Remember analog car odometers? Back in the day, everything from cassette recorders to pedometers used tumbling counters. In TV and movies, whenever an airplane faced impending doom, there’d be a close-up of the digital altimeter counting down. Never mind that the first two numbers are actually ascending, the Pavlovian response is clear: the passengers are all going to crash and die. Trying to set the time on the Legacy Flight Hours left me with a similar sense of foreboding . . .
“I’m sending you a complicated watch,” TTAW’s Founding Father announced. “Fair warning: I lost the instructions.” I was expecting to receive some sort of multi-functional feature beast. When the Legacy Flight Hours arrived, it didn’t look complicated. The watch displays the minute and the hour, period. How hard can this be? Hang on. Why are there four buttons?
I pressed the lower right button. The rollers sprang to life, spun two full revolutions and landed back at the previous incorrect time display. It was a giggle-worthy moment of surprise and delight. As the laughter subsided, I watched the watch to try and figure out how to set it.
The LFH’s rightmost roller represents single minutes. Easy! Only it rolls backwards, in the opposite direction of its compadres. I suspect it’s designed to foster the illusion that the minutes move faster than the hours, as they are wont to do. Anyway, just so we’re clear, the outer right wheel has just ten numbers, 0 – 9.
The middle roller displays the tens of minutes. It also has ten positions, albeit with the order of the numerals reversed (naturally.) Is there some metric time where it will be 12:71?
The hour hand (roller? drum? wheel? counter? the nomenclature is a little alien here) avoids this confusion by surpassing Spinal Tap’s amplifier. The counter goes all the way to 12, avoiding the need to add another wheel reading zero. It also means that all three wheels are different.
Pressing any of the Legacy Flight Hour’s four pushers led to the same spinning Price Is Right Showcase Showdown demo. All right, partner, keep on rollin’. But how in tarnation do you set the time? The top post on Legacy Watch’s Facebook page offers a calibration guide set to a remix of Tom’s Diner.
Legacy’s not just being poncy using the word “calibrate.” To get all the digits to line up properly, you first set the watch to the 12:00 position. A long press on the top left button is your entry into calibration mode. After that, you press the remaining buttons – in counter clockwise order – to adjust each roller.
It’s not the world’s most difficult programming protocol, but in no way is it intuitive. Or memorable. A week after my initial technological triumph, accidental button presses cocked-up the display. I had to look this all up again.
Only then did I notice the video’s pixelated portion and the words “THE DRUM WATCH.” Ah. It’s a private label microbrand rehash of a watch I’d run across researching weird watches on Amazon. I’d seen the Chinese movement slotted into other cases for under $50.
Watching a properly set Legacy Flight Hours’ single minute counter roll backwards into place is less expensive – if not quite as entertaining – as the discontinued Mondaine Stop2Go’s pause-and-jump routine. The hour changeover is better yet. The middle roller – the tens of minutes – goes from 0 – 9 and uses 0 – 5. So the hour change roller advances five positions, half a revolution. Wheee!
The little wheels limit the size of the LFH’s digits. From normal viewing angles, the center roller/dial/wheel/counter isn’t immediately recognizable as the center. To read the time you have to look at the watch square on and somewhat closely (depending on eyesight). It’s a conscious act with more than one deliberate step.
The digits are painted silver. Their slight reflectivity may be a concession to a lack of low light legibility. Charged luminescent paint would roll out of sight in short order. What about an extra light button, a la G-SHOCK? Nope! The LFH is a battery hog.
Legacy has an app for that. Three press on the lower left pusher parks the display at 12:00, saving battery juice and enabling a quick escape from office drudgery. (“Wow! Is it lunch time already?”) Whack any button and the normal time display returns. Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’! Keep them digits rollin’!
Legacy’s website carpet bombs readers with horological hyperbole. Strangers will run up and compliment you on your bold novelty watch choice!
The Legacy Flight Hours failed to elicit the promised shock and awe. Nobody noticed. Demonstrating the LFH to friends resulted in nearly identical responses: “That’s ridiculous” and “Why do you have this?”
Aside from cost, legibility and thickness issues, the Legacy Flight Hours’ messaging is my number one complaint. I’m afraid that an actual pilot will notice the $159 plastic fantastic timepiece and out me as an impostor.
If you can walk the talk, the Legacy Pilot Hours watch is a fun and tolerably practical timepiece. While the peculiarities of the rolling drum movement will torment anyone who values good product design it’s an interesting watch for a niche audience: aviation-minded buyers who love diabolical Sudoku.
Model: Legacy Flight Hours Watch
$297…TODAY ONLY $159!”
Case diameter: 46mm
Case thickness: 16.1mm
Case lug width: 46mm
Lug to lug: 38.9mm
Weight: 86 grams
Water resistance: 3ATM
Accuracy: +/-15 seconds/month
Case metal: stainless steel
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * *
It wants to look like a cockpit gauge on your wrist. Mission accomplished! Simultaneously derivative and creative. Masculine but not toxically so.
Better than the Mr Jones Step Right Up, but that’s about it. Big watch with little display area, plus flat crystal glare. This is fashion over function.
Comfort * * *
Short lugs and a wide band somehow led to exceeding low expectations. I mean “not as bad as you’d think” in the kindest way possible. Very adequate, but in no way luxurious.
Overall * * *
The Legacy Flight Hours is looking for a very niche audience. As a retro sci-fi prop with a high gee-whiz factor, it’s a win. If action hero costumery isn’t your thing, it’s pretty silly and impractical. It’s well done for what it is, even if the price is a bit steep.
That’s the most ridiculous excuse for a watch I’ve ever seen and I must have one.
It’s a very conflicting watch. It is not love it or hate it, but love it AND hate it.
It can be yours! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve seen these “digital” watches, and its an interesting look, but (and I do appreciate a good novelty watch) the novelty doesn’t last long enough to put one in an online shopping cart.
Were it not for the ability to make it spin rapidly on command for the “losing altitude” gag, the steampunk mecha-digi novelty aspect would be substantially lessened. I’ll give them credit for giving the technology the look it needed.