This selection comprises watches inspired by aviation, but without the Type A and Type B B-Uhr watches that are so numerous that they have categories for themselves, and likewise the early pilot’s watch genre that is also well-populated. This top ten list is in ascending price order.
1. Torsten Nagengast Timeline i16 Aviator Basic pilot’s watch
German company Torsten Nagengast Timeline have introduced the i16 Aviator Basic pilot’s watch, a lower-priced version of their i16 Aviator pilot’s watches, with a distinctive case, a classic no-logo pilot’s watch dial, and an Asian-made hand-wound movement. The 43 mm watch is based on a cockpit instrument from the Soviet fighter Polikarpov I-16. The hand-wound movement has been rotated through 180 degrees so that the crown is on the left, and the continuous seconds subdial is at the top. Torsten Nagengast Timeline say that the watch has an Asian movement, so presumably something like a Chinese-made Seagull ST-3600, a clone of the ETA 6497, with basic finish. Price €349 without VAT, €415 inclusive of VAT. Read more here.
2. Hamilton Khaki Air Race
Hamilton created the Khaki Air Race watch to celebrate their sponsorship of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, for which they are official timer from this year, 2017. Its numerals, hour markers and hands are hollowed out and filled with SuperLuminova. The Hamilton Khaki Air Race is in two versions, one with a silver dial with blue numerals, and one with a dark, anthracite grey dial with orange numerals. There are two sizes, a unisex 38 mm, and 42 mm. The H-10 movement is the self-winding ETA Powermatic 80, ETA CO7.111, with 80 hours power reserve, double with respect to the 40 hours of the ETA 2824 movements. The 42 mm versions of the Hamilton Khaki Air Race cost €695 with leather strap, €745 with steel bracelet. The 38 mm versions cost €645 with leather strap, €695 with steel bracelet. Read more here.
3. Mido Multifort Escape
The Mido Multifort Escape has a lot of pilot’s watch features, such as the simple dial layout with Arabic numerals, hands with SuperLuminova, and large conical crown, but it has other elements that give it extra character, for example the vertical stripes pattern on the dial. It could be described as a “sports pilot’s watch” with its water resistance of 10 bar, 100 metres. The case is in stainless steel, 44 mm in diameter and 11 mm thick, given an antique-style patina by means of a PVD coating. The display caseback reveals the self-winding Calibre 80.611 movement, which is the ETA C07 or Powermatic 80, an updated version of the 2824-2. It has a power reserve of 80 hours, and runs at 3 Hertz. The watch is made in three versions, all at the same price, €810. Available from July 2017. Read more here.
4. Matwatches AG5 2 Aviation
The MAT (Mer-Air-Terre) AG5 2 Aviation combines features of diving watches, with water resistance of 300 metres and a unidirectional rotating bezel, and pilot’s watches, with black dial, and hands, numerals and hour indices coated with SuperLuminova for good visibility at low light levels. It’s a large watch at 44 mm diameter, and the unidirectional bezel can be manoeuvred even if you are wearing gloves. It is supplied with three interchangeable straps, in khaki canvas, black rubber and black leather. It is powered by the ETA 2824-2 movement, running at 4 Hertz with 42 hours power reserve. Price €1,600. Read more here.
5. Sinn 857 UTC VFR
The 857 UTC VFR by Sinn is a pilot’s watch, certified by the recent German standard DIN 8330, specially devised for watches used in aviation, where they may be subjected to magnetic fields, positive and negative variations in pressure and temperature, and G-forces. In addition to these qualities, this watch has a dial of superb clarity, with generous areas of SuperLuminova on the hands and dial markings. The solution adopted for the date window is neat and unobtrusive. The rotating bezel with one-minute ratcheting makes it possible to time events to the nearest minute. The short GMT hand reads off a 24-hour scale. The beadblasted steel case is fairly large at 43 mm diameter and 12 mm thickness, and it is finished with Sinn’s Tegiment process that improves the steel’s scratch resistance. The crown is screw-down, and the solid caseback is screw-in: these factors contribute to the watch’s water resistance rating of 20 bar, 200 metres. The watch is powered by the self-winding ETA 2893-2, which runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz. Power reserve is about 42 hours. Price €1,990 with leather strap, €2,220 with steel bracelet, €2,210 with silione strap. Read more here.
6. Stowa Flieger DIN Professional
Stowa are working on bringing pilot’s watches up-to-date, with models that do not just look back to half a century ago, but also forward. The new Flieger DIN Professional is the first watch by Stowa to be made in compliance with DIN 8330, the standard that defines the characteristics of a contemporary pilot’s watch. The watch has an innovative dial: the classical triangle at 12 o’clock is replaced by an open A, so that the minute hand completes the triangle once an hour. The dial is pure clarity, and you can choose whether to have the date window or not. It’s a large watch at 46.8 mm, thickness 13.9 mm, and on the wrist it has that sense of solid presence that is characteristic of the larger Flieger watches, weighing 122 grams even though the case is in titanium. Water resistance is 20 bar, 200 metres. The rotating bezel can be used for countdowns with the minutes or seconds hand. The Stowa Flieger DIN Professional is powered by the ETA 2824-2 in its highest version, chronometer quality. It costs €2,150 including V.A.T. Read more here.
7. Bremont Airco Mach 1/BK
Bremont’s Airco Mach 1/BK is close to the classic Type A pilot’s watch, but has several features that give it its own character, such as the small triangle on the orange seconds hand that echoes the triangle at 12 o’clock, the orange tip of the minutes hand, a date window at 3 o’clock, a crown whose design differs from the usual conical shape, and a sapphire caseback. The 40 mm case, 12.5 mm thick, has a water resistance of 100 metres (10 bar), and a calf leather or NATO strap, or a steel bracelet. The BE-92AE self-winding movement is based on the ETA 2892, with a Bremont rotor, and COSC-certified. It runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hertz) and has a power reserve of 38 hours. The Airco Mach 1 costs €2,995 plus VAT with leather or NATO strap, and €3,395 plus VAT with steel bracelet. Available from June 2017. Read more here.
8. Oris Altimeter Rega Limited Edition
The Oris Altimeter Rega Limited Edition is one of the very few pilot’s watches to have a specialist pilot’s function. It has a mechanical altimeter based on an aneroid barometer that can display altitude to an accuracy of about 30 metres. It’s a large watch at 47 mm diameter, and it’s thick as well, with the mechanism for the altimeter below the Oris self-winding Calibre 733 movement. This is based on the Sellita SW 200-1, and it provides the time functions. There are two crowns, one at 2 o’clock for adjusting time and date, and one at 4 o’clock for the altimeter function. On the dial there are two scales, one for pressure, and one for altitude. The yellow tip of the hand indicates height, the red tip indicates air pressure, and they are simply the extremities of a single hand that runs under the central section of the dial. Rotating the crown rotates the two scales and allows calibration. It provides readings up to about 4,500 metres, 15,000 feet, which corresponds to the height up to which a sports pilot can fly before he needs supplemental oxygen. The watch costs 3,950 Swiss francs. Read more here.
9. Breitling Avenger Hurricane Military
The Avenger Hurricane Military by Breitling is super-tough and super-large with a 50 mm case in Breitlight, a proprietary carbon polymer that is lightweight and scratch-resistant. The bezel, complete with its four rider tabs, rotates unidirectionally. So you can use the zero marker on the bezel, with its dot of beige SuperLuminova, for countdowns using one of the hands. The case is water-resistant to 100 metres which means that it can be used in conditions of water spray and splashes, for surface swimming, snorkelling and water-skiing. Not for diving. As well as the unusual 24-hour display, there is a complete quarter-second scale for use with the chronograph seconds hand, and a hundredths scale on the inner bezel flange. Hour and minute hands, and the numerals and hour markers, have a coating of beige SuperLuminova. The watch is powered by the Breitling Calibre B12 movement, a self-winding chronograph calibre designed and built in-house, and it has a column wheel controlling the chronograph functions, with a vertical clutch. Limited edition of 1,000 pieces, price €8,510. Read more here.
10. Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Breitling’s Navitimer Rattrapante has a new in-house B03 split-seconds chronograph movement, self-winding, 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz. It is COSC chronometer-certified, and it operates using the most prestigious chronograph layout, column wheel and vertical clutch. The dial is the classic Navitimer, with bidirectional rotating bezel providing a circular slide rule for calculations, conversions, percentages and so forth. When the two chronograph seconds hands are superposed, their counterweights form the Breitling B-and-anchor logo. The watch comes in two versions, steel and gold, with a range of straps available, leather, crocodile, rubber, and a metal bracelet. Price from €9,900 in the steel version with leather strap, and from €28,400 in the red gold version. Read more here.