Even after usage of more than seven decades, pilot watches haven’t gone out of trend. It may be partly attributed to their highly functional design that accompanies pilots on their long flights, partially to the history associated with it, and partly to the immaculate style, it adds to a man’s apparel.
Big dial, a bigger crown with fine crystal, a (usually) leather strap, a sturdy lug that keeps it in place, and considerable lume, pilot watches are one of the few fashion accessories that secured their status as a timeless classic.
And thanks to the huge variety of designs that fall under this category, there’s always something that one would find attractive.
That being said, we have compiled a list of some of the best pilot watches that might appeal to you.
So without any ado, let’s jump in!
1. Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Mosquito Men’s Watch
Honoring the fastest airplane in WWII, the De Havilland Mosquito, the Breitling Aviator watch adopts a more classic look unlike most of its counterparts. With three silver chronograph sub dials, a classic contrasting black dial, and a silver casing, it’s an elegant piece that is as functional as stylish.
2. Oris Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph
More of a person who likes to keep it simple, even with that big dial and crown? Check out this one. With a clean, sleek, and simplest metal casing, black dial with three chronograph sub dials, and a black leather strap, it’s a highly versatile piece and relatively easy to pull off, on and off duty.
3. Marathon 46mm Pilot’s Automatic Chronograph Watch
Built to last, this thing is a tank when it comes to durability. However, this in no way affects the overall aesthetics of this immaculate pilot watch. But the thing is, it’s huge. So, where it might be your ideal fit for on-duty hours, it might not be something you want to wear on casual occasions.
4. Baume et mercier Limited Edition
Apart from its aesthetic appeal, what makes this watch so unique is its story. It’s made as a tribute to the Kiwi legend, Burt Munro, who set the fastest land speed record in 1967.
Interestingly, the watch is also precisely made of 1967 pieces in total, which honors the record date, which makes it even more intriguing.
About the overall look, it has a delicate leather strap with two chronograph subdials and a white dial with a moderate bezel. It’s beautiful if you have a taste for colors.
5. Revue Thommen Men’s 17000 ‘Aviator’ Automatic Watch
If you have already had a look at the Oris Big Crown pilot watch, consider this a slightly cheap version of it, with a bit of change in the chronograph subdials placement.
It features the same black leather strap, with a silver frame and black bezel. The overall look and quality are premium and can be a confident choice on and off duty.
6. Montblanc Summit 2 Chronograph Smart Watch
Talking of Montblanc, the brand has a history of producing affordable luxuries that have stayed on par with any premium brand in the world. The pure excellence is reflected in the watch too.
The Summit 2 is a simple piece with a black leather strap, silver frame, and a black dial with two chronographs covered by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
If you are looking for something that doesn’t look more pilot-ish for casual apparel, this is your thing.
7. Hamilton Men’s H77616533 Black X Chronograph Watch
With a rich history in clockmaking, Hamilton is a blindly picked brand. And from the looks of this watch, the statement stands true. With a nice khaki strap, black dial, and three sub-dials, it sufficiently ticks the style and functionality boxes. Plus, it can be used for aviation and swimming, and snorkeling, making it a versatile piece. Avoid scuba-diving, though.
8. Bulova Archive Series Men’s Watch
The Bulova archive series is a replica of the second watch ever worn at a moon landing; the Bulova archive series holds quite an iconic place among watches. Apart from its historical significance, it packs a lot of great features like Bulova’s exclusive UHF quartz movement.
This means the crystal vibration is eight times faster than any other quartz watch. Just lookout for the size, as it’s not designed for casual use…at all! The finish is also quite polished, with an excellent design that perfectly resonates simplicity.
9. Bremont MBIII Limited Edition Pilot Watch
Celebrating the ten years of MB range introduction from Bremont, this limited edition watch has only 310 pieces available in total. The Martin-Baker range from Bremont is one of its most successful lines.
Although not so lavish in design, its association with one of the most reputed aviation companies and strong build makes it an ideal choice among adventurers, drivers, and pilots.
10. Victorinox Automatic Watch
The face of pure Swiss excellence in watchmaking, Victorinox is another piece that derives its aesthetics from pure minimalism and class. It originally features a black dial with a brown leather strap, but there’s also a blue version available if you’re more into “hip” stuff. The watch exclusively focuses on basics, so the dial is pretty easy to read, with good lume for the night.
11. Glycine Combat Men’s Analog Watch
Guess what? Black and silver have somehow remained an iconic combination in men’s watches that never get old. Glycine acknowledges this well. However, they have done a bit of experimentation with this one. Instead of the typical leather strap, they have used silicon.
As it’s a combat watch, the silicon provides the much-needed comfort and resistance in high and low temps. But the only drawback is, It lacks the extra class leather brings to the table.
12. Boss Black Men’s Stainless Steel Quartz Watch
Falling on the budget price spectrum, our friends tight on a budget can confidently walk with this on their wrist, without even having “that” feeling. Boss men’s quartz watches sport a confident design with a beautiful brown leather strap, a black dial, and 3 Chrono subdials.
Unlike most of its counterparts, the frame is also black, which gives it a uniform look throughout and sleekness unmatched. Anyone would love this.
13. Invicta Men’s Aviator Stainless Steel
Behold, as now comes the cheapest addition to our list, the Invicta men’s aviator watch. With a wholly unmatched sleekness and sporty design, it’s a unique piece that will get you a lot of compliments, even for casual wear. There’s one thing you need to keep in mind, though, it’s heavy, like cumbersome. 😉
14. Luminox Men’s 3051.BO Navy Seal Colormark 3050 Series
Luminox is a brand known for producing watches with premium quality illumination. This stands true for this watch, with the infusion of tritium with a half-life of 12 years. However, that’s only if it does not leak out, as in the case of most heavy-duty users with this watch. So intensively durable? No! Suitable for day-to-day duty use? You can count on it!
15. Marathon 41mm Pilot’s Navigator Watch
Another military-grade three watch, we would call it more of a functional model rather than a stylish one. Specifically designed for military purposes like parachuting, it is primarily for those operating at high altitudes.
The strap is nylon, with the dial surrounded by huge bezels, considerably reducing the signature “huge dial” look of conventional pilot watches.The clock timing is also sharp, with tritium-infused hands and markers for perfect time navigation in specific conditions.
It can serve as a good companion for those on duty if used with caution.
16. Citizen Men’s Promaster Skyhawk A-T Eco-Drive Aviator Watch
One word to describe this piece? It’s a masterclass that ticks every box of a perfect pilot watch. Sturdy build, the atomic clock that can be synchronized with about 43 cities worldwide with many other handy features, there’s nothing to dislike. Not to mention the Eco-Drive Technology, which enables it to run with the help of light. This thing’s a rarity, period!
17. AVI-8 Men’s AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane Quartz Watch
A hardcore watch guy or not, you will love this baby anyway. From functionality to class and anything in between, it can be admired for many things. Plus, the classic WWII vibe it gives to the wearer makes it even more special. It’s a perfect piece for off-duty occasions and can be an ideal birthday gift for your WWII veteran relative.
18. Citizen Eco-Drive Brycen Chronograph Men’s Watch
Anything else that would make it one of the most viable options for a pilot watch apart from its style? That would be the Eco-Drive Technology, which enables it to recharge from any light source, from sunlight to indoor fluorescents. Moreover, there are many other valuable features specific to pilot watches, making it a good choice for swimming, snorkeling, and even showering.
19. Alpina Men’s Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic Watch
A brand known for producing quality stuff for outdoor adventurers, nothing wrong could come out of the skilled hands of these watchmakers. That being said, Alpina Men’s Startimer is a decent mid-budget watch that can be used for both special and casual events.
It sports a classic leather strap with a white dial and silver frame and two subdials for accurate navigation. There are better options available at the price. Just do your research before clicking on that buy now button.
20. Fossil Men’s Nate Stainless Steel Quartz
Thanks to its stunning, all-black design, Fossil men’s Nate stainless steel quartz watch is a rarity in its budget class. The size is quite oversized to pull off, but once you get the hook of it, there’s nothing that can stop you from rocking it on every occasion! Wear it on your wrist, and no one will even notice that it’s cheap.
21. Men’s Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Watch H69439931
Outdoor freak or personnel always on the line of duty, Hamilton khaki field mechanical watch is a reliable timepiece you can easily trust. With a rugged design having a nylon strap, a decently sized dial with a black-colored surface, and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, it’s going to maintain your swag for quite a while ;).
22. Stauer Men’s Stainless Steel Co-Pilot Watch with Brown Leather Band
Pilot or not, Stauer is going to interest you a lot. Why? Because of its vintage design and a look closely inspired and associated with WWII. From beautiful aesthetics to fine craftsmanship and precision, this one has a lot to offer for a budget pilot watch. Besides, it’s pretty popular among modern-day pilots, which says a lot about its functionality.
What is a pilot watch?
Characteristically, a pilot watch is a watch tailormade to fulfill the needs of pilots. They have a colossal dial, luminous hands, oversized crown, and dual-time GMT features.
Since a pilot needs to stay vigilant throughout the flight, the big dial made it easier to check the time, with luminous hands making it ideal for low light conditions and the huge crown making adjustments in gloves effortless.
It was simply a piece of convenience that evolved in a fashion accessory with time.
What kind of watches do pilots wear?
Pilots usually prefer watches that are easier to read, have a sturdy build, and have multiple functions like showing different time zones and having highly luminescent hands and indications for low light conditions. Since confusion is the last thing a pilot would want during a flight, pilot watches just make things easier.
What makes a good pilot watch?
Before buying a pilot watch, there are a number of factors one must consider. To be a good pilot watch, it should have features such as a highly legible dial, indexes, and numerals. Moreover, dual time or GMT functions are also necessary to track local and destination time for added accuracy. Bezel markings are a plus if present. Other than that, an optimally sized crown is also important, as it can get difficult to handle in gloves.
Are pilot watches useful?
Definitely! They have been in use since 1904, with peak usage in WWII, when precision was all that the pilots required when confronting opposing air forces in the air. Although they slowly evolved into a fashion accessory, their usefulness during the flight is undeniable.
What is different about a pilot watch?
Pilot watches are bulkier, heavy-duty, and have specialized features such as multiple time zones and sub-dials for extra navigator purposes compared to standard wristwatches. As they solely orient around providing convenience during the flight, they must be easier to read and exact in their timing.