Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono: Run, Don’t Walk, It’s The Best Value Swiss Made Automatic Chronograph Of The Year
by Ian Skellern
Every time I write the words “relatively affordable” here on Quill & Pad, I have to brace myself for the stream of comments reminding me that I must live in an alternative reality to most of the world. Spoiler alert: I know that I do.
Lesson learned. I will not describe the Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono as relatively affordable (though compared to most of the watches we review on Quill & Pad I think it well merits that description), but I do think that it’s fantastic value and the bargain of the year, so shoot me for that!
Patria was founded in Biel in 1892 by Swiss watchmaker Louis Brandt, who also founded Omega. Brandt is also known for making the world’s first minute repeater wristwatch. The Patria brand became known in World War I for its military trench watches, which were issued to British soldiers. By 1917, the Patria 13’’’ military wristwatch was widely used by soldiers due to its visible-in-the-dark radium numerals, steel shrapnel guard, and easy-to-wear 36 mm case. But by the 1940s, Brandt’s company had put its focus on other brands (I’m looking at you, Omega) and the Patria brand faded away.
Then in 2019, Jolyon Lambert, a British industrial designer with a successful watch design and 3D watch rendering company called Blade Render, bought the Patria name with plans to bring the brand back to its former glory.
Lambert likes chronographs and he likes beautiful movements: the Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono is the first step in his process of relaunching Patria.
While the prototype went public in 2019 (see Patria: Historical Name, Vintage Look, New Technology, And FlybackColumn Wheel Chronograph), largely thanks to COVID it’s taken another two years of development to get the production model to the quality Lambert has insisted on.
Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono
Lambert’s goal with Patria is to offer relatively (sorry) affordable haute horlogerie, so one of my first questions to him wasn’t “Why a chronograph?” but “Why a flyback chronograph?” His reply was, “I like drama in a movement.” That’s also why he chose to use Eterna Caliber 39 as a base movement: it not only had a flyback chronograph, he could modify it with a horizontal clutch column wheel to add even more pizzazz.
As befitting a military-style watch, the hands and numerals are big and bold, making them highly legible, while abundant Super-LumiNova ensures that they are just as legible at night.
But for me, it’s the movement that makes the Brigadier Flyback Chrono so appealing. It’s very nicely finished for a watch at this price point (below $6,000), and the blued screws and blued column wheel chronograph clutch really pop through the display back.
I do have one gripe: personally, I’d prefer the watch without the date at 6 o’clock, but hats off to Patria for going to the trouble (and extra cost) of having the date wheel match the dial. That’s a detail often overlooked on watches costing much more.
Why the Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono is good value
While I think that 5,285 Swiss francs (on leather strap) is already good value for a nicely finished, Swiss made, low-volume (92 pieces only), flyback, column wheel chronograph, here’s a few more things that make this watch exceptional value for money.
1. The case is very well made by a supplier to large, prestigious Swiss brands.
2. The screws, column wheel, and flyback cam are heat-blued; at this price point I might have expected painted screws.
3. The Super-LumiNova colors were specially developed for Patria to offer a more vintage feel.
4. The watches are assembled and regulated at Patria’s atelier in Biel, Switzerland; at this price point I might have expected them to be assembled in Asia.
5. Date wheel matches the dial.
6. The Milanese mesh strap option is an interesting twist for something a bit different.
7. The high-quality presentation case is burl walnut, lacquered in Patria burgundy, and velvet lined.
The Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono is a limited edition of just 92 pieces in total, there will be no more variations on the theme. In my opinion, it offers exceptional value for the price. So if you are interested run, don’t walk, as I suspect they will sell out relatively quickly.
I’m looking forward to what Patria does next. Watch this space.
For more information, please visit patriawatch.co/timepieces.
Quick Facts Patria Brigadier Flyback Chrono
Case: 42 x 15.6 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber PA-16 (Eterna Caliber 3916), 60-hour power reserve, column wheel clutch, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; date, flyback chronograph
Limitation: 92 pieces
Price: 5,285 Swiss francs (leather strap), 5,640 Swiss francs (mesh bracelet)