|01-05-2011, 01:06 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Review of Revue Thommen XXL Automatic Chronograph
Review of Revue Thommen Airspeed XXL Chronograph, Ref. #7001.6/16051.6183
At long last, here’s my review of my brand spanking new Revue Thommen Airspeed XXL chronograph, reference number 7001.6/16051.6183. This review was delayed because I purchased the watch on a stainless steel bracelet which I removed and replaced with the strap seen here in the photos. I wanted to show the watch as I intend to wear it and finding the right strap for this piece took longer than expected.
I owned an original Revue Thommen-made Airspeed chronograph with the much-loved Lemania 5100 movement in it. That watch was circa late ‘90s in the waning days of Revue Thommen's watchmaking expertise. That watch sported an embossed airspeed medical helicopter on the caseback, hence the genesis of the watch’s name. That watch also measured a smallish 38mm in size, to give a bit of perspective to the new ‘XXL’ designation.
As many regulars here know, I am a big fan of the Revue Thommen brand (‘RT’ for short) even though RT watches are now manufactured under license by Grovana of Switzerland, so the entire heritage of RT is not exactly present, but Grovana has enough of their own Swiss heritage to qualify as a legitimate Swiss watchmaker in my opinion.
This is the third RT watch I have purchased since October of 2010, so I am on a roll. Each RT I have received has exhibited fine build quality, good accuracy out of the box, unique designs and a cache that you won’t find with just any watch.
I wanted to add a Valjoux-based chronograph to the stable and looked at and considered many 7750-based watches. Because many 7750 chronos can get pretty pricey and I wanted to stay as close to $500 as possible, my choices were limited. When this RT Airspeed XXL entered my radar, it was pretty much a done decision, pending my winning the watch on auction. Slam! The hammer banged down and I won! This watch came straight from Germany, brand new, with shipping, coming in just under $500. Not bad!
Sporting a near perfect size at 40mm without the signed screwdown crown, I’m not exactly sure why they call this one an ‘XXL.’ It really should be an Airspeed medium, or at best, large. But I’m not complaining, there’s something nifty about a 40mm 7750-based chronograph.
The all stainless steel case is fully polished and is even nicely finished inside the lugs and on the case sides between the lugs. I don’t know how many watches (bigger $$$ watches included) that I have seen when the bracelet is removed and poorly finished case sides and/or lugs show their face. Lugs are 20mm, case thickness is 14mm, standard for a 7750 movement.
The crown is suitably sized, screws down and is signed. The chrono pushers are standard fare, nothing unusual one way or the other. The screwdown caseback is a display type, showing the venerable Valjoux 7750 movement, sporting an ‘RT’ signed rotor in this application. Factory water resistance is a modest 5 ATM.
I removed the factory bracelet for a couple of reasons. First, the RT Fleiger chronograph I recently purchased sported the exact same bracelet, albeit at 22mm instead of 20mm. I didn’t want that much repetition in my RTs and if there is a weak point in both of these watches, it is the bracelet. Although the links are solid stainless steel and beautifully polished, the deployant is, you guessed it, stamped steel and not machined, which is a pet peeve of mine. The end links are also not solid. So given these factors, I wanted to put the Airspeed XXL on a strap.
The strap I selected is a Hirsch Vintage Calfskin, available in either black or the medium/dark brown you see here, both with contrast stitching. I chose the dark brown and with the somewhat distressed style of calfskin this strap sports, it complements the watch perfectly. The strap ran $35. The strap measures 20mm at the lugs and tapers to 18mm at the buckle. Twin keepers (one fixed, one moveable) and moderate padding make this strap a good choice. The strap varies in thickness from about 3.5mm to 4.5mm, but is flexible enough so as to sit comfortably on the wrist.
The Valjoux 7750 hacks, manual winds and has acquitted itself perfectly under my tutelage. Power reserve is north of 45-hours and accuracy has been about +9 seconds a day out of the box. No complaints here. All chronograph functions are smooth, accurate and chrono reset to zero is crisp, fast and perfect. Everything we’ve come to expect from the tried and true 7750 engine. And in case you were wondering, the distinctive 7750 wobble makes its presence known from time to time. Kind of like that shy but sexy neighbor that smiles at you occasionally from across the street. You know she’s there, but she doesn’t distract you too often.
The dial on this watch is utter simplicity and a paragon of clean, uncluttered design. A shade of pure stark white with screened black vintage-style Arabics that are not hacked off anywhere, the dial is all business. There is also a screened black tachy scale that forms the chapter ring on the dial. The vintage cathedral-style hands with their long tips are extremely legible, as are the black subdial hands and main chrono second hand. The long tips on the hands also lend an air of fineness to the presentation of the dial. The hour and minute hands are luminous and there are small lume dots around the perimeter of the dial. Lume quality is good, as seen in the photo.
Some may think the dial looks cheap or too simple for a watch of this caliber, but it is so clean and easy to read that any air of cheapness is overshadowed by its quality and intended purpose, that is, to accurately and easily convey timekeeping and stopwatch timing to the owner. That is does in spades. The subdials are slightly recessed and have a circular patterning to them, but since the dial is white, this design element is hard to spot.
The crystal is flat sapphire with no distortion noted. I couldn’t detect any anti-reflective coating on the crystal. The dial and hands exhibited no defects or dirt under an 8X loupe examination. The movement viewed through the display back also looked clean and well-assembled.
A quickset day (English only) and date are located at the 3 o’clock position. I like the divider on the dial between the day and date that hides the separate calendar wheels, this gives the watch a more expensive look. Alignment of both the wheels is perfect in their respective windows.
Presentation was the same as my previously purchased RT watches, outer signed cardboard box, inner padded box with documentation folder and signed polishing cloth.
I have to say here that I have no affiliation with the seller of this watch, but since this is the third RT I have purchased from them, I wanted to make mention of them in a positive light. They have provided exceptional service, fast shipping and good prices. This Airspeed XXL was won on auction on a Sunday night, I had the watch in my hands the following Thursday from Germany. Shipping has been by UPS with complete tracking information. Brokerage/customs fees have ranged from about $12 to $17 for each of the three RTs I have purchased. The seller is MacArther’s in Hamburg.
Overall, this RT Airspeed XXL chronograph fits my requirements for a no-nonsense, value priced Valjoux 7750-based automatic chrono with true Swiss heritage and build quality. Ranking high on the value meter, this watch is a pleasure to wear, look at and to use with exclusivity to boot. Once again, I tip my WIS cap to the house of Grovana/RT for producing a fine piece of horology for the average man with extraordinary tastes!
Pros: no-nonsense in all respects, clean, readable vintage-inspired dial, Valjoux 7750 movement, good build quality, great price
Cons: dial may be too simple for some, modest water resistance, no decoration on the movement, cheapish stainless steel bracelet
Verdict: superb overall value for a Swiss Valjoux 7750 powered chronograph, the guy on the train or in line at Taco Bell won’t be wearing one, great effort and results from RT!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics!
Visit my Watch Reviews Blog at http://watchreviewsbymcv.blogspot.com
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