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Favre-Leuba - On the road with two Raiders

Favre-Leuba On the road with two Raiders

Two Favre-Leuba’s are put to the test, along with the constitutions of the editor-in-chief and his father, on a ten-day tour of Scotland.

Holiday preparations in the O’Neil household can often be more fraught than those for Baselworld or the SIHH. But things reached a new level this year when my wife and I realized that our work schedules would not allow us two consecutive weeks of holiday until… November. I was therefore left with a big holiday-shaped hole in my summer that I suddenly needed to fill. My first thoughts were some kind of photography workshop that would allow me to practice my hobby, but research quickly showed that these were few and far between and booked up a year in advance. But browsing through the Internet I also stumbled across Scotland Overland and their promise of a Land Rover Defender with a roof tent that could be hired for wild camping in Scotland.

I managed to secure one of their seven fully-equipped vehicles for 10 days and convinced my intrepid father to join me for an adventure. And since no holiday is complete without its horological companions, Favre-Leuba, the perfect brand for the adventurer, kindly agreed to loan both of us a watch for our travels. I wore the Raider Harpoon and my dad was kitted out with the Raider Deep Blue.

On the road with two Raiders

© WorldTempus/Paul O'Neil

The great thing about this holiday is that we could do what we want. There was no itinerary (although I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go) and no accommodation booked after the first night. Equipped with a GPS unit with campsites and wild camping locations programmed in, a copious fridge-freezer in the back of the Land Rover and everything we could possibly need to survive, we were free to choose where we roamed as long as we respected Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code.

As a result the two Favre-Leuba watches got to travel Britain’s longest dead-end road (22 miles of single track to Kinloch Hourn) and stop off for a wee dram at mainland Britain’s most remote hotel (the Garvault Inn) as part of a journey of over 1,300 miles that took in the breathtaking scenery of Scotland’s west coast and its remote highlands. Having two robust divers’ watches also proved useful, since we were subjected to some gruelling conditions that included torrential rain and gale-force winds (after the UK had experienced a heat wave lasting several weeks). The Raiders proved the perfect companion to our trusty Defender and, had they been around, would have justly deserved inclusion on the list of the watches I matched with the Land Rover Defender just over two years ago.

On the road with two Raiders

© WorldTempus/Paul O'Neil

The Raider Harpoon took some getting used to, since it really has been designed specifically for diving use. It only has one hand, for the minutes, with the hours read off a disc around the circumference of the dial that moves in sync with the minutes and a tiny central seconds hand that can quite rightly be given the title of “function indicator” that is required of a true diver’s watch. Once you have got used to it, it’s a great system that offers excellent legibility. In low light the luminescence is also great, showing off the hand and the hour scale. But it’s less useful when you wake up in the middle of the night in a pitch-black tent, since you can only tell that it is so many minutes past the hour, but you don’t know which hour. Only a glance at my iPhone could tell me that the effects of my father’s food poisoning on the last day manifested themselves at 4.30am.

Despite its large 46mm diameter the Raider Harpoon wears well on the wrist thanks to the curvature of the lugs. The contrasting blue and white colours on the model I wore were perfectly in keeping with the diver’s watch theme and helped the legibility. It’s also great to see a prominent screw-in helium escape valve as another visible confirmation that this is a true diver’s watch, which is, incidentally, water resistant to 500 metres rather than the usual 300 – more than enough to cope with the deluges we experienced when camping on the northern shore of Loch Linnhe and in the middle of the denuded Shin Forest.

On the road with two Raiders

© WorldTempus/Paul O'Neil

My father used his Raider Deep Blue 44 in orange and black for highly practical purposes, for example checking the time when we passed the Kintyre gin distillery that opened at 11am (it was 11.10 – result!) and tracking the amount of time spent at the wheel as we averaged nearly 130 miles per day. That may not sound much, but many of the roads we travelled on were single tracks with passing places, where our average speed was little more than 30 miles per hour. The Raider Deep Blue shares the same design codes as its bigger brother but has a more conventional arrangement of hour and minute hands, but still with the quirky “stubby” central seconds. It also keeps the same diver’s watch characteristics with a unidirectional rotating bezel and water resistance to 300 metres. The difference between the 41mm and 44mm case sizes lies in the movement: for the former it is the ETA 2824-2 self-winding movement, for the latter the Sellita SW200.

By far the most pleasing thing about both watches is their price, which, given their specifications, is practically unbeatable. At 4,450 Swiss francs for the Raider Harpoon and just 2,290 for the Deep Blue, you would be hard pressed to find something with similar features for the same price.

On the road with two Raiders

© WorldTempus/Paul O'Neil

The brand

Favre-Leuba is the second-oldest Swiss watch brand and traces its origins to the workshop of Abraham Favre in Le Locle, which was first officially mentioned in 1737.

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