The 20 Best Pilot Watches

Sep 17, 2019

Category: Gear

Aviation and wristwatches have gone hand-in-hand for about as long as both have existed. In fact, historically speaking, a watch has often been a pilot’s most important tool — especially when military usage and flight calculations are taken into consideration. As such, it should come as no surprise that pilot-style watches are as popular and iconic today as ever.

Along with their overall popularity and stylishness, they’re also more abundant than ever before in regards to available options for purchase. And that can make it a little difficult to figure out which one out there is the best for you. Hopefully, we can make that journey a bit simpler by supplying you with the following list of the 20 best pilot watches for men. Whether you’re a true-to-life flyboy or you just like flight-inspired styling, there’s a timekeeper here for you.

Timex Intelligent Quartz Fly Back Chronograph

A unique take on a chronograph that’s especially useful for making in-flight calculations, this watch gets its name from its minute and hour “sub-dials” with hands that travel forward and jump back once they reach the end of the scale — not unlike a speedometer in the dash of a motor vehicle. It’s also available in a number of colorways, but the classic black case on a light brown leather strap might be our favorite. And the tachymeter scale around the bezel certainly helps matters.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Leather
Movement: Quartz

Purchase: $90+

Techne Instruments Harrier 386 Pilot Watch

In case it wasn’t abundantly apparent from its name — taken from none other than the Harrier jump jet — this is certainly an impressive pilot watch. Interestingly it was actually originally built for anti-gang brigades in France. It’s also made from aerospace-grade aluminum, has a seconds hacking function, includes a 3 o’clock date window, and comes with a ballistic nylon strap. It’s on the more minimalist side of the spectrum, but it’s no less a superb option.

Case: Aluminum
Strap: Ballistic Nylon
Movement: Calibre Miyota OT45 Quartz

Purchase: $160

Jack Mason A101 Aviator Watch

Inspired directly by the instrument gauges found in an aircraft, this handsome timepiece makes a statement without being too aggressive or showy. It still has all the hallmarks of a classic pilot watch — the signature triangular 12 o’clock marker, oversized and easily-discernable indices, and a sturdy simple case. This version also comes with an iconic NATO nylon strap, houses a Japanese quartz movement, and boasts 100m of water resistance.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Nylon
Movement: Japanese Quartz

Purchase: $185

Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk Watch

Certainly one of the most complicated of the watches on our list — both in regards to the business of its dial and its overall functionality — the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk is one of the absolute best watches for analog aviation calculations. That’s because, on top of its normal time-telling abilities (which are aided by a solar-powered movement), it also boasts a tachymeter scale that can help you figure out both your speed and your fuel consumption. If you’re an actual pilot and your instruments fail you, this watch can help you make it back to base safely — and that’s pretty special.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Stainless Steel
Movement: Solar Quartz

Purchase: $189

Armogan Spirit Of St. Louis Pilot Watch

As you might’ve guessed from its name, this Armogan chronograph watch was inspired by none other than Charles Lindbergh’s famous plane — the very same one that made the first transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. That means this handy timepiece boasts 1920s styling cues, but it also features a modern Miyota quartz movement with a 5-year battery, a handy day/date window, and it’s equipped with a beautiful and comfortable suede leather strap.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Suede
Movement: Miyota 0S00 Quartz

Purchase: $225

Casio G-Shock Gravity Master Watch

When most people think of pilot watches, they probably think of the classic, uncomplicated ones worn by the likes of WWII flyboys and the like. Well, G-Shock does things a little differently — which is why their Gravity Master looks more like an unstoppable, futuristic tank. But don’t worry, it can still tell time, calculate speed and/or distance, has a digital compass, and can even let you digitally store a bearing so you can reference it later for navigation purposes. It doesn’t look traditional and it doesn’t function traditionally — but that’s a good thing, in this case.

Case: Resin & Stainless Steel
Strap: Resin
Movement: Quartz

Purchase: $250

Seiko Prospex SSG007P9 Pilot Watch

A limited run of just 2,000 pieces inspired by the aerobatic civilian Patriots Jet Team, this isn’t your grandpa’s Seiko watch. Rather, it’s a remarkably useful analog timekeeper designed specifically for the needs of actual pilots. That means it comes equipped with chronograph functionality, has a handy aviation-calculating bezel scale (for tracking speed, distance, fuel consumption, and more), and it even has a 25-timezone world time function. Better still, it is powered by light from the sun and has a radio sync function for more accurate timekeeping.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Stainless Steel
Movement: Calibre 8B92 Radio Sync Solar

Purchase: $895

Archimede Pilot 42 A Bronze . LHB Watch

Like many of the watches on our list, the Archimede Pilot 42 bears all the hallmarks of the classic pilot style. But it also has something eye-catching about it that none of the others have: a striking solid bronze case. And that elevates it above the pack for those who appreciate a bit of uniqueness to their watches. That’s aided by its Swiss automatic movement, beautiful stitched-leather strap, contrasting black dial with white indices, and its oversized crown.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Leather
Movement: Calibre H-30 Automatic

Purchase: $1,035

Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Day Date Watch

Much of what we like about Hamilton’s watches comes in the brand’s ability to make simple, elegant, uncomplicated timekeepers. But that doesn’t mean they don’t do a superb job when greater functionality enters the fray — as evidenced by their Khaki X-Wind you see before you. In classic Hamilton fashion, this watch comes equipped with an aviation calculator tachymeter bezel, but the brand manages to make the business look manageable compared to other options. It also features a stainless steel case mated to a leather strap, a Swiss automatic movement, a trio of screw-down crowns, and a water-resistance rating of 100m.

Case: Bronze
Strap: Leather
Movement: Swiss Eta 2824-2 Automatic

Purchase: $1,095

Garmin D2 Delta PX Aviator Smartwatch

Typically, with aviation timepieces, we tend to lean toward classic, analog examples. And that should tell you plenty about just how good the Garmin D2 Delta PX Aviator smartwatch is to have made our list. The only smartwatch on our list, this marvel of modern engineering has an incredible number of high-tech features — including compatibility with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo systems; a suite of onboard sensors; Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity; storage for up to 500 songs; and compatibility with both iOS and Android systems. If you want an aviation smartwatch, accept only the best.

Case: Titanium & Fiber-Reinforced Polymer
Strap: DLC Titanium
Movement: N/A

Purchase: $1,249

Laco Typ B Friedrichshafen Pilot Watch

One of the more uniquely-formatted classically-styled pilot’s watches on our list, Laco’s automatic Typ B Friedrichshafen stands apart for its clever main minute dial and secondary, smaller hour dial superimposed atop it — both perfectly sized for their respective hands. Apart from that one admittedly-major difference, all the other styling cues are as you might expect — including a sturdy stainless steel case, a stitched leather band, an oversized crown, and that signature 12 o’clock marking.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Calf Leather
Movement: Laco 24 Automatic

Purchase: $1,350

Victorinox Airboss Mechanical Chronograph

In case the name “Airboss” isn’t enough to help you grasp that this is a tried-and-true pilot’s watch from Victorinox, the brand’s inspiration — “looking beyond the clouds” — should do the trick. Of course, there’s also a lot more to this pilot watch than just that. For instance, it has a unique faceted dial with a red hour sub-dial superimposed upon it, chronograph functionality, a date window, an exhibition caseback, and a water-resistance rating of 100m. It’s probably also worth noting that this watch is exclusively available through Victorinox themselves and is not sold elsewhere.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Fabric
Movement: ETA Valjoux 7750 Automatic

Purchase: $1,995

Longines Aviation Bigeye Pilot Watch

A classic and clean aviation-style chronograph wristwatch if there ever was one, the Longines Aviation Bigeye does everything right and virtually nothing wrong. Not only is it handsome to behold — with its silver case, brown leather strap, and black dial — but it is also easy to read, boasts chronograph functionalities courtesy of a trio of sub-dials and automatic movement, and it has a 54-hour power reserve.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Calf Leather
Movement: Calibre L688 Automatic

Purchase: $2,625

Oris Big Crown Propilot Worldtimer Watch

If you’re a frequent traveler who finds himself constantly in different timezones, then the Oris Big Crown Propilot Worldtimer Watch is probably going to be one of your favorite aviation-styled timepieces. That’s because it has an innovative bezel function that allows you to change the local time simply by rotating it forward or backward — even across the midnight barrier. It also has a secondary timezone sub-dial, an automatic movement, a stainless steel case, and a durable synthetic fabric strap.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Textile
Movement: Oris Worldtimer Automatic

Purchase: $3,600

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 MA-1 Pilot Watch

When Bell & Ross made their first instrument gauge-inspired square pilot watch, it took the horological world by storm. But they apparently were not finished with it, because (after some tinkering) they unveiled an even more streamlined version called the 03-92 MA-1 — the very watch you see before you now. This is less a pilot watch for functionality and more a fashion-focused option for those who appreciate aviation styling. Of course, it’s still a superb timekeeper with its automatic movement, subtle date window, and impressive ceramic case and reversible strap. It’s also limited to just 999 examples.

Case: Ceramic
Strap: Calfskin Leather & Synthetic Fabric
Movement: Calibre BR-CAL.302. Automatic

Purchase: $3,900

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Watch

Although they don’t hold the same clout as long-standing brands like Omega and Rolex, Zenith is no less a premium luxury watchmaker deserving of mountains of praise — as can be seen in the excellence of their Pilot Type 20 Extra Special watch. In fact, they’re the only brand allowed to actually put the word “Pilot” on the dial of their pilot watch, since they own the trademark. Of course, there’s more to it than that — the watch is also powered by a remarkable and reliable in-house automatic movement, it’s also available in three stunning colorways, and it’s a perfect representation of the power of Swiss craftsmanship and premium materials.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Nubuck Leather
Movement: Zenith Elite Caliber 679 Automatic

Purchase: $5,700

Rolex Air-King Pilot Watch

Rolex’s Air-King is definitely a pilot watch, but it is also a good deal more refined than many of the other examples out there — a staple of the brand’s design language. Clearly a Rolex creation, it does still bear many of the same hallmarks — like a triangular marker at the 12 o’clock position, oversized cardinal hour markings for easier at-a-glance reading, and more. It’s also built with an Oystersteel case and matching link band, comes with an in-house automatic movement, and is water-resistant to 100 meters. If you want an aviation-inspired watch that’s more fashionable than the competition, this is probably it.

Case: Oystersteel
Strap: Oystersteel
Movement: Calibre 3131 Automatic

Purchase: $6,200

Omega Spacemaster Z-33 Chronograph Watch

Although it’s technically a part of the Speedmaster family, the Spacemaster is one of Omega’s strangest and most unique watches ever made. That being said, it is still definitely deserving of a spot on this list, as the digital timekeeper was made specifically for professional pilots — in fact, they even consulted pilots in its creation. It’s made from titanium, has a multi-functional quartz movement that’s capable of handling extreme temperatures, and is still water-resistant to 30 meters. It’s even capable of logging up to ten flights and visualizes those logs with date-hour indications. Whether you’re flying a puddle-jumper from state to state or traversing the galaxy in a starship, this is the watch for you.

Case: Titanium
Strap: Titanium
Movement: Omega 5666 Quartz

Purchase: $6,600

Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Swissair Watch

We don’t think there is anyone in the horological world who would really badmouth the prowess of Breitling, especially not if they had a gander at the brand’s Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 Swissair Edition watch you see here. This analog watch is loaded to the gills with manual aviation features — like the tachymeter bezel for all your pilot calculations. It also has a gorgeous color scheme — done up in red, white, and black — that serves to make it both easier to read and eye-catching. It also boasts an exhibition caseback so you can have a look at the inner workings of the automatic movement. And the steel case is complemented beautifully by a comfortable leather strap.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Nubuck Leather
Movement: Breitling 01 Automatic

Purchase: $8,275

IWC Timezoner Spitfire Edition Pilot Watch

While all of the pilot watches on our list have some pretty stellar things going for them, we have a special place in our heart for this IWC one. Not only is it uniquely capable — boasting both standard 12-hour time and a 24-hour window, a rotating bezel with numerous major cities (for multi-time zone tracking), and a seconds hacking function — but there’s something else very special about it. You see, this watch was made to go along with the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project — the restoration of an actual WWII Spitfire plane followed by its circumnavigation of the globe. So, yes, it’s a superb pilot watch, but it’s also tied to an historically-significant event of epic proportions.

Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Textile
Movement: Calibre 82760 Automatic

Purchase: $12,400

What’s The Difference: Quartz Vs. Mechanical Watch Movements

Most people realize that a difference in watch movements can mean a big difference in price, but there is a lot more to it than simple dollars and cents. Learn all you need to know in our article outlining the difference between quartz and mechanical movements.

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