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1940s Jardur Bezelmeter Aviation Chronograph

These days, we have tool watches for almost every possible environment and activity, but some of the very earliest tool watches were those created for pilots to aid with navigation and in-flight calculations.

In this week’s episode of our series Under the Radar, Craft + Tailored’s very own horological prospector, Tyler Vanes, vectors in on one of the most purpose-built pilot’s watches ever created: The Jardur Bezelmeter Aviation Chronograph.

The Jardur Import Company was founded in 1937 by pilot and airplane enthusiast Samuel Klepper. Based in New York City, Jardur produced precision aviation instruments, such as flight calculators, protractors, navigation plotters, and pretty much any instrument the pilots of the period required. However, Jardur’s signature product was the Bezelmeter Aviation Chronograph, which was created to be a cockpit instrument for the wrist and featured a unique “degreemeter” scale that was specifically designed to help pilots complete standard-rate aviation turns.

Although Jardur was an American company, its watches used Swiss-made cases and movements, putting them right in-line with Switzerland’s finest in terms of quality and timekeeping performance. This 1940s Jardur Bezelmeter is powered by the Valjoux 71, which is a top-notch Swiss chronograph movement and the direct precursor to the legendary Valjoux 72 that powers iconic vintage watches such as the Rolex Daytona, Heuer Carrera, and Breitling Navitimer. However, when you compare the price of a Jardur Bezelmeter to the cost of a vintage Breitling Navitimer – arguably the most iconic purpose-built pilot’s chronograph with a Swiss-made movement – the difference is staggering!

The Jardur Bezelmeter Aviation Chronograph is the very definition of a purpose-built tool watch, and it was a favorite among many pilots of the era. When you consider that you can score one of these fascinating pieces of aviation history for a fraction of the price of other Swiss-made professional pilot’s chronographs, it makes the Jardur Bezelmeter seem like a serious bargain for a historic tool watch that is easily capable of flying under the radar.

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