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Thread: The A13-A arrives, one man's mission (timer) - complete, delivered and reviewed

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    Default The A13-A arrives, one man's mission (timer) - complete, delivered and reviewed

    I have bought a brand new watch, a rare occurence for me.

    A long time ago (it seems, but actually only March past year) I read a very good post on WUS (I know, there aren't that many) detailing the very impessive efforts of an Italian Oil Engineer (and part-time pilot and rifle marksman) to make his own pilot watch, using the A13-A military cockpit clock/chronograph as his model, fitted into what appreared to be an IWC-Fliegerchronograph-inspired case.

    A man after my own heart, he wanted a super clear central minutes/seconds chronograph. Like me, he would have preferred to use the Lemania 5100 to achieve this, but in its demise, he realised that the quartz ETA 251.262 (or latest variant, the 264) was his easiest alternative.

    What was most impressve about his WUS-post was that this was no drawing he was showing us, no 3-D render.

    He had successfully made an incredibly impressive-looking fully functional prototype with this movement, which was his daily wearer while he figured out improvements.

    By August Paolo had got so many encouraging replies (and PMs no doubt) from WUS members (myself included) that he had generated a spreadsheet to consider whether he could make a limited run to supply those who wanted one. The limited run had to stand on its feet, but could also lead to a longer production run if successful.

    By December he realised he could do it, he had set up a company and was working on a website, as well as final design tweeks to the hands and crown.
    I should stress that Paolo himself has done all of this, he has quietly determined that the A13-A is to be his version, not one arrived at by a committee of posters on WUS. All editting suggestions were politely dismissed and he ploughed on.

    We have discussed it here in the Lemania forum as well.

    February saw the launch of the website (and FB page) and the call for 50 deposits, a minimum of 75 needed to start a production run.

    75 deposits were paid in a few days. Not in minutes as some kickstarters are, but that's probably due to the limited online presence in one WUS post and a nascent FB page.
    The "brave" 75 sat back to wait.

    A programme was quickly issued suggesting a July delivery, we were underway. July seemed unlikely to me, as I have been in Italy over the summer, and know how little gets done.

    Inevitably the programme slipped some (notably over Baselworld when suppliers took on other new work), and on through the invisible Italian August into September, and now Paolo seems to be assembling about 2 batches of 12 each week at his chosen Milan watchmakers.

    I was 17th in the list, and on Friday I was asked for the remaining 95% of funds (the deposit level was impressively low with no mid-stage payment).

    I paid up, and as of this morning, it is here.

    I know a few are interested here (some have even ordered I think), so what's my impression of one man's mission?

    I am impressed. I mean that. I am properly, hand on chin, quiet nod of approval, impressed.

    In his spare time Paolo has managed to produce a winner.

    The size is within the larger end of perfect for me, 42mm diameter, and quite long (lug to lug 52mm). With downturned lugs it fits the wrist beautifully. My wrist is 7 1/4", for reference.

    The quartz movement allows the whole watch to be thin enough to wear easily.

    The dial is lovely, with the outside step up to the 0-60 scale to reduce parallax error. The satin black is very lovely to look at, with a nice level of gentle reflection, but not enough to distract.

    The custom sapphire shallow-domed crystal shows that off, with a few blue hints from the AR.

    The main hands are instantly readable and have no date window to obscure.
    This absence of calendar also make the watch perfect to just grab and go. Up to 72 month battery life is impressive too.

    All the hands are perfect length, just about to touch the scale without doing so, the chrono hands especially.

    I like the way the counterbalances obscure A-13A to read AA when at rest.

    100m WR is perfecty practical for all occasions.
    The movement hour-hacks, so timezone travel is easily adjusted for.
    And as some may know, you can even pre-set the chrono hands to create a countdown, relatively simply.
    The stealth signature at the top, and simple branding below, keep the exact dial layout that specifcation MIL-C-6499. I am glad it wears its "Made in Italy" with pride too.
    The "pump" pushers are a nice touch, and a nod to IWC.

    The overall case shape is elegant and restrained, with brushed top and sides. It is interesting that there is no separate bezel, the crystal surround is part of the main case. The brand's wing design is engraved on the crown, and suitably mil-inspired info engraved to the rear.

    And the custom order Morellato cordura strap suits it very well.
    All the numerals and hands are in bright white to contrast with the black dial, and only quarter markers and the hands are lumed, although from looking at it in sunlight it is hard to tell.
    It even comes packaged with a full set of O-ring seals (crystal, pushers, crown and caseback) for future maintenance.

    Do I have any gripes yet? No. Well, maybe I would have preferred drilled lugs. Perhaps stronger lume? But these are small points, and that's it. It's a short list.

    I think this one man's mission can be deemed a success. Well done Paolo.

    I know he didn't write MIL-C-6499, so one could see this as some type of homage.
    But, he has been the only one to turn this iconic milspec cockpit clock into a watch.

    And he has done it with great elan. What I especially like is the restraint in the design. Like the Pelagos, this watch really doesn't include any frippery. It is purposeful.
    His vision, tenacity and style mean he really does deserve to make a success of this venture. Good luck to him.

    I see from my serial number that it is XX/500, indicating significantly more than the original 75 being planned for this production run. There could be one available if you fancy one.

    If Paolo ever decides to do an automatic one based on the 5100, I will subscribe to that too.
    I could even send him a donor watch for the movement.........

    Some photos

    Firstly, the watch with its inspiration, an A13-A clock (of course, being mine, it has to be a Nero Lemania one)














    And a wristshot


    Dave
    If it's Lemania-powered, I'm interested. Tool Chrono - interested. Dive Chrono - interested. Interesting - interested

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    Great post mate.
    Very nice looking piece too.
    Enjoy.

    Mark.

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    A fantastic watch Dave, have also watched it unfold and kudos to Paolo for a great, well thought out, focussed and individual watch - that part alone is inspirational.
    Thanks for the review - only now and again a new watch interests me, and this is one!

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    Great review and some super pics.
    I am eagerly waiting for my email from Paolo to pay the balance on my order.

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    A-11 Chronograph ? MAd concept although looks very cool... however Dave it does make me think your are slowly retreating into a 'monochrome world' Palagos etc ?
    #womw
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATG View Post
    A-11 Chronograph ? MAd concept although looks very cool... however Dave it does make me think your are slowly retreating into a 'monochrome world' Palagos etc ?
    Needn't worry Al, I have plenty of colour, 4 blue-dialled watches at least.
    Although I do properly appreciate simple design.
    A-11 is the simple clock (Right hand side of first photo on my OP), the A13 is the chronograph version, on the left. The watch is A13, definitely
    If it's Lemania-powered, I'm interested. Tool Chrono - interested. Dive Chrono - interested. Interesting - interested

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