International Watch Review

Reservoir: Full Hours of Flight

The first Air Legend show, held last September on the Melun Villaroche aerodrome near Paris, showcased historical planes with the support of rising French watchmaker Reservoir.
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"They have come, they are all here," Charles Aznavour once sang. The 30,000 enthusiasts who attended the first Air Legend show, held at the Melun-Villaroche aerodrome on September 8th and 9th, could have hummed this chorus while taking in the sixty or so planes on the tarmac.

The majority of models World War II warbirds, including Hurricane, Spitfire, Curtiss P-40, P47 Thunderbolt, P51 Mustang, Grumman Wildcat, Avenger, Corsair, Yak-3, and Messerschmitt 109 in Hispano Aviación version, not to mention T6, DC3, and Fieseler Storch, designed for training, transport, and reconnaissance. But the tarmac also held more recent planes, such as the De Havilland Vampire jet--designed in 1945 so too young to fight; the F-86 Saber, a hunter that's made a name for itself in Korea through cartoon character Buck Danny; the Morane Saulnier MS760 from 1954; and the legendary Douglas Skyraider used in the Vietnam War.

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Warbirds such as this naval aircraft with foldable wings, transport planes of the thirties, and Rafale Marine: these aircraft, through their presence at the first Air Legend airshow, have lived on for a weekend.

Successful Takeoff

The specialists perusing the museumlike terminals had never seen such a deployment of mythical aircraft in France. 

"Usually there is only one Hurricane or Spitfire, flying on patrol," exclaimed Colonel Pignier, a retired officer. It was such during the Battle of Britain, an illustrating moment for the Royal Air Force, for whom 2018 marks 100 years of existence.

"There are only a handful of air shows around the world that can be called the First Airshow Division," explains Christian Amara, who owns eight historic French aircraft, including a 1936 Catalina hydroplane that sank a German submarine. "In France, the traditional "Le Temps des Hélices" meeting, which is held at La Ferté-Allais every weekend of Pentecost, is part of this list. From now on, it will be necessary to add the Paris-Villaroche Air Legend."

Amara, who is committed to the event's success, does not hesitate to compare it to other meetings that are popular with historic aviation enthusiasts, such as Oshkosh in the United States and Duxford in Great Britain.

"Paris, the capital of aerial adventure in the early twentieth century, found the legend of airmen," he says.

The Melun-Villaroche aerodrome itself belongs to the great aeronautical history. It was created before the Second World War and was later the setting of many experimental flights, military and civil, until the 1980s. Dassault, Breguet, Morane-Saulnier, Potez, and many other builders even made it their test center.

Many traces remain from this past, starting with the majestic hangars, which Gustave Eiffel designed. Shielded from a gigantic sky by metal, aircraft--some reduced to wrecks, others with the aftermath of turbulent landings--seem to have been there for eternity. But passionate mechanics are working to restore their former glory and allow some, at least the least damaged, to come back one day.

One Concept, Three Collections

To accentuate the demonstrations' historical veracity, dummy explosions occurred during the warbirds' "attacks" on the tents, and the installations of the airfield were reconstructed for the occasion. Together with the planes and knowledgeable enthusiasts, the atmosphere was undeniably vintage.

To weave a link between yesterday and today by flying ancient biplanes and current jets together, the Rafale de l'Aéronavale and the Alphajets of the Patrouille de France participated in this air show by furrowing, with a thunderous noise, the sky above Melun-Villaroche. An event supported by up-and-coming watchmaker Reservoir exhibited its models, many of which cultivate aeronautical codes.

"For a brand new house like ours, partnering with a major event like Air Legend represented an exceptional opportunity," says François Moreau, CEO and founder of Reservoir, whose watches have already created a strong visual and technical identity, with their combination jumping hour, retrograde minute, and the indication of power reserve.

On the Melun Villaroche aerodrome, the show was as much on the ground--for example, with this Corsair, an American fighter that made its mark in the Pacific during World War II—as in the sky with in-flight demonstrations provided by military pilots or historical aviation enthusiasts.

A Radical Reading of the Hour

One of various collections--"Automobile," "Aeronautics," and "Marine" among them--Reservoir's Airfight line is dedicated to the aviation world. The watch comes in black, and is highlighted with yellow (Airfight Jet) or white (Airfight Propeller and Airfight Titanium) in a 43-millimeter diameter case.

"Black dials and white hands coated with SuperLumiNova® reflect the sobriety, precision, and hyper-functionality of aeronautical instrumentation," Moreau explains. Featuring an ETA 2824-2 Swiss Made automatic movement with a patented module created for the aircraft occasion, each Reservoir watch combines the three evoked complications and offers, according to its creators, a "radical reading of the hour."

Ready for the checklist? Initially inspired by a car dashboard, the jumping hour at 6 o'clock evokes an odometer. The retrograde minute, covering a range of 240 degrees, resembles the needle of a counter. And the indication of the power reserve (which lasts 37 hours) reproduces, at the bottom of the dial, the gauge of a gasoline tank. This general spirit adapts to the air and sea universes through decorative details and specific color codes.

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