‘Depending on one’s particular needs and fashion sense, the watch industry continues to accommodate the demands of even the most fastidious watch aficionados.’
Pilot’s watches are instantly recognisable for their big, clean dials with large and legible numbers. Now considered one of the most classic styles, the pilot’s watch and its legacy extends back to 1904. That year, Louis Cartier released the revolutionary Santos model. Designed specifically with flying in mind, the watch set out to satisfy the specialist demands of the Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos. Over a century later, the pilot’s watch occupies a privileged position in the watch market. It offers increasingly advanced timepieces reminiscent of the original rugged aesthetic.
Here we present to you our top five pilot’s watches currently available.
Cartier Santos 100
This version of the cult Santos model is a classic and functional reinterpretation of the very first pilot’s watch. It offers a mechanical, self-winding movement as well as a large, easily readable display with luminescent coating. All of this is encapsulated within a timeless, stainless steel case measuring 51.1 mm x 41.3 mm. The watch is water-resistant to 100 metres and comes attached to an alligator-skin strap with an XL triple folding steel buckle. Its rounded angles and exposed screws have become its most characteristic features.
The Santos is without a doubt one of the most revered watches of all time. Its refined simplicity guarantees a timeless, sporty-elegance to its wearer.
The watch currently retails at £6,200.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
A classic interpretation from IWC, the Big Pilot’s Watch offers an in-house manufactured 51111-calibre movement. It features an impressive Pellaton pawl-winding system that generates a power reserve of over seven days. Typical of pilot’s watches, the Big Pilot’s Watch from IWC has an easily readable dial, featuring a date display at ‘6 o’clock’ and at central seconds dial, which is essential in any watch used for flying. The impressive movement is contained within a large 46-mm case that is water-resistant to 60 metres. To complete the sleek elegance that IWC is known for, the watch is fitted onto a prime-quality black calfskin strap from the Italian leather manufacturer, Santoni.
This pilot’s watch is a beautiful blend of traditional design and functionality, created to complement your off-duty looks.
This watch is currently priced at £11,450.
Rolex GMT-Master II
Another quintessential pilot’s watch is the Rolex GMT-Master II. Introduced in 1955, it was designed specifically to meet the demands of intercontinental airline pilots. As such, it comes equipped with a COSC-certified calibre 3186, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely produced by Rolex. It addition, it has a rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel and a separate 24-hour hand. Thanks to the handy ability to show two different timezones simultaneously, the watch is a perfect companion to those travelling across the globe. Although it was engineered with professional use in mind, its versatility and rugged case also makes it appealing to the wider public.
Breitling Navitimer 01
Featuring a distinctly more complex dial compared to other watches on our list, the Breitling Navitimer will appeal to fans of a bolder aesthetic. The Navitimer 01 combines an original design with an in-house manufactured Caliber 01. This impressive mechanism boasts high reliability and performance. Measuring 43.00 mm, the watch is richly finished. It is offered either in a steel case or a more opulent red gold version with a differently coloured dial. It also features a rotating bezel that comes in handy, particularly during piloting.
Thus, addressing the professional demands of pilots, the Navitimer has been a favourite among aeronautical enthusiasts since 1952. As such, it continues to offer unchangingly durable and reliable technology.
It currently retails for £6,460.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Watch
The most affordable watch offer on our list, the Hamilton Khaki Pilot, is nonetheless a respectable contender to the luxury watches mentioned above. Its classic aviator design is aesthetically reminiscent of the vintage watches worn by early American pilots. Like other traditional pilot’s watches, it features a large, easy- to- read dial with a day and date function at the 3 o’clock position. It also has well-lit superluminova hands, making it suitable to wear at all times of day. In addition, it offers an impressive water-resistance up to 200 metres. This significantly outperforms other top-rated pilot’s watches. The model exists in both a 46 and 38 mm size and is fitted onto a dark brown leather strap for an extra stylish effect.
Exemplifying a classic aviator style and offering high functionality, this timepiece is a great option for those looking for an off-duty timepiece without the splurge.
It is currently priced at: £710.
All in all, today’s watch industry offers a wide variety of pilot’s watches. This reflects the style’s increased popularity as well as a general demand for rugged and functional watches. Depending on one’s particular needs and fashion sense, the watch industry continues to accommodate the demands of even the most fastidious watch aficionados.