There’s no doubt that we firefighters love to represent who we are and what we do without looking tacky with the, “I fight what you fear”, BS. Oftentimes though, I find that gear made to showcase the fire service is either for full casual or straight work and usually cheaply made, until now. NFW is a company known for making high quality, rugged, and yet classy timepieces; and that’s not all. These guys don’t just stand behind their product. They stand in front of it. Their “Tribute” line of AutoPilot watches are dedicated to those that serve this country in multiple aspects, from law enforcement, military, and special forces, to firefighters; and to each of these facets, they give back $50 of each purchase to specific foundations or causes. More on that later.
I was honored to wear the Firefighter Tribute AutoPilot. This watch is full of class from start to finish. The quality that George Fox, the founder, puts into his watches is evident just by looking at something as simple as the case that holds them. The case was an oversized brushed aluminum box, with the watch secured inside and strapped to a “velvet” pillow. Along with the watch was an interchangeable Nato style band, and two hex head screwdrivers to take the guesswork out of installing it yourself. That’s foresight, and that’s just scratching the surface of NFW’s customer service!
Back to the watch: Personally, the first thing that I noticed when looking at it was the band. Rich, black leather with vibrant red stitching; straight, clean stitching at that. The bottom of the band is smooth and supple. This is a band that looks as if it were custom-made for a couple thousand dollar watch. The case of the watch is as black as dense smoke, not dull and matted, but also not shiny. Perfect. In the center of the watch, the famed Maltese Cross; an unmistakable representation of the firefighter. The cross and lettering within are chrome, but not in a loud way that takes over the piece. The face of the AutoPilot is black, with the hour and minute markers including the hands, appear white, and are painted with SuperLuminova, a highly luminescent coating that has been used on some of the most well-known watches. The lume glows greenish blue, which is a nice change from many of the watches that are on the market today. Honestly, everything on this watch just flows.
Picking up the watch, I was sure it would be uncomfortable with its square shape and rugged feel, and I was certain that the crown would dig into my wrist. Sorry, George. That’s the truth; but, I was wrong. I adjusted the band to fit my wrist and wore it around the kitchen before I had my morning cup of coffee. So far so good. It was comfortable. For now. The family and I got ready and headed out for the day and the AutoPilot came with me. Even on a sweltering hot day here in Florida, the watch remained comfortable, and a pleasure to wear. No sliding around, no leather sticking or crown digging into my wrist. Then I realized it, NFW put so much thought into this timepiece that they put the crown on the left side of the watch. If you’re wondering why that’s a big deal, then you probably haven’t had huge indentations left on your wrist before by the crown. The kind that leaves the little purple bruise and creates a sore spot. I love this! It’s easily one of my favorite design points that were employed by NFW on the AutoPilot.
Hesitantly, I brought the watch to work at the station and wore it. A piece like this is not something that I looked forward to beating up. But, I did it, and I don’t regret it. I’ve got to say, the ionic coating that NFW uses on their watches is superb. Call after call, and little dings here and there, the watch kept its integrity. I didn’t go trying to abuse it, nor did I go out of my way to see what type of abuse it could take. I just wore it. Is this something that I would wear to the station on a regular basis? Probably not. The AutoPilot is just way too nice. It is exactly the type of gear that I was talking about in the beginning of this article; something classy that I can wear out and tells a bit about who I am without screaming at people to look at me. There is no doubt that this watch is versatile enough to wear with a t-shirt and pair of jeans, and classy enough to finish the look of a nice suit. The AutoPilot will definitely be in my collection for years to come!
As mentioned above, NFW donates $50 from each purchase to specific causes, depending on which timepiece you buy. For instance, money from the Firefighter Tribute AutoPilot goes directly to the Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut to help victims with severe burn injuries.
Bottom line, if you are looking for a watch from a trusted company that not only overbuilds their product, but stands behind it and is driven by purpose, then look no further. NFW is the way to go.
Author – Tony Kuhn