Originally, pilot watches were designed specifically for – you guessed it – pilots! These watches were designed when pilots needed a better way to keep track of the time than a pocket watch, which is terribly inconvenient when you’re at the controls. A wrist watch seemed like the logical choice, no?
Thus, the original pilot watch was born! It was created with a larger wrist band than a normal watch in order for it to fit easily over a pilot’s jacket sleeve. They also offered a larger numbered display so that it was easy to read at a glance, which is often all you have when flying any sort of aircraft.
These original models came out around the time of the First World War, though they were not used regularly until World War II. Today, any watch that is easily readable with a glare resistant screen could probably pass as a pilots watch, though some are still made with extreme focus on the original dial design (not so much the larger wrist bands).
So here we’re going to take a look at some of the best pilot watches available today. Each of these are manufactured by a different company and they each offer something a little different at a drastically different price point, starting with the most expensive and working down to the least expensive.
1. Hamilton Men’s Khaki King Pilot
This is by far one of the nicest looking pilot watches available these days – and Hamilton is a great brand to consider when looking for a top quality watch. This particular pilot watch is a little more than $300, but with all the high quality materials that go into it this is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a pilot watch.
The display is easy to read with Arabic numeral markers as well as a date function that can be found next to the 3 o’clock point on the dial. The numbers and hands are white on a black background creating a sophisticated feel to the dial. The casing is made of stainless steel and the window is made of sapphire crystal which provides a no-glare function at any angle, perfect for pilots.
The wristband is made of calfskin leather and comes in a brown shade that contrasts nicely to the black dial; the watch also uses Quartz movement. Overall this is one of the finest pilot watches available near this price point. If you are looking to invest in a very high quality time piece then you will find that the Hamilton Khaki King Pilot is exactly what you wanted.
2. Laco/1925 Men’s Pilot Classic
If you aren’t quite ready to drop more than a couple hundred dollars on your pilot watch then this might be the perfect middle ground for you. The Laco model is very similar to the Hamilton at first appearance. The dials are nearly the same with the way they are numbered (minutes outside, hours inside), though this design is common among pilot watches.
This watch boasts a stainless steel casing and a calfskin leather wristband that comes in the shade of brown. The buckle on this watch leaves you with a perfect fit – just snug enough to not get loose, just loose enough to not be suffocating. This minimalist design of this watch is perfect for viewing at a glance and making an accurate judgement on time.
Like the last watch, this one uses Swiss quartz movement. You will also find that this particular model of pilot watch uses a mineral based glass window cover rather than the sapphire crystal – which is a big part of the difference in price point.
3. Mil-Tec Vintage Style WW2 Pilot Watch
This particular timepiece is really neat because not only is it a replica of an original WW2 pilot watch, but it is also one of few quality cheap pilot watches. There are a lot of different pilot watch brands to choose from – and some will cut corners without knocking down the price. Others offer a high quality product made of less expensive materials for a fraction of the cost – and this Mil-Tec watch is an example of exactly that.
When it comes to a pilot watch you can’t get much better than this. With the display similar to that of the last two, minutes displayed around the edge and hours displayed in the middle, you will be able to read this watch easily with only a single glance. The biggest difference (other than brand name) that separates these items is the fact that this one does not offer a date indicator.
The casing is made of stainless steel and the wristband is made of genuine leather that is black in shade. The buckle on this watch is meant to keep it securely in place no matter where your travels may take you. In the end, if you cannot afford much more than a hundred dollars at the very least you can still get a great quality timepiece.
Pilot Watches: To Sum Up…
Finding a pilot watch these days can be difficult – or at least finding a true pilot watch can be tricky. The thing is, there are so many different styles of watches these days that it’s hard to know what the best pilot watch brands are. With so many options to choose from you really need to take a few minutes before making a decision and try to decide on a price point before you make a single move. This is the best way to ensure you get exactly what you want, at the price you want.