Rusty Review: Chase-Durer USAF Thunderbirds

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I have just received a watch that I have had my eye on for almost one year, the Chase-Durer USAF Thunderbirds Alarm Chronograph. This watch is part of the pilots series and is T-H-E watch worn by the US Air Force Thunderbirds aerobatics team. I believe all pilots in this elite group carry the rank of major.

Size and heft: The watch is listed as a 43.5 mm and I believe that includes the crown and pushers. This version is slightly larger than the original which was a 40 mm. It is 316L stainless with a nice heft, 11 mm depth, and a rugged sstl bracelet has Chase-Durer engraved on the scissors style clasp. Seems quite comfortable, not too heavy. . . just right. The watch has a brushed finish with a polished, engraved case back. Each watch has a serial number engraved on the back and that is used for warranty registration.

Dial: The white dial with gray subdials contrast nicely with the blue bezel. The bezel ratchets smoothly and feels a bit like the bezel on the Seiko Monster dive watch. It is smooooooth! The bezel compliments the tachymeter info inside the dial so that it also doubles as a slide rule. For you young whipersnappers, before portable calculators, slide rules were used for portable computations of a scientific nature. The USAF Thunderbirds emblem is located in red at the 3 o'clock position. The lume is super. . . Super-Luminova that is. This is my first watch with the feature and it really glows, even in low daylight. The date is at the 4 o'clock marker. A sapphire crystal is standard equipment.

Movement: This version of the watch has a Citizen Miyota OS 80 alarm chronograph that tracks hours, minutes, and seconds (1/20th of a second specifically). The alarm is not loud which I like so that when it goes off, the sound is not heart-stopping. At my age, heart stopping is not a good thing.

The Look: This is nicely finished and very comfortable on the wrist. I specifically waited for the larger version to become available. It is a nice size for my wrist. I find it very aesthetically pleasing; the colors, the feel, and the techy, military look. The watch is easy to set although I have not attempted any calculations using the slide rule bezel. It is more of a pilot's watch but water resistent to 100 meters. MSRP in $495. Needless to say, I purchased it for less than half that.

The package: It comes in a plastic box, well packed in dense foam but nothing to write home about. I never buy a watch for the packaging since I wear the watch and not the case it comes in. There is a two year warranty with a card that has to be filled out and returned. Also, a set of directions for setting the watch and doing very simple calculations is included.

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