More than a century ago, Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont, known for his significant contribution to aircraft design, worked with Louis Cartier to design a watch specifically for aviation purposes.
The watch features an easy-to-read design with large dial, bold numbers, and a clean design. This marks the debut of the very first pilot watch.
Ever since, pilot watches have evolved and are known for their refined, sleek, and stylish aesthetic. However, the best pilot watch won’t just complete the snazziest of outfits, it’s still tough and feature-rich, making it practical for aviation.
If you are looking to add an aviation watch to your daily accessories or formal wear, be sure to check out our list of the best pilot watch.
Best Pilot Watch
Scratch resistant sapphire crystal glareproofed, Matte black titanium case, Unidirectional rotating bezel, superquartz chronometer movement, Black Diver Pro III rubber strap, Fast Time Zone Adjustment System
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Stainless Steel With Tachymeter Bezel, Japanese quartz movement, Water resistant to 50m, 42mm Case Diameter
★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Titanium band, 99-minute countdown timer, Rotating slide-rule bezel, Perpetual calendar, Mineral dial window, Atomic Timekeeping
★ ★ ★ ★
Luminous hands, 42 mm stainless steel case, Anti-reflective sapphire dial window, Swiss automatic movement, Water resistant to 100 m
|★ ★ ★ ★|
Direct-to and Nearest buttons, Altimeter with adjustable baro setting and compass, Displays multiple time zones, Inflight task reminders, High-sensitivity WAAS GPS receiver
★ ★ ★ ★
Black ceramic case, Black fabric bracelet, Black dial with luminous hands, 68-hour power reserve
★ ★ ★ ★
Best Pilot Watch
1. Breitling Chronospace Evo Night Mission
Breitling has a strong and proud history of aviation. The Breitling Chronospace Evo Night Mission is another fine addition to Breitling’s brilliant aviation line. If you want the best pilot watch and budget is not an issue, this is THE watch for you.
Truly Masculine and Eye-Catching
One of the best details that I love about the Evo Night Mission is the superb combination of black and blue on the dial. This gives the watch a striking masculine look that’s perfect even for the dressiest of outfits. It truly looks the part as an instrument for professionals.
In terms of toughness, the watch features a sapphire crystal glass, a screw-locked crown, and a unidirectional bezel. The watch’s size is just right with the comfortable 43mm and it’s complemented with SuperQuartz movement that features a split-seconds function and an extra central hand for measuring intermediate times.
Another noteworthy timekeeping feature of the Evo Night Mission is the fast time zone adjustment system which ensures reliable precision of both the minutes and seconds display. Like all of Breitling’s movements, the movement is certified by the Swiss testing agency COSC.
Expect nothing less than stellar performance from this high-end pilot watch.
2. AVI-8 AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane
AVI-8 is a brand that has always piqued my interest. With the AVI-8 AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane, I sure have a positive first impression of the brand. The AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane is a solid watch for those who are in the market for a budget aviation timepiece.
Excellent Pilot Watch at an Inexpensive Price Point
The AVI-8 AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane is a terrific aviation watch for those who are in a budget. The watch boasts a bold, clean design, good durability, and at a price that won’t break the bank.
The watch’s design breaks away from the usual aviation watch but instead goes for all-out on the fighter plane aesthetic. Looking at the watch feels like you’re inside a fighter plane’s cockpit. While the face looks quite busy, the design is actually well thought out.
The strap looks and feels great. I’ve opted for the black/brown strap and it feels soft and comfortable to wear. However, the strap is a bit on the thicker side which might be a problem for folks who prefer a thinner and more discrete strap.
The watch features a Japanese quartz chronograph movement. It was not specified which specific movement is used but I did some digging around and found that it might be a Miyota or TMI.
The build quality is better than what you can expect from a budget model. Overall, the AVI-8 AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane is a hit.
3. Citizen JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T
We’ve mentioned that the best pilot watch features a bold but simple design. The Citizen JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T watch goes against the grain by offering an intricate design and perfect accuracy.
Feature-Rich and Superior Accuracy
The Eco-Drive technology is definitely one of the main draws of the JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T. This solar charging technology is a patented feature by Citizen and it has only improved over time. You can pretty much forget about replacing the batteries.
The watch also features atomic timekeeping which means that you only need to configure the watch once and never have to worry about accuracy. The HF Radio time sync seems to be working as advertised. However, it can be a little tricky when you want to sync the watch from a room. TIP: the watch syncs better at night, so leave it by the window and the watch should be synced in the morning.
The watch comes in a titanium case which provides the much-needed toughness. The materials used really does give the impression that you are handling a high-quality product. However, I wished they used sapphire instead of mineral crystal for face protection. I imagine this was done to keep the price down. The overcrowded dial might also not be for everyone.
All in all, the Citizen JY0010 Skyhawk is a great tool for aviators and comes at a great price.
4. Hamilton ‘Khaki Aviation’ Swiss Automatic
Hamilton is known for its designs that are safe and borderline classic. With that said, the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Swiss Automatic is a good example of Hamilton’s design philosophy, and it’s the best pilot watch that you can get.
Classic, Yet Not Dated
The Khaki Aviation is a sleek aviation-style watch that boasts a classic design but it’s somehow nowhere near dated. The watch features a gorgeous face with impressive attention to detail. The numerals are bold and crisply printed. The oversized lumed dials and indices really do wrap up the bold look of the watch.
It’s just a clean and uncomplicated design that pops.
The case is entirely brushed which can throw some people off. Many watch manufacturers polish some areas of the watch to give it more depth and contrast. With that said, the brushing quality is good along with the signed crown.
Even at 42mm, the watch wears large. One of my main complaints about the watch is the bracelet which can get a little unwieldy. The clasp has three micro-adjustments and the bracelet itself has half-links. You can easily get a comfortable fit using the watch’s adjustment system but the bracelet tends to rattle with lateral movements.
Overall, this is a very attractive Swiss watch with a classic aviation style.
5. Garmin D2 Pilot Watch
High in the Sky Features
The Garmin D2 is the best pilot watch to consider if you’re looking for smart features. Garmin is known for its feature-rich devices and the Garmin D2 Pilot Watch is no exception.
For starters, it comes with an adjustable altimeter and barometer. As you might expect, the watch also features a compass, making the D2 a legitimate ABC watch. On top of that, the D2 is equipped with a high-sensitivity WAAS GPS receiver. Seriously, it’s one of the better GPS watches I’ve used.
The D2 also can connect to a worldwide airport database, time zones, and Zulu references. The altitude and flight plans work as advertised and both very accurate as well.
Other bells and whistles include the ability to set inflight task reminders with vibrating alerts and profiles for many different activities. That’s right, the D2 works as an activity tracker as well. It doesn’t hurt that it looks great as well.
For the money, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an aviation GPS watch with as many features as the D2.
Last but not least, we wrap up this list of the best pilot watch with a premium pick. The IWC Pilot’s Top Gun Automatic Chronograph will have the hearts of watch connoisseurs racing.
Top Gun Inspired
As you might have guessed, the IWC Pilot’s Top Gun Automatic Chronograph is inspired by the movie Top Gun. It’s easy to see with the watch’s stealthy, dark aesthetic that resembles a fighter jet.
However, it’s more than just a homage to the cult-classic aviation movie.
IWC is known for its premium quality timepieces, and this watch is no exception. If you are familiar with IWC’s pilot watches, you’ll see some similarities with the Top Gun. In general, I’m not big into black cases but I’d be happy to make an exception for this model, especially when it comes in a ceramic case. Ceramic cases have a certain allure to them that just can’t be matched with any other coating.
Looking at the dial, the watch features a straightforward aesthetic which is how many people like it. It’s just simple, clean, and very legible. However, no one can argue that this elegant beast is a thing of beauty.
It’s a premium masterpiece that warrants the price.
Conquer the Air
That wraps up our list of the best pilot watch that you can buy. Hopefully, this guide has helped you buy the right timepiece for your aviation needs.