By TLex RAID Flight Instruments are an already well established watch company in Italy, where they have been making watches since the 90s. However they are probably better known in Japan where they are marketed and distributed more widely. Raid’s MARINA range pays tribute to the men of the Italian special unit Xª Flottiglia Mas who fought so bravely during WWII.
There are three basic models in the range; the MARINA pictured above (top) in the vintage ad. has a traditional elapsed dive time scale marked out on its bezel. It uses white lume on its Arabic numerals, markers and hands.
The SPECIAL or PARABELLUM versions have either elapsed dive time scale or engraved bezels with the Latin inscription 'Memento Audere Semper' meaning 'Remember Always To Dare', the motto of the Italian special unit, Xª Flottiglia Mas who were active between 1941-1945. The SPECIAL versions use vintage-type orange lume on their Arabic numerals, markers and hands and are available in two case finishes; PVD or steel.
The third model in the range, the CHRONOGRAPH comes with the same engraved bezel as the SPECIAL, but has the more traditional white lume applied to its hands and markers. It also comes in two finishes; PVD or steel.
All three models share the same 48mm high-grade stainless steel cases, which are depth rated up to 200 meters (Chrono 100m) and are fitted with sapphire crystals. They are all destro meaning their crowns are positioned on the left hand side of the case rather than the traditional right hand side; this was quite common with Italian Naval watches, the reasoning behind this; if the crown faces inwards there is less chance of it interfering with your diving equipment and coming undone, which would be disastrous for the watch and diver.
The MARINA & SPECIAL both house ETA 2824 automatic movements and the CHRONOGRAPH houses a Valjoux 7750.
For me there is much to like about these watches. There is the obvious Italian look and feel to them; with their Panerai-esque presentation boxes complete with model of the 'Maiale' manned torpedoes as used in the assault of Alexandria harbor in WWII, where they sank two British Royal Navy ships.
I love the simple case designs, coin edged bezels, clean elegant dials applied with vintage-style orange lume and over-sized left-handed crowns. The crowns cannot be seen in full in here, but they are engraved with the Xª Flottiglia Mas emblem of a skull holding a rose in its mouth. The MARINA's bezel markings are highly reminiscent of the Panerai Luminor Submersible; I prefer them more than the inscription engraved bezels interesting that they are.
It is true that RAID don't have the direct historical connection that other Italian dive watches such as Panerai, ENNEBI or even Anonimo do, but they are a great compromise for those who want the look and feel of vintage Italian Naval watch, but are on a more reasonable budget.
All RAID watches are produced in small and limited runs in Italy. I would imagine to the right person they would be quite collectible. RAID have a number boutiques in Italy and else where around the world. They typically sell for circa 1000-2000 euro, although I will have to get back to you with an exact MSRP for each model.
IMPORTANT: RAID Flight Instruments has absolutely no affiliation or connection Xamas (ENNEBI case) Decima Mas watches other than their tributes to the Italian special unit Xª Flottiglia Mas (Italian Frogmen of WWII).
From RAID Flight Instruments-Raid was founded in the decade of 90, by the Italian Roberto Perocchio in Torino, in the birthplace of great watchmakers of northern Italy.
This watchmaker of Paimonte, passionate about military history and the WWII, decided to create a brand of premium watches with military-style. They are high quality watches with Swiss mechanisms, unique design and excellent quality-price ratio. All models have a military style, with large, high resistance cases and great numbers for better clarity both in the dark as with day light. Most watches, both mechanical, manual and the chronographs use well known and reliable mechanisms such as the ETA 2824, 2892, Dubois Depraz or Valjoux 7750.
In recent year, in Italy, where the brand is already well established, Raid has been increasing its prestige in the military style segment, through models like the emblematic Marina Xª Flottiglia Mas, the D-Day or the latest creations, Murcialagos, Pegasus or Nipon.
Flight Raid-Instruments created this watch in tribute to the men who were heart of the mythical Italian Fleet the Xª Flottiglia Mas. This special unit with Italian name inspired by the legion Xª, considered as the favorite of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, was founded in 1935 by two officers of the Italina Regia Marina, Teseo Tesei and Elios Tochi, and was headed by Junio Valerio Borghese during WWII.
This fleet was unsuccessful on its first interventions, and in June 1941, during an attack in Malta, one of its founders, Teseo Tesei died. Only later, in December of 1941 they became famous with their performance in the port of Alexandria (Egypt) where two boats of the British Royal Navy where sunk by this unit, The HMS valiant and the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
After that they continued their success in the world until the armistice of 1943, and the surrender of Italy. That was when the fleet split, with part of the unit becoming port of the allies and some men following the leader Valerio Borghese in a union with Germany troops forming the Xº Borghese Mas that fought until the end of WWII.