|Fragile but Agile on the Flightline, Duxford 2011|
You may remember that I penned a quick overview of this watch for The Prodigal Guide when it was announced last year. This is an update to that piece, now that the final production version has been released and is finally available for viewing. But before I go into the details, perhaps a quick recap: the P-51 watch is a Limited Edition Bremont (251 pieces) that's based on a very famous, and until recently presumed lost, 'plane called Fragile but Agile ("FBA"). FBA was rebuilt by Planes of Fame by the Hintons over the past few years, and has been flying as part of the Horsemen. It's a well-decorated 'plane, having flown in WW2 and the Bremont watch is made with original parts from this 1944 Mustang aircraft (P-51K-10 - serial number 44- 12016).
|FBA's instrument panel and distinctive nose|
"FBA rolled off the North American Aviation assembly line in Dallas, Texas, on 18 December 1944 and was then loaded on a ship on the 15th January 1945 for an assignment in the Far East. It was to take part in the American campaign to retake the Philippine Islands from the Japanese. On arrival in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, the aircraft was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron of the 348th Fighter Group, which then was stationed at the San Marcelino airbase, just north of Manila Bay. Lt. Bert Lee Jr. was assigned to fly the aircraft. Lt. Lee was credited with two confirmed victories during the war, which accounts for the two Japanese flags painted below his name on the plane – one was a Japanese A6M “Zero” fighter near Manila and the other a twin-engine "Betty" bomber. A lot of his missions in the P51 were ground support, in what was then Indochina. Lee and his Mustang both survived the war. Following its time in the US Air Force, FBA then spent time serving with both the Swedish and Israeli military before being overhauled and operated for many years by The Fighter Collection, based at Duxford in the UK. Recently, the Mustang was again treated to a major overhaul by Steve Hinton‟s Fighter Rebuilders at Chino, California having been acquired by the Friedkin Family‟s Comanche Fighter Collection."
|Bremont's P-51 Chronograph (Limited Edition of 251)|
|The Star is replicated on the Roto-Clik bezel crown|
|The distinctive nose of FBA can be seen on the rotor|
I've waxed lyrical about this watch since I saw it yesterday; something that I didn't think I would. To be honest, while I absolutely "got" the EP120, I wasn't sure how I'd react to this big, brash Mustang-inspired piece. But I do get it. I absolutely get it. I hope it will appeal to watchnerds, 'plane dweebs and all in between. It's a very wearable, approachable piece, quite reserved on the wrist, but at the same time containing a link to the past that is very un-2011. It's slightly anachronistic, while also having modern touches such as the scratch-resistent coated steel and PVD sections, and nine layers of anti-reflective coating on the glass. And it's very, very clever: I defy you to be impressed with the internal bezel. I hope it makes you smile.
Bremont's P-51 will be available in October; interested parties can place a deposit securing one of the 251 pieces with ATG Vintage Watches or other Authorised Dealers. More information can be found in the official Bremont Press Release here.
|FBA fuselage markings|
|FBA's distinctive tail|