Introducing the Astor+Banks Pilomatic, an Affordable, American Aviator’s Watch

Powered by a Swiss-made ETA movement, the Pilomatic is put together in Chicago and costs under US$1000.

Chicago-based Astor+Banks is a new brand that concentrates on affordable watches with a military-style design. After a quartz chronograph and a time-only, hand-wind, Astor+Banks third wristwatch is the Pilomatic, a watch that takes its cues from several well known aviation timepieces.

The Pilomatic is stainless steel, 42mm in diameter and fitted with a sapphire crystal. The look is a modern take on the extra-large Second World War German airforce beobachtungsuhr worn by aircraft navigators (which provide the inspiration for today’s IWC Big Pilot’s Watch). So the screw-down crown on the Pilomatic is onion-shaped, just like on the vintage b-uhr, but the 12 o’clock marker is an upward chevron instead of a triangle. And the hour and minute hands are shaped like propellors.

Astor+Banks Pilomatic 1

Astor+Banks Pilomatic 2

Two versions are available: a black dial with stark white Super-Luminova, or a dark blue dial with sun ray brushed finish and greenish Super-Luminova. The Pilomatic is limited to 100 pieces, divided evenly between the two dial colours.

Astor+Banks Pilomatic 4

Astor+Banks is named after the two intersecting streets in Chicago where company founder Andrew Perez got his start in 2012. Like many other start-up watchmakers, Astor+Banks relies on suppliers for the components of the Pilomatic, which are then assembled by Perez and his watchmaker in Chicago.

The division of labour is a familiar one that balances quality and cost effectively: the movement inside is the Pilomatic is a Swiss made ETA 2824 automatic, while the case and crown come from a German company, and other components are made in China. A global supply chain is inescapable for watches in this affordable price segment.

That being said, the eventual goal of Astor+Banks founder Perez is to manufacture the external components of the watch, meaning the case, dial and hands, in the United States.

Pricing and availability 

The Pilomatic is priced at US$950 for pre-orders, and will rise to US$1249 subsequently. It’s available direct from Astor+Banks.

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