Up, up and way! Pilot watches are a necessary convenience for every busy pilot.

I have never much considered the need for a timepiece in the cockpit, but here we are. One would believe that pilots would be consumed with all the manipulations of numerous gadgets, buttons and switches in an airplane. Certainly, our peace of mind holds tightly to that belief.

Especially for those, with a fear of flying or aviophobia or aerophobia as it is also called.

The Birth of the Pilot Watch

Mr. Louis Cartier designed the pilot watch in Europe, when Alberto Santos-Dumont complained about not being able to access his pocket watch while flying.

Hence, the genesis of the pilot watch fittingly was born in the cockpits.

At that time, the Santos-Dumont wristwatch was easy to read and had an elegant but simple design.

Today, those designs have been incorporated and the timepieces are used by a variety of workers including those operating ships, heavy machinery and yes the airplane. Now, they are more to losing track of time, which might occur when vibration exceeds the normal amount. Pilot watches must endure centrifugal forces and whatever alterations in gravity.

Pilot Watch

Keeping this in mind, let’s explore a couple pilot watches. These are some of the more widely known brands. They sell well, are affordable and have great features.

Timex Quartz Aviator Watch

Best pilot watches

Image via GearMoose

Coming in under $100, the Timex Quartz Aviator Watch is a grand and valuable option.

This pilot watch will not break the bank. You can take this timepiece to 330ft in the deep blue sea, as well as count on its full quartz movement. It also has push buttons on the side of the crown.

Seiko Prospex Pilot Watch

With a unique face display, this Seiko Prospex comes in just under $200. With large numerical display, it is an easy read. The watch is a comfortable fit and has quartz movement as well.


With its clean and uncluttered design, this is one of the new comers from the ever-popular IWC brand.

It has a Swiss-made automatic movement that complements its clean, crisp design. If it gets hitched, no worries, there is a button release mechanism for the strap to come off. The face is scratch resistant thanks to its sapphire crystal make up.

It also has the soft-iron inner case found in designs like the IWC Big Pilot watch that dissuades any magnetic obstruction.

This top quality pilot watch rounds out to just under $4000.

Omega Speenmaster Professional Pilot Watch

Another standout model is the Omega Speenmaster professional pilot watch, which is made of stainless steel. It comes with a mechanical hand-winding mechanism, hesalite dial window and can be taken to water depths of 165 feet. You are safe at the beach. However, you are also safe at high altitudes as well.

This $3800 watch comes with a black bezel, which gives a professional look.

Bell & Ross WW1-92 Heritage

This model is a fan favorite of anyone who loves a good WWI reenactment.

The Bell & Ross WW1-92 Heritage marks the outer surface with minutes. It has beige calfskin leather straps and a bomb resistant PVD steel casing. At sun down you will still be able to check the time, thanks to the photo-lumiscent coating. The Bell & Ross WW1-92 Heritage pilot watch is a very comfortably worn timepiece.

Laco Watches

The pilot watch from Laco is a cut above the rest. This aviator watch design company has a long history coming as far back as the 1940s.

They are known for their precise and robust pilot watch, which won Laco coveted deals. Designs vary. They come with day, date display and decentralized second hand. Their watches can withstand pressure, vibration and shock. Their classic designs and excellent craftsmanship make them a fan favorite. Check out the Laco Augsburg 42, which sells for around $400

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Heritage

This watch is on the pricier side, well over $10,000.

It has a titanium case, which is complimented by luminescent black dial and blue hands. Other features include 7-day power reserve indicator, a date window, water resistance and soft iron inner case. The in-house caliber 52110 provides power and it is sized at 15.4 mm in thickness and 46.2 mm in diameter.

Wrap Up

There is a plethora of pilot watch designs, ranging from a $100 to thousands of dollars. From historical brands that have been in the industry for dozens of years, to more innovative and much liked newer models.

At the end of the day, it comes down to preference. However, shop smart and chose from selections that are durable, easily read and can withstand the rigors or pressure, gravity and shock encountered in the air.


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