Monochrome Watches
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Hands-on

The Brutally Honest Laco Kiel.2 Chronograph

An ultra-robust and legible pair of accessible pilot chronographs.

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Robin Nooy | ic_query_builder_black_24px 5 min read |

Despite the fact that mechanical watches today are very much a luxury item and far from a necessity, there was a time when proper timing instrument watches were the difference between life and death. Watches served a true purpose and were used to time extremely important events. This need for precision also arose with the threat of war building in Europe in the 1930s, which lead to the creation of the Beobachtungsuhr, or B-Uhr. These watches became legendary for various reasons, and today, most Flieger watches take after these original timepieces. Some of the brands which produced B-Uhr watches back then still do that today, to an extent. One such brand is Laco, which has been around since 1925. And Laco recently presented the brutally honest, no-nonsense Kiel.2 Chronograph that takes after the historic design of the Flieger Uhr.

A brief history of laco

The German watchmaking brand of Laco was originally founded in 1925 as Lacher & Co. by Frieda Lacher and Ludwig Hummel. After initial success, the two would branch off into the production of wristwatches on one side and the manufacturing of precision parts on the other. In 1933, Hummel set up Deutsche Uhren Roh Werke, or Durowe, to produce complete watch movements. Together with sister company Lacher & Co., the two quickly developed into Pforzheim’s premier watch manufacturer. At the height of the operations, Laco-Durowe produced up to 30,000 movements per month, which is a staggering amount really.

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Vintage Laco B-uhr
A vintage Laco B-Uhr Type B.

Laco-Durowe would become one of the five manufacturers issued to build pilot’s watches for the German Reichs-Luftfahrtministerium (the German airforce) in the early days of the 1930s (the others being A. Lange & Söhne, IWC, Stowa and Wempe). All watches were produced in accordance with standardised criteria, which resulted in the watches now known as B-Uhr watches. This design morphed into the Flieger design we know and love today, made famous by watches like the Big Pilot by IWC. While we primarily think of IWC when it comes to these watches, others like Laco and Stowa have been producing them in various iterations for many years (as well as B-Uhr-inspired collections). And with that, we come full circle to the new Kiel.2 Chronograph we’re covering today.

Brutally honest

There’s no way around it, the Laco Kiel.2 Chronograph is a robust and large watch. It has a 43mm diameter and a sizeable height of 14mm. Despite the chunky build, it never feels daunting or unbalanced, and to be honest, I feel it befits the style of a Flieger watch perfectly. Sure, it’s big, but during my time with the watch, I never had the feeling it was too heavy or uncomfortable. You do feel you have a watch, though, but that’s part of the joy. The finishing is very nice, with finely brushed surfaces alternating with polished ones. An oversized crown allows you to set the time and other indications and wind it if needed. Sturdy pump-style pushers are used to start, stop and reset the chronograph. The watch is topped with a sapphire crystal with single-sided anti-reflective coating (double-sided is possible but costs a little extra). Around the back, a second sapphire crystal lets you check out the watch’s beating heart.

As said, the Laco Kiel.2 Chronograph comes in black or white in the typical Flieger design. Both are clear as day when it comes to reading time, despite the level of ‘complexity’ inherent in a chronograph. On the outer edge of the dial, there is a bold minute track with large markers for every 5 minutes and smaller ones for the single minutes in between. There is a luminous marker at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. At noon you also have the familiar triangle and dots, a typical trait of a Flieger watch. From there, you can see Arabic numerals spread around the dial for each hour. The three sub-dials are slightly recessed – small seconds and two chronograph registers – with a day and date window rounding off the indications. The sword-shaped hour and minute hands are finished in blue with luminous inserts, and simple blue hands are used for the rest of the sub-dials.

A fitting movement

You are flipping the Laco Kiel.2 Chronograph over reveals the automatic chronograph movement: calibre Laco 500. This is essentially a Sellita SW 500, but Laco offers it in several different versions. The entry-level Kiel.2 Chronograph comes with an elaboré grade movement, without any form of decoration. For a small premium, you can have a decorated one, or go for a top-grade movement that’s either decorated or not. Regardless of what you opt for, you end up with a perfectly reliable engine based on the tried-and-tested architecture of the Valjoux 7750.

A view of the top-grade decorated Laco 500 movement.

This mechanical heart indicates the time with centrally mounted hour and minute hands, paired with a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. Next to that, it indicates elapsed time is indicated via 30-minute and 12-hour counters, with a central chronograph seconds hand. A double rectangular window reveals the day and date with a black-on-white disc underneath a white dial or vice versa underneath the black dial. The day of the week disc comes in German, but you can have it swapped for an English disc for a small fee.

Options, options, options

The Laco Kiel.2 Chronograph is available on two different straps. There’s the typical black leather strap with classical Flieger rivets and a pin buckle and a stainless steel multi-link bracelet with a folding clasp as an alternative. Both are also sold separately if you want to add one or the other at a later moment in time. Both watches retail for EUR 2,190 on a leather strap or EUR 2,290. Laco also offers a few upgrades which come at a premium, such as a decorated elaboré grade movement (EUR 120 extra), a top grade movement (EUR 150 extra) or a decorated top grade movement (EUR 270). Double-sided AR-coating is also available for an additional EUR 100, and an English disc for the day of the week will set you back a further EUR 70.

For more information, please visit Laco-Watches.com.

https://monochrome-watches.com/hands-on-the-brutally-honest-laco-kiel-2-chronograph-specs-price/

2 responses

  1. I am intrigued, I look forward to an article on how the Valjoue movement is ‘Fried’. It never ceases to amaze me how the refinements of mechanical movements move forward over time.

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