Want to add some classy designer watches to your collection? Looking out for designer pilot watches should be a perfect addition. These watches have a long history, and much of the pilot watches we know today were born between the two World Wars when aviation was getting traction. The very first pilot watch was created by Louis Cartier himself – the Santos-Dumont watch.
Pilot watches come in different varieties – some have that classical, vintage look reminiscent of the watches worn during the golden age of aviation, such as the designs by Hamilton and Longines. But, if you’re not into that, there are also aviator watches with a stainless steel dial and a strap like the Rolex Turn O Graph. Here’s a list of 8 designer pilot watches you should consider adding to your collection.
1. Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph
Want a watch associated with an elite aviation unit? Then the Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph is the perfect watch to add to your collection. In 1953, Rolex released Reference 6202, which would turn out to be the model for the Datejust Turn-O-Graph. Later, Rolex would release its successor, Reference 6309.
The brand offers this model to the Thunderbirds, an elite squadron in the U.S. Air Force formed during the Second World War and known for their acrobatic flying techniques. Reference 6309 would eventually come to be known as the “Thunderbird.”
The Datejust Turn-O-Graph model comes with a modest case size of 36 mm. Its dial comes in various colors to choose from, ranging from black, white, and blue. The stainless steel case is further accentuated with yellow gold or steel-white details. The timepiece is then fitted with a stainless steel strap, which, in some designs, boasts yellow gold details.
2. Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale
Longines, a watchmaking brand, has a long history of crafting exquisite designer watches with a back catalog that stretches for nearly 200 years. One of its designs, the Longines Heritage Military Marine Nationale, takes inspiration from a model Longines made for the French Navy after World War II.
Its sleek design consists of a 38.5mm steel case fitted into a cognac brown leather strap. Its dial also boasts a subdued beige color, blued steel hands with an anti-reflective crystal, and the watch itself also offers 30-meters water resistance. The model combines the state-of-the-art watchmaking perfected by Longines in its history of watchmaking and timeless elegance, with the design taking its cue from an old yet beautiful World War II French Navy timepiece.
3. LIV Watches P-51
Florida-based LIV watches offer a collection of sturdy pilot watches built with premium materials. The P-51 pilot watch collection boasts a high-grade 46 mm titanium casing coming in various designs. If you want that classic brown leather strap-fitted timepiece, then the P-51 352nd Blue-Nosed or the P-51 Cripes A’Mighty should suit your taste. The former boasts a navy blue dial, while the latter boasts a sky blue dial.
Another option for a vintage pilot watch aesthetic would be the P-51 Titanium Chrono Black/Gray. Unlike the previously mentioned models, this one is fitted with a dark brown strap, with its dial colored a luminescent black, while parts of its casing are accented with gray. There are other fantastic designs in the P-51 pilot watch collection, such as the P-51 Black Titanium Chrono Black / Orange.
What’s unique about this one is that its black titanium case is fitted with an orange strap. The P-51 Ferocious Frankie is quite similar to the Black Titanium Chrono Black / Orange, but its color scheme boasts a bright yellow instead of orange.
4. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Hamilton is another brand that is well-known for its military design watches. Like Longines, it has a long history of watchmaking, and in fact, the company supplied watches to the United States Army during World War II.
Hamilton’s Khaki Field Mechanical is another excellent pilot watch, being a faithful recreation of its original 1960s forebear, a timepiece worn by the marines in Vietnam. It boasts a white dial with a three-hand display encased in a 42 mm stainless steel case. The timepiece is fitted to a khaki strap, giving it the vintage pilot watch aesthetic.
5. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43
The International Watch Company of Switzerland, or IWC, is one of the titans of the watch industry, specializing in luxury Swiss watches, and was founded by American watchmaker Florentine Jones in 1868. The watch company boasts a catalog of watches with elegant and luxurious designs while also incorporating such features with state-of-the-art technology.
IWC also offers pilot watches, and for this list, we look at the IWC Big Pilot 43. The Big Pilot 43 features a stainless steel case with a diameter of 43.0 mm, which offers a 60 m water resistance. The dial is colored black with luminescence, and the timepiece is fitted with a black calfskin strap giving it the classic pilot watch look.
6. Hamilton Khaki King Automatic Watch
Want a classy vintage pilot watch that won’t require you to pay over $500? Then Hamilton offers its Khaki King Automatic Watch, another military-style timepiece. The Khaki King boasts a 40 mm stainless steel case, which is neither too small nor too large.
The dial comes with a variety of color options, such as black, white, or silver. The dial is covered with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and the timepiece is fitted with a leather band with contrast stitching and buckle closure. The Khaki King also offers a 50 m water resistance, which should be good enough for short periods of recreational swimming, but not other intensive aquatic activities.
7. Longines Avigation Bigeye
Here’s another amazing timepiece from Longines, the Longines Avigation Bigeye. Unlike the Heritage Military Marine Nationale, Avigation Bigeye boasts a larger timepiece in diameter. It has a 41.00 mm stainless steel casing with a glass made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
It also comes with several layers of anti-reflective coating on the underside, and water resistance up to 30 m. Inside the casing is a beautiful black dial with painted Arabic numerals. The timepiece is then fitted with a brown calf leather strap, staying true to its pilot watch aesthetic.
Designer pilot watches define what’s both classical and state-of-the-art. Many of the designer pilot watches we see in this list combine technological advancements in the watchmaking industry while remaining true to their classic military style design.
Some of these, however, have taken a more modern approach to designer pilot watches, but it’s a welcome addition to your watch collection. If you want to check out more amazing pilot watches, you may visit WatchShopping.com today.