As the name implies, a pilot watch is a timepiece designed for use by, well, pilots. Many consider the Cartier Santos to be the first pilot watch that soared through the air in 1904. The watch featured a square-shaped case and was relatively small by today’s pilot watch standards. It was worn by Alberto Santo-Dumont, a Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer, hence the Cartier timepiece. WWII also significantly impacted military watch design with watches specifically developed for pilots, including the “Flieger watches” designed in Germany.
Eary pilot watches focused on simple design, the first and foremost aspect of pilot timepieces is legibility. The typically larger size of the case and dial helps tell time quickly and accurately with a glance. Pilot watches also feature luminous hands that are easily legible, especially during night flights.
As aviation became more complex, so did the demand for watches to handle the increased number of controls. Newer watch designs were specially tailored towards the needs of pilots and aviators. They included the addition of slide rule bezels or additional markings to assist with mid-flight calculations such as wind correction angle fuel consumption. The crown of pilot timepieces also tends to be notably more prominent than most watches, allowing wearers to easily adjust the watch crown without any difficulties.
Finally, pilot watches normally also have a multi-time functionality, including GMT or functions to track local time and destination time. While not all modern pilot watches meet all these criteria, most take inspiration from the aviation past and include some of the features and aesthetics described above.
Now that we have adequately introduced what pilot watches are let us go through some of the best models to consider.
Best Pilot Watches
Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
Incorporating a more military-themed design, the Timex Expedition Field Chrono is highly functional and quite affordable. It features a 43mm brass case with mineral glass crystal and nylon straps for better comfort.
The black dial features a beige accent, providing naturally good legibility. The Arabic numeral hour markers, hands, and sub-dials are organized and readable.
The watch also has an Indiglo backlight for optimum visibility in low-light environments. Additionally, the brass case provides water-resistance of up to 100-meters as well. If you are looking for a highly affordable pilot watch, you can’t go wrong with what Timex has to offer.
Casio Edifice EF5277D-1AV
The Casio Edifice watch line features a more refined aesthetic than other Casio watches. This design certainly helped Edifice stand out, and it, fortunately, backs up the proverbial sizzle with the proverbial hearty steak.
Incorporating an all-stainless steel silver-tone build, the Edifice EF5277D-1AV brings a wealth of functionalities to the table. Measuring at 45mm, the Edifice has a substantial size which is not surprising considering its features a 1/20-second chronograph.
Other notable features include a slide-rotating inner bezel, a date display, and a 100-meter water-resistant build. Underneath the professional design of the dial lies a Japanese quartz movement.
If you are looking for a well-balanced, accurate, classy, and affordable timepiece – the Casio Edifice fits that bill to the letter.
Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Skyhawk A-T Chronograph
With the Eco-Drive technology in place, the Promaster Skyhawk ratchets its reliability to eleven. With GMT, which has up to 43 city time zones and an atomic timekeeping technology, you can bet you will never need to readjust this timepiece manually, no matter wherever you are.
The Promaster Skyhawk utilizes a 45mm titanium case which provides adequate durability with a lighter weight. A lot is going on with the dial; fortunately, a black dial tone with a bright orange accent helps wearers distinguish the display information.
This Citizen pilot watch uses an accurate quartz movement with its analog chronograph dial display. The clock is also feature-rich with a perpetual calendar, second time zone, alarm, countdown timer, backlight, and a digital power reserve.
Orient Pilot Style Automatic Watch (RA-AC0H)
Classy and straightforward has been the benchmark of Orient watches, which it retains in its pilot watch collection. One perfect example is the RA-AC0H which features a bright gold dial with black Arabic numeral markers and luminous hands.
This Orient timepiece keeps things pretty basic and traditional. This model maintains outstanding precision by utilizing the Orient caliber F6722 automatic movement with an analog dial display. The crown is quite large and easy to operate as well.
With a measurement of 42mm, this timepiece is also somewhat sleeker than your typical pilot watch. The Orient Pilot Style also offers decent 100-meter water resistance.
Seiko Adventure Solar Classic Watch (SSC081)
The Seiko Adventure Solar Classic has chronograph functionalities, but its design gives it a highly refined charm. The bold dial comes with luminous hands, Arabic numerals, and index hour markers.
The black dial displays all the information neatly, which prevents it from looking cluttered. We praise Seiko Adventure Solar’s impeccable dial design that provides vital information in a highly legible manner.
This Seiko pilot watch features a 42mm stainless steel case with a Hardlex mineral crystal window. This watch operates via a Japanese quartz movement with an analog dial display; this timepiece also delivers excellent precision.
Other features include a date display and a bezel as an angle corrector. We highly recommend the Seiko Adventure Solar for pilots and those who love to travel as it is pretty stylish and snappy.
Casio G-Shock Master of G Gravitymaster (GA1100-1A1)
The Casio G-Shock is one of the toughest watches globally; the Master of G series improved upon an already impressive build. This Gravitymaster watch provides toughness and functionality in spade.
The dial features World Time functionality, and the strategical use of colors helps improve the overall readability of this watch. This timepiece also utilizes bidirectional calibration and comes with a hefty 50mm resin case.
Underneath the tank-like build of the Gravitymaster is a quartz movement that helps keep its analog-digital display accurate. The watch delivers up to 200-meters of water resistance. Without a doubt, the G-Shock Gravitymaster GA1100-1A1 is one of the most uncompromising multi-functional timepieces around.
Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph Watch (96B251)
Bulova watches exude an air of class that has been the signature of this watch brand for decades. Now, take that skill in creating a refined timepiece and infuse it with the functionality of a pilot watch. Enter the stunning Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph.
The sleek black dial comes with a six-hand calendar chronograph functionality. This timepiece incorporates Bulova’s proprietary UTF quartz movement to ensure top-tier precision.
The sunray sub-dials are distinguishable, thanks to the 45mm size of the stainless-steel case. The black leather strap also polishes off the watch’s professional charm.
The Lunar Pilot also features a tachymeter bezel and date display. This Bulova timepiece nails the balance between design and functionality perfectly.
Junkers Iron Annie Flight Control Automatic Watch (5168-2)
The Junkers Iron Annie certainly brings a great class to the stage with its classic art deco style. If you love vintage-style timepieces, this watch certainly has that appeal. The polished 42mm stainless steel case is accompanied by a black dial and brown leather strap.
You will also notice that a prominent diamond-shaped crown is not just for show as it also makes adjusting the watch superbly easy. This timepiece features a traditional mechanism in the form of a caliber 8217 automatic movement.
In terms of aesthetics, the Junkers Iron Annie Flight Control takes a relatively conservative approach. It features a 42mm stainless steel case and leather strap. It also has luminous dials, a 24-hour sub-dial, and a date display.
Overall, this is a classy vintage-style timepiece that will fit nicely with formal and casual attires.
Laco 1925 Pilot Classic Watch (861806)
The Laco 1925 Pilot Classic is another vintage-inspired timepiece that harkens back to the golden age of aviation. Featuring a 42mm stainless steel case with a Swiss quartz movement and analog dial display, the Laco 1925 is one classy pilot watch.
This timepiece is also made in Germany, which pretty much guarantees its quality. The dial features luminous Arabic numeral markers and hands that exude that art deco style. Additional features include a day and date display.
The classic stainless-steel case and genuine calf leather add to the style points of the Laco 1925. If you are looking for another vintage pilot timepiece, we highly recommend you check this watch out.
Victorinox AirBoss Automatic Watch (241598)
Victorinox watches have a reputation of being classy and robust, which is precisely what the AirBoss delivers. This pilot watch utilizes a high-quality Swiss automatic chronograph movement with an analog dial display.
The case measures a snug 42mm and will also fit nicely into your formal attire. The stainless-steel case also has a sapphire crystal window in tow, which provides an outstanding scratch resistance level.
As for the chronograph functionality, the AirBoss has an hour (12), minute (30), and seconds (60) sub-dial. There is also a date display at the 3 o’clock position.
The aesthetics of the Victorinox AirBoss radiates confidence and professionality. These attributes are a perfect concoction of qualities for pilots and aviators who wish to showcase both style and substance.
Zeppelin Series Hindenburg Moon Phase Watch (LZ129)
The classy and vintage charm of the Zeppelin Series Hindenburg certainly brings a different vibe compared to our previous entries. Notably, this timepiece comes with a moon phase functionality.
The addition of that specific feature adds to Zeppelin Hindenburg’s overall appeal. The moon phase feature always brings a different level of allure to a timepiece, introducing a sense of dream-like aesthetics.
At its heart, Zeppelin Series Hindenburg features the Ronda caliber 706B movement with an analog dial. Additional functionalities include a day and date display and the moon phase feature. The case is quite sleek with its 40mm measurement.
Along with a pretty durable construction, the Zeppelin Hindenburg also utilizes a Hesalite crystal domed window for an added level of visual flair.
Marathon Navigator Pilot Watch (ETAF06)
Looking for a tough and low-key pilot watch with a tactical aesthetic? You need to check out the Marathon Navigator. This pilot timepiece features a sleek design with black with white accents and a robust build.
You can also bet that this is as tough as it looks as the Marathon Navigator can meet government specification standards. The watch also incorporates self-illuminating tritium gas tubes, which do not need external light sources to operate.
Over on the performance side, we get a Swiss-made ETA F06 high-torque quartz movement with an analog dial. There is also an EOL (End of Life) indicator display.
The contrasting white-tone hour markers and hands provide natural legibility over the all-black dial and case in readability. You can also add the ‘always luminous’ tritium gas tubes to the factors that make this timepiece easy to read, no matter the light situation.
Tissot Heritage Navigator Watch (T0786411603700)
Tissot has always been one of the top brands in stylish timepieces, and they have always met expectations. The Tissot Heritage Navigator continues this trend with its unique dial design.
The Tissot Heritage Navigator has a COSC certified chronometer movement which guarantees its precision. The silver-tone 43mm case incorporates a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal window for enhanced protection.
The dial design is impeccable with its blue dauphine-style hands over the white dial. Tissot also threw in a nice little bonus as the Heritage Navigator features a skeletal back case that lets wearers a good view of the complex mechanism within.
Longines Avigation BigEye (L2.8126.96.36.199)
The Longines Avigation BigEye balances style with legibility and delivers a highly distinguished pilot watch. The black dial incorporates bold and luminous Arabic numeral hour markers and hands.
The stainless-steel case measures 41mm and has a prominent crown and two lugs that dramatically improve adjustability. We like how the Longines Avigation BigEye managed to find that fine line between extravagance and practicality.
This pilot timepiece showcases a professional design with an equal sense of reliability in performance. Practical and fashionable – Longines watches never disappoint in this area.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Watch (H76419931)
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer features a tonneau-shaped case that quickly separates it from your standard wristwear. If you are looking for an aesthetically different watch style, a tonneau-shaped watch might be what you want.
This pilot watch from Hamilton also nails that rugged look with its brushed stainless-steel case, black dial, and luminous orange hour markers and hands. In addition, you get a mechanical movement watch that adds to its overall appeal if you are a traditionalist when it comes to your timepiece.
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot also uses a nylon strap for improved comfort and flexibility. The overall aesthetics of this aviation timepiece gives it a more casual and outdoor appeal.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Bronze Automatic (29.1940.679/57.C808)
Classy and grand, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 features a classic aesthetic that will surely appeal to watch traditionalists. The blue leather strap heightens the bronze case while the blue satin dial caps off the proverbial icing on the cake.
The dial itself blends simplicity with a tinge of extravagance. The bold Arabic hour markers are rudimentary and highly readable. We would also like to highlight the luminous cathedral-style hands Zenith incorporated into this timepiece – which significantly added to its style.
This pilot watch can certainly double as a dress timepiece with its sleek 40mm case. The crown is also quite prominent, making adjusting this timepiece incredibly easy.
Junghans Meister Pilot Watch (027/3591.00)
The Junghans Meister Pilot Watch hits the floor running in terms of design with the distinctly shaped case. With its 43mm silver-tone stainless steel case, black dial, and brown riveted leather band, the Meister Pilot delivers a somewhat subdued yet rugged style.
The black dial incorporates luminous dauphine silver-tone hands and pronounced Arabic numeral hour markers. Two sub-dials also track minutes (30) and seconds (60).
Back to the case, we find that it uses a sapphire crystal window with an anti-glare finish. There is also a bidirectional rotating bezel implemented onto the case. Underneath the stylish exterior lies an automatic movement to provide excellent precision.
IWC Pilot Spitfire Chronograph (IW387903)
Featuring an elegant aesthetic, the IWC Pilot Spitfire brings a level of class to the table that very few can match up. With its silver-tone case and brown leather band, the IWC Spitfire nails that professional look to the tee.
The black dial also displays excellent legibility with its luminous white Arabic numeral hour markers and bronze-tone hands. There are also three sub-dials neatly on display.
The IWC Pilot Spitfire features a Swiss automatic chronograph movement, and other features include a day and date display. The 41mm case also features one large crown sandwiched between two lugs. Overall, the IWC Pilot Spitfire is an outstanding pilot watch about functionality and class.
Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph (AB0127211C1A1)
Incorporating a highly professional and robust design, the Breitling Navitimer B01 goes straight to the point with its no-nonsense appearance. Its impressive level of precision is all thanks to the COSC certified Breitling caliber B01 chronograph movement.
The 46mm case is quite hefty and justified by the array of features employed in its construction. Besides the chronograph feature, the Navitimer B01 also comes with a slide ruler, chronograph sub-dials, date display, and a bidirectional rotating bezel.
The Navitimer B01 also meets durability standards with its rigid case structure and sapphire crystal window. Breitling is one of the premier manufacturers of chronograph watches, and if you want the best, they are the brand to look for in this regard.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot GMT Rega Limited Edition (74877104284FS)
With only 2,000 pieces available worldwide, the Oris Big Crown ProPilot HMT Rega is a must-have for collectors. But how does it fare as a pilot watch? Remarkably well.
The Oris Big Crown certainly lives up to its name. It features a 45mm diameter gray PVD stainless-steel case with a black dial. The Big Crown ProPilot manages to hit all the right marks with its bold luminous white hour markers and hands in terms of readability.
As for features, the Oris Big Crown comes with a GMT dual time zone, date display, and a small second sub-dial. This limited-edition Big Crown model is flashy, modern, and slick – a great addition to anyone’s watch collection.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Automatic Watch (10434)
The B&M Clifton Club timepiece features an urban and practical design that takes the traditional horological build with some contemporary twists thrown in. We applaud this pilot timepiece’s intricate design, which still manages to deliver outstanding readability.
The black calfskin leather band complements the silver-tone 44mm stainless-steel case. Protection of the dial is also on-point with the use of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The dial has outstanding legibility via the silver-tone rhodium-plated hands.
Within the mechanical marvel design lies a Swiss automatic movement. There is also a fixed bezel incorporated with the robust case. In addition, the timepiece offers a 50-meter water resistance rating.
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Club is a classy and rugged pilot watch that showcases a complex charm.
Garmin D2 Delta PX Pilot Watch
If you are looking for a modern multi-functional pilot watch, you can’t go wrong with one from Garmin. The brand has built a fantastic reputation with its high-tech watches, so you can expect the D2 Delta PX to have these advantages.
First off, there is a high-quality GPS feature installed in the D2 Delta PX. The outstanding aviation functionality comes with dynamic color mapping. Once connected to a smartphone, wearers can also take advantage of the NEXRAD app, allowing access to airport data, flight logging, and select avionics.
Other notable features include a media player that allows you to save up to 500 songs in the D2 Delta PX. Battery life is also quite impressive as it can last for up to 18 to 20 hours on a full charge.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moon Watch (3188.8.131.52.01.001)
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moon Watch excels as more than a pilot watch with the signature finesse and gentleman charm. The timepiece can be considered a dress watch, and its a 42mm stainless steel case.
Omega watches are all about class, and nowhere is that more visible than in the mechanism within the Speedmaster. This Omega timepiece features an Omega caliber 1861 manual winding movement with a power reserve of up to 48-hours.
The black dial meets the pilot watch standards regarding legibility, thanks to luminous hands and index hour markers. The dial’s design is sleek and professional, with no unnecessary bells and whistles to cause any confusion.
Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Watch (AL-727SS4HG)
The Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage uses a tonneau-shaped case that adds a different flavor regarding its style. I always feel that this type of case exudes an air of simplicity and toughness, and these traits will undoubtedly make this appealing to professionals.
Utilizing the La Joux-Perret movement with an analog dial display, the Startimer Pilot delivers excellent precision in its timekeeping capabilities. The design of this timepiece is also all about class with a pretty rudimentary aesthetic.
That is not a knock at its appearance, though, as the Alpina Startimer Pilot looks like it belongs inside the cockpit of a plane. In addition, the watch has a 100-meter water resistance rating which means you needn’t worry about going near any body of water with it.
Montblanc 1858 Bronze Automatic Chronograph
With a classic and luxurious watch construction, the Montblanc 1858 certainly brings a certain degree of flair to the stage. It features an elegant polished bronze titanium case with a brushed bronze bezel, the Montblanc 1858 nails that vintage charm. The brown leather strap further enhances its retro motif.
The Montblanc caliber MB 25.11 self-winding automatic movement is also a rather complex mechanism. This watch movement also boasts a power reserve of up to 48-hours and clocks in at a highly accurate 28,800 VPN.
This timepiece also features an efficient design dial display which allows for excellent readability. Overall, if you are looking for a pilot watch with a certain timeless charm – you might want to check out this particular model.
Breitling Cockpit B50 (VB501022/BD41-155S)
The Breitling Cockpit B50 is an analog-digital pilot watch that offers an expanded array of features compared to your standard analog type timepiece. We want to note the sportier aesthetics of this Breitling watch, which is somewhat a breath of fresh air to the norm.
The black titanium case, which measures 46mm, helps balance the larger build relatively lighter. As for features, the Cockpit B50 offers chronograph functionality, GMT second time zone, perpetual day and date calendar, bidirectional rotating bezel, luminous hands and hour markers, and a 100-meter water-resistant rating.
Behind the wealth of features provided, the B50 incorporates a quartz chronometer movement to keep everything as precise as possible.
Bremont The Armed Forces Arrow Watch HMAF-Arrow-D
The Bremont Armed Forces Arrow features a more casual and laid-back design. The polished stainless steel 42mm case uses an RAF blue sailcloth strap, enhancing overall comfort. This timepiece will appeal to both military personnel and civilians.
This timepiece also excels in precision thanks to the modified caliber 13 BE-51AE automatics with 27 jewel movement. This chronometer movement has an ISO 3169 rating that further cements its high-quality build.
The dial also offers excellent legibility with its sizeable Arabic numeral markers and mint green-colored hands. To further enhance its readability, the Bremont also utilizes the Super LumiNova technology.
Panerai Radiomir 1940 Watch (PAM00627)
Panerai watches have built a reputation for being rugged and incredibly readable even in the dark. The latter half is thanks to the manufacturer’s use of self-illuminating technology, and this technology allows Panerai watches to glow even without external light sources.
The Radiomir 1940 also comes with the classic Panerai square-shaped case. The PAM00627, however, delivers a polished and striking stainless-steel case for that added premium appeal. The dial is also well-protected underneath a sapphire crystal window.
You can’t go wrong with a watch brand with Panerai’s level of heritage. If you are a timepiece aficionado, Panerai certainly brings in prestige and top-tier performance.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King Watch (116900)
Rolex needs no introduction as it is the premier watch brand globally. We can even say that Rolex has become synonymous with timepieces.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King continues the brand’s impeccable reputation for high-quality and high-precision watches.
This pilot watch incorporates a 40mm polished stainless-steel case and an Oystersteel bracelet.
The dial brings about a sense of refinement with its black dial with green accent aesthetics and Mercedes-style hands add to its visual flair.
Within the deluxe construction lies a self-winding automatic chronometer movement. Everything else about the aesthetics is pretty straightforward yet presented to tell this is a premium-grade Rolex timepiece.
Bell and Ross MA-1 Pilot Automatic Watch (BR0392-KAO-CE/SCA)
The Bell and Ross MA-1 Pilot watch features a tough mechanical build that delivers a rugged charm. This timepiece is a limited-edition pilot watch that provides high-precision timekeeping with a durable body.
With its 42mm ceramic case with an orange rubber strap, the Bell and Ross MA-1 certainly brings a unique element to the table. It has rudimentary timekeeping functionality that surpasses the standards using high-precision automatic movement.
Regarding legibility, the red hands and Arabic numeral hour markers provide excellent visibility. There are only 999 models made out there, so if you are a collector, this is another timepiece that will make an excellent addition to your set.