The countdown has begun to 100 years of Laco...
In 2025 Laco will celebrate its 100th anniversary. To commemorate this event, they have announced a long-term marketing plan titled Mission 2025, spanning the next five years, which will involve the release of a different special edition watch annually which represents an element of their technical history. In mid-December, we advance reported on the upcoming release of the first model, Edition 95, which forms the 2020 element of the eagerly anticipated series. As the name suggests the new watch is limited to 95 pieces and is scheduled to be followed by further models released respectively in 2021, 2022 etc, titled Editions 96, 97, 98 and 99.
At the end of last year Laco delivered a brand-new Edition 95 for review. Therefore, to complement the technical overview of our 14 December feature we now present a more hands-on experience with this exclusive timepiece.
A Brief Nautical History…
Laco is synonymous with aviator watches, their most famous models paying homage to the original Laco manufactured watches worn by German flight crews in the 1940s. However, they also have a strong maritime heritage and the Naval range equally allows you to embrace the history of ocean chronometers from an era when wrist worn time pieces were relatively new. The original demand for such watches came from the German Marine Observatory in Hamburg in the 1880s. Very few companies had the technical know-how to fulfil these early requirements but Laco was one of them. Maritime chronometers have been essential instruments in the calculation of nautical positions and measurements for decades. Sailors could calculate latitude with a sextant, but Longitude determination was a best guess until the invention of accurate time measurement.
As precise personal pocket watches became more available, they were soon an important piece of equipment for a naval officer, every bit as essential as more complex box chronometer. Critical design parameters for these early naval watches were established in Hamburg and tests for resistance and accuracy became the purview of the Observatory. Laco’s range of modern maritime watches is based on some of the classic designs of early 20thC German naval navigational equipment.
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The Laco Special Edition 95
Unboxing a luxury watch is a big part of the ownership experience. This element needs to deliver long before you have laid eyes on the main event. In this department, the Laco 95 does not disappoint. The box reminds me of the packaging for an expensive bottle of whisky. It is a Royal Blue, reminiscent of the colour associated with elegant yachts and this theme is carried right through the product. The first gem out of the box is an approximately A4 size certificate with technical data specifically about our unique serial numbered watch – 00/95. Part of this is handwritten by a Laco Prűfer which is a nice touch. On a computer printout affixed into the certificate, there is confirmation of the Target Beat Rate (in this case 18000 A/h), the watch’s Amplitude (this model measured at 289º) and the daily rate deviation; sample 00/95 was 6 seconds per day. It is a clever document which will most certainly be retained by Edition 95 owners. As a marketing tool, it smartly sets the tone for what is to follow.
Next reveal is a long robust Royal Blue leather case which unzips to show the watch retained in the right half and the warranty card and instruction booklet on the left. Also, an intriguing grey soft jewellery bag which contains an enamel badge with the words LACO 95 and an image of a ship's wheel. Confirmation this is most definitely a naval inspired watch.
Superficially the 42.5mm watch itself is beautifully elegant yet simple in design with overtones of a classic field watch. It achieves superb legibility balanced with subtlety and sophistication. The colour of the dial immediately draws the eye as it is a continuation of the Royal Blue theme. The finish is not textured, but as you move the watch to catch light from different angles the blue shimmers with iridescence. Set against this is the stark white of the Arabic numerals and the hands.
At the 6-hour marker, there is a small second sub-dial which has the same complex finish as the main dial but reflects the light differently giving it an exaggerated feeling of being recessed. The tiny second hand has a satisfying tick rather than a completely smooth sweep. The main hands are well designed being a splice between syringe and tapered which gives them a vintage look. The white C1 luminescence of the hands is surrounded by a deeply polished thermal blue border. The lume itself glows, naturally, blue. The 95 has a dial designed without compromise and the level of effort shows. The pleasing visuals continue when you turn the watch over and assess the back. This is almost entirely sapphire crystal with just the smallest amount of steel case surrounding an embellished hand-wound Laco 98 movement. This movement is a modified ETA 6498.1 Elabore with 17 jewels and an approximate power reserve of 50+ hours. It is the non-COSC 6498 but is still part of ETA’s Mecaline Specialies range.
The principal aesthetic modification Laco have adopted is a bespoke engraving on the ratchet wheel which bears the Laco brand name and the issue number of the individual watch. The 6498 is often considered to be a pocket watch movement utilised in a wristwatch and is an attractive base with thermal blue screws mirroring the aforementioned colour theme. The crown of the 95 is highly serrated which gives a good grip and has the number 95 engraved on it. The watch is supported on a handmade 22mm brown leather strap which is soft from new and has a satin Laco embossed steel buckle.
This is a very well made and attractive package which is a fitting start to the ambitious Mission 2025 plan. The watch is unassuming and does not call attention to itself yet the elegant simplicity of it begs you to look closer and appreciate the precision detail. If the 95 is the standard of forthcoming Laco special editions we look forward with much anticipation to an equally exciting 2021 offering.
What is the Laco 95 like on the wrist?
The 95 wears elegantly and effortlessly. There is no bulk in the 80.5g weight and at just 10mm high it slips easily under all clothing. The watch feels bigger than its 42.5mm as there is a large uninterrupted expanse of ocean blue on show. I am torn as to whether the face should have a fraction more special edition detail to make it look a little less like the Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven models but perhaps it is sufficient that the colour palate is available only on this limited model. Whatever you feel the Edition 95 remains a beautiful creation.
The leather strap is extremely comfortable, but it is worth flagging up that I had to wear the watch with the buckle pin in the second from last hole. I mention this only as I have a large, but by no means huge, wrist so it would be interesting to know what sample wrist sizes Laco used? As the strap naturally stretches, I would only have one more adjustment hole.
Watch straps for the Laco 95
Depending on which yacht you sail you may want to consider a strap swap for your Edition 95, just to keep the original strap pristine…
Seaford Sailcloth Water-Resistant Leather Watch Strap in Dark Grey
The ocean grey of this strap compliments the Laco 95 superbly and provides a leather look with complete water resistance. The leather used for this strap has been through a patented finishing process during tanning to make it water-resistant. We have recently made some improvements to the design of this strap, based on extensive customer feedback, and now utilise a tear-proof material sandwiched between the construction layers, making it a very durable strap. Check it out here.
Premium ZULUDIVER Bond Herringbone Watch Strap, Polished Hardware in Blue/Grey
Our new Premium ZULUDIVER Bond Herringbone made from high strength seatbelt nylon webbing and fitted with our premium grade stainless steel military polished hardware, which includes ZULUDIVER etching on the buckle and the keeper at 6 o'clock. This colour combination could be tailor-made for the Laco 95. The nylon used on this range is has a reflective iridescent quality when seen from different angles.
ZULUDIVER Padded Tropical Rubber Watch Strap
If you are on the high seas with your Laco 95 then possibly a quality rubber strap will be a suitable accompaniment. The new ZULUDIVER Padded Tropical rubber watch strap. Taking inspiration from our popular Vintage Tropical, this strap has the same cross-hatched pattern moulded in the surface. There are two keepers, one is floating, and one held in position. We have used resilient and high-quality NBR rubber. It is designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions like salt-water and UV (ultraviolet) rays therefore ideal for fitting to any watch in contact with salt water.
As we roll into another exciting year of watch collecting and analysis the impressive Laco portfolio is a great way to start. The brand is highly synonymous with a specific vintage aviation design, to the point that some of their other models are overlooked. The fact that they have chosen to start the Mission 2025 special editions with a Naval model is a sound move and reinforces that they are so much more than a “pilot watch” company.
Personally, I hope that at least one of the future specials is from the Squad range as these are my favourite Laco watches and they do not get enough press coverage. A Mission 2025 Squad Himalaya would be something special.
The Laco 95 is now available for 1,290. To find out more about this model be sure to head over to the Laco site here.
If you're interested in looking at what else Laco offer, you can now order specific models directly from the WatchGecko site, click here to see our range.