Monday, August 15, 2016

Parnis 60mm Brown Leather Crown Jumbo Pilot Auto SS Watch Reference PI58 – Cheap homage to the FL23883 standard, A Review (plus Video)

A few months ago in June 2016, I ordered two pilot watches from Parnis ( Unfortunately, one of them, the Jumbo Pilot was not working (please refer to this link on the review of the other Parnis pilot watch; Parnis Black Dial Big Pilot Power Reserve Chronometer). After sending the watch back to Parnis, I received a new example which was working (more about the problems later).

This particular model conforms to the original specification of pilot watches under the German 'B-Uhr' Watch (or Observation watch) standard FL23883 of the WW2 era which calls for a watch that is 55 mm wide (excluding crown; with crown it would go to 60 mm) with a large crown. Under the A-dial format, it should also have a black dial with white Arabic numerals (all numerical markers filled with luminous material) and flame-blued sword hands also covered in luminous material. The designs also featured a unique triangle mark at the 12 o’clock position designed for ease of orientation in any condition. The movement must be capable of stopping the central seconds hand by pulling the crown. The watch should also come with a very long double-riveted leather strap.

This particular example fulfills all the requirements under the FL23883 standard even to the sterile dial. In my view, this is the best representation or homage of a German pilot watch currently available in the market.

The Parnis Jumbo Pilot watch is made out of stainless steel. Its width, inclusive of the large crown, is 60 mm wide. The lug width is 24 mm while its lug-to-lug width is approximately 70 mm long. The dial is protected by a large piece domed mineral glass. Paired with a tan leather band with deployant clasp, wearing this watch does take some use to.

The large crown is a screw-down crown. The edge of the crown is fluted with a sunken flat surface in the center.

The case-back uses a snap-shut system and devoid of any etchings whatsoever. Unfortunately, because of this snap-shut system, the watch has a water rating of just 3 ATM or 30 meters.

The engine powering this watch is the automatic and self-winding Seagull movement. However, I don’t know the exact caliber used for this watch.

Despite the watch having most if not all the dimensions as per the original FL23883 standard, there are a number of missing design factors that were include in the standard but not implemented by Parnis. The first is the missing “FL23883” stamping that should have been made on the side wall of the watch. The second is the missing list of information about the watch such as movement brand, serial number etc in table form. The third and final difference is the use of a deployant clasp instead of a simple buckle for the strap.

The Wearing Experience

This watch is huge. Honestly, I cannot see myself wearing this watch in public. It just sits like a plate on my wrist. This is definitely a difficult watch to wear if you’re wearing a shirt with long sleeves.

However, this watch would look balance if worn over your shirt sleeve instead of on the wrist directly. This watch is also weighty.

The crown in rather loose when extended. The manufacturing tolerances is not that tight.

The Reveal

Everything about Parnis is about keeping costs down. The price quoted only gets you the watch and nothing else, not even instructions. If you want it to come in a watch box you will have to pay. I don’t think there’s even a guarantee attached to the watch.

In my case, the watch came wrapped in just bubble plastic and dumped inside an envelope.

Above is a picture of the watch next to my Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT Reference SUN019P1 which has a width size of 47.5 mm.

Below is a video of the watch on my wrist.


The watch is cheap. Just USD145 inclusive of postage. From that perspective, one should not expect a lot. In my case, the original model which Parnis sent was a dud and I had to send it back (at my cost or approximately RM67). Nevertheless, the replacement works well and I am pleased with the performance. The timekeeping is generally good.

However, what is good on paper does not generally gel in practicality. Wearing a 60 mm wide watch on a wrist is too much to ask. This watch would look more at place being worn over a flight jacket.

All is not lost. This example is well suited to be converted to a pocket watch. Finding a good strap-maker to design a leather holder to fit into the lugs would just be the ticket to getting some practical use of this watch.

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