Laco Pilot Frankfurt GMT Schwarz, A Week On The Wrist The first dual-time-zone watch from this historical house of pilot watches. by Gerard NijenbrinksFebruary 03, 2020 MIN READLaco Pilot Frankfurt GMT Schwarz, A Week On The Wrist
The origin of Laco lies in a company named Lacher & Co. Founded in 1925, in the first half of the last century, their production became one of the most important in the German Pforzheim region. Even in difficult times business continued. As one of five manufacturers, Laco produced reliable pilots watches for the German Luftwaffe.
Laco’s first Pilot GMT Watch, the Frankfurt
Today, Laco‘s pilot watches are an expression of that success. At the beginning of this millennium, the brand was re-introduced onto the market. With watches adopting the looks of times gone by, but which still satisfy modern demands. Besides historically-inspired pilot watches, Laco nowadays offers more modern sport, or squad watches as well. Our review of the Laco Scorpion Amazonas, for instance, can be found here.
I wasn’t aware of this but Laco names all of their pilot watch models after German cities with an airport; Paderborn, Memmingen, Dortmund, etc. For the first Laco GMT watch, a watch aimed at globetrotters, they wanted a name that is as cosmopolitan as the watch itself. As the airport of Frankfurt is the biggest German commercial airport, this name seemed appropriate for this watch model.
The Laco GMT Frankfurt on first sight
It was even before the first sight of the watch that I was impressed already. The Frankfurt GMT comes in a sophisticated aluminum case. Inside you’ll find the watch on its standard black strap, an extra gray and orange nylon strap. A strap changing tool, booklet, and warranty card, plus as a little gift, a key-ring. I remember being enthusiastic about the adequate packaging of the Scorpion Amazonas, but this is next-level.
Let me, oddly, begin with describing the straps. As said, the watch comes in its box on a synthetic black, so-called Nytech, strap that conveniently has a leather lining. I wore the watch for a day or two on this strap, and it’s really comfortable. But not very exciting. And to be honest, the watch is. So I quickly changed to the grey & orange Nylon strap. While the material might make it look like a NATO-type strap, in fact, this strap contains two separate parts. At the beginning a bit stiff, but it quickly breaks in when wearing. Way more important is the change in appearance though. This really gives the watch a different, in my opinion, more attractive, look.
On to the watch
Let’s head on to the main character of this review. My first notice was that the watch is extremely clear, the dial pops so to say. All hands have the exact and perfect length to point at what they’re there for. Both signed crowns are of the screw-down-type. Screwed-in, they nicely fall and fit in between their crown guards. And, as can be seen in the picture below, the inside anti-reflective coated sapphire glass is slightly domed.
…what do you mean, Schwarz?
Although my German might have become a bit rusty, I’m pretty sure Schwarz means Black. The hang-tag of our review watch indicated Schwarz, but as you’ve probably noticed from the pictures, the dial of the watch isn’t exactly that. So I enquired at Laco and got the following answer: You’re right that even the black one is more grayish than “real” black, and it’s much easier to see the difference if you see both watches in comparison (please see attached picture). The black dial was inspired by the color of the original pilot watches and the upper part of the bezel. The model with a gray dial matches more to the case color and the lower part of the bezel.
Here’s Laco’s attached picture
The matt finished stainless steel casing is, compared to regular stainless steel, relatively dark. Laco taught me that it’s done by titanium-sand-blasting. Using this type of sand, or dust, it gives the case its dark, almost titanium-like, finish. I like it — it looks tool-ish, sturdy, and professional.
The dual-time-zone automatic movement, Laco caliber 93, is based on the trusted ETA 2893-2. As a standard, the Elaboré version of the movement will be fitted. However, for an extra price, the Top version can be chosen. The exact differences are explained in our Laco Scorpion Amazonas article. The movement isn’t visible by the way. It’s ticking behind a solid steel case back decorated with an aircraft and territorial map relief.
As mentioned earlier, the watch is very easy to read. The pilot-style hands show their functionality, a glance is enough to tell what time it is. Even the orange triangle hand of the 24-hour dual-time indication is perfectly readable. Generally speaking, I find a date window to be dial-disturbing. But here I have to admit that it weighs out perfectly with the triangle at 12, then the 3 at East, and the 9 at the Western cardinal point in the dial. The date window deserves its place at 6 o’clock.
…why a rotating 24-hour disc?
I can only think of one reason. While leaving the 24-hour hand at the same offset to the 12-hour time indication, rotating the 24-hour disc is an easy way to indicate another timezone with the 24-hour hand. In the picture above, the 24-hour hand points at GMT while the time on the watch is one hour ahead.
While it’s almost 14:00 hr at the watch’s regular hands, the 24-hour hand clearly shows 8:00 hour in another time zone.
No need to rotate the 24-hour disc at all…
But, and I think this is more convenient, the 24-hour hand can be off-set from the general time at the watch, to indicate another time zone against the 24-hour disc. You can do this while leaving the 24-hour triangle on top. So to me, there is no need to rotate the 24-hour disc at all. It could have been a function to indicate a 3rd time zone. But then a second 24-hour index should have been printed in the non-rotating part of the dial.
It seems crazy to me to imagine that someone could remember which hour the 24-hour hand was pointing at initially, while the 24-hour disc indicates another hour. Perhaps if you used the GMT hand in conjunction with the rotating bezel to indicate the third time zone, while using the bezel in conjunction with the normal time, I could see it working. But you might find yourself standing on your head to read the time…
As a GMT first-timer, with the Frankfurt, Laco came up with a very attractive watch. Easy on the eyes, a sturdy and professional appearance, and comfortable to wear. The functionality of the watch, simultaneously showing the time in different time-zones, proved to be perfect as well. During the week of my hands-on with the watch, my wife resided on another continent, and I was happy that keeping track of the time over there was very easy.
For a travel watch, we know that the ETA 2893-2 movement is suitable but sub-optimal. The 24-hour hand can be quick-set independently from the regular time on the watch. But when re-setting the local time, the 24-hour hand will move simultaneously. There are other watches indicating two time-zones, for instance, the Rolex GMT-Master II or the IWC Spitfire Timezoner, which are better in that regard. They quick-change the local time hour hand without disturbing the reference time. But those are in a different price-league. Or, worse still, not available for purchase at all. The Laco Frankfurt GMT, therefore, is a very neat alternative. One that I highly recommend.
As mentioned and shown above, the Laco Frankfurt GMT is available in two color settings. Schwarz and Grau. The price for the watch, two straps included, is a very pleasant €1,650. If you want the top-grade movement, then tack €130 onto the price. More information on the watch can be found at laco.de
Brand Laco ModelFrankfurt GMT SchwarzReference862120DialBlack-ish, more dark-grey or anthracite. Alternatively, a lighter grey dial is available as wellCase MaterialStainless steel, dark Titanium-sand-blastedCase DimensionsDiam 43,0 mm, thick 12,5 mm, lug size 20 mm. Lug-to-lug 50 mm, weight 100 gramCrystalSapphire, slightly domed, anti-reflectiveCase BackSolid, with aircraft reliefMovementLaco 93, based on ETA 2893-2 Elaboré. Top-grade available at an extra price of € 130Water Resistance200 meterStrapBlack Nytech (Nylon leather lined), plus a Grey & Orange Nylon strapFunctionsHours, Minutes, Seconds, Date, 2nd time-zonePrice€ 1.650Warranty2 yearSpecial Note(s)Supplied, including strap changing tool and key-ring, in a beautiful aluminum case Watch of the Week
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About the author
Gerard has been in the watch industry for over two decades now. He owned a watch shop in The Hague, The Netherlands, and besides that he has journalistic and photographic activities in the field of watches. Collecting watches since he… read more
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