MICRO MONDAYS: The FullGear Pioneer – a customisable pilot watch featuring tritium tubes, launching this week MICRO MONDAYS: The FullGear Pioneer – a customisable pilot watch featuring tritium tubes, launching this week

MICRO MONDAYS: The FullGear Pioneer – a customisable pilot watch featuring tritium tubes, launching this week

Thor Svaboe

We love classic pilot watches. Tough, no-nonsense brushed steel case tools that are a faithful reminder of the aviation glory days of yesteryear. What we want is a simple, clear dial and legibility on point, and monochromatic efficiency. But what if we had all this as a base, for a fully customisable watch not always wanting to be the demure quiet tool? Let’s introduce the FullGear Pioneer — it is all of the above and more, with a bright twist.

FullGear Pioneer

FullGear is launching the Pioneer pilot’s watch on Kickstarter today, on October 12, designed by a team of veterans from the watch industry in Hong Kong.

Zero West

The Pioneer is, by all accounts, more than one watch if you want it to be, as this is fully customisable from the start. And not only that, we have the magic of tritium tubes included for what is night-time legibility on a different level.

FullGear Pioneer

The tritium tubes used by FullGear are the pick of the crop, manufactured by mb-microtec AG in Switzerland, which, by virtue of their gas tube construction, do not need charging to light up your life. As an added bonus, the Nightmaster model dial also has applied Japanese LumiNova to its classic Zenith-style Arabic numerals.

FullGear Pioneer

But what is tritium? Time for a science class: Gaseous Tritium Light Source (GTLS) are tiny glass vessels filled with tritium gas. The radioactive tritium gas emits electrons during the decay and ignites the phosphorescent layer coated inside the vessels. The energy of tritium gas can keep the tube glowing for at least 12 years, day and night. And to answer your question: yes, the colours of the tritium tubes will be customisable.

FullGear Pioneer

This is not a small watch – and ironically feels fresh by virtue of its unapologetic tool watch dimensions. Optimum legibility is ensured by the large dial and slim, sharp bezel, in a 43mm brushed steel case of a chunky 15.1mm thickness. A large classically styled onion crown, that’s easy to grip with the requisite pilot’s gloves on, complements the tough case, with sharp bevelled corners that will surprise you on what is a starting price of less than $300USD for the earliest project backers.

To go through all the options would be very tempting, as you’ll be spending plenty of time considering them. From mid-century monochrome and battle-ready to an unfeasibly fresh summer vibe … so let’s have a look at two brilliant counterpoints in the range.

First, showing its night-time prowess is the Nightmaster dial option, classic ’40s style large Arabic numerals with applied LumiNova on matt black, classic white pilot hands and a square lollipop seconds. On the black leather strap (yes, there is also a considerable strap choice), classic and timeless, with tritium tubes on the hands ensuring unreal legibility on your mission.

Then, a completely different, more dressy vibe is to be had from the olive green sunray dial of the Navigator, the colour of 2020. There’s a classic pilot’s triangle at 12, white and orange markers with tritium tubes and a fresh modern font on the Arabic numerals. The important 3-6-9-12 indices are a crisp orange, as is the vibrant pop of orange and black hands. The details constitute superb value, and you could get completely lost in a vast range of options, while the whole personalisation aspect is immensely satisfying.

FullGear Pioneer

The case is the classic 316L brushed steel, with a flexible 22mm lug width — for this will no doubt be a veritable strapmonster — and a two-layer AR-treated sapphire crystal. The ubiquitous bombproof Seiko NH35 powers this tough adventure companion, and the screw-down crown and solid back means we also have the bonus of a diver’s spec 200m depth rating, should you fall for the very real temptation of configuring your FullGear Pioneer as a tough onion-crowned diver. Believe me, I’m already considering it.

FullGear Pioneer price and availability:

The FullGear Pioneer watch with tritium technology starts at less than US$300. Visit their Kickstarter page right here for updates on the launch on October 12.