For review today, Aurelos Watches has sent a prototype of their upcoming Zephyr model. This piece is basically a homage to the Italian military issued pilot watches of the 1960s. First, that comes to my mind are the Breguet Type 20, The Zenith Cairelli, Breitling and others. From the newer watches, it also reminds me the Sinn 103. They all kind of share the similar look. And I like that look.
So Aurelos is basically new company. As far as I know, the company is from US, nut the watches are probably made in one of the Asian countries, most likely China, but that isn’t anything bad as Chinese companies nowadays are making exceptional cases and overall watches. They really stepped up their game in the last years. The name Aurelos comes from the Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The laurel wreath logo finds its roots in the wreaths worn in ancient Greece and Rome, which were a symbol of victory.
The watch they are making is called the Zephyr. The version they sent me is the black bezel on black dial with silver indices and hands. One of 3 models, which also includes a black on black with gold accents, and another which has a flashy blue bezel which in my opinion is the best looking as far as I can see from the pictures on their website. They will be launching these watches on Kickstarter with a price under 200$ which is quite amazing, so keep your eyes for Aurelos Kickstarter project, you can sign up on their site for the mailing list and get a notification when they are live on Kickstarter.
So let’s look into the watch more deeper and see why I think this is a great watch to consider buying. So the prototype came in this big wooden box, it isn’t the best one as it isn’t sturdy, but you must remember that this is a prototype. Also, I need to remind that this watch has been out to some other reviewers so the box may be beaten up with all the shipping and the watch has some light use marks too. So first impressions were good, the black one actually looks better in life than on pictures. It also feels smaller, I actually thought it was much bigger.
So the case is made of 316L stainless steel. The machine work is good, all the lines are sharp and can’t see any flaws there. The finishing on all the case is polished, I know that on the old watches on which the Zephyr is based the cases were also polished, but I would like if the case was brushed with polished edges on the lugs. I think it would look much better that way and scratch less. The diameter of the case is 42mm, the lug to lug is 48mm, the thickness is 11,8mm and lug with is 22mm. Overall I like the size, it goes with the modern standards, it isn’t oversized and isn’t too small. On the wrist, it actually appears a bit smaller, wears like 40 to 41mm. On the right side of the case, we have the pushers for the Chronograph function and push/pull crown. The pushers I think need a bit adjustment as they aren’t that responsive. When I push and hear the click sound, the chronograph seconds hand doesn’t move, so I need to put in a bit more force to make it go. Other than that pushers feel good, they have that mechanical click. The crown is just a basic push/pull crown with the Aurelos logo etched on the end. The bezel is very well done, best I’ve seen in this price category. There is no play at all and it is quite easy to grab it and turn. The bezel insert is ceramic and all the markings are lumed. The lume on the bezel isn’t as bright as on the dial, but it does its job well. The solid case back is a screw down type with some specification and Aurelos logo etched on it. On top of the dial sits a flat sapphire glass. The water resistance is 5ATM which is more than enough for a pilot’s watch, but I would not suggest you go swimming with it, rain and some splashes are ok.
The dial on the Zephyr is also very similar to the older watches that it’s inspired from. The dial is matte black. Around the dial goes the second’s track. The applied Arabic numerals have a nice polished outline and the inside is white with Superluminova (I’m guessing C3). The lume is really bright and long-lasting. At 12 o’clock we have the Aurelos logo in gold colour. I like the logo, but in my opinion, it would look a lot better if it was printed in white. There are only two subdials at 9 and 3 o’clock. The left one is 60 minute counter and the right one is the 24h dial. The hour and minute index hands are polished and the inside is white with Superluminova. The arrow seconds hand has a triangle at the end with a little bit of lume. Overall I really like the dial and the two subdial horizontal layout is my favourite on the chronograph, this way the watch looks a lot more symmetrical and to me as a designer more appealing.
The movement inside is my favourite quartz movement from Seiko, the VK64. It is a meca-quartz movement. So it means that the second’s hand for the chronograph sweeps and doesn’t thick like on a classic quartz movement. It ticks 5 times a second so the sweep is pretty smooth. I have 5 quartz watches in my collection and 4 of those watches have this movement and I can say only positive things. The battery life is around 2,5-3 years. When it comes to the strap, I don’t know if this is the final choice or not, but I hope they change it. It needs a black or brown pilot style strap with white or cream stitching. The one that is on this watch looks boring, it is a black genuine leather strap with no texture or something, it looks like a dress watch strap. Also, the tang-style buckle is quite boring, they should at least engrave the Aurelos logo or something.
Overall the Zephyr is a great watch, I would get it without thinking much as the price point that will be under 200$ is a steal. You get a nice vintage design, great meca-quartz movement, sapphire glass and overall good quality, solidly built watch. I think this is one of the best pilot style watches you can get at that price point. I would love to see a mechanical version with maybe the Sea-Gull ST19 movement, that would be interesting.