MY LIFELONG LOVE OF AVIATION
I remember as a child — looking up at the sky from the hay fields, seeing the vapour trails of the aeroplanes passing overhead — thinking of all the amazing places there are to explore in the world. There are few things that inspire me more than learning about the work of great innovators. Aviation, in particular, has been a great source of inspiration in my work as a chef because of the precision involved, especially when you venture into fine dining. Watchmaking operates at the same level of precision, and the story of the original pilot’s watch by IWC Schaffhausen has just captured my imagination.
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Featured: The new Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar, Ref IW503605
Earlier this year, I officially took up the reins of the culinary experience at Fireblade Aviation, which I could not be more excited about. I guess you could say that I’ve channelled my love of the aeronautics industry through food, but I also draw a lot of inspiration from aviation in my work – especially the precision involved. Yes, there are those classic dishes you throw together at home, and they’re a hit every time, but when you venture into the fine dining space, every step of your method – and every component in your dish – asks for precision, careful consideration, and innovation. The two professions might be nothing alike, but I believe that is where I find common ground with members of the aviation industry.
In the same way, there are few things that inspire me more than learning about the work of great innovators. In the early days of aviation, precise wristwatches were vital to a pilot’s survival, as they relied on them not only to tell the time, but for navigation. Precision, then – as in all aspects of aviation – became all important.
In 1936, the Special Pilot’s Watch was developed in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The watch was invented by the sons of Ernst Jacob, then owner of the International Watch Company, or IWC. Both were passionate pilots, and so their experience informed the design of the watch and what it needed to be able to do. Amongst the technical features of their design, the watch featured an antimagnetic movement and shatterproof front glass, and could continue to work perfectly at temperatures ranging from -40 ºC to +40 ºC; essential, as early cockpits were unheated.
Since then, IWC Schaffhausen have continued to produce some of the most incredible timepieces in their class, including the iconic Big Pilot’s Watch calibre 52 T.S.C., and the Navigator’s Wristwatch Mark 11, which could dissipate the surrounding radiation caused by the strong electromagnetic fields from the radar equipment in the cockpit.
But their most impressive timepiece must be the Da Vinci Chronograph Perpetual Calendar, invented by Kurt Klaus in 1985. His design has become legend, and is considered a major milestone in the world of watchmaking – even today – starting with a vision of “putting eternity on your wrist”. The mechanism functions on only 81 parts, and every night, the basic movement causes the date advance lever to move. In response, a click advances the date wheel, with its 31 teeth, by one day. At the same time, another lever causes the star-shaped day-of-the-week wheel and moon phase display to move forward. A single tooth on the date wheel is longer than all the others, and at the end of each month, automatically advances the month cam by a single position. Added to that, this wristwatch will continue to run perfectly until 2499, with virtually no corrections.
I have a lot of respect for the kind of mind that could create something as impressive as this. But apart from the technological ingenuity of their timepieces, at their core, IWC Schaffhausen creates sustainable products that run on renewable energy while their packaging reduces waste. Since founding the JAN brand in 2013, I’ve always partnered with brands I can believe in, who remain authentic and curious about creating a better future by remaining fully sustainable. And nothing inspires me more than a brand that shares my passions.