Pilot watches have been around for such a long time, yet we still have so many questions about them. Why were they made? What are their key features? Are they truly reserved for airline pilots?!
If you find yourself asking the same questions, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll clue you up on all things pilot watch, including a mention of the best pilot watches and the best pilot watch brands.
Let’s get started!
What Is A Pilot Watch?
A pilot watch is a specific type of timepiece that was initially designed with airline pilots in mind.
Back in 1911, the very first pilot watch, the Santos, was marketed to pilots as a functional watch for flights. Time-elapsed, distance travelled and fuel burn calculations are essential to pilots, and before computers did the job, the watch was the tool to use. Recognizing the importance of accuracy for those purposes, the Royal Air Force commissioned and issued watches to pilots in World War II.
However, it wasn’t long before the pilot watch was adopted by soldiers in both World wars, and after that, by the general public.
Though each brand puts its personal spin on pilot watches, there are several key characteristics that mark a pilot watch. Some of these include large dials, sapphire crystal, and GMT functions.
Overall, pilot watches were intended to be accurate, functional products, yet they can certainly make a fashion statement, too.
The Best Pilot Watches For Men & Women
Let’s get started!
7. Laco, Woman Watch Pilot Birmingham 861801 36mm – Automatic, £345
If you’re after a classic pilot watch, you can’t go wrong with this monochrome design.
Sometimes less is more, and this Laco pilot watch certainly proves that. With a modest black dial and matching black leather strap, it holds incredible power.
Typical of pilot watches, this stunning timepiece boasts sapphire crystal glass- regular wear and tear doesn’t stand a chance against this powerhouse.
6. Seiko, Men’s Quartz Flight Chronograph Alarm Stainless Steel Watch SNA411P1, £184.83
Seiko is a brand that will never fail to impress us. We had high hopes on our search, and rightly so…this quartz timepiece is like none other.
A dream for pilots, the Seiko Flight Chronograph possesses endless practical features.
We have a chronograph feature, luminous hands, and the ability to display two different time zones on the oversized black dial. There’s nothing this Seiko pilot watch can’t do!
5. Bulova, Lunar Pilot Watch 96A225, £399
Just because pilot watches are older than World War I doesn’t mean their functions have to be! This Bulova lunar pilot watch is loaded with as many impressive features as possible; we’re utterly spoilt for choice.
The triple-dial chronograph is practical as can be, allowing for extremely accurate timekeeping. What’s more, you can enjoy this product from the shower, pool or beach as it’s water resistant to 50m.
If that wasn’t enough, Bulova has selected a unique fabric watch strap to promote ultimate comfort.
4. Hamilton, Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Fabric Strap Watch, £155
As we mentioned, pilot watches are certainly capable of making a fashion statement, and here we have an excellent example in the Aviation Pilot Pioneer watch.
Although this timepiece has all the impressive features desired in a pilot watch, we’d like to focus on its lovely appearance.
Some people adore monochrome watches and others can’t resist bright colours, but this Hamilton pilot watch is the best of both worlds.
The grey watch strap gives the same modest impression as a black strap, but with a more unique energy. What’s more, the classic black dial is adorned with pretty pink hands and matching detailing, producing a lovely gentle look.
3. Garmin, D2 Delta S Pilot Watch, £684
You’ve arrived at the top three in our list of the best pilot watches, and the competition is fierce.
Have you ever seen a more impressive dial than this complex Garmin display? Surrounded by a charming rose gold case, this ladies pilot watch showcases a multicoloured flight plan, true to its aviatic theme.
The best part? You can do this yourself! The D2 Delta S allows you to log your flights to view any course deviations, effectively offering you a seat in the cockpit.
The advanced technology doesn’t end there, however. With this trusty Garmin pilot watch, you can store up to 500 songs, track your heart rate, and purchase items with the contactless payment solution.
Thanks to Garmin, the future’s looking bright indeed.
2. IWC Shaffhausen, Pilot’s Heritage 40mm Men’s Watch IW327006, £4,290
Our second favourite pilot watch comes with a hefty price tag, but it’s a worthy sacrifice for a taste of luxury.
IWC Schaffhausen has taken minimalism to the next level with this modest pilot style watch.
Don’t get us wrong, advanced function has not been neglected; we’re spoilt with a luminous display and an oversized black dial, both characteristics of reliable pilot watches.
However, the dial of this IWC pilot watch is unique in its display as only the key features are presented, allowing for a more subtle aesthetic.
1. Breitling, Navitimer 35mm Ladies Watch A17395211A1P1, £3,750
We searched and searched to find a pilot watch with the best functions and undeniable beauty. When we discovered this Breitling pilot watch, we knew the search was over.
What could be better than a vintage pilot watch with the sensational quality of modern times?
On one hand, we have a charming burgundy alligator watch strap that practically drags us back in time to an era of understated timepieces.
On the other hand, luxury abounds in this automatic pilot watch. The classic large dial is adorned with mother-of-pearl dials, while the stunning silver case is made of stainless steel.
As for practicality, Breitling set out to impress with a complex chronometer, perfect for pilots and watch aficionados alike.
Overall, this Breitling beauty is the perfect blend of fashion and function. How could you possibly resist?
Our Final Thoughts On Pilot Watches
As you can see, while pilot watches were made for aviation, their charm as an everyday watch is undeniable.
Truth be told, we’ll jump on any trend that incorporates fashion and function—what more could you want in a timepiece?
Having said that, pilot watches do have their haters, and perhaps you’re one of them. If you’re set on acquiring a fashion watch, we have it all here at Uniform Wares.