P1lot One: the birth of a unique non-profit pilot’s watch

Members of Horlogeforum.nl (4,000+ members, Holland’s largest watch forum) can sign up for a limited modified existing watch since 2003. The maximum price is € 500 and watch brands offer a number of free modifications, such as blued screws and a personalized, numbered dial. Througout the years, this led to the first Meistersinger NL Edition: a one-hand watch, just for the Dutch market. This year’s special is always referred to as “HFLE”: Horlogeforum.nl Limited Edition.


After not having a HFLE for 2 years due to the crisis, 5 forum members decided it was time for a new version. Only this time, this would not be a modified, existing watch, but a self-designed and built Dutch pilot’s watch. This project demands specific techniques, so a project team was formed. Teun van Heerebeek designed the watch (called “P1lot One”) and Hans de Ree would do planning, buying and sales. Together, they would take care of the communication and PR. The “construction team” consists of Remie Beijer (leather strap), Rob Haaring (leather watch roll) and Jan Binnendijk (engineering and construction). Remie bought dozens of NOS Swiss leather belts, out of which the leather straps are crafted. The buyers’ initials are branded in the strap, to make the P1lot One exclusive and very personal. Rob bought many leather sheets for the watch rolls.


The P1lot One is inspired by the “Fliegeruhren” of WW2, which are extremely popular at the moment. Many watch brands offer such a pilot’s watch. This is always a large watch with perfect readability and classic looks. After a long design process, the P1lot One got a character of its own and the team wanted to push the envelope when it came to specifications within an extremely tight € 499 budget. All specs are top-shelf and are delivered by very well-reputed Dutch, German and Swiss manufacturers. The watch contains a Swiss hand-wound movement, usually found in pocket watches sinds the Fifties, but wears the oversized diamond-shaped crown on the left, rather than on the right side. If possible, all parts however are designed and built by the team members in the Netherlands. This started by forging the grade 5 titanium case by Jan, which is hand-finished, but also the design of the engravings, strap and watch-roll was completely done by the team.


The project was crowd funded by the buyers, who were able to choose between 2 bezel designs (fluted and smooth) and 2 colors Swiss Super-LumiNova (bright orange and white). Some versions only have 4 editions, guaranteeing high exclusivity. The hand-made watch rolls are filled with numerous extras, such as a complementary NATO strap, a strap tool and so-called “fat spring bars”, who give the NATO more body and rigidity.


In the little spare time, all envelopes were pushed by the team members. Highlights: grade 5 titanium, double-domed sapphire crystal with double-sided AR coating, sandwich dials with the most expensive Swiss Super-LumiNova applied, a unique engraving on the caseback, a Swiss ETA/Unitas 6498-1 hand-wound movement, a hand-forged German grade 5 titanium crown with engraved serial number, a personalised booklet with autographs of the team members, a Facebook page, a website en weekly “flight updates” with all info on the production process. Only real watch enthusiasts are able to build such a watch without profit below the € 500 mark.


The P1lot One will be handed over to the enthusiastic buyers on Teuge Airport on March 29th. At this appropriate location, one buyer will land his Cessna for the occasion!


More information: www.p1lotone.nl or pilotonewatch@gmail.com.