Bangalore Watch Company Mach 1 Officer's Blue - Tribute to MiG 21 - Indian Air Force Pilot's Watch - Review

Introducing Bangalore Watch Company – Mach 1 Officer’s Blue

A fresh take on the watch inspired by the Indian Air Force

by Amish Behl

Bangalore Watch Company’s Mach 1 collection made a solid impression within the Indian watch community on its release last year. Or made people take serious note, at the very least. I’d attribute this to the general rarity that is a well-built, mechanical watch with modern-Indian inspiration.

For the Mach 1, the inspiration was Indian Air Force’s MiG 21 aircraft. And today, a new model joins its ranks – the Mach 1 Officer’s Blue.

In a nutshell

In a detailed, hands-on with the Mach 1 Aviator, I wrote about how the watch makes a strong case as a sporty, daily wearer. It is also a meaningful memento that proudly draws from the military history of independent India. The new Mach 1 Officer’s Blue retains each of those key features, but now delivers them in a fresh package that’s more fun and easygoing compared to the original. 

Officer’s Blue refers to the new dial, which is based on the blue seen on the Indian Air Force’s flag as well as officers’ uniform. Apart from the cooling cheeriness this shade offers, the hat tip to IAF colours adds a not-so-obvious layer to the story. I say this because the mind may not immediately connect the IAF flag and Mach 1 at a glance. But once you know the story, you’re left feeling that it all adds up quite well. 

Mach 1 Officer’s Blue (Stealth Fighter) with a black, PVD-coated steel case

Contrast between the two Mach 1 dial colours – original black and Officer’s Blue – is stark, and this is exactly what makes it a compelling addition to the Mach 1 collection. I prefer it over something playing adjacent to the tool watch theme. Another subtle difference is that the original Mach 1 trains its tributes on just the MiG 21 aircraft itself, while the Officer’s Blue shifts focus to the men in uniform.

On all other fronts, it’s what can be expected from a Mach 1. IAF tricolour fin flash on the dial, crown inspired by the afterburner nozzle, 42mm case, Swiss Sellita movement, 100m of water resistance and a leather-lined Cordura strap. However, 3D-lumed numbers on the original Mach 1, have been replaced with printed black numbers for better legibility against the blue dial. Hands and pips at each hour marker still have luminescence.

Bangalore Watch Company Mach 1 - Review and prices - Aviation Pilot's watch inspired by Indian Air Force MiG 21 Type 77 aircraft - BWC is online Indian brand for fine luxury watches

The original Mach 1 (Aviator) with a steel case

Initial thoughts

It’s good to see the Mach 1 evolve into a collection beyond the initial models. Bangalore Watch Company have done a really good job with the design and details of the Mach 1 to create a sound platform, which is now starting to be offered in offbeat flavours. Will we see more dials and colours in the Mach 1? Can’t say. But it does feel like the Mach 1 is becoming a collection mainstay, which I’m personally quite pleased about.

For those still reeling from the Rolex launches, I can imagine the Officer’s Blue dial colour feeling familiar. Two weeks ago, Rolex announced a series of coloured dials in the Oyster Perpetual collection, one of which was turquoise blue (or Tiffany blue, as some are calling it). To put conspiracy theories to rest, Bangalore Watch Company teased this watch a week prior to Rolex announcements. 

Staying on the subject of dial colour, while the blue takes enough of a cue from the IAF flag, it seems to have been tweaked for a better overall result for the watch, while staying away from elements that are facsimile tributes. This sensitivity in co-opting was a strong point of the original Mach 1s as well.

The Mach 1 Officer’s Blue will be offered in steel as well as PVD-coated, black Stealth Fighter versions, with dials having a Flieger Type A configuration.

The Type A/B nomenclature traces its origins to pilot’s watches commissioned by the German administration at the time of the Second World War. Type A here implies hour notations on the periphery of the dial. A pilot’s watch with minutes prominently featured on the periphery is referred to as a Type B dial – similar to the layout on Mach 1 Aviator models. 

While I’m yet to spend any hands-on time with the Officer’s Blue version, all elements apart from the dial remain unchanged. Which means you get a well-built watch with apparent quality in construction and finish; while the 42mm case wears comfortably thanks to its tight, 48mm lug-to-lug distance. My pick of the two models is the one with steel case, because of how it complements the brightness of the matte blue dial.

For a deeper dive with the original Mach 1, you can read our full hands-on review here.

Mach 1 Officer’s Blue in steel

Summing up

Since seeing the Halios Seaforth in pastel blue in 2016, I’ve wondered why this family of lighter, solid blues hasn’t been much experimented with in the watch sphere. So it’s definitely nice to see an unconventional colour from Bangalore Watch Company. Unless you’re a one-watch-guy, it’s likely you’ve got (or want) a watch that nudges you into having a little more fun than usual. The Mach 1 Officer’s Blue feels like it belongs in that category.

Notwithstanding its military inspiration, I especially like how the choice of sky blue lends a free-spirited lightness to the watch. Given the inscrutable curiosity that is 2020, we could certainly do with some more of that.

The details

  • Case material: 316L stainless steel (Stealth Black version is PVD-coated steel)
  • Case width, height: 42mm, 11mm
  • Dial colour: Matte sky blue
  • Water resistance: 100 metres
  • Lug width: 22mm
  • Lug-to-lug distance: 48mm
  • Movement: Swiss Made Sellita SW220-1 Automatic; 38 hour power reserve; day and date functions displayed on a black wheel
  • Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, with anti-reflective coating 
  • Case back: Engraved case back showing a formation of 3 MiG 21 jets along with other model details
  • Strap: Black Cordura fabric strap with leather lining; stainless steel buckle with BWC logo; quick-release spring bars (straps in other colours and styles available for separate purchase)

Engraved case back showing a formation of 3 MiG 21 jets

Pricing and buying

Price of the Mach 1 Officer’s Blue in stainless steel is ₹52,840 or $720. The black PVD version (or Stealth Fighter) has a price of ₹56,620 or $775.

Watches can be ordered online on the Bangalore Watch Company website, and you can explore the full Mach 1 collection here.

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