The Swiss brand Reservoir is known for unusual tool watches that don’t follow the usual recipes for dressy, small-vintage, or future-cool. Instead, it inhabits the same instrument sphere as IWC, Bell & Ross, and Porsche Design.

For me, being sometimes under a barrage of press releases and Instagram tags, the brand has a big charm of its own, even if the Airfight Chronograph seems to take it all very literally. But judging by these images, this new release is a charmer with a tough ID — or should that be “dog tag”?

Reservoir Airfight Chronograph

Reservoir Airfight Chronograph — First impressions

I like pilot’s watches, so why isn’t there one in my box or on my wrist? Well, size is one thing. I enjoy the larger models with distinct instrument vibes, but I’ve long felt that 44mm and up is too whopping for my twiggy wrists. With the Airfight Chronograph, Reservoir hits a certain sweet spot with the 43mm size, and the vibe is a delicate blend of IWC and Porsche Design. And that is without any hint of homage, so it’s a surefire compliment from my side. The stealthy black version appeals to me a lot, to be honest. The Airfight Chronograph has a clear instrument inspiration in its clear, graphic layout but also a design language of its own. And that makes a big difference in the perception of this tough guy.

Reservoir Airfight Chronograph

Dial complexities with a difference

With its horizontally opposed retrograde dial inspired by the P-51 Mustang, the Airfight Chronograph will instantly appeal to any wannabe (or, in fact, real) flight engineer or pilot. And the Airfight pulls this off without pastiche while maintaining a very contemporary design. So hats off to Reservoir’s design team for that. There is a choice of steel or a black PVD-coated steel case, both with a retail price of €5,750 and a La Joux-Perret-based bi-retrograde movement. This caliber RSV-Bi120 powers a retrograde arc on the left of the dial, showing a 0–30 running seconds display with flight-instrument-like color pops. And on the right side is the date, also in retrograde and marked from 1 to 31. The vibe of the multi-layered dial is pretty awesome if you’re a daydreaming desk pilot like me, but it also makes for sharp legibility on top of its brawny charm.

The power reserve is a respectable 60 hours, and though the price is right up there with some IWC icons, it offers something limited in production and studied in its execution. To be honest, the Airfight Chronograph is a quirky alternative that seems quite tempting, and it doesn’t matter whether you get the on-the-nose references or instrument inspiration. It is simply a no-nonsense, tough tool watch with a busy but balanced dial and a lot of Easter eggs in the details.

The Airfight Chronograph

Is the Airfight for me?

I recently wrote a well-publicized about-face on watch sizing, and I’m wearing a comfortable 44mm diver today, so it’s all about the case length. Yes, a 43mm diameter can be big, but it can also be super comfortable. And after all, black is slimming, right? Reservoir has nailed it, bringing a modern chronograph for the non-warbird-initiated watch lovers among us while also catering to hardcore fans of the legendary P-51 Mustang. Summing it up, the Airfight Chronograph offers something different in a world of similes, and I have a soft spot for the retrograde displays and stealthy aesthetic. The name might be literal, but it sure fits.

Are you ready for takeoff with the Airfight Chronograph, Fratelli? Or are you a grounded crew? I have a feeling those of you watching Maverick more than once might be tempted here. Let me know in the comments, and check out more info on Reservoir’s website.

Watch specifications

Airfight Chronograph
RSV02.AF/136 (steel case) / RSV02.AF/136.BL (black case)
Matte black with bi-retrograde date and running seconds in green, black, yellow, and red; 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters
Case Material
Stainless steel (316L), bare or black PVD with brushed finish
Case Dimensions
43mm diameter
Domed sapphire with AR coating
Case Back
Stainless steel (bare or PVD) with sapphire exhibition window
Reservoir RSV-Bi120 — bi-retrograde automatic chronograph (base LJP-L1C0), 28,800vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve, column wheel
Water Resistance
5 ATM (50m)
Black canvas (22mm width) with calf leather lining and butterfly clasp; additional NATO strap also provided
Time (hours, minute, 30-seconds retrograde running indicator), 12-hour chronograph, retrograde date, telemeter scale