an automatic winding bi-retrograde manufacture chronograph and column wheel with an LJP-L1C0 base. The movement boasts a 60-hour power reserve and can be viewed through the sapphire caseback, just as easily as a mechanic can inspect an aircraft engine on the tarmac 

— Fuselage 

RESERVOIR has also borrowed extensively from the P-51 controls for the externals, starting with the crown, which echoes the knurled knobs used by aviators to adjust settings such as the altimeter and QNH atmospheric pressure values. 

Like any instrument panel, the dial is of course all-black. The bezel features a telemeter scale. The Airfight Chronograph joins the Airfight collection, where it will be available in-store and online from September 2023 onwards, with a 43-millimetre steel or black PVD case on a black leather and canvas strap with pin buckle, together with an additional NATO strap. 

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