The Valour Sopwith Aviator
I’m always excited to see someone make his dreams come true such as creating a brand that truly reflects his passion. Mark Daniel belongs to that category for after a long standing experience as a professional, he is an engineer, he has created his own watch brand. You might argue that this is yet another new brand in watchmaking, if you are however familiar with the watchmaking world you’re probably aware this sector is always in ferment, with new brands and limited edition timepieces emerging each year. And that the Valour Watch Company, Mark’s brand, is only one of many.
He has combined his experience as an engineer with a true passion for WWI and WW2 aircarfts, that dates back to his family’s forefathers (his grandfather as well as his grandfather’s brother were both pilots with the NZRAF during WW2) and has launched at this year’s Salon QP, where I met him, his first ever timepiece: the Valour Sopwith Aviator.
Even if you know nothing about the name Sopwith, you soon realize the case design is the Valour Sopwith Aviator’s hallmark, as it resembles the nose of a WWI aircraft with its unmistakable rotary engine. The Sopwith aircraft, recognized by many as one of the best military aircrafts of the time, was the source of inspiration for this double case wristwatch.
The external case is 54mm wide, enclosing an inner case with dial and movement, protected by a sapphire crystal and via 9 fasteners in the shape of an engine cylinder. Looking at the Valour Sopwith Aviator head on is like being in front of a Sopwith aircraft without its big propeller.
The inner case houses the movement, namely a Soprod based automatic movement, with the balance wheel vibrating at 4Hz, made of Glucydur and equipped with an Incabloc anti-shock device, whose winding rotor has been personalized with the Victoria Cross logo, that represents the highest military award given to members of the armed forces. The transparent case back and external case are secured via 9 tiny Allen screws. The winding crown, positioned at 8, gives you the impression that this is a timepiece conceived for the left handed, whereas it is actually intended for anyone.
I’ve wrapped the Valour Sopwith Aviator on my wrist at the last Salon QP and found it to be way massive as its 54mm diameter is paired to a significant thickness. Its curved case makes it appear even thicker than its 16,8mm height. What does impress you at first glance are the watch’s fit and finish and above all its comfort ensured by a calfskin strap Tuscan in origin and stitched in Austria.
It is blatantly obvious that in designing his first timepiece Mark has traveled throughout Europe in search of the best suppliers of materials and assemblies, with cost being no object. Even the watch case is miles away from any large scale production and each item is carefully chosen, from the wood used to make it to the artisan who worked it to the polishing cloth, custom made by the premium English company Selvyt, specializing in polishing cloths for jewelry and musical instruments.
Each of the 200 Valour Sopwith Aviator will retail for £4260 (Vat Inc) but there are still a few left in the "Valour 24 Founders" introductory offer at a price of £3660 (Vat Inc), sold exclusively through the official Valour Watch Company website. It is not a cheap price, but this is a 100% hand assembled watch, that Mark (who did however make the initial design prototypes during 2012-2013 in his own workshop) made through his Swiss manufacturing partner for no more than 200 enthusiasts where quality holds the place of honor. I hope to get my hands on one soon and run a full live review.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Valour Watch Company)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®