REC Watches: Made From The Vehicles They Pay Homage To
Several watches and brands pay homage to certain aircraft or vehicles. Even more are designed specifically for flight or racing. But I get excited about watches that capture something special about these modern machines we humans obsess over. The REC Watches Limited Collection does just that. These watches contain physical pieces of the vehicles they represent, making each unique. It lets one wear a piece of history and engineering on their wrist in a way few other brands can offer.
REC Watches is a Danish company with an international focus. Run by self-described petrolheads and history buffs, the vehicles that inspire and go into the brand’s watches come from all over the world and across time. Each run from the Limited Collection is, naturally, limited in number since there is usually only so much parent material from a given vehicle to incorporate into the watches. But REC Watches seems to be constantly rolling out new watches, and there’s no telling what petrol machine the brand will choose to feature next.
REC Watches — The watch is the vehicle
The designs that REC develops for each line of watches are just about as radical as the vehicles they represent. With an emphasis on sportiness, the designers find plenty of clever ways to tie a given watch to a vehicle beyond the presence of special materials. The curve of the lugs might take inspiration from the pipes of a motorcycle, as with the TTT ICON1000. Or, as in the case of the RNR Rockfighter, the watch design does a pretty good job of capturing a bird’s-eye view of a Land Rover’s hood.
But, of course, what makes the watches special is the donor material within. In this sense, each watch is itself a vehicle for wearing, featuring a special slice of history and/or mechanized capability and imbued with pieces of a vehicle far more capable or significant than what you see every day.
For the TTT ICON1000 watch, REC collaborated with ICON1000 Motorsports out of Portland, Oregon, USA. ICON1000 Motorsports makes custom, modern motorcycles inspired by the hot-rodded drag-racing bikes of the 1960s. “The Speedmaster” is one such custom motorcycle, meant to go and look fast.
It started as a 2013 Triumph, but it has since become a machine of its own. In the process of customizing and building the bike, ICON1000 Motorsports gave the aluminum stator cover to REC Watches. The metal from the stator cover was machined into flat rings that adorn the dial just within the chapter ring.
Using a stator cover in a watch is appropriate, as the stator converts raw kinetic energy from the engine into electricity. This is akin to how an automatic caliber converts the kinetic energy of a wrist’s movement into refined mechanical energy.
“Go Fast, Look Flash!”
The watch itself is a fitting companion to the motorcycle from which it’s derived. The stitching on the black rubber strap mimics the leather seat on “The Speedmaster,” and the curve of the wire lugs matches the sweep of the exhaust pipes. Furthermore, the dial of the watch looks as much like a tachometer as it does a time-telling instrument.
More importantly, though, the TTT ICON1000 was made for motorcyclists and thus utilizes a double-case construction. Using the crown, one can shift the inner case of the watch 30 degrees from the standard orientation. This makes the watch easily readable on the wrist when grasping the handlebars of a motorcycle. Engraved on either side of the crown, visible through the outer case’s slot are “go fast” and “look flash.” These encouragements appear on “The Speedmaster’s” reservoir caps on the handlebars and capture the flexibility of a watch that can dress up or slide into a racing stance.
Powering the TTT ICON1000 is a Sellita SW200-1 with a custom rotor that resembles a motorcycle wheel. Part of it is visible through the partially skeletonized dial and the rest through the mineral crystal in the exhibition case back. The case measures 43mm in diameter and 12.3mm thick with a 46.5mm lug-to-lug span. A sapphire crystal adorns the front, and a 50m water resistance rating rounds out the specs. This is a watch that’s purpose-built for motorcycle (and watch) enthusiasts, and US$1,046 gets you a piece of a motorcycle and petrol adrenaline on your wrist.
The RNR Rockfighter is another watch that has a piece of the inspiring vehicle in it. This time, it’s most of the dial.
When a 2003 Land Rover Defender needed a new door, REC Watches jumped on the opportunity to use the old door panel in a collaborative model. “Rockfighter,” this particular Defender’s nickname, is a well-earned title. This off-roader has taken its owner across all sorts of terrain all over the world as he takes and trains others in off-road adventures. It’s a tough vehicle, and the watch created from it does it service.
Comes with a spare tire
Tomas Rosputinsky wrote a hands-on review of a very similar watch that REC made from an older Land Rover. As he reveals, the attention to detail is impressive for such a chunky tool watch.
For starters, a top-down look closely resembles the spare wheel often found strapped to old Defender hoods. Accentuating this are the angled crown guards that originate at the bezel and pull in towards the crown. The black bezel is rubber, both adding some protection to the watch and playing into the theme.
The hybrid canvas/leather strap shares the same stitching pattern as the straps in the real Defender Rockfighter. The spare-wheel theme continues on the case back with the engraved five-lug bolt pattern.
You won’t see the movement in this watch, though it’s also an SW200-1. The case, as bulky as it looks, is only 40mm across and 12.1mm thick with a 48.2mm lug-to-lug. This robust adventure watch is currently available for US$976, with only 58 left of the total 453 pieces.
X4009 Midnight Blue
I think I saved the best for last, but that’s up to you. The X4009 is certainly the most visually reserved of the three watches featured here, but the vehicle it immortalizes is the most radical by far.
This watch flew and fought
Presented as a large-crown pilot’s watch, it’s in the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock that we find the special addition. The gray metal of the seconds sub-dial is aluminum from the donor material of a Mk1a Spitfire aircraft, number X4009.
This particular plane was flown by Australian fighter pilot Paterson Clarence Hughes, DFC, during the Battle of Britain. He ranked sixth in the “Ace of Aces” and first among Australians flying with the RAF.
The X4009 Spitfire turned up in 2020 and is currently undergoing a full restoration. That, in part, is how REC Watches was able to get some original material. More importantly, a portion of sales of the X4009 watches will go towards the restoration of the plane.
Not your standard Flieger
Though the X4009 watch is based upon a long lineage of pilot’s watches and a historic plane, it features contemporary design elements. This watch does less to capture the look of the Spitfire aircraft and instead is just a solid pilot’s watch.
The 41mm case is ringed with a unidirectional 12-hour bezel. As mentioned above, the watch employs a simple hour, minute, and sub-seconds layout, with a date window at 3 o’clock and large, lumed numerals for the hours. One modern touch I quite appreciate are the low crown guards, often forgone in pilot watches for a more traditional look.
Other modern touches are the 100m water resistance rating and exhibition case back. Through it, one can see the Sellita SW461-1 with a custom rotor. As with the TTT ICON1000, the top crystal is sapphire, while the rear crystal is mineral glass. The X4009 Midnight Blue is still in the pre-order period and very limited to 147 models left as of this writing. For US$1,950 (pre-sale price), you can have a serious piece of aviation history on your wrist and support the restoration of the aircraft.
This is a limited selection of what REC Watches produces. It seems the company’s focus is on producing solid and unique steel timepieces that capture something special from history and the world of gas engines. The watches are reasonably priced for the specs, Swiss make, and specialness. REC fills a niche in the watch world and demonstrates what’s possible from an independent company with a vision and collaborative approach.
What are your favorite watches that use something extra special in their builds? You can find out more about these watches and more at REC Watches’ official website.