A few weeks ago I watched a great Norwegian film called Kon-Tiki. The movie portrays legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s phenomenal voyage across the pacific. Essentially his mission was to prove that South Americans were the first settlers in Polynesia. This adventurer made this extraordinary journey on a handcrafted balsawood raft with the help of a specialist crew. Amazingly on their three-month crossing they encountered adverse weather and shark attacks. Ultimately Thor Heyerdal achieved his goal and subsequently wrote a book chronicling these events that sold over 50 million copies. These types of historic tales are also the inspiration for many watchmakers. A great example is Hong Kong based brand DELTAt’s First Flight, which is a tribute to 20th Century aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.
Recently I became friends with the owner of the DELTAt Hiro Cheng. In a relatively short space of time he has created some absolutely wonderful timepieces. Back in December 2015 I was fortunate enough to test one of their magnificent MK1-CRG bronze watches. This timepiece has an exceptional industrial appearance that is totally unique. That is why I have encouraged Hiro to submit the watch for the prestigious Red Dot Award. Hopefully he will be successful in his endeavor and get the recognition he deserves.
A few days ago I received a bespoke First Flight watch and it looks absolutely phenomenal.. Hiro has a meticulous eye for detail and like most designers, is striving for perfection. This collection of timepieces is completely handmade and is limited to 20 pieces. Each of the dials depicts historic flights made by Alberto Santos-Dumont. In 1906 his 14-bis was the first aircraft to fly without the aid of a catapult.
Normally watchmakers include small details to represent legendary figures or companies. DELTAt have taken this process a lot further and have achieved some incredible results. Each dial is a miniature representation of three historically significant scenes. For example Neuilly St. James, Neuilly-sur-Seine (where the 14-bis was built), Bois de Boulogne polo grounds (the first free flight trial) and Chateau de Bagatelle’s grounds of Bois de Boulogne (first official flight). Every detail has been fastidiously recreated (by a Hong Kong based artist called Yui) and in my opinion the overall effect is extraordinary. The only other watchmaker that has experimented in a similar way before is Azimuth with their magnificent Battletank collection.
Beneath the elegant 44mm (316L Stainless Steel) case lies a Japanese made Seiko automatic mechanical movement. The Caliber NH35 comprises 24-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. Functionally the First Flight features hours, minutes and hacking seconds. The watch is also water resistant to a depth of 200 metres and has a 41-hour power reserve.
The First Flight comes with a choice of leather and Military Style Nylon Straps (which are interchangeable without tools).