Revue Thommen Airspeed XL Chronograph - poor's man Breitling

Published on 17 December 2022 at 19:08

Every year between Black Friday and New Year I check all important web shops to see if there are any interesting watches on sale - without any pressure that I have to buy something. This year a Revue Thommen Airspeed XL chronograph pop out. And I decided to buy one.

I had no intention to write an article about this watch. It is a model which is on the market for more than a decade now, so far from being an interesting from today's perspective, but... When started wearing it, I realized that even though Revue Thommen is a very old Swiss brand with a lot of tradition, the brand is quite unknown even to some of the (self) so called connoisseurs. There were quite a several questions if this is some Chinese brand which want to replicate Breitling. 

How is that possible? For me, who am primarily an alarm wrist watch collector, Revue Thommen is a very known an important brand. It played an important role in the alarm watch history from 1960-2000. Namely in 1961 Revue Thommen stood out as the most important part in merging five Swiss watch companies in the MSR group, Vulcain was one of those five companies. All watches were sold under the Revue Thommen brand from then on except alarm watches which were for the next thirty years still sold under the Vulcain name. At the end of eighties even the Vulcain brand was replaced by Revue Thommen. At the beginning of the new century the Vulcain brand was sold and that was the rebirth of the Vulcain. If you are interested about this in more detail, check Vulcain section on my alarm web pages.

Maybe I am too biased, so lets go back to my question, why is Revue Thommen not known better? 

Maybe the history ( ) of the company itself reveals part of the answer, particularly the last ten years. Namely in the last ten years the ownership over the Revue Thommen brand changed three times. Plus the Grovana, which owned the brand until 2014 kept the rights to sell watches already produced until then and being still in stock. So in the last ten years we were in the situation that three different companies were allowed to sell this brand but obviously none of them invested enough in the recognition of the brand (and by this helping other company to sell their watches). 

The second possible reason could be the fact, that in general Revue Thommen was never able to offer something different. A major part of their collection consist of watches which are very similar to some of the competitors watches. Either Breitling, either Omega, some divers even to Rolex. And the last factor was the price, quite often even the official price was near those of the competitor's watches.

Despite all what is being said so far - quality of the Revue Thommen was never questionable. RT watches were and still are solid, well made, using quality swiss movements. No short ways here.

Now, let's go back to my purchased watch. As said, this time it is not my intention to do a in depth review, I decided that this article is more a presentation of a brand and watch itself. I will of course give you some of my observations, don't worry.

The watch comes from the Airspeed XL series of watches. This series was launched back in 2010 or 2011, reference number of the series is 16071.6xxx (last three digits depend on the exact model) for chronograph models and 16070.6xxx for the non chronograph versions. Until today this series consist of huge number of models, I must admit some color combinations impressed me. The following main factors that define the watch variant are - case (steel or black PVD steel), outer bezel (steel, steel with gold, black PVD steel), strap (rubber strap with variety of colors, stainless steel bracelet with or without gold implants, black PVD steel bracelet), inner bezel (follows the color of the rubber strap), hands (fully white or partially white), chrono hands (fully red or partially red). Colored versions also have the color ring around the crown (not black and dark blue versions). To get the impression - below is just some of possible variations with rubber straps (I only considered rubber versions). There is eleven chrono variants, just for the feeling I added one non chrono version (the last watch below on the right side). Even though the first one looks similar to mine, it is not the same version (hands are different).

As you can see, basically the same watch is made on one side as a very "boring" classic, old fashioned vintage Breitling style, and on the other side as a very attractive, even eccentric sport watch. I was quite excited about all the possible combinations, as said before, a lot of them attracted me very much. The decision, which one to pick was extremely difficult. In one moment orange with the black PVD case was almost mine, then I realized that this combination can be worn only during the summer in a sport dress outfit. So my next pick was blue with black PVD. I think that this combination gives you a lot of option from fully sport to almost dress watch. But at the end I decided to go even one step more towards the classic and bought a blue watch on stainless steel case. The reason - black PVD is more delicate for scratches. Yet I am still tempted with some more colorful watch on the black PVD. Maybe another non chronograph version will have to be bought :)

So, this is my watch:

Watch is powered by ETA 7750, so true working horse, easy to maintain. It does not have a COSC, but it runs in a +5 to +10 sec/day, which is quite fine for a normal use. Diameter of the watch is 43,5mm, heigh is 15,6mm. Non chronograph versions are thinner  (13mm), declared to be powered by Selitta SW221-1 (even though it seems more Selitta SW200 to me, watch does not have central pointer date). Rubber strap is on 22mm lugs, equipped with deployment clasp with push to release button. A bit unusual is that the strap has an open holes for pins, if your pin by any chance is released, you will loose it. In general I hate design of the rubber straps where you have to cut the strap to shorten it for the right wrist size. It is irreversible operation, so you need to be very careful. One cut too much is very painful. Plus selling the watch with the strap already shortened might be a problem.

Bezel is one directional with 120 clicks. No issues here. Glass is sapphire, water resistance is 100m. Hands and hour marks have decent luminova, but not the best. Chrono pushers are just the right size, every push is heard with loud click. Pushing is hard enough that prevents accidental press yet not to hard for a normal operation. So, robust yet enough comfortable. I also don't have any complain about the dial and the hands, even the logo and the company name are on this watch somewhat shy compared to some other RT models.

Watch is very comfortable to wear, of course it needs a bigger wrist, I would say at least 18,5 cm size. It has a relatively poor box, standard cartoon box and nothing else. Forgot to take picture, sorry. 

So, all in all a very good watch. I used to have several Breitling watches, this one is fully comparable to them! When watch was released in 2010-2011, original price was 3500 USD for the USA market, what was for that time way too expensive. Official price is the same even today, compared to other watches this price is now not so huge. But it is still a lot. The fact is, that except the official web shop of RT in USA, nobody else is selling it for this price. You can easy find it for 800 USD - 1000 USD depends on the version (add taxes and duties for EU market). I was even more lucky, I was able to get my version even cheaper, I paid less than 800 EUR with EU taxes included.. And for this price this is one of the top p/q you can find. So if you are able to get one for a good price, you like the watch, then don't be afraid, it is a right deal.

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