TheWatchIndex.com

What is a Pilot Watch?

This style isn't just for pilots anymore!

By: Ben Bland, Editor, TheWatchIndex.com
Updated July 30, 2018
What is a Pilot Watch
What is a Pilot Watch

Are pilot watches only worn by pilots? Is any watch worn by a pilot a pilot watch? The pilot watch is an often confusing moniker for simple and readable watches. They derived their name from WWI pilots who needed to be able to read the time at a moment's notice, but the term has grown to include a large variety of watches. Common features of pilot watches are simple faces, large numerals, and a marker at 12 o'clock to make orientation simpler. Pilot watches have also adapted to include certain chronographs that would be advantageous for pilots today.

What Makes a Pilot Watch?

Pilot watches are known for simplicity. These clean timepieces can be read easily and quickly so you don't waste time analyzing your wristwatch. Key features of the pilot watch include:

  1. A large dial

  2. Prominent hands that contrast the dial

  3. Legible numerals

  4. Dual time functions

  5. An anti-magnetic seal

  6. An oversized winding crown

  7. Durable straps

Popular Pilot Watch Brands

There are many brands that create their own signature pilot watches. These timepieces can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Here are some of the most popular pilot watch brands:

  1. AVI-8

  2. Citizen

  3. Archimede

  4. Alpina

  5. Sinn

  6. Hamilton

  7. Oris

  8. Breitling

  9. Bell & Ross

  10. IWC

Prominent Pilot Watches

IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII

The IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII is a stainless steel pilot's watch avaiable with a stainless steel bracelet or a black calfskin strap. Buyers can also choose between a black or silver-plated dial. 

Oris Big Crown ProPilot GMT Small Second

The Oris Big Crown ProPilot GMT Small Second is part of the ProPilot collection, a collection made specifically for pilots. This model features a second time zone, as well as a small second hand and an enlarged date.

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Steel

Bell & Ross continues their tradition of accurate, easy-to-read pilot watches with this Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Steel model. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of straps and dials, but the signature Bell & Ross appearance will be the same. 

Breitling Chronomat 44

The Breitling Chronomat 44 is ideal for pilots with its chronometer-certified chronograph, tachymeter scale, and unidirectional bezel. However, the stainless steel versions are also water-resistant up to 500 meters, making this watch ideal for divers as well.

Seiko Prospex Sky

Created with pilots in mind, the Seiko Prospex Sky is a solar-powered watch with a world timer and a rotary slide rule. The rotary slide rule allows for easy calculations and conversion of distance, fuel load, weight, and speed.

Citizen Promaster Satellite Wave GPS

The Citizen Promaster Satellite Wave GPS is a pilots watch that features home and local time switching, shock resistance, a world timer, an aviator slide rule, and a day-night indicator. 

Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind Auto Chrono

The Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind Auto Chrono is a pilots watch with a water resistance of 10 bar, a chronograph, an open-cased back, and a screw-down crown. This watch is powered by an automatic movement. 

Breitling Navitimer World

The Breitling Navitimer World is the perfect traveler's watch because it's a GMT watch, it's simple to identify day vs night with the 24-hour military time display, and the timezones of the world’s major cities are engraved on the watch's caseback. The dual time zone system is quick to set with the crown and it's easy to read with the large, 46mm diameter. 

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