Like many pilots, Greg Youngs has a complex relationship with watches. He loves their form and function—particularly those made for aviators—but he despises their uninformed, low-brow marketing and sky-high prices.
“I always felt a bit taken advantage of when I bought an aviation watch because they didn’t really have a direct aviation connection, and they cost about 10 times what I thought they ought to,” said Youngs, 53, a former corporate pilot. “Pilots end up paying a lot for brand names.”
So Youngs started a new watch company with a twist: His products would contain bits of historical aircraft inside them.
“We put a piece of an actual Spitfire inside our Spitfire watches,” he said. “They’re all stamped limited editions because they have to be. There’s a finite amount of authentic material out there, and it tells an important story.”
The Spitfire material, for example, came from an actual airplane that flew during the Battle of Britain. Bristol’s B-25 watches contain a small amount ofPanchito in them. Others include metal from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, an A-10 Warthog ground attack airplane, and space shuttleAtlantis.
In all, Youngs said he’s collected enough rare airplane material for about 10,000 watches, which are assembled near in his home in San Antonio, Texas. The watches have retail prices ranging from about $600 to $700 each.
“This is a new company and a new idea, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “It shows there are lots of people like me who care about aviation history and want to preserve it.”