MICRO MONDAYS: The Zero West Spitfire S4-P9427 celebrates the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain with 80 watchesZach Blass
Zero West is a new British brand of boutique, heritage-inspired watches. All of their watches are designed and assembled on the South Coast of the UK (with assembly performed by a third-generation watchmaker 10 miles away from where the watches are designed). Zero West was founded by Andrew Brabyn, a designer, and Graham Collins, an ex-black ops military engineer, which explains the emphasis on designs with a military flavour.
Zero West produces three lines of watches: Aviation, Marine and Automotive — all of which are limited editions. Each watch reference has a rich backstory rooted in British history. The recently released Zero West Spitfire S4-P9427 watch is the perfect example of the brand’s spirit and how they tangibly leverage true military history in the production of their watches.
The Spitfire S4-P9427 Pilot’s watch is based on an air speed indicator found on a Mark I Spitfire plane. The watch itself is fabricated with parts from a genuine WWII Spitfire plane engine – a plane that fought and flew very, very close to their headquarters in Hampshire, UK. The release date of the watch, September 15, was specifically chosen by the brand as it marks 80 years since the Battle of Britain. This is the actual battle that their salvaged Spitfire flew in. According to Zero West, “Discovered by a fishing boat in Poole Bay off the Dorset coast, the remains of Spitfire P9427 were retrieved from the depths … Extensive research through official RAF records and numerous accounts of dogfights and planes lost in Poole Bay during the Battle of Britain, left no doubt that this was Spitfire P9427, flown by Sergeant Pilot Ziggy Klein of 152 Squadron, lost in combat on the 28th November 1940.” The S4-P9427 is limited to 80 pieces to celebrate 80 years since the Battle of Britain.
The case and movement
The 44mm case is vapor blasted 316L stainless steel with match machined black PVD DSL lugs. While the case may seem on the larger side, at 44mm (and 14.1mm thick), it is actually a very wearable watch with a measurement of 49.6mm lug to lug – wearing smaller than a Black Bay GMT. In honour of the aviation theme, the brass-finished stainless steel screw-down crown is modelled on the joystick gun platform fire button found on the Spitfire plane. With triple-seal technology, the watch is 100 metres water resistant with the crown securely screwed down.
The watch is powered by the reliable ETA 2824, but is not on display via the watch’s exhibition caseback. Instead, its black PVD screwed-down exhibition caseback frames a laser-engraved P9427 Merlin engine disc from the salvaged plane – a piece of battle history proudly on display for the wearer, protected by sapphire glass. The engraving is a detail of the plane and map of Poole Bay, where it last saw enemy combat in 1940. It’s quite frankly your very own museum window on the back of your watch.
Not something you always see at this price point, especially in sports watches, the dial is made of black enamel over a brass substrate. The printed numerals and markers are directly inspired by the Spitfire airspeed indicator, providing a crisp vintage aesthetic. The hands, numerals and aviation indicators are coated in Super-LumiNova. Central on the dial is a vintage red sweeping second hand.
In place of the 6 marker, the dial references the date of Sergeant Pilot Zygmunt Klein’s dogfight above The Needles (November 28, 1940), and the longitude-latitude coordinates of Poole Bay where the Spitfire P9427 was discovered. The dial lays beneath a custom double-domed sapphire glass with blue AR coating on the internal surface – catering further to the vintage feel while also upping the legibility of the dial (a crucial feature for a pilot’s watch).
As if the level of attention and care put into this watch was not exhibited enough already, all of the leather straps found on Zero West watches are handmade by one of the founders of the brand. Graham was so disappointed with the off-the-shelf leather straps he was presented with, he spent a year learning how to make them himself – by hand. For this watch, the strap matches the lug width of 22mm and is sized for a wrist circumference of 180mm-220mm. The buckle matches the case with a matte black 316L stainless steel buckle, engraved with the Zero West logo.
All in all, the Zero West Spitfire S4-P9427 is definitely a well-executed heritage-inspired design with an actual piece of history tastefully placed within the case of the watch. The brand really connects with its British heritage – with watch components fabricated in the UK if possible. Zero West case components are designed to be manufactured by multi-axis CNC aerospace-grade machines as opposed to the more commonly found stamped forged cases. The UK is lucky to have a multitude of small high-precision machined component manufacturers, which primarily cater to military and Formula One customers. Leveraging Graham’s black-ops military engineering background, Zero West has the good fortune of working with these UK-based manufacturers. It’s nice to see a pilot’s watch taken in a fresh direction with novel design and a direct link to true aviation history.
Zero West Spitfire S4-P9427 pricing and availability:
The Zero West Spitfire S4-P9427 is available now and limited to 80 pieces (celebrating 80 years since the Battle of Britain), with a price of £2,500
Click here for more information on how to purchase (as well as more information on the pilot, plane and battle it was inspired by).