Inspired by aviation, pilot watches are handy for not only their impressive features but also for their novel design. A worthy gadget to add to your collection, a pilot watch is a piece of the aviation dream that every man can own.
We take you through our top picks for best pilot watches to purchase in 2017.
1. IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48
IWC weren’t kidding when they said the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 will set the pulses of watch connoisseurs racing. With its ‘unmistakable visual features’ and convenience of a 192-hour power reserve that guarantees accurate running for eight days before it automatically stops, this timepiece is an excellent choice. The watch also features protection against magnetic fields. A novel nod to aviation, the hands of this model are propeller-like and beige in colour, offering a classic aesthetic for such a modern watch.
2. Breitling Exospace B55
With exclusive SuperQuartz movement and original functions tailor made for pilots, the Exospace B55 is particularly noteworthy for its features, but its look is also just as appealing. Colour-wise, it is visually bright and vivid, with bold black and neon cobalt features, making this timepiece ideal for the gent who prefers something a bit more striking on his wrist. The brand describes it as future-oriented and optimally comfortable to wear.
3. Bell & Ross Collection Aviation BR 01
The Bell & Ross Collection Aviation BR 01 is a high-tech chronograph with a sporty design, which is as robust as it is sophisticated. The square face designed was inspired by aeronautical instrumentation, what they call the ‘ultimate reference point for legibility and reliability.’ Black rubber and heavy-duty synthetic fabric straps make this one of the most durable models, reaffirmed by its satin-brushed steel case and screw in crown.
4. The Longines Avigation
The Longines brand has not only executed a cheeky play on words in the name of The Longines Avigation model but also have perfected this watch’s powerful movement and functions, including self-winding mechanical movement beating at 28’800 vibrations per hour and providing 48 hours of power reserve. The bracelet is alligator strap in a distinct black tone, and its dial is black-matte with painted Arabic numerals. Silvered sandy hands complete this timepiece, making it a wise choice for men who wear a lot of black and love a good classic design.
5. Citizen JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Titanium Watch
The Citizen Skyhawk A-T redefines aviator-inspired timepieces and atomic timekeeping with an intricate design and radio-controlled accuracy perfection. Thanks to this watch’s innovative design, it receives radio signals both automatically and on-demand for superior precision. That’s not all it can do, though. This impressive piece of technology also boasts Eco-Drive power, a 1/100-second chronograph, which measures up to 24 hours, a perpetual calendar, two alarms, a 99-minute countdown timer, UTC display, power reserve indicator, and rotating slide rule bezel.
6. Hamilton H64715535 Khaki Pilot Watch
While the H64715535 Khaki Pilot Watch from Hamilton features plenty of practicality, such as with its automatic movement, luminescent hands and markers, and 200 metres of water resistance, it’s its design that makes it a must-have item. Boasting the kind of a classic aviator style for which pilot watches are known, this timepiece is sleek and stylish. It features a 46mm stainless-steel case, which is complemented by a dark brown leather strap, a black dial, Arabic numeral minute markers, a subdial with hour markers, date and day display, and an exhibition case back.
7. Bremont ALT1-ZT/51
The Bremont ALT1-ZT/51 has been popular amongst the military squadrons that Bremont has worked with and is an updated version of the previous model. A cleaner dial and new applied SuperLumiNova index markers on the dial are just a few examples of the upgrades. Ideal for travel, the GMT hand combined with chronograph functionality measures seconds, minutes and hours. This timepiece also fits well with the Bremont brand’s identifiable signature style.
8. Garmin D2
The Garmin D2 wirelessly receives a flight plan from the Garmin Pilot and controls VIRD. It also has various timers and vibrating alerts. Direct-to and Nearest buttons also allow you to use a worldwide airport database. An altimeter with adjustable baro setting and compass also make this an appealing choice for those after a pilot watch with lots of features. The brand insists that it is the first pilot watch to help you in-flight, possessing a high-sensitivity WAAS GPS receiver. Displays and timers are also customizable, making it an excellent choice for those who want to personalise their watch for their specific needs.
9. Zenith 031930681.21C Pilot Watch
The Zenith 031930681.21C Pilot Watch is as stylish as it is functional. The timepiece features an elegant brown leather strap with cream contrast stitching and a stainless-steel case. The dial is black and boasts luminescent silver-tone hands, easy-to-read Arabic numeral hour markers, and a small, seconds sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position. Although the design is reason enough alone to buy this wristwatch, a Swiss automatic movement completes the package and ensures excellent timekeeping.
10. Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33
Apart from the awesome Star Wars reference in its name, the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 should be noted for the fact that it was the result of a collaboration between the Omega brand and the Solar Impulse Project. The Project has an ambitious aim to circle the globe in an aeroplane powered only by the sun. With skeletonized hands, iPad application, lightweight design and onboard reliability, this watch is certainly an alluring option if you’re after a pilot watch with a lot of features.
11. Laco Paderborn Type B Dial Swiss Automatic Pilot Watch
The Laco Paderborn Watch, which was inspired by the original WWII Laco Pilot watches, boasts a time-tested Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic (self-winding) movement. As such, this top timepiece is incredibly precise and keeps time accurately. Its design features thermally blued hands and dial markers treated with Super-LumiNova C3 for excellent readability in the dark. Although a modernised version of the original, this Laco watch keeps with tradition and maintains and uncluttered dial by forgoing a date display.
12. Fortis 635.10.11 L.01 B-42 Pilot Watch
If you’re looking for a pilot watch with plenty of features, the Fortis 635.10.11 L.01 B-42 may just be what you need. This incredible timepiece comes complete with just about everything you could ever need. The watch, which features a Swiss automatic movement, boasts a chronograph, three subdials, a tachymeter inner bezel, and a day/date display window. On top of all that, it also features an antireflective sapphire crystal dial window and is water resistant to 200m.
13. Alpina Startimer Pilot Big Date Watch
Pilot watches are made with precision in mind, and the Alpina Startimer Pilot Big Date Watch is no exception. The timepiece features a highly accurate Swiss quartz movement with six jewels and 48 months of battery life. The design was born from Alpina’s century-long experience in building pilot watches for the continental air forces and fits all military aviation watch specifications.
14. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King
The Rolex brand is synonymous with classic styling and contemporary luxury. TRolexperpetuates the aeronautical heritage of the original Rolex Oyster but includes some newer, more alluring features. Something most noteworthy about this watch, however, is the distinct black dial with silver hands and touches of emerald green. It adds to the watch’s character and incorporates classic elements alongside newer technology.
15. Sinn 104 St Sa A
Dubbed the ‘classic pilot’s watch’, the Sinn 104 St Sa A is a typically designed model with several notable features. The dial is clearly structured and features three hands providing optimum legibility of the day, time and date. A polished stainless steel case and a transparent back allowing the filigree work of the mechanical movement to take centre stage also add to this watch’s aviation inspired charm.