The Purpose Of Pilot Watches
For pilots wristwatch was one of their first real onboard “computers” in the past. These timepieces had features that gave pilots visibility and helped them navigate in the skies.
A pilot's watch is a type that is specially tailored to the needs of aircraft pilots.
The pilot watch was first invented in 1904 by aviation pioneer Albert Santos-Dumont.
It had an eventual design with a squared-faced watch with exposed screws on the bezel which was later officially launched and named the Cartier Santos in 1911. With the Cartier Santos pilots could calculate fuel consumption, as well as airspeed, lift capacity, navigation, and it was also capable of basic timekeeping, just like an ordinary watch.
Each brand has its own version of what a pilot’s watch should look like, depending on the needs of the wearer. But there are key elements to these watches that every brand follows.
Traditionally, pilot timepieces were just huge faces with contrasting numbers and indices so the wearer could read them easily while flying. An aviator (pilot) watch must be easily read even at a glance, which is why large faces with bold numerals and stark contrast are so commonly associated with pilot watches.
Their dial is often reduced to the bare essentials, with striking luminescent hands and indications, as well as Arabic numerals that can be read more easily.
Types of Pilot timepieces
Choosing a pilot’s watch is not an easy thing to do because there are so many models on the market. We need to consider the budget and the functions a certain watch provides.
There are chronographs, automatic, and manual winding models. There are also a bunch of features like models with bidirectional rotating bezels for the measurement of intermediate times, or logarithmic slide rules that can help calculate the flight distances.
It often has Dual Time or GMT functions so they can track multiple timezones or coordinated universal time. GPS timepieces perform three functions. You can track your activity throughout the day, meaning how many steps you took, your sleep, and your heart rate. It will remind you of phone calls, and notifications. Also tracking your outdoor activity.
Now that we have some kind of understanding of the pilot watches, let's look at some of the most popular ones.
The Longines Lindbergh is an hour-angle watch
Longines is famous for timelessly elegant designs and has ties to horse racing and other sports. The firm has also made a mark in the luxury watch industry with its impressive ultra-thin movements and watch models.
Longines was developing a special watch, by which the determination of the longitude could be made possible easily and quickly. This watch is also called the
„Hour angle watch“ because the most important part in determining the longitude, the hour angle from Greenwich can be directly read from the watch.
This watch has a round stainless steel case with a dimension of Ø 47.50 mm, and a thickness of 16.30 mm. It’s water resistant up to 3 bars (30 meters / 100 feet). The case back is transparent, and it weighs 126 grams.
The glass is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with several layers and an anti-reflective coating on the underside.
The movement type is automatic, Self-winding mechanical movement beating at 28'800 vibrations per hour and providing 46 hours of power reserve.
The face is made out of Alligator leather that has a brown color. The back of the strap is calf leather and has a buckle.
The next watch is going to be a pilot’s chronograph watch that was made by Hanhart.
The Pioneer MkII
Hanhart is a Swiss-German watch company that was established by Johann A. Hanhart. Today, it makes Bicompax chronographs and stopwatches.
These watches were designed in the late 1930s for German pilots and soon became very legendary. the now-iconic red accents on the bezel and chronograph pusher have become recognizable as a Hanhart trait and made popular in the United States.
The watch was made with the well-known automatic chronograph movement HAN3703. Asymmetrical button arrangement, 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hz, 27 jewels. Power reserve of min. 42 hours.
The case has a round shape that was made from stainless steel. The case size is 40 mm and has a height of 15 mm. It has a screwed-down case back and has a fluted rotating bezel. The glass is an Anti-reflective convex sapphire glass. The watch is waterproof up to 10 bars (100 meters / 330 feet).
The strap was made with calf leather with safety rivets and a tang-type buckle. There is an optional stainless steel bracelet as well. The dial color comes in off-white or black.
There was also a limited edition of this watch called “PIONEER Mk II 80 Jahre Jubilaeum” and it was dedicated to a very special anniversary: 80 years of the PIONEER Mk II. In 1940 the production of the two-pusher model “Calibre 41” started.
After reading about the pilot watches you might be interested in divers watches, and their background. You can find more blogs including that as well here, and the Dwiss premium timepieces that are in limited stock here.
The history behind pilot watches is as fascinating as its achievements. As we discussed these timepieces are easy to read even when you only take a quick look. The functions that we talked about are a must-have for pilots. Besides flying and functions, they look elegant and unique, so anyone can wear them even if you are not a pilot. Just like a divers watch.