|Swiss Army SeaPlane family of watches|
|Swiss Army SeaPlane XL Mechanical Watch V.25076|
The difference in size between the smaller quartz SeaPlane watches and the larger SeaPlane XL mechanical watch was noticeable at a glance and also while on your wrist. The SeaPlane XL made the quartz versions look a almost dainty. As watch sizes have ballooned with current trends, what was once considered an "average-size" watch might now be considered "small". That is a matter of taste, and many modern watch collectors lament that smaller watches are not being offered by major brands today.
|Victorinox Swiss Army SeaPlane watches was available in 3 sizes.|
- The 40 mm 3-hand SeaPlanes felt small because I normally wear larger watches.
- The 41 mm SeaPlane Chrono felt just right, partly because the added pushers added some visual bulk.
- The 45 mm SeaPlane XL felt large, but not oversized. There is a good reason for that, which was the unique lugless design. More on that later...
|The case size and plastic disk of the watchband had to be matched perfectly.|
The engineering for attaching the watchband was ingenious. Users would align 3 tabs in the locking ring to the 3 cutouts in the back of the case (near the words OPEN and CLOSE). Then the owner would rotate the ring to lock the assembly. Friction caused by these parts pushing against each other held the watchband to the case. Over time, or after many strap changes, there could be some wear in the plastic watchband allowing the ring to rotate. Metal watchbands likely did not have this problem.
The locking ring and watchband were secure on my XL, but I added packing tape to ensure that I did not experience an accidental unlocking event. I figured why take a chance? You can see the tape in the photo below, but it was not seen when I wore it.
|I used packing tape as a safeguard to prevent accidental unlocking|
|Unitas 6498-1 Mechanical Movement shown in the SeaPlane XL|
|Isopode watch. Photo: eBay|
While I did not bang it too often, SeaPlane owners should be cautious of this thin bezel because it can be susceptible to dents and metal rash. Used SeaPlanes watches are rarely perfect along the top. While I am on the subject of caution, great care should also be taken when manipulating the crown. That part would be hard to find because this watch is out of production. Rough handling can pop the crown off the stem and then you will be screwed, but your watch no longer will be.
|I cannot think of another lugless watch with this tapering shape and thin bezel|
Given that the SeaPlane XL was 45 mm wide, Swiss Army's lugless design hid the "above-average" size well. Remember that this watch's case has a proprietary integrated watchband that does not use traditional lug and spring bars to attach the watchband to the case. Without the lugs protruding beyond the case, the 45 mm size actually wears more comfortably than the number might suggest. Additionally, the screw-down crown gets pretty flush to the case meaning that there is not an extra 6 mm to 10 mm of crown to make the watch feel wider. It is often these overhanging protrusions of the crown, pushers and lugs that make a watch feel larger than the "on paper" dimensions.
|SeaPlane watches have no lugs, or large protrusions that make a watch wear on the large size|
The diagram above shows the same 45 mm case size in green, but the extra protrusions (shown in pink) make the traditional watch (on right) with lugs and pushers feel wider from lug-to-lug (55 mm) and side-to-side (51 mm). That is a noticeable difference on the wrist. The SeaPlane has no such protrusions except for the crown. Even when it is not screwed into the case, it does not stick out that much.
|Lug-to-lug measurements that go beyond the width of the wrist makes a watch appear to overhang (left)|
|The mechanical Swiss Army SeaPlan XL with its round Swiss Airforce display box|
|Swiss Army SeaPlane XL on leather watchband. Photo: Ebay|
|My SeaPlane watches before I broke up the collection|
|Swiss Army's SeaPlane XL was a beautiful watch with balanced design elements.|