Own a piece of a unique Spitfire on your wrist

Own a piece of a unique Spitfire on your wrist

Anthony Peacock



Yes, the Spitfire watch is a genre that has been done to death over the years by companies that range from IWC to Bremont, right up to more recent arrivals such as AVI-8 (the clue there lies in the name).

But this is something that’s a little different, as rather than being from a brand inspired by aviation, REC is predicated on the whole concept of reclamation (standing for recover, recycle, reclaim). The Danish firm has mainly specialised in limited edition cars up to now (such as a watch made from John De Lorean’s old company car), but the latest launch puts it firmly into the pilot’s mainstream – with an intriguing twist.

REC Spitfire ConceptREC Spitfire Concept - Credit REC

Rather than a British flying ace, the metal used in the latest REC is from a Spitfire flown by a well-known Australian: Pat Hughes. He’s perhaps the greatest unacknowledged hero of the Battle of Britain, credited with as many as 17 aerial victories during the campaign of summer 1940, making him the highest-scoring Australian of the battle.

The Spitfire this watch is made from and named after, X4009, was the machine Paterson Clarence Hughes was flying on the day he was killed in action on 7 September 1940. This is one of the highest “kill” Spitfires from the battle with 10 victories; it’s also unique in that Pat Hughes was the sole pilot to fly it during its brief but successful service life of just three weeks, completing 21 sorties.

REC Spitfire MaterialREC Spitfire Material - Credit REC

Spitfire X4009’s first flight took place on 24 July 1940 and it was then flown to RAF No37 Maintenance Unit on 28 July 1940. On the 18 August 1940. it was issued to No 234 Squadron RAF. Less than a month later, the aircraft crashed after an engagement with a Luftwaffe Dornier Do 17 to the southeast of London, with Hughes killed after bailing out of the aircraft.

He is generally thought to have collided with wreckage from the crippled German bomber, rendering the Spitfire uncontrollable. It’s also possible that Hughes accidentally rammed his target, or even hit it on purpose.

REC Spitfire WatchREC Spitfire Watch - Credit REC

Whatever happened, the Australian bailed out but his parachute did not open and he died as a result. The wreckage of his aircraft fell into a field at Sundridge in Kent.

Over the years, the wreckage of this Spitfire was removed, with various components recovered and placed on display in various museums. But it was only in 2020 that the wreckage was acquired by an Australian aviation charity, Hunter Fighter Collection, which is currently undertaking the complete restoration of X4009 to the exact condition of the aircraft after leaving the factory at Eastleigh in 1940.

REC Spitfire CasebackREC Spitfire Caseback - Credit REC

An impressive number of X4009’s original parts are being used to restore the airframe. Even so, many of the aluminium parts from the salvaged fuselage were not suitable for restoration – and this is the  metal that has gone into the REC watch; right in the middle of the prominent small seconds dial. You can’t fail to notice it.

It’s also a fascinating and vanishing, piece of history. Of the 20,000 or so Spitfires built between 1938 and 1948, fewer than 100 original aircraft are currently estimated to be operational and in airworthy condition. X4009 will only be the fourth flying Mk1 version.

REC Spitfire WatchREC Spitfire Watch - Credit REC

REC have paid a wonderful tribute to it, starting with the case that echoes the Spitifire’s wing shape and structure, while the crown is inspired by the aircraft’s graceful nose cone. The overall aesthetic though is based on the watches that the  pilots themselves would have worn back in the day; which of course means a homage to the famous ‘dirty dozen’ watches too: complete with government broad arrow logo.

Inside, there’s a Sellita SW-641 movement, visible through a display case back with a customised rotor designed to represent the Spitfire’s propeller. Currently available on pre-order, the X4009 watches are available in blue, grey, and black as a limited edition priced at £1610, making them a bargain for what they are.

And that brings us right to what, for me, is the most moving and meaningful aspect of the whole watch. Forget the actual brand, model name, and serial number of each example, which all appear in various places. Instead, what really hits home is the simple yet poignant inscription you see at nine o’clock.

REC Spitfire WatchREC Spitfire Watch - Credit REC

“In honour of Paterson C. Hughes. Fighter ace.”

REC Spitfire Specs:

  • Diameter Case: 41 mm
  • Diameter Bezel: 41 mm
  • Lug-to-lug: 48.7 mm
  • Height: 13.6 mm
  • Movement: SW461-1 SELLITA automatic movement w. customized rotor, ruthenium anthracite plating & tempered blue screws. Frequency 28’800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz). Power reserve +40 hours
  • Luminescence: hands, indexes and rails
  • WR: 10 ATM / 100 meters
  • Materials: 3-piece case, 316L Stainless steel, Gun-gray PVD Coating
  • Two side Sapphire Crystal with 3x layers of anti-reflective (AR) coating
  • Special features:
  • Sunburst dial with repurposed Mk1A Spitfire X4009 fuselage aluminium integrated at 6 o’clock
  • Serial number plaque
  • Price: £1610.00

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Anthony Peacock

About the Author: Anthony Peacock

About the Author: Anthony Peacock

I’m passionate about a lot of things but especially cars, food, wine, film – and watches. As a writer and PR consultant, I’m lucky enough to travel the world and find inspiration from all sorts of amazing places. Sometimes I’m on my own and sometimes with others, but my timepiece is my constant companion.

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