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The DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic is supposed to be nothing more or less than a revolution in pilot watches. At least that’s what the Swiss manufacturer proclaims at the market launch of its new tool watch. The “revolution” takes place on the redesigned dial, which has been rethought.
The revolution of the pilot watch?
When it comes to finding a name, the Swiss brand DAVOSA likes to make use of legendary figures, stories and people from antiquity. Already the DAVOSA Argonautic BGBS was named after the legendary ship Argo, with which the so-called Argonauts set out to find the golden fleece. Fittingly, the Argonautic is a diver’s watch.
The process seems to have been similar for the launch of the Neoteric Pilot Automatic. The name of the latest addition is said to be reminiscent of the Neoteric poets. From today’s perspective, the movement, which emerged around 320 BC, can be described as a revolution and its followers as innovators. While the content of the poems up to that time was mainly about gods, the neotericists devoted themselves mainly to personal, own experiences. This is where DAVOSA comes in, because the new timepiece is intended to stimulate a similar rethinking in the world of pilot watches.
Pilot watches have hardly changed since the middle of the 20th century. Easy-to-read Arabic numerals, three hands and a plain, matte case have since defined the image we have in our minds when we hear the term “pilot’s watch.” I wonder if that has changed with the introduction of the new DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic. The answer is yes. And also no. Please what? The changes that DAVOSA has made are, by their own admission, “very cautious”. As a result, the Neoteric Pilot Automatic is immediately recognizable as a classic pilot’s watch. However, something is different. Strictly speaking, the traditional Swiss brand has taken on the dial and completely rethought its elements and how they read. But read for yourself…
Three colors to choose from
The DAVOSA-typical packaging is identical to the one that contained the DAVOSA Ternos Ceramic GMT from one of my last watch reviews. A plain box, containing a black glossy box, in which the watch is located.
For this review, the Swiss brand sent me a copy of the reference 161.565.46. The model is one of a total of three variants, which differ from each other by the colors of the dial and the minute index. The wristwatch I unpacked is certainly the most classic. On a dial in rich blue, you can clearly see a yellow printed minute index. The hour and minute hands are also yellow and skeletonized in the area of the minute track. I’ll explain what this is all about later. The accent color is picked up again in the seams of the leather strap.
If that’s not extraordinary enough for you – how about a black dial and red accent color (reference 161.565.56). If even that isn’t special enough, there’s a third alternative in gray/orange to choose from with reference 161.565.96.
The DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic on the wrist
Whichever of the three model variants you choose – visually, all three fit the aviator theme in my opinion and are absolutely cockpit-suitable with their sporty design. When reading the time, the minute index always reminds me of measuring instruments from an old airplane. It’s also what makes the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic stand out visually from its competitors. If you’re looking for pilot watches, you’ll usually find simple, easy-to-read three-hand watches or somewhat cluttered chronographs with three or more totalizers. The Neoteric fills the gap in between masterfully. It’s more straightforward, down-to-earth and simple than a chronograph, but more readable than the three-hand watch. The design element is highlighted by the successful color combinations.
In everyday life, I personally always find pilot watches a touch more elegant than divers. This may be due to the classic leather strap, the Arabic numerals or the usually matte cases. Accordingly, the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic looks high-quality on the wrist. Nevertheless, it does not remain too cozy. Cool blue and silver tones make the Neoteric a sporty companion, which is suitable for the office, leisure or evening wear – then of course best with a black dial.
For a pilot’s watch, the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic has a moderate case size of 42 millimeters, so it doesn’t look too small or oversized. By the way, I have a relatively narrow wrist. When I wear the Neoteric, the pin of the clasp is already in the last hole of the leather strap.
DAVOSA has kept the case classic and simple, as well as featuring a beveled bezel. In terms of materials, the Neoteric does not push out into new realms. The stainless steel used is excellently crafted. Satin surfaces dominate. They are only replaced by polished surfaces on the case back. That makes sense. On turbulent flights, pilots with polished aviator watches would have had little pleasure with their timepieces. A functional case is more forgiving of contact with objects.
The dial, the linchpin of the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic, can be read through a sapphire watch glass. It is equally scratch resistant. DAVOSA has also worked generously with glass on the back and incorporated a multi-screwed glass back, through which you can marvel at the movement.
Typical for pilot watches is the moderate water resistance. With a maximum of 5 bar, the Neoteric is splash-proof. Of course, you should not use it while diving.
The classic among the automatic movements
DAV 3021? What is actually behind it? Behind this “trade name” is the Swiss automatic movement SW 200-1 from Sellita. The renaming when installing it into the watch is common practice at DAVOSA. Sellita’s SW 200-1 is a popular alternative to the ETA 2824-2. After its patent protection expired in 2003, numerous copies came on the market, which are just as good – at the front the SW 200-1. In DAVOSA’s pilot’s watch, the quality grade “Elaboré” is used. This is even more accurate than the standard version. With a frequency of 28800 vibrations per hour, the movement has a power reserve of 38 hours, which should be sufficient for everyday use.
The movement is wound with a crown, which can be easily operated even with pilot’s gloves due to its lateral ribbing and size.
Does DAVOSA revolutionize the dial?
On the dial of the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic, you can recognize many characteristics that you would expect to find on an aviator’s watch – for example, the easily legible Arabic hour markers. Each number is flanked by rectangular indices. In production, these were hand-applied. According to DAVOSA, their brushed surfaces and edges are intended to underscore the character of a tool watch. At 12 o’clock, a triangle is enthroned. Like the hands and the indices, it was covered with quintuple SuperLuminova luminous material. The results in the dark are impressive.
My highlight, however, is the minute track. The yellow printed scale is very easy to read due to its complementary contrast to the blue sunburst dial. On conventional three-hand watches, you often find it on the rehaut. Minute indices are also found here on the rim. However, for a quick glance, the centered minute track is more suitable. And so that the fine Arabic numerals are not obscured by the hands, they are skeletonized in the area of the minute track. In everyday use, the reading area is almost completely concentrated on the redesigned center.
During my testing period, the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic was comfortable to wear on the wrist. In addition to the ergonomically curved lugs, this is due to the high-quality leather strap. The gray-brown strap has the classic look of historic pilot watches and is very soft. Here we are back to the 21st century transition. The stitching is not simply white, but in the accent color of the minute index. Revisiting this design feature creates a high level of recognition and I really like it. The lug width of the leather strap is 20 millimeters.
My final conclusion about the DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic
The announcement on the part of DAVOSA, to convey a new idea of a pilot watch with the Neoteric Pilot Automatic, was self-confident. In my eyes, the result is a careful further development of the classic three-hand pilot watch and introduces meaningful additions. The literal centerpiece is the minute scale, which allows the exact time to be read even faster thanks to imprinted numerals and skeletonized hands. The use of an accent color (yellow in this case) enlivens the look and makes the Neoteric appear more dynamic as well as younger.
Don’t misunderstand: of course, the newcomer can’t replace the widely popular pilot chronograph. If you still want to measure complications like the small seconds, the 30-minute time or the 12-hour time, you won’t find an alternative in the Neoteric Pilot Automatic. If you still want to stay within the family and wear DAVOSA, I can recommend the DAVOSA Newton Pilot Moonphase Chronograph Automatic at this point. Its special feature is an additional moon phase display.
The Neoteric, on the other hand, picks up those who can do without these additional gimmicks and love minimalism with excellent functionality. Considering the quality (think of the Sellita automatic movement), the MSRP of only 798.00 Euros is more than fair. This applies to all three references. As always, you’ll find all important and further links below.