Touring Wine Country with the New Napa and Santa Ynez Limited Editions from Laco
The limited-edition Fliegers are now available exclusively through Watch Gang.
We love legacy watches – brands that have stood the test of time. Formed in 1925, the German watchmakers Laco have a fascinating history, and it includes longstanding ties with America. After WWII, the company rebuilt under the U.S.’s Marshall Plan (also called the European Recovery Plan), and the production of pilot’s watches became Laco’s specialty.
What’s most interesting about Laco is that they’re still producing watches today, focusing on its Flieger collection, which aims for optimal functionality.
Watchonista got an early opportunity to shoot the manufacture’s newest releases, the Napa and Santa Ynez – limited-edition collaborations with Los Angeles-based collectors club Watch Gang. Both feature stunning California dials, so we thought we’d fly out to the Golden State to photograph these timepieces in Napa Valley.
The California dial is a watch dial on which the upper indices are displayed as Roman numerals while the lower ones are in Arabic numerals. This display was invented to enhance visibility.
How does it do that? The thought was, by dividing the dial between Roman and Arabic numerals, there was no way to misread your watch, even if you were a stunt pilot doing barrel rolls in the sky.
As for the origins of the “California” part of the name? Well, there are a bunch of different theories about that. The one we think most plausible is that these watches were especially popular in the Golden State when the design debuted in the 1930s and 1940s.
Taking inspiration from the flights served up in Napa Valley, we brought the Napa and the Santa Ynez along for a tour of Northern California’s wine country. Shot against some of the region’s most beautiful geography, we couldn’t help but notice how the clean design of these watches felt perfectly in place among the sloping hills of both Northern and Southern California.
The Laco Napa California Dial Type A
Although Napa Valley is only 30 miles in length and five miles across at its widest point, the topography of this small space is home to a vast array of varietals, each possessing a distinct personality through soil and microclimate. Fun Fact: Agricultural real estate is so prized in Napa that some homeowners have been known to rent out their backyards to vintners.
Likewise, Laco’s Napa California Dial Type A has a unique look. An elegant play on the brand’s classic Flieger, this time-only stainless steel watch measures 42mm in diameter with a height of 11.75mm and lug width of 20mm.
The size delivers a lot of wrist presence, but the matte white dial, and thermally blued and lumed hour, minute, and second hands lend the watch a lightness that evokes the Northern California sky. Moreover, the watch’s architecture – in particular, the domed crown – recalls the undulating hills surrounding Napa. And the Cognac-colored calf leather strap with light stitching reminds us of both a cork and soil from the region.
The Napa California Dial Type A is a visual treat, but it is actually quite robust. Water-resistant up to 5 ATM, the watch is powered by the automatic Laco 21 calibre, a movement based on the workhorse 21 jewel, three-hander Miyota 821A.
The Laco Santa Ynez California Dial Type B
When it comes to vineyards, location is everything. So, even though Santa Ynez is a five-hour drive from Napa Valley, they share a “Valley Vibe” and some amazing wineries. However, while Napa’s hills rise more gently, Santa Ynez is surrounded by a series of volcanic hills which gradually transition into a single, well-defined ridge.
Unsurprisingly, like its namesake, there is a certain ruggedness about Laco’s Santa Ynez California Dial Type B and its spare 42 mm stainless steel case that suits the Santa Ynez Valley’s jagged peaks and windswept flats.
In contrast to the Napa California Dial Type A, the Santa Ynez also sports a more detailed dial. Why? Because for aircraft navigators, minutes count more than hours when executing a flight plan, so Laco has outlined minute markers, from 5 to 55, and placed them along the outer ring of the dial (which is traditionally the location of the hour markers). In addition to the California numerals in the center ring, the bold navigator’s arrow along the outer ring marks 60 minutes (12 o’clock).
Finally, as with the Napa California Dial Type A, the Santa Ynez California Dial Type B epitomizes Laco’s legacy of precise and functional tool watches because it also employs the dependable Miyota 821A movement.
Meanwhile, both models use Super-LumiNova BG W9 to make the display pop, day or night.
Pricing & Availability
While both of these models are nods to the past, Laco is also embracing modern watch trends by distributing the Napa and Santa Ynez through non-traditional channels, in this case, Watch Gang.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)