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MEET THE WATCH: Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 9 “Air Force One” Squadron Limited Edition


This is not supposed to happen. Watches like the Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 9 “Air Force One” Squadron Limited Edition are meant to be seen only by the exclusive group of professionals who ordered them for their squadron. They are practically never for sale on eBay, yet there I was staring at the eBay listing below.

eBay auction of Air Force One watch

I feel like it is my duty to share this rare timepiece with fellow Victorinox Swiss Army watch fans. I am using photos and details from that listing with the permission of the seller (who agreed after the watch sold). I am not trying to expose any military squadron secrets that are not already on the internet. I respect this squadron and the work that they do.

A very special modified Airboss Mach 9 with the Air Force One Seal

Previous Air Force One Watch

Long time readers of the Watch Hunter Blog might remember the other Airforce One watch that I posted years ago with the same official emblem. You might want to check out my articles to get more information: MEET THE WATCH: Victorinox Swiss Army Limited Edition “Air Force One” Alpnach Watch with the Presidential Seal and WATCH DNA: A Truly Presidential Special Edition Alpnach Watch by Victorinox Swiss Army.

Another Air Force One watch was an Alpnach Chrono

Make sure to view macro images of the dial in the other articles. The seal is spectacularly printed in 9 colors. This is difficult to do on such a small scale using a flexible balloon-type dial printer. As such, you can see alignment issues when viewing an enlargement below.

Alpnach Chrono Air Force One Seal was rough in production

Airboss Mach 9 Air Force One Watch

Unfortunately, I do not have access to macro images of the Airboss Mach 9 “Air Force One”. While it should be safe to assume that the printing is as good as the Alpnach Chrono “Air Force One” above, the truth is that the later watch is even better. The image below shows the modified presidential seal that is printed on a microscopic scale. That’s a lot of detail to print so the logo was slightly simplified. However, the number of stars, arrows, sunbeams and clouds should be accurate. Each of the items in the seal has symbolic meaning from U.S. history. Refer to the earlier articles for a complete explanation.

Seal of the President of the United States

It is difficult to tell from the low-resolution images provided by the seller, but it looks like the presidential seal on the AirBoss Mach 9 Air Force One is printed with even more detail and precision than the Alpnach Air Force One watch that I owned. This can be seen in the feather detail that is now outlined in black. I counted seven or eight colors used just for the seal, and the alignment seems dead-on. This is quite an accomplishment and makes this watch incredibly special. Whoever printed this dial was on top of their game… and newly drawn artwork likely had a lot to do with the success.

Airboss 9 Air Force One seal has a very cleanly printed seal

It is not unusual for U.S.A.F. squadrons to order custom watches for members of their unit. The unit is associated with the world’s most powerful airplane, Air Force One. Of course, “most powerful” is referring to the office of the president of the United States and not the Boeing VC-25B (a modified military 747) itself. There are likely bigger and badder airplanes flying, but they do not carry the weight of the “commander in chief” of the U.S. military. Airforce One is the aerial version of the White House.

Air Force One over NYC: Photo: DoD

If anyone is wondering whatever happened to the first Airforce One watch that I owned and wrote about in those previous articles, I will reveal it is now gone from my collection. While I bought the watch fair and square when it was offered to me, someone close to the project told me that my ownership might not sit well with the members of that squadron. Out of respect for the other owners, I sold it. Truth be told, it was a bit large for my wrist as well… and there are other more personal reasons why I did not want the watch… but that is not for public discussion. If you think that I might bring current politics into this article, don’t worry… I won’t. I have friends and family on both sides of the political aisle and I love them all, even if we sometimes disagree.

The outer box doesn’t give any clues to what is inside

The box is standard fare. Only the outer label hints at the custom nature of the watch inside.

Display box and manual

The Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 9 “Air Force One” Squadron Edition could be considered a limited edition, but it might be more accurate to call it a custom order watch. Presumably, Victorinox Swiss Army was asked to modify the existing Airboss Mach 9 by adding the presidential seal. Notice the model number contains “CB” which is used for custom orders. Also, notice the limited edition number of only 77, which makes this a rare watch indeed.

The display box

It is often easier to compare watches with a reference model. Below is a Black edition of the Airboss Mach 9. This particular one came with a Cordura strap, but black stainless steel bracelets were also available. Notable features include a destro (lefty) configuration of the crown and pushers. A second crown located at the 2:00 position controls the inner bezel, which can be used to make fuel calculations. This is a very niche complication specifically for pilots and might function similarly to an old fashioned slide rule.

A Black Edition Airboss Mach 9 on a strap

The Airboss Mach 9 “Air Force One” Squadron Edition has a black bracelet that matches the case. The deployment clasp is streamlined but doesn’t have micro-adjustment options. Bracelets like this have to be size by adding or removing links. God help you if you are in-between sizes or if your name is Goldilocks.

This LE came with a matching bracelet

The top subdial is a 12-hour totalizer for the chronograph on the standard Airboss Mach 9. This is where the Seal of the President of the United States has been printed in great detail on the Air Force One watch. Strangely, the 12-hour markings have been removed from the subdial, probably to not interrupt the official seal. I bet that there are government regulations on the usage of that symbol. While this makes a clean seal, it removes key functionality from the chronograph. It essentially turns a 12-hour timer into a 30-minute-only timer because that is the only chronograph totalizer left with tick marks. I wonder why they didn’t add small tickmarks to the top subdial so it could be used as it was intended. This was the biggest surprise for me about this watch because it is a case of looks being valued over functionality. A 12-hour subdial would arguably get more use on long flights (or in general) than a slide-rule bezel fuel gauge.

The presidential seal replaces the 12-hour totalizer with just a graphic

Like the standard Victorinox Airboss Mach 9, the sapphire crystal has printed red markings that indicate 24-hour military time. These markings are printed on the underside of the crystal to protect it. The extra scale seems to float over the dial. This technique squeezes more information onto the watch face without cluttering the dial.

The watch appears as a technical instrument with the slide rule bezel

Highlights of the back of the watch include a display window and the Swiss Air Force logo that is used for Victorinox Swiss Army’s pilot watches. The model number and limited edition number are present too. The movement is the base level Valjoux 7750 and not an elabore caliber that is often used in Swiss Army limited editions. Elabore movements have blued screws and pearlage so they are easy to spot.

A ETA Valjoux 7750 powers this chrono

This eBay auction offered a look at an Air Force Squadron watch that will rarely be experienced by civilians. It is an honor just to see one for sale.

A distinctive watch with an unmistakable seal

The yellow presidential seal will certainly make it easier to identify from a distance. If you are in this small club of Victorinox Swiss Army Airboss Mach 9 “Air Force One” Squadron Limited Edition owners, all you have to do is flash your wrist and know the secret handshake. Thank you to the U.S.A.F. servicemen and women who keep America flying high.

What do you think?


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