Hands-on with the Panzera Flieger 46 (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

The Australian watchmaking company Panzera has a tendency to make the most rugged automatic watches around. Suitable to be worn daily, yet tasteful enough to be dressed up for more formal occasions - making them one of our favorite watch brands to recommend for business travelers.

So when the Flieger 46 was released, which from the photos looked dressier than its aquatic and land oriented siblings, we were eager to see if the latest watch from Panzera is a winner when it comes to versatility and style. We went hands-on to find out.

Panzera pilot watch (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

A Panzera with the soul of a pilot watch

The aesthetics of the Flieger 46 is undeniably Panzera. The hands and watchface of the Flieger has a lot in common with the Aquamarine 45: the half skeletal sword hands, white stick indices and the fan-shaped date window, they are all iconic elements from the Australian watchmaker.

The 12 and 6 o'clock hour markers has Flieger's own font (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

But the new Panzera watch has the soul of a pilot watch. Though it has the white Arabic numeral hour markers at the same 12 and 6 o'clock position, the font is inspired by the iconic Bell & Ross design. The second hand has an added red tail, detailed with two white cross bars, resembling an airport windsock, or propeller markings. Finally there's the iconic upright triangle with two dots marking the 12 o'clock indices, a figurehead for classic aviator timepieces.

The Flieger feels smaller than it actually is (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

Stealthy 46 mm size, superb legibility

I had to rub my eyes in disbelief when measuring up the Panzera Flieger, because at first glance, it looked more like a dress watch than the Aquamarine or the Time Master. However when measured, the pilot watch actually stands 1 mm wider and 2 mm thicker than the Panzera dive watch. The stealthy large size is mainly attributed to the streamlined curves of the watch, especially apparent in the solid slim lugs. It's a large-sized watch that the user can flaunt without appearing pompous.

It's even thicker than the Aquamarine but you wouldn't have called it (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

The large case size also gives the Flieger leeway to host a considerably sized 40 mm domed sapphire crystal, making it's time very easy to read. The legibility is made even better with the double sided anti-reflective coating, offering a crystal clear (pun intended) presentation of the watch face.

The NH35A on display (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

Reliable Seiko NH-35A automatic movement

The Panzera Flieger 46 is equipped with the 24 jewel NH-35A movement, with a 41 hour reserve. I found that when worn daily, the rotor is efficient enough to top up the reserve so that I do not need to wind it often, roughly 2-3 times a week.

The Flieger 46 has a sweeping hand, one of the main reasons for me to wear an automatic watch, and is a pleasure to marvel at throughout the day. The mechanical movement can also be appreciated through the transparent back, where the rotor and flywheel are on display.

The knurled Panzera oversized crown (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

Oversized screw down crown

Like the Aquamarine and Time Master, the Flieger also has an oversized screw down crown. This helps with the 50 m water resistance, and the size allows the user to operate it even when wearing gloves. The knurled side of the crown makes the grip easy, while adding an extra layer of texture to the overall aesthetics.

The quick release spring bars allow for quick strap swap: Spinnaker's vulcanized rubber NATO strap shown here (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

Quick release leather 24 mm strap

Since our hands-on Flieger is the Hornet Spirit variant, the 24 mm wide strap is a black alligator grain genuine leather strap. It has buckles to match the polished watch case, and narrows slightly to 22 mm - a must for a dress watch. However, for people with a sweaty body type which leather doesn't agree with, the straps have a quick release bar and can be swapped out in a jiffy for alternate straps that would suit better to be worn in hot weather.

The Panzera Flieger 46 is a handsome timepiece that we recommend (Photo: IBTImes / Jeff Li)

Final Verdict

Of all the Panzera watches that I've reviewed so far, I favor the Flieger 46 the most. Not because it's the youngest, but because the pilot watch is the most versatile when it comes to dressing it up or down. It has the consistent ruggedness and reliability that runs across the Australian watchmaker's models, while exuding a more European styling, a great combo for a daily or business trip timepiece.

If you don't need the 200 m water resistance of the Aquamarine and prefer a more gentleman look rather than the sporty look of the Time Master, the Flieger 46 is what I would recommend in a heartbeat.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move and is on a mission to explore ways to make his overhaul flights more enjoyable. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travelers.