Pilot watches are a special breed because they need to be legible, withstand great air pressure, and sturdy enough to not be affected by altitude changes. In this article, we’ve rounded up some of the best pilot watches you can buy right now:
Vintage Bell And Ross
Bell and Ross is quite a young company, only founded in 1992. But since its conception, the company has produced some of the best military watches in recent memory. A Vintage Bell and Ross took its aesthetic from the classic pilot watches and paired it with the modern capabilities that every watch should have.
The BR V2-94 is the result of the company’s plight of remaking the iconic pilot watches of the 1920s. The aviation touches, the Flieger aesthetic, and leather all harken back to a time when pilot watches were all the rage. Get this legendary watch from watch repositories online or directly on the company’s site.
IWC Pilot Chronograph
If there’s one thing that IWC or the International Watch Company is known for, it’s their dedication to still manufacturing the best pilot watches in the world. The Pilot Chronograph Spitfire may not be available through its official channels anymore, but you can readily get it on some alternative watch shops online.
Any watch connoisseur will tell you that an IWC watch is a study in quality manufacturing. Some of the watch’s parts are also completely hand-made and assembled, so you are getting some of the highest craftsmanship there is in the industry. You get an automatic chronograph with 44 hours of power reserve, a stainless steel case with a 43mm diameter in a dial, and a water resistance of 6 bar.
Bremont’s ALT1-ZT/51 is a mouthful to write and say, but the watch itself is in another level finish-wise. Hardened stainless steel, automatic chronometer with 44-hour reserve, a brown leather strap that almost looked distressed – these contribute to the overall look of this simply stunning watch.
Rolex Oyster Air King
This list won’t be complete without a Rolex pilot watch. And the king’s entry? It’s the Oyster Air King. The Air-King is perfect for the businessman in your life who’s a frequent flyer. Suffice it to say that Rolex has been at the top of the luxury watch market for quite some time now, and by its looks, the brand will stay at the top for a long time.
Since it’s a Rolex, you get the proprietary Oystersteel as a case material and inside, and in house caliber self-winding mechanical movement that’s built from the ground up. The black dial features the Arabic numeral perfectly, and with the superlative chronometer branding, what more could you ask for?
Longines has a long history of creating pilot watches. While these days, they’re more focused on sailing and dress watches, the Aviation series from the brand still are some of the most polished pilot watches ever to be manufactured. And you don’t have to drain your savings account to get one! Stainless steel, leather, and big, bold watch numbers for legibility are the true hallmarks of a pilot watch, and all of them are in Aviation!
Seiko revolutionized the watch industry by introducing the quartz movement, continuing to manufacture budget-friendly automatic timepieces, and popularizing the Spring Drive. But it’s Astron line, with solar-powered technology, has all the complications important for aviation watches.
Pilot watches may not be as popular as divers and military watches nowadays, but there is such a rich heritage of it coming from some of the oldest watchmakers that the tradition of making one still is alive in the present. If you want to surprise the special man in your life with one, take a look at the options presented above.