10 best pilot watches inspired by aviation

15 Best Pilot Watches Inspired by Aviation

Since their innovative beginnings, the best pilot’s watches have delivered the top tier of legibility, durability, and accuracy to both the military and commercial sphere. In the time since, aviation watches have only improved, adopting a range of new features, functions, and designs. As a result, pilot’s watches remain useful, distinctive, stylish and resilient, even if they’re commonly playing upon traditions established decades ago.

To put it another way, if you love a quality vintage aesthetic, copious functionality, and steadfast precision, then an aviation watch is right up your alley. The best part? You definitely don’t have to be a pilot to wear one. Here’s a list of the 15 best pilot’s watches inspired by Aviators, to make your decision a little easier.

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Longines Avigation BigEye

1. Longines Avigation BigEye

Longines is well known for combining the original beauty of its former products with cutting-edge watchmaking technology. The Heritage models pose a tribute to the pioneering spirit that has inspired Longines designers since the company’s early days. Among the pieces in the Heritage range lies the Aviation BigEye a quintessential piece for every man’s wrist, this is one of the best pilot watches you can buy. This watch features calibre L688 movement and a self-winding mechanical movement that vibrates at an impressive 28’800 vibrations per hour, providing 54 hours of power reserve.

Dimension: Ø 41.00 mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black
Price: $4000

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IWC Automatic Spitfire 

2. IWC Automatic Spitfire

The IWC Automatic Spitfire is one of the best pilot watches you can buy. This re-issue has remained true to the purist, it features an instrument design reflecting the Mark 11 navigation watch, originally produced for the British Royal Air Force from 1948 onwards. This aviator watch introduces the new 32110 calibre movement, which is featured for the first time in this functional timepiece. The new, yet robust automatic movement has bidirectional pawl-winding that builds up a power reserve of 72 hours.

Dimension: Ø 39.00 mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black dial with luminescence.
Price: $7100RRP

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Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46

3. Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 46

True to its name, the Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph indeed looks like something straight out of an airline cockpit. This aviation watch offers more functionality than you could probably ever ask for, with the busy dial display to show for it. Measuring in at 46mm in diameter and 16.45mm thick, the watch definitely makes its presence known. A portmanteau of the words ‘navigation’ and ‘timer’, the Bo1 is made in Switzerland from polished steel and engineered with a chronometer-certified mechanical calibre built entirely in-house. It has handy sub-dials and a bidirectional rotating bezel for precise time-keeping and features a sapphire crystal case back so you can take in all that impressive movement.

Dimension: Ø 46.00 mm
Movement Type: Self-winding Mechanical
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black, Blue, 18K Red Gold, etc.
Price: $11,950

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patek phillippe 5524g calatrava pilot travel time

4. Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

Swiss masters Patek Phillippe make some of the finest watches that money can buy, and their Calatrava Pilot Travel Time collection is no exception. Each piece in the range combines aviation-based functionality with a minimalist style to top-shelf perfection. This pilot watch features a dual time zone mechanism with adjoining apertures on the dial, a local date hand, gold numerals with luminescent coating, and a white gold 42mm case. Powering the watch is a mechanical self-winding movement with 294 parts, 29 jewels, a central rotor in 21-karat gold, and all sorts of accuracy-guaranteeing mechanisms. If you can afford one, buy one, and then invite us over to check it out. We’ll do our best not to drool on it.

Dimension: Ø 42.00 mm
Movement Type: Mechanical self-winding.
Material: White gold, Sapphire-crystal case back.
Colour: Blue varnished with gold numerals and luminescent coating.
Price: AU$50-90k

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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

5. Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

Taking aviation watches to literally new heights. The Speedmaster Moonwatch is one of the world’s most iconic timepieces. It certainly fits the bill of an ‘aviators watch’, having been a part of all six moon landings. This legendary chronograph is an impressive representation of the brand’s adventurous pioneering spirit. It suffices to say, Omega’s latest iteration is way out of this world!

Dimension: Ø 42.00 mm
Movement Type: Manual winding
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black, Gold (White/ Red)
Price: $9575

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Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II

Arguably the most recognisable timepiece from the most recognisable aviator watch brands in the world. Available in a multitude of colourways this model features a black dial and a blue and black Cerachrom bezel. In addition to the conventional hour, minute and seconds hands, the GMT-Master II features an arrow-tipped hand, which circles the dial once every 24 hours. This aviator watch is designed to show the time in two different time zones simultaneously during intercontinental flights.

Dimension: Ø 40.00 mm
Movement Type: Mechanical self-winding.
Material: Oystersteel, Cerachrom bezel.
Colour: Black, Blue
Price: $13,600RRP

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bremont alt1-p pilot range

7. Bremont ALT1-P2

The Bremont ALT1-P range first launched in 2007, and it’s been flying high ever since. Every watch in the range balances dependable functionality and vintage design to absolute perfection. The attention to detail is first class, each 43mm case is made of hardened (and patented) Bremont Trip-Tick stainless steel, ensuring the utmost tier of durability. Under the skin is modified calibre BE-53AE automatic chronometer with a 42 power reserve. This is one of the best pilot-style watches on the market.

Dimension: Ø 43.00 mm
Movement Type: Modified calibre 13 ¼”’ BE-53AE automatic.
Material: Hardened stainless steel Bremont Trip-Tick case construction,
Colour: Cream, Black, Blue
Price: $6600

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bell and ross br v2-92 steel heritage

8. Bell & Ross BR V2-92 Steel Heritage

Bell & Ross built its reputation on stunning aviation watches, and the BR V2-92 Steel Heritage duly abides. As optimal as it is minimal, the watch runs on the brand’s own calibre BR-CAL.302 automatic mechanical movement. Emanating from the black display are skeletonised hour and minute hands, and sand-coloured numerals and indices, all brought further to life by way of Superluminova treatment and protected by ultra-curved sapphire. Surrounding the dial is a 41mm case of satin-polished steel, and a rotating steel bezel with an anodised black aluminium ring. Choose between a steel or black rubber strap, and prepare to rock some serious style.

Dimension: Ø 41.00 mm
Movement Type: Automatic mechanical, BR-CAL.302.
Material: Satin-polished stainless steel.
Colour: Black. Sand Superluminova numerals and indices.
Price: $4700RRP

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oris gmt rega limited edition

9. Oris GMT Rega Limited Edition

Made in partnership with the Swiss air-rescue service (aka Rega), the Oris GMT Rega delivers a dark colourway of grey and black. Featured on the watch are automatic winding GMT movement and a 24-hour central hand, allowing you to straddle two time zones at once, just like they do on the Rega jet planes. This top aviation watch is limited to 2000 pieces and presented in a special box.

Dimension: Ø 45.00 mm
Movement Type: Automatic winding GMT.
Material: Multi-piece stainless steel case, grey PVD plated.
Colour: Black
Price: $3600

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Longines Type A-7 1935

10. Longines Type A-7 1935

If you’re looking for a pilot’s watch that will invariably turn heads (or at the very least get those heads to bend at a slight angle), accept nothing less than the Longines Type A-7 1935. Within its 41mm case of stainless steel is a show-stopping dial, which rests at an angle and projects painted Arabic numerals along with blue steel hands. Protecting the dial is scratch-resistant crystal sapphire glass with numerous layers of anti-reflective coating, and under the skin is an automatic self-winding mechanical movement with a 54-hour power reserve. A premium alligator strap of dark brown lends this unconventional pilot’s watch a qualitatively luxurious vibe.

Dimension: Ø 41.00 mm
Movement Type: Automatic
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: White lacquered polished
Price: $5200

IWC Big Pilot's Watch

11. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch

Already synonymous with some of the best aviation watches in the game, IWC doesn’t mince words or details on the Big Pilot’s Watch. In 2016, the legendary model harkened back to its roots by way of some minor tweaks and is now more streamlined than ever before. Powering the watch is IWC-manufactured 52110-calibre movement, which features a Pellaton automatic winding system and 7-day power reserve. You can even track the movement by way of a subdial on the watch face. Also featured are a date window on the display, a beautiful crown affixed to the 46mm case, and a soft-iron inner case to protect the movement from magnetic fields. Sealing the deal is a Junkers JU-52 plane engraving on the case back, and a premium black calfskin strap.

Dimension: Ø 46.2 mm
Movement Type: Automatic, self-winding
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black dial with luminescence
Price: $16,700

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Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic

12. Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic

A lesser know name in the aviation watch game is Alpina, which prides itself on pairing quality with affordability. That brings us to the brand’s range of Startimer Pilot Automatic watches. These pilot-style watches offer striking designs and steadfast builds at a highly competitive price point. Cases measure in at 44mm manufactured in materials like titanium, steel, or rose gold. Find the variant that speaks to you, and don’t hesitate to take the plunge.

Dimension: Ø 44.00 mm
Movement Type: Alpina AL-525 Automatic Caliber.
Material: Polished Titanium PVD Coated Stainless steel.
Colour: Black
Price: $1450RRP

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hamilton takeoff auto chrono

13. Hamilton Khaki Takeoff Auto Chrono

Overflowing with detail, the Hamilton Khaki Takeoff is a “pilot’s” pilot’s watch (if that makes sense). In accordance with its cockpit-like vibe, the watch includes a bi-directional turning flange on the bezel, which is able to record countdowns. Equipped with H-31 movement, a screw-down crown, and a black leather strap, this one is ready for take-off, indeed. It’s also limited to a mere 1,999 units.

Dimension: Ø 46.00 mm
Movement Type: H-31 Automatic chronograph
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black
Price: $4400

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Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue

14. Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue

The new range of Zenith Type 20 chronographs offer the modern pioneer a pilots watch with its eyes set towards the horizon. This Pilot Type 20 Chronograph features a 45mm polished stainless steel case with black sunray-patterned dial and yellow accents. It is outfitted in an aged black calfskin leather strap the features rivets and yellow stitching. The signature Zenith Pilot oversized Arabic numerals are made of solid SuperLuminova for maximum legibility.

Dimension: Ø 45.00 mm
Movement Type: Elite automatic movement.
Material: Brushed stainless steel.
Colour: Black
Price: $11,400RRP

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Garmin D2 Delta PX

15. Garmin D2 Delta PX

While the best pilot’s watches are usually analog or analog/digital from a style perspective, they aren’t exactly brimming with contemporary functionality. That’s not to say that top aviation watches aren’t tremendously accurate or sturdy, just that they’re quickly outpaced by a quality digital watch when it comes to strict utility. That’s why we’re adding the Garmin D2 Delta PX Watch, it hosts a copious range of intelligent features, such as GPS navigation, smart notifications, flight planning, altimeter, automatic flight logging and more. Meanwhile, it retains something of an analog aesthetic, which suggests that Garmin is all too aware of the built-in legacy behind any given aviation watch. That makes it one of the best pilot’s watches in our book.

Dimension: Ø 42-51 mm
Movement Type: Smartwatch
Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer with the metal rear cover.
Colour: Beige, Brown, Titanium
Price: $1849

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General FAQ

What watches do pilots wear?

Professional pilots wear watches such as the Garmin D2 Delta. Traditionally, fighter pilots will wear Casio or Longines watches. The more contemporary luxury watches from the likes of IWC and Rolex are usually just for aesthetics today, but they can still serve a purpose if needed.

What is a Pilot's Watch?

A pilot watch is exactly as the name suggests. They are watches designed to be worn by pilot's. Sometimes referred to as an aviator style watch, they feature large faces, typically 40m+ that include highly legible, even oversized indices. These watches can also withstand dramatic changes in temperatures and pressure. The back of a pilot's watch is designed to be protected from magnetic fields.

What's the difference between a pilot and dive watch?

Pilot watches are watches for aeronautical use, they typically feature a larger bezel with larger indices. Traditional Diver watches have a higher level of water resistance of at least 10 ATM.

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