An Actual Tool Watch
The world of aviation is somewhat of a mystery to me. I do go inside planes once in a while to get from point A to point B, but that’s about it. My whole understanding and experience of these flying buses (as my wife calls them) revolves around the understanding that planes have wings and engines, and that by some magical mathematical formula, they manage to roll off the ground. I know, that says a lot about me and my understanding of one of the most life-changing technological advances of the past 200 years. But regardless of how much I understand about aviation, I do very much like what I’m about to talk to you about in this article: the Atmoss SR-01.
While divers have dive watches, drivers have chronographs, and everyday folks like you and me have everyday watches, well pilots have pilot watches. Honestly, this article will not be a history of pilot watches. However, I will say this: pilots needed watches to time things and to calculate things such as air speed, range based on fuel consumption, and distances. (Warrick, did I get this tiny part right?) I know, I’m not scientific and don’t pretend to be one. However, I do find the SR-01 to be rather interesting for two main reasons: first, it looks great and feels good on the wrist. Second, it’s actually useful and preserves an old tradition of getting things done analogically.
As any review should begin here on Mainspring, let’s talk specifications. Because if you don’t like them, you won’t be interested in this watch. As pilot watches seem to always do, the SR-01 comes with a case diameter of 41mm, a lug-to-lug of 48.5mm, a thickness of 10.5mm, and a lug width of 20mm. Although I prefer sub-40mm cases, the SR-01 fits great on my 6.25”/16cm wrist due to its thin case profile. The full stainless-steel body of the watch feels comfortable both on the metal bracelet and the FKM rubber strap. Another element that contributes to the wearing comfort is the tiny crown. Tiny in size but mighty in power! It’s easy to grip and operate, and it even screws down.
Inside beats the Japanese-made Miyota 9039 which beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 24 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. This is a solid movement that I’ve seen in many watches and it never disappoints. (As in, it's reliable and keeps good time.) This time-only caliber works great for a pilot’s watch, and its thinness contributes to making the case of the SR-01 thin. Moreover, having a screw-down crown and case-back, the SR-01 comes with 100 meters of water resistance. Further adding to its robustness and everyday non-sense, the dial is topped by a gently-domed piece of sapphire crystal.
The FKM rubber strap is comfortable to wear and comes with a sterile buckle. (Something I’m indifferent towards.) The stainless steel bracelet is of the engineers style and has a 5-link construction, female end-links that guarantee the bracelet follows the natural contour of the wrist, as well as a double-pusher deployment clasp that comes with four holes of micro-adjustments. The bracelet fits very well with this style of watch and is a no-nonsense bracelet that I absolutely adore. Meaning that it serves its purpose well and is well-built. That’s all I ever wanted from a stainless steel bracelet.
Lastly, being a pilot’s watch, the SR-01 comes with a good amount of BGW9 lume on the hands, hour markers, and in a more discreet quantity on a section of the seconds hand. While brands typically add a lollipop or any other geometrical element on the seconds hand that contains lume, Atmoss decided to paint a small section of it. A small detail which I didn’t catch at first and that is even more so pleasant to look at now. And it’s not that there isn’t enough lume, it's that the hands and markers are designed in such a way that lume doesn’t occupy too much real estate on the dial.
Speaking of the design, let’s get into the details of the SR-01. A pilot’s watch—just like any tool watch—must be legible. The SR-01 is highly legible and looks already classic to me. Classic as in “iconic” and “great” and not as in “boring” or “obsolete.” The hour hand is of the baton-style and tapers down from the center, while the minute hand is of the pencil-style and preserves the same width throughout. The seconds hand is of the needle-style variety and thins out ever so slightly at the tip. Matched with applied rectangular markers, the dial is legible and elegant.
The applied markers are doubled at the 12 o’clock and the ones at the 3, 6, and 9 positions are slightly wider than the other ones. Again, not dramatically wider but just enough to create a delicate contrast between each quarter section of the day. Set against matte dials, the hands and markers are easy to see and look elegant. While the black and gray versions of the SR-01 have polished silver hands, the white dial version comes with blued hands, giving this iteration a bit more of a traditional pilot watch vibe. (While traditionally hands get their blue color by being exposed to extreme heats, the ones on the Atmoss were anodized. This treatment makes them equally resistant to corrosion.)
The case has a simple design and profile, indicating that Atmoss focused on making the SR-01 a practical tool-watch and not one whose design outshines its purpose. It is a tool watch and looks as such. The lugs and the mid-section of the case have no chamfers, and the entirety of the watch has a brushed finish. The utilitarian aspect of the SR-01 continues on the brushed stainless steel bracelet. The latter is of the friction—fit variety and has the nicest action I’ve ever come across for this type of bezel: it’s firm and smooth at the same time. (I’ve been told it’s hard to get that part right.)
The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the matter today is the fact that Atmoss is a new brand that created a new type of tool watch. No, it is not the first pilot’s watch with a slide-rule bezel to come to existence—obviously—however, it offers a unique take on it. As we now know, it’s a pure utilitarian mechanical timepiece that comes with both the looks and specifications to be so. Atmoss was created by an avid pilot who flew all across his native Australia on what he describes as being “low-tech airplanes.” Imagine small airplanes with propellers that James Bond often escaped a difficult situation with. Or perhaps not. See, I know next to nothing about planes.
As a tool watch kind of guy, I mostly write about watches that were designed to fulfill a particular function. For example, I love dive watches because I’m a diver myself and I like to keep my divers looking anything but flashy and fancy. I drool over fully-brushed cases and bare-bone dial designs. And now that I’ve got my hands on the SR-01, I realize that I absolutely adore stainless-steel bezels. Who knew? What’s more is that the SR-01 is well-made and comes with the right specifications and the right price tag—as little as $335 for the Super Early Bird Price when the Kickstarter campaign starts May 1, 2023.
Warrick, Atmoss’ founder, told me that he wanted to create a proper mechanical tool watch that can be used for many years to come. Living in a world where we toss everything we use to the side too easily, the SR-01 is for those who like good watches that offer great value and couldn’t care less for the latest and greatest technology. Analog tools might not seem useful today, however they do give us the ability to measure the quality of our non-digital life in ways that feel natural to us. We are, after all, made of flesh and bones and not circuits and wires, and we used to make stuff with our hands. Imagine that.
Warrick built-in the practically of the SR-01 with the slide-rule bezel that can be used to calculate and measure many things. (I do say this even though I did not sound very scientific at the beginning of this review.) While slide-rule bezels can be used to calculate many sorts of things—how much tip to leave at a restaurant or to convert currency—pilots used these types of bezels to calculate flight time, distance to a target, fuel consumption, and to convert kilometers per hours to miles per hours, amongst many other things. I find this fascinating and reminds me of an old slide ruler my grandpa had before the age of calculators. (He was a rocket scientist.)
A final key point to make is this: the Breitling Navitimer is perhaps the most famous pilot’s watch ever created. It was also described as the first wrist calculator thanks to having a slide-rule bezel. Although this is subjective, I never liked the way a Navitimer looks. It errs more towards the genre of busy-looking tool watches and less towards the simplistic, everyday, and elegant tool side of tool watches—the latter category being the one the SR-01 belongs to. It’s one thing to make a practical tool, and a completely different one to make a good looking practical tool.
In any case, I really like the Atmoss SR-01 as you could have easily gathered by reading this review. Although I try as much as possible to not mention the words “price” and “value” in the same sentence, I’m afraid I must here. With a Super Early Bird price starting at $335, the Atmoss offers a lot of great value for your money. While I did not mention all specs the watch comes from—for example a blacked-out rotor and sapphire see-through case-back—we can perhaps agree that the SR-01 offers more than its price tag might suggest. This is due, as mentioned before, to the fact that Warrick wanted to make a good tool watch affordable. A simple mission that is however difficult to attain.
Thanks for reading.