Best Aviation Watches: What do helicopter pilots use?

There are lots of watches available for pilots. Breitling, Citizen, Omega, IWC … and even “smartwatches” ! But which one is considered the best?

Of course, Breitling is often the first one to come up in a conversation about pilots’ watches. Why ? Well their watches is indeed amongst the most popular due to their design, quality, and also since the company practically invented the “pilot watch” style.

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Aerospace

Breitling introduced the first aviator watch to the world in 1952: the Navitimer. With its sliding calculating bezel, which allowed the pilot to make time/speed/distance, and other calculations, this watch became very popular, very quickly. The Navitimer turned out to be a very performant and reliable watch for pilots.The Aerospace is now considered by pilots as a model of efficiency. The many functions are offered with a user-friendly logic. Functions include a 1/100th of a second chronograph, countdown, 2nd time zone, alarm and audible time signal indications, etc.

The Aerospace is part of the Breitling Professional series, alongside the Chronospace, Chronospace Automatic and Emergency. All of these watches have the stylish look associated with Breitling, as well as the functionality wanted by professionals.

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Khaki pilot – Hamilton

What about other brands?

Hamilton also offers an aviator watch: the Hamilton Khaki, known as being very durable and quite stylish. However, it doesn’t have a E6-B flight computer, used by pilots to calculate time/speed/distance, nor a multi time zone display. So it is indeed a nice looking watch, but it would not be the ideal watch if you are looking for useful features to use in the cockpit. To get a more useful watch as a pilot, take a look at the Hamilton X-Copter, which was made for helicopter pilots, especially with the MTOW calculator.

PULSAR also presents the TECH-GEAR AVIATOR WATCH, directly aimed at pilots. It has all the features pilots are looking for in a watch. It has the bi-directional E6B pilot’s slide rule bezel, an Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer; 1/100th second stopwatch measures elapsed time up to 1,000 hours, it’s water resistant, has a backlight, and it’s very affordable. (Between 235-270$).

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Smartwatch

Have you heard of the “smartwatch”?
Smartwatches were not designed for pilots, but since the iPad has become a very valuable tools for many pilots, we could imagine the smartwatch being widely used as well. Sony came out with a SmartWatch for Android, but soon, the “iwatch” could also be available, since Apple would be working on its very own version of the smartwatch. Samsung, Google and LG would also be working on different versions of a smart watch.

Omega is also very popular among pilots, especially with the Speedmaster Chronograph model. Did you know that in 1969, Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface wearing an OMEGA Speedmaster Professional watch ?

For women

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Omega for Women

With women’s needs in mind, OMEGA has also extended the classic line with a selection of watches designed especially for them: the 38 mm Speedmaster Ladies’ Chronograph Chronometers.

The G SHOCK AVIATION collection, by Casio, is also to consider if you want to go at a lower price range. It has a cool look, but doesn’t have a lot of the useful features used by pilots. It is a very durable watch due to its wrapping with something called “Alpha Gel”.

Torgeon also offers great watches for pilots, for example the T01 serie, featuring among other things an E6-B flight computer. The Torgeon T7 on the other hand, integrates the E6-B flight computer with dual time zones. Indeed, the T7 aviators’ watch includes a black dial, which allows monitoring of a 2nd time zone. It also has a scratch-resistant crystal.

 

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Top Gun Miramar

Finally, we could not write about pilot’s watches without talking about the IWC pilot’s watches collection. In their pilot’s collection, there are chronograph watches, including the famous Top Gun Miramar watches. By the way, did you know that the name comes from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where Top Gun pilots are trained?

Each one of the IWC watches looks handsome. When it comes to the Top Gun Miramar, it has a military-style design, and features a flyback function as well as a protection against magnetic fields. It represents a modern re-design of the classis IWC pilot’s watches. However, some might find the “Top Gun” branding cheesy.

After reviewing several watches offered for pilots, and reading reviews and comments from the users, we can come to the conclusion that there isn’t really a “best” watch overall. It really depends on everyone’s needs and preferences, as well as their budget.

What do you think? Which watch do you have? Or which one would you really like to have?

 

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