14 of the Best Pilot Watches (For Every Budget!)
You don't have to be a pilot to appreciate a pilot watch. With their clean dials, large crowns, and classic styles, pilot watches appeal to many watch collectors, both novices and experts.
New to the watch world and unsure how a pilot watch differs from a dress watch or a sport watch? Pilot watches first became popular in WWI when pilots and soldiers needed to quickly check the time without having to worry about pulling out their pocket watch. For that reason, pilot watches are known for having large, clean dials that are easy to read and clutter free. Oftentimes a pilot watch includes a marker at 12 o’clock to make it even easier to orient the watch while flying.
Another design feature of pilot watches is the large crown. Back in the early 20th century, cockpits were not heated. Pilots oftentimes wore fur-lined leather jackets and thick gloves. The large crown made it easy to adjust the watch even while wearing gloves. The clutter-free dial and large crown are features that you still see on pilot watches today.
We've gathered 14 of the best pilot watches, and these watches are all available now. Since not everyone can afford a $10,000 watch, we've included the best pilot watches ranging from $170 to $13,000. No matter your budget, you'll find a pilot watch that works for you!
Pilot Watches Under 1,000 Dollars
AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane
The AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane comes in a variety of designs and styles, but the essence of the watch remains the same. These are pilot watches through and through. Prices range from $170 to $450. The more expensive watches come with two straps: a genuine leather NATO strap and a nylon NATO strap.
Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk
The Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk is priced between $550 and $650. These Citizen watches are powered by the brand’s signature solar-powered movement, so you’ll never need to change a battery. The watches feature a chronograph that measures up to 60 minutes, 12/24-hour time, a tachymeter scale, a screw-back case, and 20 bar water resistance.
Archimede Pilot 42 A
The Archimede Pilot 42 A is a classic pilot watch that is priced between $750 to $950. Some variations include a date window, and others do not. These pilot watches feature stainless steel cases with a brushed finish, a luminous dial and hands, and a Swiss Made Eta 2824 Automatic movement. Left-handed versions are available.
Luxury watches can cost upwards of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to spend your life savings to purchase a good quality watch. We’ve compiled twelve watches that are all priced under one thousand dollars, and some of these watches are even under five hundred dollars. 12 of the Best Men’s Watches Under $1,000
Pilot Watches Under 5,000 Dollars
Alpina Startimer Automatic
The new line of Alpina Startimer Automatics arrived and they are priced between $995 and $1,295. These pilot watches feature applied luminous indices, a date window at 3 o’clock, an engraved case back, and a screw-in crown. The watches are powered by Alpina’s AL-525 automatic movement.
Sinn 104 St Sa A
The Sinn 104 St Sa A is a classic pilot watch that offers need-to-know information, which makes the dial clutter-free and easy to read. This watch features a day-date display at 3 o’clock, luminescent hands and indices, a uni-directional bezel with minute ratcheting, and pressure resistance up to 20 bar. This Sinn pilot’s watch is priced under $1,500.
Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Auto Chrono
Hamilton’s line of pilot watches features a wide range of styles, yet all of them encompass the classic aviator styling and/or functions specific to the needs of a pilot. The Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Auto Chrono features a scale for crosswind, a chronograph, and a day-date display at 9 o’clock. These Hamilton watches range from $1,595 to $2,195.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot
Oris Big Crown ProPilot watches offer function-based design and cockpit aesthetics. This model features a second time zone, which makes it especially useful for pilots. In addition, these Oris watches offer a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock. This model is priced between $2,250 and $2,450.
Laco Pilot Type B
Laco offers a vintage-designed watch with modern technology. The stainless-steel case is hand-finished to give it an antique look, and the blued-steel hands with Superluminova coating include hand-finishing to make them look vintage. Plus, buyers can request partially cracked hands. This Laco watch is available for $2,350.
Bell & Ross WWI-92 Heritage
Bell & Ross's line of vintage WWI watches pay tribute to the first wristwatches worn by pilots in the 1920s. This specific Bell & Ross model, the Bell & Ross WWI-92 Hertiage, features a large fob watch type diameter, wire lugs welded to the sides of the watch, and a sturdy leather strap. The watch is priced at $3,700.
Luxury Pilot Watches
Bremont Alt1-C Classic Chronometer
The Bremont Alt1-C Classic Chronometer is priced between $5,995 and $6,595. These Bremont pilot watches are powered by the BE-50AE automatic chronometer with 42-hour power reserve. These watches feature a chronograph complication with two counters, a date window at 6 o’clock, and a 10 bar water resistance.
Zenith Pilot Type 20
Zenith Pilot Type 20 watches have a retro look that appeals to many watch collectors. These pilot watches feature an aged stainless-steel case and an automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph. Although the design is unique, these Zenith pilot watches are still easy to read. This model is priced at $7,100.
Breitling Navitimer 01
The first Breitling Navitimer was released in 1952, and the collection continued to be a favorite among pilots and pilot-watch enthusiasts. These watches are known for their stainless-steel case, black dial, red seconds hand, and silver chronograph counters. However, there are also variations to this classic design. Breitling has released rose gold versions as well as versions with different dial colors. The stainless-steel watches are priced between $8,000 and $9,400.
Between dive watches, dress watches, pilot watches, and more, Rolex seems to have a collection for every watch style. In terms of pilot watches, the Rolex GMT-Master is one of the best. These watches allow pilots and travelers to track multiple time zones. Rolex GMT-Master watches range from $8,450 to $8,950 for their stainless-steel versions.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
IWC is well known for their pilot watches, and one of the most popular IWC pilot watches is the IWC Big Pilot's Watch. This is an easy-to-read watch with the classic IWC black and white design. The IWC Big Pilot's Watch features a date display at 6 o’clock, a 46 mm stainless-steel case, and 7-day power reserve indicator. This model costs $12,900.
When I found this IWC Mark XVIII watch and saw it was priced at $3,950, I immediately was intrigued. The price is affordable for a pilot watch from a well-known brand. The IWC Mark XVIII Review