The Best Pilot Watches for Men

These days, guys may sometimes wear watches for show, but for the aviators over the past century, the timepieces made a real difference. Chronographs, tachymeters, and all the other complications you’ll find in the best pilot watches are time-tested tools for keeping an aviator in the air—but can also be useful in your everyday life.

“Pilot watches are one of the coolest gear watches because they have this rich history that’s dictated their design,” says the founder and CEO of watch retail site Crown & Caliber Hamilton Powell. Cartier created not only the first pilot’s watch, but one of the first-ever wristwatches—called the Santos—in 1904 for famous Brazilian pilot Albert Santos Dumont, who was struggling to read his pocket watch mid-flight. Unlike many round pilot watches today, it had a square bezel and Roman numeral hour markers. “Today, onboard computers take care of the necessity of the pilot watch, but the spirit hasn’t been lost,” Powell says.

But if you’re considering a pilot watch, there are a few things you should know before you buy. If you’re looking to use all of a pilot watch’s capability, consider one with a chronograph—a stopwatch function controlled by two pushers on either side of the crown. A tachymeter—denoted by small markers on the dial starting at 12:00—can help you read distance over time. Some digital watches also display altitude, temperature, and barometric pressure. If you’re looking for one that just looks great on your wrist, be sure to choose one with a diameter that isn’t wider than your wrist itself. Watches between 38 and 42 millimeters wide are a safe bet for most guys.

“These watches are casual enough for a T-shirt, but can also look great with a suit,” Powell says. “And they can easily showcase their personality at a glance.” If you often wear a button-up shirt, choose one with a slim case. Sportier watches with large cases and busier dials often look better with casual attire, while simple, slim watches with fewer complications are a safer bet when wearing a sport coat or a suit.

No matter how you wear them, scroll down to see our list of the best watches to consider—whether you’re looking for all the functionality or want one that has a pilot watch-inspired style—starting at under $ 200.

Michael Kors Jetmaster Black IP

If you’re looking for a watch that’s more jet fighter than propeller plane, this affordable blackout watch is a good option. Its three-hand movement, chronograph, and subdials give it a bold, technical feel that’s just as functional as it is badass.

[$ 130;]

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Timberland Richdale Watch

Is vintage more your vibe? Try this simple chronograph with an old-school seconds hand and sepia tone dial. Its features—dual time and date functions—are not only modern, but useful too.

[$ 169;]

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Hugo Boss Pilot Vintage

Classic and timeless are two traits to look for in any watch. This one is both. The blue dial and tan leather strap are a foolproof combination that will look just as good in a flight suit as it will a two-piece suit.

[$ 195;]

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Timex Waterbury Linear Chronograph

Need to time your plane’s fuel supply—or just want to time your kid’s track meet? This sharp watch has a linear chronograph with two unique subdials for an unexpected feel that’s reminiscent of a plane’s control panel. Even cooler: the under-$ 200 price tag.

[$ 199;]

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Avi-8 Hawker Hurricane

To commemorate RAF test pilot and mastermind behind the Hawker Hurricane fighter plane George Bulman, this watch features a cockpit-inspired design complete with a tonal roundel (the bullseye design found on WWII-era planes). It’s an affordable option that majorly upgrades your style game.

[$ 230;]

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Seiko Prospex SSG015

Want a watch that looks great and requires zero maintenance? This light-powered watch receives radio signals that automatically adjust its time, and a six-month reserve means you’ll never have to change the battery. Not bad.

[$ 476;]



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Bulova Lunar Pilot

Originally designed for the Apollo space missions, this has a chronograph-tachymeter combo for measuring time and distance, as well as a sapphire crystal that won’t scratch or crack under pressure. Wear it with a white tee or your best suit—it’s fit for every situation.

[$ 540;]

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Citizen World Chronograph A-T

This solar-powered chronograph has a built-in power reserve, automatically changes times when you enter a new time zone, and a smart perpetual calendar that accounts for the number of days in each month as well as leap years. The dial also features the insignia of famous jet fighters the Blue Angels.

[$ 540;]

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G-Shock GWRB1000-1A1

This carbon and titanium solar-powered watch can resist water, shock, vibration, and the centrifugal force fighter pilots experience. It also has tons of features like Bluetooth-enabled time updates to make sure you stay on track during your busiest days. 

[$ 800;]

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Shinola The Canfield Sport

Aside from its dashing good looks and a ceramic inlaid bezel, the Canfield tracks a second time zone by showing the day and month in the center of the dial and a fourth hand points to the date along the outer rim. It’s a showstopper of a wristwatch you’ll have a hard time taking off at the end of the day.

[$ 1,000;]

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Hamilton X-Wind Day Date

This handsome automatic has all the complications of typical pilot watches, but if you really want to, it also lets you keep your plane on the right track by calculating its draft angle when you enter your airspeed via the rotating external bezel. It also just looks really damn cool.

[$ 1,095;]


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Mido Multifort GMT

A GMT function is a bit of a status symbol among automatic pilot watches. This sleek automatic shows a second time zone via a red second hour hand and colorful hour markers—all with a polished steel bracelet.

[$ 1,250;]

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Alpina Startimer Pilot Vintage

This watch’s GMT function lets you track a second time zone by temporarily moving the hour hand. It’s encased in a steel case with a sharp copper-colored dial and illuminated hands for nighttime flights—or when your next dinner runs late.

[$ 1,395;]

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Garmin Marq Aviator

For the serious aviator or anyone just looking for a handsome wristwatch with serious tech, this watch has it all: a digital screen that reveals direct-to coordinates, a moving map, weather reports, heart rate and pulse monitor, flight plan and logging—and that’s just about half of them.

[$ 1,950;]




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Bremont Airco Mach 1

Consider it a mainstay of British aviation watchmaking: Bremont’s Airco automatic is a certified chronometer (a certification given to only the most exact movements) with a 38-hour power reserve to maintain the correct time.

[$ 3,895;]

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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

This iconic watch has a famous manual-winding movement. Why? Its creators needed to work in space. And while it’s not a traditional aviation watch per se—it has been present on all six lunar missions, meaning it can handle anything you throw its way.

[$ 5,350;]

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IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire

This watch, made by IWC—among the most iconic watches in aviation you could wear on your wrist—has a 46-hour Power Reserve, iron case for protection against magnetic fields, and a secured crystal that won’t be displaced by sudden changes in air pressure. In other words: It’s worth every penny.

[$ 6,250;]

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Breitling 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk

This world-class Breitling is a must-have for any collector. It invokes the spirit of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter plane, which is emblazoned on its transparent caseback. Its sharp olive dial, red chronograph hand, and 70-hour time reserve make it the ideal pilot watch.

[$ 7,710;]

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The post The Best Pilot Watches for Men appeared first on Men's Journal.

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Blind Pilot

Passengers on a small commuter plane are waiting for the flight to leave. The entrance opens, and two men walk up the aisle, dressed in pilots’
uniforms–both are wearing dark glasses, one is using a seeing-eye dog, and the other is tapping his way up the aisle with a cane.

Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin; but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing
nervously around, searching for some sign that this just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming. The plane moves faster and faster down the
runway, and people at the windows realize that they’re headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport territory.

As it begins to look as though the plane will never take off, that it will plow into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin–but at that moment,
the plane lifts smoothly into the air.

The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly, and soon they have all retreated into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is
in good hands. Up in the cockpit, the copilot turns to the pilot and says, “You know, Bob, one of these days, they’re going to scream too late, and
we’re all gonna die. . .”

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