Best Pilot Watches Under $500

Best Pilot Watch Under $500

Pilot watches are in style, and you can often get away with wearing an excellent watch even if you aren’t dressed to match. But if you’re in the market for a good pilot watch, you might also be looking for one under $500 so you can afford it without emptying your wallet.

If that’s the case, we recommend the Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph Watch as the best pilot watch under 500. It’s a quality timepiece that can bring you a lot of value for many years to come. We’ll also show you some alternative picks for watches that are still excellent and beneath $500.

Top Pick: Bulova Men’s Lunar Pilot Chronograph Watch

 

Overall, our favorite pick is the Bulova Men’s Lunar Pilot Chronograph Watch.

This watch is constructed with sapphire glass and Precisionist-class chronograph movement. This makes the watch’s timekeeping abilities three times more accurate than watches with standard quartz chronograph mechanisms. It includes a signature floating secondhand and resists gravitational error. It’s so precise that it’s accurate within 1/1000 of a second.

The watch exudes class and elegance. It’s made with the stainless-steel case and bracelet and the dial is set against the blue and silver dials with multiple layers of black carbon fiber. This keeps the watch face luminous and easy to read while being sophisticated enough for virtually any occasion.

Why We Like It

The watch’s simplicity and style both combine to make this one of the best watches we’ve ever seen. In addition to its excellent aesthetic, it’s extremely functional both in its timekeeping abilities and precision. A tachymeter has been implemented along the outer border of the watch face.

In addition to these excellent qualities, the watch is also water resistant down to 300 meters. Its sapphire glass face is strong enough to resist some punishment without attaining any blemishes; this is a great thing in our eyes since it’s a little pricey even though it’s still beneath $500.

Speaking of water resistance, if you’re looking for outdoor watches, check out our handy guide here.

What Could be Better

There are a couple of downsides. Watch is a little large, as it 45mm in diameter, so those with thinner wrists will likely look a little silly in comparison. In addition, the bracelet doesn’t taper very well so can be uncomfortable if you have sensitive skin beneath your wrist.

Other Picks

We’ve got some runners-up that for best pilot watches that are almost as good as the Bulova.

Citizen Watches Men’s AT0200-05E Eco-Drive Chronograph Canvas Watch

 

The Citizen Watches Men’s AT0200-05E Eco-Drive Chronograph Canvas Watch is a much more affordable option that has a military-inspired aesthetic. The watch border is stainless steel with a red contrasting secondhand, but the bracelet is made from rugged green canvas. Both of these styles combine to create a watch aesthetic that is both classy and practical at the same time.

It’s also an accurate timepiece; it uses Japanese quartz movement technology to remain precise throughout the year. Even better, it can recharge the natural sunlight or indoor light, so this extends the amount of time you have to enjoy the watch before you need to replace its battery.

Why We Like It

We really enjoy the overall durability and practicality of this watch, making it a shoe-in for a choice of one of the best pilot watches. Its ability to recharge its battery via sunlight or indoor light is an excellent design choice that can save you money in the long run in addition to its convenience. The hands are particularly luminous and easy to see even in low light conditions.

When it comes to durability, there are a few watches that compare. Its water resistance up to 330 feet or 100 meters, making it suitable for swimming if not diving. The window is made from mineral crystal so it can withstand some punishment before it takes any visible damage.

What Could be Better

The biggest downside is that the red hand, which you might think is for timekeeping, is actually only used for the watch’s stopwatch capability. This is a little misleading. In addition, the date window near the 4 o’clock position is very small and can be hard to see if you use glasses or try to see the date from far away.

If you’re interested in more Citizen-brand watches, check out our guide.

Aviator F-Series Men’s Vintage World War II Pilot Design Watch

 

This watch evokes an old-fashioned style and appears as it came right out of the 1940s and 50s. It uses a contrasting white dial background with black lettering and three subdials marked for 60 seconds, 60 minutes, and 1/10th of a second respectively. Each subdial has different border coloring for easy recognition.

The hands are made to be luminous and easy to see in the dark. They are protected in a waterproof stainless steel case that can easily withstand rain or water down to 100 meters. It uses Japanese Quartz movement to maintain accurate timekeeping.

Why We Like It

We really enjoy the aesthetic on display here. The brown strap evokes a simpler timer but the dial casing is still made with scratch-resistant mineral crystal glass. It combines vintage design with modern safety and efficiency.

We also really like that the subdials are colored slightly differently. It helps to tell them apart, and it makes the entire dial case look a little less crowded since all the icons aren’t the same colors. There’s a lot of information on display with this watch but it never seems to be too much.

What Could be Better

The band isn’t made of genuine leather, which does hurt it somewhat. It keeps the watch affordable, but you can definitely tell the difference when you’re wearing the timepiece. In addition, the minute and hour hands of the clock would be better off black instead of white with black borders, as they are currently.

Still, these nitpicks are minor when considering the overall charm of the watch as a whole.

Seiko Men’s SNN241 Stainless Steel Watch with Brown Leather Band

 

Black isn’t the right color for everybody. If brown is more your style, try the Seiko Men’s SNN241 Stainless Steel Watch with Brown Leather Band. It’s affordable and made with a stainless-steel case that protects two subdials and a date window at the 6 o’clock position. The leather band is comfortable and can be secured with a buckle.

It’s also fairly water resistant down to 100 meters and it uses Japanese quartz movement, so you know you’re getting accurate time consistently, even well into the watch’s lifespan. You can also use the inbuilt chronograph to measure up to 60 minutes of activity.

Why We Like It

This is an extremely attractive watch for its aesthetic alone. The white hands are luminous and easy to pick out as they contrast with the brown dial. We also really like that the strap is made from genuine leather, which makes its affordable price all the more outstanding. It’s hard to come by decent timepieces if you’re on a budget, so we’re glad this option exists.

Because of the leather band, this watch is incredibly comfortable to wear even though it’s a little larger and heavier than some folks might be used to.

What Could be Better

The Crystal dial window is protected by Hardlex material, which isn’t as durable as it sounds. Scratching the face of this watch is a little easier when compared to other contemporary watch faces. This isn’t a huge deal given the low asking price, but it’s still something to consider.

Citizen Eco-Drive Men’s Stainless Steel Leather Avion Watch

 

The Citizen Eco-Drive Men’s Stainless Steel Leather Avion Watch also combines a black dial, white hands, and a brown wristband for an old-fashioned look. The wristband here is made from calfskin leather, meaning it’s soft and comfortable for a long time before it starts to wear out. The silver watch border is made from stainless steel and combines with a mineral dial window.

This watch also uses Japanese quartz movement. It only loses a couple of seconds of time per day at maximum, so you won’t have to reset your watch very frequently. It can also resist water down to about 100 meters of depth.

Why We Like It

We really enjoy the overall feel and size of this watch. It’s comfortable to wear and the white hands set against the black dial keep all of the necessary time information easy to parse no matter what the light level is.

You also get a chronograph that measures up to 60 minutes, a date window, and a 12/24 hour time dial set on the right-hand side of the center circle. It fits a lot of information onto its dial without being too cluttered or confusing, with the exception of the date window which is easily hidden amongst the other aspects.

What Could be Better

Indeed, the date is easy to lose and that’s a clear con in our eyes. In addition, the watch face can feel pretty heavy due to its overall thickness. While this does help to protect the watch from damage, it can feel a little clunky or awkward, especially since it appears to the modern style with pilot watches that are larger rather than smaller.

Conclusion

Overall, these are the choices of best pilot watches under 500 if you’re looking for a good timepiece that can last you for a while without breaking the bank. Nevertheless, there are high-end options in the market for pilots, which may satisfy the most exquisite tastes;  to have a 30,000-foot overview of some of them, you can read our Best Pilot Watch article.