During the late 1930’s aircraft technology and manufacturing was rapidly progressing and being innovated. This rapid innovation can mainly be attributed to World War II and the tension leading up to it. All of Europe wanted the best technology and best planes and pilots for their respective air-forces. There was one problem however, those aircraft didn’t have the guidance systems of today. The information provided was typically good but needed to be verified by a second source. Also if the pilots had to ditch the plane for any reason, they were left without proper guidance to get back to safety. To remedy this, watch companies were tasked with getting pilots accurate timepieces that could also act as a chronograph. Over the next few decades more innovations were made and altimeter, barometers, and thermometers were added to the best pilot watches.
Today many of the technologies that made pilot watches famous in the first place, are no longer necessary. However they remain a popular choice among pilots and non-pilots alike. This is mainly due to their rich history that only lends to their sophisticated look.
1. Hamilton Pilot Automatic Review
The Hamilton Automatic is a worthy addition to the pilot model line. The durable and scratch resistant stainless steel casing protects is for daily use. The strap is a beautiful real leather that can be easily dressed up or down. The watch is fully automatic so no pesky winder is needed. The numerals and hands are very large and easy to read. It’s easy to read day or night with the added superluminova for glow in the dark properties. Furthermore it has an easily configurable day and date functions. The glass is a cracted from premium sapphire crystal making it incredibly strong and scratch resistant. The crowns are screwed in and secured to prevent any mud or dust from ever making its way inside your watch.
The one thing to take note of is that this is a big watch. 46mm puts it quite a bit larger than most contemporary watches. Keep that in mind before making a purchase. The price is quite fair for what it is and it will make a perfect gift for yourself or a family member or friend.
2. Alpina Men’s SmartimePilot
Alpina is a very popular and famous European brand of watch. Manufactured in the heart of Geneva, Switzerland near the border with France. Founded in 1883 they have consistently pushed the boundries in how tasteful and stylish a watch can be. However they don’t only focus on appearance. They are also very practical, durable, and reliable watches.
The stainless steel casing and fixed black bezel create a solid and robust watch. The inner watch is a military green that instantly catches the eyes of onlookers. More than once were we complimented in our taste in style. As for features it has an extremely accurate chronograph. Furthermore the movement is quartz making it more accurate than regular automatic. The hour hands and numerals are well spaced for easy reading. The sapphire crystal glass is clear and anti-reflective.
This is the most expensive pilot watch on the list and for good reason.
3. Garmin D2 Pilot Watch
You can’t talk about aviation and navigation without mentioning the famous Garmin brand. Specifically designed with aviators in mind The Garmin digital pilot watches does it all. Some of the features it comes with is a compass, horizontal situation indicator, an altimeter, GPS, and user defined waypoints. Furthermore it has a scaled down version of a worldwide airport database. This displays a moving map of nearby airports. You can setup altitude alerts and alarms. What you’re getting is a wealth of information right there on your wrist. It’s also digital which makes it more practical as an emergency watch. With this product you will be able to accurately navigate the skies and make your job a lot easier.
The value in this watch is astronomical. To purchase each of these flying instruments separately could cost well over a thousand dollars and would be far less compact.
This is a real aviators watch. This is not for style or show but for practical use in place of aircraft readings.
4. Citizen Eco-Drive Men’s Pilot Watch
This Citizen Eco-Drive is vintage inspired with an attention grabbing look and feel. It used accurate quartz movement for extremely precise timekeeping. The case is made of stainless steel with a mineral dial window. Not quite as strong as sapphire, but it should do the trick. The leather strap is real and durable enough to last through years of abuse. The numerals and hands are large and will illuminate in the dark.
Between it’s classic style and vintage class this is the perfect pilot watch to wear out to a night on the town. It’s very casual and will only improve your look.
Coming in the $100-$200 dollar range makes it very affordable. Despite its price Citizen has crafted a fine watch that works well and looks great.
5. Laco Type B Dial Miyota
The Laco Miyota is German made and crafted. The movement is high quality quartz. This means it will last for years and have incredibly accurate timekeeping. The case is a matte finished staineless steel. It’s waterproof and the crown is secured. The numbers and hands are painted with superluminova for long lasting glow in the dark properties. Furthermore the dial window is made from a synthetic sapphire.
The blue tint of the inner watch is unique, eye-catching, and looks great. With 42mm diameter it’s a perfect size for most wrists. An overall great product from a lesser known brand.
We were very impressed with the Laco Miyota and think you would be too.
Most Important Features
- Accuracy is first and foremost the most important feature on any watch. If you plan on relying on the watch to keep your on track with your day, inaccurate information will spell disaster.
- Easy to read is another important factor to consider especially if you plan on using the pilots watch for timekeeping while in the sky. If you need to spend more than 1 second looking at your wrist to get the time, those are precious extra seconds you aren’t watching the controls.
- Reliable is a word that is seldom seen in our modern world. However when it comes to timekeeping reliable is all that matters.
The price of a pilots watch generally comes down to the brand and materials it’s composed of. For example, a Hamilton pilots watch will typically have premium sapphire glass, a stainless steel case, and real leather strap. Furthermore it will look very stylish and feel well made. You can expect to pay a premium price for a premium product.
Do I Really Need A Pilots Watch?
Becoming a pilot is a dream that most people share at some point in their lives. To soar high above the clouds and leave the world behind. To see the buildings shrink and the people on the ground become ants. It’s a long and difficult road(that often doesn’t pay very well). As a pilot you have a very large amount of responsibility. A responsibility to yourself, the passengers, the owner of the aircraft, as well as the people on the ground. Pilot watches are a tool that when correctly utilized, can assist you with navigation. Besides that they also look damn good. Whether you’re fly helicopters, planes, or jets, the pilot watches are an important accessory to own.
Despite everything I believe it’s a very good idea to keep a pilots watch with you will in the sky. Should the aviation systems ever fail or there is an emergency situation having a backup watch is very useful. Words to live by “Better to have, and not need, than need, and not have.”.
Best Pilot Watch Comparison Chart
|Hamilton Pilot Automatic||$$$||4.8/5||Automatic|
|Garmin D2 Pilot||$$||4.0/5||Digital|
|Laco Type B Dial Miyota Pilot Watch||$$||4.5/5||Automatic|
|Citizen Eco-Drive Men's Pilot||$||4.4/5||Quartz|
|Alpina Men's SmartimePilot||$$$||5/5||Quartz|
Proper maintenance of your aircraft is priority number one. It’s no different for your pilots watch. This is doubly important if you partially rely on it for guidance or use it as a backup. If you want it to continue to work for decades you must treat your valuables with respect and care. We recommend having your watch serviced roughly once every two years unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer.
We hope you have found our pilot watch reviews helpful. We have hopefully given a thorough and honest explanation of pilot watches, their history, and the most valuable models.
Please if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please contact us or leave a message below.