About two months ago I reviewed the d. freemont Voyager watch. For this review I have what I have been told will be the last watch model to be released by David Freemont under the brand, the d. freemont Airbatic. The name Airbatic is Citabria spelled backwards. Citabria is an aerobatic plane from the mid 1960’s that was primarily used as a trainer. The company is currently owned by Bellanca Aircraft and the plane used a Lycoming engine. David Freemont graduated from Lycoming College in Lycoming, PA, which is the site of the Lycoming Engine Corporation. The Citabria was the first plane David flew in and it is also the plane which he received his earliest flight training in.
As an interesting side note, this is the basic type of plane that Steve Fossett (the record setting aviator) was flying when he died in a plane crash in the area known as the Nevada triangle, on September 3. 2007. Over a year after the crash, a hiker found the wreckage of the plane in the Sierra Nevada mountains over the Great Basin Desert. Only a few of Fossetts bones were located a ½ mile from the crash site, an area that has claimed numerous pilots and planes over the years under mysterious circumstances, similar to the Bermuda triangle.
David has decided to honor this important piece of aviation history, the Citabria, with the Airbatic watch. This dressy, field/aviation watch is available in both a manual wind and a self wind model, that look almost identical. The automatic model requires the watch to use a different case back from the manual wind model. The result is a 10.5mm case thickness for the automatic model and 8.5mm case thickness for the manual wind model. Both the manual wind and self winding movements are nicely decorated as seen through the well engraved, informative, exhibition case backs. The totally polished stainless cases of these watches are 40mm in diameter, have a standard 20mm lug width and measure less than 46mm lug to lug. The lugs are nicely down turned which help keep these watches close to the wrist. Both watches have well finished 6mm onion crowns that perfectly complement the rounded, custom polished, coin edged bezels. The watch crystals used on these watches are sapphire, flat with a slightly beveled edge and they are rated 5 atm w/r.
Each watch face has a brass based dial with a flat champagne finish with 12 polished, copper applied indices. There are 11 polished copper numerals (the 7 is a polished brass brand logo) and tasteful black printed branding information with the brand’s albatross underneath the 12. A delicate black railroad track circles the inner edge of each dial. Syringe hour and minute hands and the arrow tip second hand are lumed. The face is very attractive while at the same time doesn’t look ordinary. The manual wind version uses a Swiss ETA 2804, 17 jewel movement and the automatic uses a Swiss ETA 2824, 25 jewel movement. Both movements are 28,800 vph with hand winding. The ETA 2824 movement is also hacking. These watches use some of the very last high grade movements offered to watch producers outside of the Swatch group and are adjusted to maintain a positive 5 to 7 seconds per day.
Both of these Airbatics came with rugged looking, vintage style, quick release straps from Strapsco. The straps use a smooth, naturally finished leather with finished strap backs in black grained leather. Each strap comes with one fixed and one loose loop in the same leather as the front of the straps. A narrow, brushed, stainless steel buckle with seven round strap holes completes the design. Both watches can be fitted with a virtually endless choice of aftermarket straps or bracelets. Only 50 each manual wind and 50 each self wind, with numbered, etched rotors are available. $1225. dfreemontwatches.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.