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Chase-Durer Wing Commander XV Review

Chase-Durer is a relatively new watch company formed in 1993 by Hollywood film producers Brandon and Marianne Chase, along with their Swiss partner Stefan Durer. Their goal is to produce high quality Swiss Pilot watches at an affordable price. Their first watch, the Pilot Commander is still one of their best sellers. Today they enjoy worldwide recognition as one of the leading suppliers of watches to military pilots including The United States Air Force Thunderbirds.

The watch I'm reviewing is one that I had owned for about 3 years. It had gotten a lot of wrist time, so it is a little worn. I really enjoyed wearing this watch and have recieved many compliments on it. I purchased the watch at a local authorized dealer after hearing about Chase-Durer from a friend.



The watch comes in a nice plastic display case with a see through plastic cover. The case is heavy foam padded, with a slot for the watch to sit in. This is a very unique design for a watch box and one I have not seen before. This can be an advantage for people who have small wrists. Since the watch sits on top of the foam padding with the bracelet hanging down through the slot, there is no need for a watch pillow. Watch bracelet sometimes wind up being too small after sizing to easily fit around the non collapsable pillows that are often used in watch boxes.




Movement - Japanese YM55 quartz movement, 1/20th second, 30 minutes and 6 hour elapsed time.
Case - 316L stainless steel with 5 micron gold accents, 40mm diameter by 11mm thick.
Bracelet - Pilot style, 316L brushed stainless steel with 5 micron gold accents.
Clasp - Deployant buckle with double lock security clasp.
Bezel - Bi-directional, soft slide E6B navigational slide rule bezel and Tachymeter
Crystal - Sapphire distortion free crystal.
Lume - Tritium/SPO advanced illumination system on hands & numbers.
WR Rating - Screwn locked crown and screwed in-back; water resistant to 100m/330 feet.
Weight - Total weight of watch including bracelet is 143 Grams/4.6oz.
Warranty - 5 year limited international warranty.
Price - List $299. Street, around $225

It is very easy to tell the time, even at a quick glance. The reason I bring this up is because sometimes watches that have white dials are not all that easy to read. If there is not enough contrast between the white dial, and the color of the hands, you have to look a little closer and longer to discern the time. The dial is very busy, but the printing is sharp and clear. The numbers are perfectly placed and well lumed. The hour and minute hands are also well lumed. The chrono second hand has a red dot but no lume is applied to it. Neither do any of the sub dial hands have lume. The accuracy of the watch is very good, but that is to be expected from a quartz movement. The battery life is advertised as being 3 years. The chronograph has the 6, 9, 12 layout that is commonly seen in many quartz and automatic movements. The 1/20 sec sub dial is at 6, the full time sec sub dial is at 9, and the min/hour sub dial is at 12. What is different is that the pushers are in an unusual configuration. Only one pusher is on the right side of the watch, with two additional pushers on the left. The top right pusher starts and stops the chronograph, the top left pusher resets the chrono, and the bottom left pusher activates the lap time function. This lap function works just like the ones found on digital watches. It basically gives you a "split" time without affecting the "running" time of the chrono. Another interesting aspect of this chronograph movement is the way the elapsed time is displayed. The sub dial at 12 is the one that keeps track of this. It actually has two hands, one for the minutes and a separate hand for the hours.



As you can see in the photo, the outer markings on this sub dial track the minutes, while the inner markings track the hours, with a line in between each number to represent a 30 minute interval. Although it looks great in the photo, the reality is, it is sometimes difficult to read. The sub dial is a little too "busy" with all those markings and depending on where the hands fall it is sometimes hard to read this sub dial clearly. While we're looking at the dial, you can see the tachymeter markings on the outer edge. The inner slide rule markings are above that. The truth is, the tachymeter is completely useless. The font size is just way too small to be seen. The slide rule markings are much bigger and easier to read. The bezel on this watch is absolutely beautiful. It turns very smoothly, but has enough tension to keep it from moving if accidentally bumped. The markings are big and clear, and very easy to read. The gold plating on the outer ring of the bezel is stunning! Overall, the plating on this watch and bracelet are excellent. I've had other gold plated watches that have had the plating wearing off after only a year or two. After almost three years, and a lot of wrist time, the plating on this watch still looks great! The crown is a good size, easy to grip, and works very smoothly when screwing in and out. It has a "quick change" date function, and a hack function (second hand stops) when setting the time. The sapphire crystal has an anti reflective coating, although I don't know if it is on both sides of the crystal or just on one. The Lume is very good.



Here is a picture of the back of the watch. What is noteworthy here is the fact that each watch has it's own serial number stamped on the caseback. You can see it under the Chase-Durer stamp. I think this is a very nice touch for a watch in this price range. You can also see the back of the bracelet, which is not plated. Considering the excellent job of plating that was done on the front, I'm not that concerned that they left the back unplated. This is after all, a common practice in the industry. Not many watches in this price range would have plating applied to the back. The bracelet is of very good quality, and is very comfortable.





The bracelet has the typical folding deployant buckle and locking clasp found on most watches of this type. It is of good quality and has always worked properly and smoothly. The Wing Commander logo and name are stamped on the clasp.

Overall I am very satisfied with this watch. My only complaint is with the useless tachymeter. The font size is so small it really can't be seen. Aside from that one complaint, the overall quality and workmanship are excellent, and better than many other watches I've seen at this price point. The styling is terrific, although that is really a matter of personal opinion. If you are in search of a good looking, comfortable, and well made pilot style watch, I would highly recommend this.


This review was written and photographed by John Flynn.