First of all sorry to all for the somewhat misleading thread title as this is a contemporary watch and doesn´t have any kind of connection with the U.S. Air Force. For that matter the company that produces the Recon 5 is Portuguese and the assembly and movement are Swiss.
The reason for the thread title is best explained by the Prometheus company owner in its blog, as he states that “With this model we tried to pay tribute to the Reconnaissance Squadrons that try to keep our world a safer place, specially to the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron part of US Airforce”, additionally on the company site it´s explained the original inspiration for the watch: “Having as a starting point those traditional flieger designs Prometheus Watch Company brought to life a evolution of the flieger watch with the birth of the Recon 5 Swiss Made Flieger Men's Watch marked by it's clear and simplistic lines”.
So what I concluded after reading the creators explanation and seeing the watch, that it is a mix of modern/old elements, adapted to a country´s Air Force that lacked a true WW2 “flieger type” watch (as opposed to the more familiar German and British counterparts). That idea is appealing to me as I wanted something different from the German “flieger” adaptations that so many brands are making, but not something totally different (hard to explain, I guess harder to understand)
Even doe there are already a number of reviews on this watch and it isn´t a new model I decided, as it´s my most exclusive watch (only 301 made, without being a limited run series), to make it my first thread.
Prometheus Recon 5 Specs
§ Stainless steel case: 44mm by 10.5mm.
§ Lug to Lug: 51mm
§ Sapphire crystal and caseback.
§ SuperLuminova hands and indicies.
§ Brown leather strap with thorn buckle.
§ 22mm lugs.
§ Non-screwdown large crown for easy winding and setting.
§ Unitas 6497-1 movement: non-hacking, handwinding, 42 hour power reserve, decorated with Geneva stripes, blued screws.
§ Water resistant to 50m (165ft).
Watch was delivered in a normal shipping company outer package. Inside the watch was in a travel case style watch box that is stamped with the Prometheus logo . Inside the travel box you can also find the Instruction Manual and Warranty Card booklet. I specifically asked for this travel box as I find it more useful than “standard” square watch case and when I ordered it I wasn´t sure they already had it in stock.
The watch case is totally brushed, I wouldn´t say it is perfect but in this price range you can consider it “pretty good”. It contrasts very well with the highly polished diamond crown at 3:00 resulting in both a tool/military and vintage look. My only concern about the crown is its tendency to get scratched (as it did after a few days of use)- Probably it would work better if it was signed but it´ld probably increase costs.
The Case back is a display type case back, also polished and it´s the only place you find the Prometheus brand along with the serial nº swiss made designation and water resistance (50 mts). The fact that you can see the decorated Unitas movement (one of the most beautiful handwind movements IMO) is a great “jekyll and hyde” characteristic in this watch as it transpires unpretentious simplicity all-round.
Both crystals are sapphire which is uncommon for this price range but they don´t have AR coating.
The strap is secured by screws that tend to give a more military feel as they resemble fixed spring bars that are great for nato straps (I can see a “vintage” olive green zulu in the future) also are supposed to be more secure and in aesthetical terms it complements well the “toolish” feel of the watch. However on the practical side I tend to favor the normal spring bar option as it makes easier to change straps (and this watch is begging to be worn on different straps all year round) and you can´t avoid scratching the side of the lugs when changing straps instead of the underside which is the case with spring bars.
Simplicity and functionality are the first words that come to mind when you first see the display. It has a sort of “gauge like” “no nonsense” appearance, with a triangle at 12 (reminiscent of the German “B-Huren”), a simple Arabic scale from 1 to 11 and supports the subsidiary second hand at the 9:00 position with a similar time scale of its own that helps fill such an empty an frugal dial. The seconds dial, when the hand is moving, resembles (at least to me) an altimeter during the planes ascent (Kudos to Prometheus for that).
The only additional inscription you find are the model´s name, the movement characteristics and “swiss made” designation.
The Minute and Hour hands are modern aviator style (they resemble to me some B&R hands), done in black and white/greenish luminova (I think the BGW9 type lume or c1 luminova would work better in chromatic terms). The Seconds hand is a smaller reproduction of the Minute hand which I find one of the most original feature of the watch. I would only whished Prometheus did the black paint of the hands in matte finishing instead of gloss, as it would give them a “floating appearance” on the dial.
As a side note the hour hand on this second gen Recon 5 is slightly different from the original watch (I tend to like it better now).
“First gen.” watch
The fact that such a big display crystal doesn´t have AR coating makes it almost a mirror as it is also flat, but in the end the contrast of the white lettering/hands and the matte dial makes it a easy to read on every given environment.
Lume wise, the watch has also an “original” feature (compared to most competitors) as all of the markings are lumed. The problem is that it isn´t that strong (but you aren´t expecting it to be in this type of watch) and doesn’t last long. To be honest it was my biggest disappointment with the Recon 5 as it is beautiful when fully lumed (perhaps got too used to Seiko´s lume).
One feature that divides more opinions on this watch is its strap. It´s made of a chocolate leather with white stitching tapering to the signed buckle (with the lettering PWC), with a design that, to me, resembles a Di-Modell Chronissimo. I liked the fact that Prometheus didn´t do the “rivet style” strap as it doesn´t appeal that much to me and has become some sort of aviator watch “cliché”. Very comfortable to wear from the get-go, I liked it more on my wrist that on the pictures I´d seen before, as the stitched keepers gave it some “decoration” that this “frugal” watch needs.
My only “complains” with it are its thickness (to thin for my taste for an aviator), and the perceived leather quality (it comes as sort of artificial). Having said that I´d bought an aftermarket strap as soon as I decided to buy the watch but only decided to change it after a month of owning it, and I won´t discard putting it back on the watch again.
I wear it now with a Steinhart leather strap and am very pleased with its quality and visual combination with the Recon 5
This 2nd gen. watch also has a slightly different strap when compared with the first gen.. For what I’ve gathered it´s better finished and the stitched keepers are a new feature.
HOW DOES IT WEAR
I´ll start to say that, even doe I´ve got 6.5/6.75 inch wrists I favor larger watches (I can assure that it´s not related with any inferiority complex what so ever). I´m fairly used to wearing 44mm dive watches, but the first thing I realized when I started collecting is that it´s more about the case design than its measured dimensions. So the Recon 5 as it is an “aviator style” tends to wear larger than an equal dimensioned dive watch, but the fact that only has 10.5mm in height more than compensates that, making it perfect for most shirt sleeves. The emptiness of the dial contributes to its bigger appearance. The deal breaker doe, is its lug to lug distance that IMHO is on the limit of what my wrists can support, as they don´t extend further them, but just barely (The fact is that I like a watch that show off from a distance, so I’m fine with it). I´ve also got relatively flat wrists so the watch sits comfortably on them.
I´ve taken a picture along some equally dimensioned watches just for comparison:
The crown does dig up a bit (it never becomes uncomfortable) especially when driving.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE
I´ve decided to write about some “competitors”, not because I´m sponsored by the brand or to put them down but to convey my buying thought process when I decided I “needed” this kind of watch and so to enhance the pro/cons of the Recon 5. All of them were considered from the start as “possible buys” on an even level.
You could argue that all of this review is biased (specially this section) but I can assure you, if it sounds like that, it can be due to my own ignorance and the fact that most of the other competitors are internet based brands, so I can´t see/touch them, therefore my opinions will be based on specifications and other owners feedback.
Stowa Flieger Baumuster B 2801 (upcoming): Not really a rival “per se” as it is more expensive (double the price) but you do get (as Jorg Schauer likes to suggest) an “IWC” finishing and quality feel at a bargain price. Probably their Marine Original is a better comparison as it supports the same base movement (even doe it is largely improved), but its price tag almost triples the Recon 5 – is it three times a better watch? I seem to think so as I want both of them for my own (I have devised a long term plan to get them that involves a lot of money saving, becoming a Doctor/politician/football player and lots of flowers to my wife in the hope of acquiring them).
STEINHART"Nav B-Uhr II 44 mm: This one was the Recon5 biggest “competitor” during the “decision time”. Same price tag, same movement spec, AR coating on the sapphire crystal, great reviews and faithful fan base, the lume seems better, the case seems to have great finishing and the straps are great - So great I´ve bought one for the Recon 5. The only gripes I had with it was the mineral glass display back and the fact that it is more of an “adaptation “ of the original “B-Huren” design than an “reinterpretation” (it tends to have a lot of design features shared to other “original” B-Huren brands) - don´t get me wrong I don´t think there is something wrong with that, it´s just that you are seeing more and more “look alikes” using this movement or similar Asian ones and this time around I fancied something more original. In the end the real deciding factor was its height (14mm) that (in addiction) made it real large for my puny wrists.
Laco Lubeck: It has Laco´s “original B-Huren” case design. Slightly pricier, non decorated movement, mineral glass on both crystals. Better to save the extra cash for a “real” Laco (ex.:Laco Leipzig-on my wish list already) IMHO, as the sort of appeal Laco watches have, relate to their “historical” designs.
Archimede Pilot XL Hand Wound: Sapphire glass with double AR, nice touch with the German dial inscription, same height as the Recon 5. Pricier, 45mm, undecorated movement, mineral glass on the case back, similar design to the Steinhart. The letdown was the fact that you have to pay twice the Recon/Steinhart for a decorated movement (even doe it also features additional improvements)
Hamilton Khaki Field Mech Officer: I´m a fan of the brand, great looking dial (more to the military style), great lume, good finishing. Too large lug to lug distance for me, smallish hands IMO, undecorated movement, no display case back, more expensive.
Hope the review was helpful, sorry for my spelling or grammar as English is not my native tongue. Any critic, good or bad, will be welcomed.