Best Pilot & Aviation Watch Reviews

Updated February 17, 2021

During the early years of flight and aviation, pilots relied on one tool, in particular, to measure time, height and distance accurately: this was the pilot’s trusty watch.

Although modern computers and technology incorporated into a pilot’s dashboard were quick to do away with this once imperative tool, its legacy still lives on.

With both style and functionality, the aviation timepiece has secured its place in the world of watchmakers forever.

Since the pilot’s watch has gone through so many different transformations over the years, it can be hard to know where to start with the modern pieces we have at our fingertips today.

Whether it’s the traditional flight functionally you’re after, the overall look and style, or a balanced combination of everything, there will be an aviator watch for you on the market.

Let us take you through the best aviation and pilot watches there is and find the perfect wrist companion, for both the cockpit and everyday life.

See Our Best Aviation Watches

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1 Timex - Men's Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Watch
Best For Low Budgets
Timex Intelligent Fly-Back Aviation Watch
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2 Garmin - D2 Delta GPS Pilot Watch
Best Overall
Garmin D2 Delta GPS Pilot Watch
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3 Citizen - Men's JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Titanium Watch Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk Aviators Watch
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4
Best For Higher Budgets
4Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Aviation Watch
Hamilton - Khaki Aviation X-Wind Day Date
Best For Higher Budgets
Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Aviation Watch
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5 Victorinox - Airboss Mechanical Mach 9 Chronograph Watch Victorinox Airboss Mach 9 Pilot Watch
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6 AVI-8 - Hawker Harrier II' Quartz Stainless Steel and Leather Aviator Watch AVI-8' Hawker Harrier II' Aviator Watch
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7 Casio - G-Shock GravityMaster Radio Solar Watch Casio G-Shock GravityMaster Pilot Watch
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1. Timex Intelligent Fly-Back Aviation Watch

Highlights
  • Adjustable straps.
  • A date window on the watch face.
  • Water-resistant up to 330 feet.
  • Light up watch dial.
Best For Low Budgets
Timex - Men's Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Watch

Harking back to the days of traditional aviation watches, the Timex Intelligent Fly-Back Aviation watch combines the best of modern design with the look of a traditional 1930s or 40s watch.

With an adjustable leather strap and a solid steel watch face, the Timex Intelligent Fly-Back Aviation watch is both robust and slick.

The second time zone feature adds to the overall flying watch appeal, without the loss of fashionability.

Adding to the robustness of the watch is its ability to stay in use up to 330 feet of water.

This shows it can be worn in a variety of different weather conditions, not only in the pilot seat.

Specifications

Material:
Steel
Size:
43 mm x 12 mm
Movement:
Quartz
Case Diameter:
43 mm
Watch Strap:
Leather
Battery Life:
1-2 years

Pros

  • Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronograph Movement.
  • 2nd-time zone watch face.
  • Sturdy design.
  • Interchangeable strap.

Cons

  • Lower price means a lower quality of materials.

2. Garmin D2 Delta GPS Pilot Watch

Highlights
  • Vibration alerts.
  • Smartwatch features.
  • GPS tracking.
  • Compatible with a cellphone.
Best Overall
Garmin - D2 Delta GPS Pilot Watch

The Garmin D2 Delta GPS Pilot Watch has to be one of the top pilot watches on the market today.

This state of the art watch combines all the features you come to expect from ultra-modern flight watches and more.

With expertly designed features such as tracking the wearer’s heartbeat and blood oxygen levels, this is not only a great pilot watch but a perfect watch for keeping track of a user’s health.

Other features include an international GPS mapping app and the ability to upload up to 500 songs onto the watch, ideal if you enjoy listening to music on the go.

Although you pay a high price for the Garmin D2 Delta GPS Pilot Watch, it is money that comes back in drives for the number of added features that you will receive with this popular model.

Specifications

Material:
Titanium
Size:
51 x 51 x 17.5 mm
Movement:
Digital
Case Diameter:
30.4 mm
Watch Strap:
Leather
Battery Life:
Smartwatch mode: Up to 20 days

Pros

  • State of the art technology.
  • Store up to 500 songs.
  • Keeps track of pulse and blood oxygen.

Cons

  • High price tag.

3. Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk Aviators Watch

Highlights
  • Solar-powered charging.
  • Atomic timekeeping.
  • Titanium lightweight case.
  • Power reserve indicator.

Coming from popular Japanese watchmaker Citizen, this Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk Aviators Watch is made of sturdy stuff.

With a titanium watch face and a titanium watch strap, this model is sure to withstand the hardest wear and tear.

Harking back to the original aeronautical watches, this watch has a somewhat overcrowded face, giving the weather everything from the time to the date, battery level, and time in different global zones.

As it uses atomic timekeeping, the Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk Aviators watch will only need to be set once by the user and the time shall adjust with the changing of the year.

Battery replacement is also deemed unnecessary thanks to the solar-powered battery installed in this model, allowing it to charge up as you wear it.

Specifications

Material:
Titanium
Size:
48 mm x 16 mm
Movement:
Japanese Quartz
Case Diameter:
48 mm
Watch Strap:
Titanium
Battery Life:
Solar-powered

Pros

  • High-quality materials.
  • Luminescent handles and watch face.
  • Multiple watch hands.
  • Strong strap.

Cons

  • Mineral crystal window that scratches easier than other materials.

4. Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Aviation Watch

Highlights
  • Silver-tone stainless steel case
  • 330 feet water resistance.
  • Rotating bezel.
  • Top of the range make.
Best For Higher Budgets
Hamilton - Khaki Aviation X-Wind Day Date

Coming from top Swiss watch creator Hamilton, the Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Aviation watch has become one of the most desired luxury aviation watches on the market and it is easy to see why.

Apart from being the watch worn in countless Hollywood blockbusters, the Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Aviation watch has a style and substance that is unlike any other.

From its silver-tone stainless steel case to its rotating bezel, there is much to love about this watch.

Keeping with the traditional aviation watch, this Hamilton watch comes equipped with an elegant leather strap that complements the stainless steel and blue watch face perfectly to create something that will look stylish on any wrist it meets.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
45 mm x 22 mm
Movement:
H-21 (Valjoux 7750 base)
Case Diameter:
45 mm
Watch Strap:
Leather
Battery Life:
2-5 years

Pros

  • Expertly designed swiss maker.
  • Ideal as a pilot’s watch, calculating wind direction and speed.
  • Top of the range watch.

Cons

  • High price tag.

5. Victorinox Airboss Mach 9 Pilot Watch

Highlights
  • Self-winding watch.
  • Water-resistant to 330 feet.
  • Strong and robust.
  • Scratch-resistant.

Bringing a look that is a little different from your normal aviation watches, the Victorinox Airboss Mach 9 Pilot watch combines the intricate workings of a Victorinox with a Swiss Army military stay facade.

With scratch-resistant and anti-reflective elements to the watch, you are sure to keep it in the fantastic condition it is bought in for many years to come.

The flexible fabric strap is both maneuverable and sturdy, offering both comfort and reliability.

The red and black watch face is a step away from the traditional look of an aviation watch and offers something a little more stylish to your average timepiece.

A push-button deployment clasp and a screw-in back case makes replacing the battery and other parts far easier than other designs.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
45 mm x 14.6 mm
Movement:
Swiss automatic
Case Diameter:
45 mm
Watch Strap:
Nylon
Battery Life:
2-3 years

Pros

  • Anti-Reflective Sapphire Crystal.
  • Screw-in back case for ease.
  • Flexible fabric strap.
  • Easy black and red legible pattern.

Cons

  • Expensive compared to similar models.

6. AVI-8' Hawker Harrier II' Aviator Watch

Highlights
  • Perfectly blanched dial. 
  • Sword-shaped hands.
  • 165ft of water resistance.
  • Linked with aviation history.

The AVI-8 ‘Hawker Harrier II’ Aviator watch really takes the aviation theme seriously.

Combining the look of a traditional pilot watch, with nods to the RAF’s Hawker Harrier, the overall theme of this watch is one that screams aviation.

Combined with expertly crafted materials, this makes for a watch that can be enjoyed both by pilot watch lovers and general watch wearers.

With a stylish concoction of leather and nylon, the strap offers comfortable wearing and a sturdy design.

The perfectly balanced dial and sword-shaped hand offers that aviation look and contributes to that Modern feel with the look of a traditional aviation watch.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel
Size:
43.9 mm x 13 mm
Movement:
Japanese quartz
Case Diameter:
13 mm
Watch Strap:
Leather and Nylon
Battery Life:
2-3 years

Pros

  • Large side button for easy use.
  • The leather strap is sturdy yet durable.
  • Modern feel with the look of a traditional watch.

Cons

  • Synthetic crystal.

7. Casio G-Shock GravityMaster Pilot Watch

Highlights
  • Carbon fiber case.
  • Withstands wear and tear really easy.
  • Solar-powered.
  • Multiple subdials.

Bringing the aviation watch into the 21st century the Casio G-Shock Gravity Master Pilot Watch has all the features you’d enjoy from a modern watch with a subtle nod to the pilot’s watch.

From Bluetooth connectivity to your phone to scratch-resistant modern materials, it really is a modern creation. The bulkiness may put some off, but this only proves the extra durability that this model of watch can offer users.

There is also little reason to replace the battery as the Casio G-Shock Gravity Master Pilot Watch is powered by solar energy.

The multiple dials and subdials also give the wearer that extra boost of information that is often lacking in other aviation watches.

Specifications

Material:
Carbon Fiber
Size:
46.4 mm x 16.9 mm
Movement:
Japanese Quartz
Case Diameter:
46.4 mm
Watch Strap:
Carbon Fiber
Battery Life:
Solar-powered

Pros

  • Weighted and robust.
  • Modern make and design.
  • No having to replace the battery.

Cons

  • Can feel bulky on your wrist.

Pilot Watch Buying Guide

What Is a Pilot Watch? 

A pilot watch, as the name suggests, is a watch designed and manufactured to be worn by pilots. 

During the early days of flight, especially military flight, accurate and detailed flight paths were hard to maintain, a pilot’s watch was in fact the first ‘onboard flight computer’ and enabled pilots to keep to a mathematically correct course. 

Born from this military and aviation necessity, the pilot’s watch transferred with ease into something more of a fashion item and the entire pilot watch look continued to sell and be desired. 

There are many features that define a pilot and aviation watch, both from a practical point of view and an aesthetic one. 

These notable features include a large and legible face, dial, and hands, which originally enabled pilots to tell the time quickly and easily in bad weather or during night flights.

Pilot watches also tend to have a luminosity quality, again, enabling them to be seen in all sorts of conditions.

Another common feature is an oversized winding crown- a throwback from when pilots wore gloves and would need larger crowns enabling them to turn them without taking off their gloves.   

Pilots watches are also usually identified by their dual time or GMT function, ensuring pilots are covered when crossing time zones.  

Aviation Watch Brands

Although most top watch brands compete to create a range of pilot watches, there are a few notable brands that have made a specialty out of crafting pilot watches. 

Some of these brands started the manufacture of pilot watches in their infancy, while others are far more modern creations.

The Hamilton watch brand is a Swiss watch brand that was once based in the US. Their variety of watches draw inspiration from air forces such as the RAF and many more. 

Combining the elegance of modern watches with the style and aesthetic of traditional aviation watches.

Another top aviation watch brand is the Breitling SA brand. Again based in Switzerland, Breitling SA has crafted watches for over a hundred years and specializes in precision-made chronometer watches, designed for aviators. 

These watches are crafted to be true tools of the air as well as great timepieces on the wearer’s wrist. 

Design & Size

The design of an aviator watch is less structured around fashionability and based more on its functionality. 

Originally designed to be worn by pilots, aviation watches were typically all crafted to be used as a tool during flight.

This being said, the design of the watch face is usually large, owing to the fact they need to be seen clearly at a quick glance. 

For example, it’s not uncommon to see a 40mm pilot watch up for sale.

An aviator style watch also features other oversized elements such as large numbers and hands, which is something seen throughout modern aviation watches. 

Along with the oversizing of certain features on the watch face, aviator watches are often designed with a bulky outsized ratcheted crown, so much so it can sometimes be called an ‘onion’.

The pilot watch’s design continues to vary as more modern examples build on the older features and designs. 

The invention of onboard computers and far more accurate onboard time calculators have made the wristwatch obsolete to many modern-day pilots, meaning the designs are beginning to be far more focused on stylized versions rather than functionality.     

Pilot Watch Movement

The inner workings of a watch, or movement as it is known, are the brains and organs of a watch, enabling them to keep time and keep it accurate. 

There are a number of different watch movements, all depending on the make and model of the watch.

The first and oldest of these movements is a mechanical movement. 

A mechanical watch requires users to manually wind the watch up regularly  – an action that releases tension in the movement and causes the second hand to move in a smooth sweeping motion.

An automatic pilot watch on the other hand relies on the kinetic movement of the wearer to wind the movement inside. 

This automatic movement means that the user does not have to wind the watch up on a regular basis. We have a review just for kinetic watches.

A quartz watch uses natural silicon known as quartz to keep the hands tricking round in conjunction with a battery. 

The quartz movement causes the second hand to move in individual ticks, rather than a smooth movement.

Pricing Range

When it comes to the pricing of pilot watches, there can be a huge gap between the lowest price and the highest. 

An affordable pilot watch is easily obtainable and comes with all the aviation watch features.

Anything from a hundred pounds to multiple of hundreds can be seen on the aviation watch market. 

The higher price tags are far more common among the bigger brand names and include a range of features that cannot be found on lower-priced models.

Vintage and collectible aviation watches can fetch far higher prices still. 

This is based on the fact they were worn during an era where pilot watches were still used by the pilots, something that is highly desirable for collectors around the globe.

Our Verdict

As we can see from this collection of the best pilot and aviation watches, the pilot style watch is still far from going out of fashion and continues to be appealing to watch wearers everywhere.

Choosing the right one for you from this collection of watches all depends on your own requirements and tastes.

If you are looking for something that is going to be used as watches for pilots, then there are a selection of models that can be used as actual flying time aids.

If you are however just seeking a watch that has the stylized appearance of a pilot’s watch, there are also watches of this type.

Understanding your own wants when it comes to an aviator watch will break down the choice considerably, and leave you with a small selection of watches that will be ideal for you.

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