Whether you’re a pilot or not, a stylish pilot watch will surely make you look sharp. The traditional pilot watches, such as the IWC model featured at the end of this article, have a reputation of being rather unaffordable. So we went on the hunt for some more affordable choices. These watches will make you look just as sharp, while keeping some cash in the pocket!
Table of Contents
- Best Pilot Watches Under $300
- Best Pilot Watches Under $500
- Best Pilot Watches Under $1,000
- Best Pilot Watch Under $2,000
- Best of the Best Pilot Watch
- Why a Pilot Watch?
- What Makes a Pilot Watch
- Can You Wear a Pilot Watch with a Suit?
- Pilot Watch Versus Chronograph
- Pilot Watch Versus Field Watch
- Pilot Watch Versus Diver
Best Pilot Watches Under $300
Even on a budget you can get a great pilot watch. These are some of the best pilot watches for the money.
1. AVI-8 Men’s Hawker Hurricane
- Aviation inspired classic chronograph...
- Japan chronograph movement with date
- White dial with black index, chronograph...
Boasting a handsome leather band and precise Japanese quartz movement, this AVI-8 analog watch is a hit with customers time and time again. The chronograph is inspired by the traditional aviator watches of decades past and is a symbol of style and class. Beautiful dials and bold hands make it easy to read the time, and the Japanese quartz movement ensures every second stays precise for years to come. The Hawker Hurricane was designed for the Royal Air Force, embodying traditional and classic aviator style. The design is elegant, yet accessible, for pilots all over the globe.
Users can choose from a variety of colors, including black, black/brown, blue/black, cream/brown, cream/grey, dark blue/black, gunmetal/army green, vintage blue, and white/grey. The watch comes with a stopwatch, keeps the calendar date, and is water resistant for up to 165 feet.
2. Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk
- Stainless steel watch featuring date...
- 42 millimeters stainless steel case with...
- Eco-Drive Technology, Never Needs a...
This Citizen men’s watch is an affordable way to get high-class style and specialized aviation features. This includes a date window to display the calendar day, dual-time display, and an inner chapter ring. The case is made of quality mineral glass measuring 42 millimeters in diameter. The analog display is run by a Japanese quartz movement for precise time-keeping capabilities. The watch will warn users when it has a low battery, and the dial hands are bright for easy visibility. The silver-tone band is sure to catch the attention of others, too.
The Citizen watch comes with a five-year warranty and is water resistant for up to 660 feet. This flight watch is suitable for the novice pilot, as well as seasoned veterans. The nonreflective crystal makes it easy to see in all kinds of weather conditions. The band has a convenient fold-over clasp to maintain the sleek look of the stainless steel.
3. Seiko Men’s Stainless Steel
- Versatile stainless steel watch...
- 42.6-mm stainless steel case with...
- Japanese quartz movement with analog...
This stainless steel watch from Seiko is an Amazon’s Choice as a high-quality men’s watch that has all the features any pilot would need. At under $100, this watch is highly accessible and will complement work life and casual days off. Made in the United States, this watch is made of stainless steel and comes with a comfortable stitched leather band. The analog display is run by precise Japanese quartz movement so it never misses a beat. The case measures 42.6 millimeters and includes a hardlex dial window. This keeps it scratch free and even water resistant up to 330 feet.
The watch’s deep brown dial is the perfect backdrop for the bright white dials and hour markers. In addition, at the sixth-hour mark, there is a date display. Seiko has been around since 1881, preserving its reputation of durability and quality after all these years.
Best Pilot Watches Under $500
Have a little bit more to spend, but still don’t want to go overboard? Five hundred bucks is a decent budget for a pilot watch in my opinion. These are some great choices for that amount.
4. Seiko Prospex Smoke Dial
- Dual Time
- Power Reserve
This Seiko watch is the next level up, but it will still land well into a $500 budget. The tan textile band is a nice contrast to the imported stainless steel watch case. This watch is accurately powered by Japanese solar quartz movement that gives a precise reading every time. Striking black hour and minute hands look beautiful against the white watch face. Other features include a 12-hour alarm, chronograph, dual time, and six-month power reserve. The watch face will also display the date, and it’s covered by scratch resistant hardlex crystal. It’s conveniently water resistant up to 100 meters and comes with a three-year warranty for United States buyers.
Speaking of customers, this watch has positive reviews and is a crowd favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and pilots. It looks great and can hold up to daily wear and tear and rigorous activity.
5. Laco Augsburg German Automatic Pilot Watch
This German-style watch from Laco Augsburg is sure to delight pilots and non-pilots alike. The watch is an original World War II design, perfect for pilots. The sapphire crystal is scratch resistant and its Super Luminova technology means that the time is easy to read under multiple lighting conditions. In contrast to its competitors, this Laco watch doesn’t include a date display, owing to the tradition of World War II-style timepieces. The brown leather strap is comfy and includes rivet details for extra style.
The numbers on this watch face are super clear, bold, and easy to read. It contains a Type A dial, and the case diameter is 42 millimeters. The movement on this watch is automatic self-winding, and the watch is water resistant up to 50 meters. It comes with a two-year warranty. The customer reviews are mostly positive, and buyers report that it’s a good value for the money. The thick band and stainless steel case is an iconic look that pilots will love.
Best Pilot Watches Under $1,000
Now we’re getting into more serious territory.
6. Garmin D2 Delta
- Premium GPS aviator watch with dynamic...
- Synchronize with your Avionics for...
- Smart notifications (when paired with a...
For those with a budget, this Garmin GPS pilot watch is a good bet. It has the look and feel of a classic aviation watch, but with advanced smartphone features. For example, it comes with a global positioning system, smartphone compatibility, and mapping data. There are also flight-specific details such as automatic flight logging, alerts for when the wearer is off course, and pattern altitudes. For those who have an interest in athletics, there are additional functions for heart rate readings, activity profiles, and fitness tracking. For their leisure, wearers can load up to 500 songs to the device and equip Bluetooth technology.
Choose from a beige or brown leather band or a DLC titanium one. Make any flight more enjoyable with color mapping, a compass, and various smartphone applications. The watch is available in three different sizes so anyone can find a cozy fit.
7. Hamilton Men’s Khaki Pilot Watch
- Aviation-inspired watch featuring round...
- 46 mm stainless steel case with...
- Automatic self-wind movement with analog...
This Hamilton men’s dial watch features striking number readings and hands for a bold, classy look. Inspired by the aviation watches of decades past, it has a Swiss automatic movement, calendar display, and a 46-millimeter diameter case. The case material is stainless steel, which looks gorgeous against the brown leather band. The sapphire glass dial window is anti-glare for crystal clear reading each time. It’s also scratch resistant so it will stand up to the daily rigors of work and play. The watch is water resistant up to 660 feet and comes with a two-year warranty.
This sleek design is sure to please pilots, as it looks great with uniforms, as well as casual wear. It’s got the genuine reputation of the Hamilton company and the majority of its reviews are positive. Most customers state that the watch is large, but still looks great on smaller wrists.
Best Pilot Watch Under $2,000
8. Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Automatic Watch
This X-Automatic Chronograph watch from Hamilton is another winner in the category of pilot watches. It’s got gorgeous craftsmanship to spare, with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a stitched brown leather strap, and Swiss automatic movement. The case measures 44 millimeters in diameter, and the white dials look striking against the black watch face. It displays the calendar date and day of the week and includes a chronograph. This watch is water resistant up to 330 feet, and it’s got stellar customer reviews.
It sits solidly on the wrist and the movement will stay precise for the long term. It’s a sturdy device that will complement any pilot’s uniform. At 8.5 inches, the leather wrist band is a tad short, but it should fit the majority of buyers. It’s still a shame considering the price point for this watch. Those cons aside, there’s no reason why this wouldn’t be a fabulous gift or treat for someone.
Best of the Best Pilot Watch
The icon. There is no doubt about it, this is the best, most iconic watch in the history of pilot watches. Make sure you sit tight before looking at the price though…
9. IWC Big Pilot Black Leather Men’s Watch
- Swiss-made caliber 51111 automatic...
- 46mm stainless steel case
- 7 day power reserve with power reserve...
IWC brings this pilot dial watch, which boasts a hefty price tag, but also outstanding features and quality. It has a Swiss caliber automatic movement and a 46 millimeter stainless steel case. A seven-day power reserve ensures that this watch is always reliable on time. The black watch face is a stunning contrast to the stark white dials, which illuminate the Arabic numeral hour markers. The convex sapphire crystal is scratch resistant, and the watch itself is water resistant up to 30 meters. The case is anti-reflective and displays the calendar date for added convenience.
This IWC watch is 100% authentic and comes complete with a certificate and a useful carrying box. The IWC, or International Watch Company, was founded in 1868 and continues to be a leader in quality timepieces today. For those who can afford it, this is the pilot watch to get.
Why a Pilot Watch?
Pilots are often on a strict timeline, so they need a timepiece that will stand up to the rigors of flying high in the sky. In fact, some aircrafts require pilots to have specialized watches to meet the demands of the job. Not only are these watches beautiful, but they can keep pilots at the top of their game. While today’s pilot watches are mostly distinguishable in form only, there are still functional differences that set them apart from run-of-the-mill watches.
Mostly modeled off of the Luftwaffe Fliegers, pilot watches are also reminiscent of RAF and of course, the movie Top Gun. Pilots need to take into account several important factors when looking for a quality timepiece. For instance, it needs to be able to handle sudden changes in air pressure. Some watches will give wonky readings over time, thanks to air pressure drops and contact with water. A pilot doesn’t have time for these things, which is why they need a quality timepiece.
What Makes a Pilot Watch
Some of the primary features of a true pilot’s watch include Arabic numeral dials, propellor hands, and leather straps with bold rivet details. They also have scratch and impact-resistant sapphire glass that makes reading the time simple, even under sun glare and harsh weather conditions. It also helps to have more complicated functions, such as world-class timekeeping and chronograph movements. This is useful not only in the cockpit, but also while on the go in everyday life.
Don’t be fooled by watches that merely mimic the appearance of a pilot’s watch. It’s common to capture the old-fashioned aviation style of the 1930s, but a timepiece needs to have the functionality to match to be a true pilot’s watch. An oversized case comes in handy for easy viewing, while shock and impact resistance also makes a huge difference.
Can You Wear a Pilot Watch with a Suit?
Yes, of course! It’s a pilot’s watch, which means that it’s meant for aviators. Pilots don’t wear suits, they wear uniforms, so it’s perfectly fine for them to sport a pilot’s watch without a suit. That being said, these timepieces look absolutely smashing with a suit. Imagine the stainless steel case and wrist band shining in contrast to a dark pinstripe suit. It’s a classy look indeed, and one that can elevate just about anyone’s confidence.
Best of all, pilot watches come in a vast range of styles and price points. While the most reputable and dependable ones will cost a pretty penny, there are options under $300, $200, and even $100. Pair it with a suit, a tux, a business casual outfit, or even a company dress code. The great thing is that these timepieces will improve the look and feel of any ensemble.
Pilot Watch Versus Chronograph
The primary difference is going to be in the hands and dials. Modern pilot watches tend to use chronographs, but they’re different in that pilot watches are much more user friendly. They don’t have to include complicated functions and structures such as traditional chronographs. Modern-day chronographs start working with the push of a button, while some pilot watches have automatic wind up. Both usually have stopwatch and time-keeping capabilities.
Pilot Watch Versus Field Watch
A field watch has a more rugged design and movement, but both have highly visible hand dials to make reading easy. Field watches tend to be smaller in size compared to pilot watches, so they could be a good alternative for those who don’t want to sport a huge timepiece on their wrist. Unlike pilot watches, field watches have 24-hour registers. It’s simple to spot the differences based on appearance alone: rugged and precise.
Pilot Watch Versus Diver
The diver watch is waterproof, of course, but so are many pilot watches. A diver watch will always have a domed crystal covering on the case, while this is a feature that may or may not be on a pilot watch. In addition, pilot watches are on the larger size. It’s not uncommon to see a diver watch with a backlight, while this feature is pretty much absent from pilot timepieces.