Before the invention of the pilot’s watch, many pilots in the 20th century were strapping pocket watches to their wrists with straps. In 1904, Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aviator, complained to his friend Louis Cartier that it was hard for him to check the time in the cockpit with his pocket watch. This is how the Santos was invented. Want to learn more about the history of these timepieces? Watch our episode on The Evolution of the Pilot's Watch.
Throughout the decades, pilot’s watches have seen new innovations to make an aviator’s job easier, including luminosity and the introduction of dual time and GMT functions. Today, pilot’s watches are not only functional, but incredibly high-tech and stylish. There are many qualities that set a pilot’s watch apart from other timepieces. First, they have a large and legible dial that is usually black with white hour markers for contrast, making it easy for a pilot to read in any weather condition. Next, pilot’s watches may have different luminosity features to enhance readability at night. Another common feature that many of these watches have is a dual time or GMT function which allows the pilot to simultaneously read time in multiple time zones. Next, we’ll share some of our top pilot’s watches from luxury watch brands like Breitling and Rolex.
IWC Pilot: These pilot’s watches are most popular because of their steel cases and rhodium dials. Featuring a clean design, these timepieces have highly luminescent dials and large easy-to-read numbers.
Rolex Air-King: One of Rolex’s longest running models, the Air King pays tribute to the pioneers of flight. With a prominent minute scale for navigational time readings, these timepieces are a modern interpretation of classic pilot’s watches.
Breitling Navitimer: Featuring a logarithmic scale around the circumference of the watch, the Navitimer is the perfect pilot’s watch. Featuring a robust dial display, these efficient timepieces are a favorite in this category because of their classic design and history.
Want to learn more in-depth information about pilot’s watches? Watch this feature from WatchBox Studios, Rolex GMT-Master & Pilot's Watches For Collectors, Armchair Aviators, And Flight Enthusiasts.