Pilot’s watches are instantly recognizable, with hallmarks including a reference triangle at 12 o’clock, black or dark dial, luminescent coating on hands and indices, and a large crown that can be manoeuvred even when wearing pilot’s gloves. Today there are many ways of interpreting the pilot’s watch, from versions that are virtually re-editions of traditional Air Force patterns, to new contemporary styles. In this selection, we include some recent time-only models priced up to about €2,000, listed in ascending price order.
1. Kienzle Flieger Automatic
The Kienzle Flieger Automatic is a modern interpretation of the classic pilot’s watch, with a minimalist dial, luminescent hands and indices, and an unobtrusive date window at 3 o’clock. The stainless steel case has a grey PVD finish, with a nylon strap that goes well with the 10 atm water resistance that makes it a good all-weather sports watch. It is powered by the Miyota 8215 automatic movement. €250, available in stores in Italy and online at https://www.kienzle.it. Here is the dedicated page for this watch. Read more about the Kienzle brand in this post.
2. Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35K1
This automatic sports watch by Seiko has a lot of the pilot’s watch aesthetics though the dial is a bit crowded with the various hour and minute markings, Seiko name and logo, and the day-date window. It has the Seiko 4R36 self-winding movement in a case providing 10 bar, 100 metres water resistance, with a domed Hardlex mineral watchglass and a display caseback. Hands and indices are coated with LimiBrite luminescent paint. Nylon strap. €270, available online or in Seiko stores worldwide. Read more on the Seiko website. Here is a link to the dedicated page for the Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35K1.
3. Panzera Hornet Flieger 46
This modern pilot’s watch by Australian brand Panzera is distinctive and very legible, with 46 mm case size, skeletonized hands and an altimeter-style date window. It has an automatic NH35 movement made by Seiko, running at 3 Hertz. Prices from €280 + tax. Read more about the Panzera Hornet Flieger in this post. There is a hands-on review here. Purchase at the Panzera website.
4. Wancher Flugel
Wancher is a Japanese company founded in 1990 with the objective of manufacturing tough timepieces that are also aesthetically attractive. Some of their pieces incorporate the Urushi and Maki-e techniques used in the pens that they also make. The Wancher Flugel has all the simplicity of the traditional Flieger watches, with the addition of a date window. It is powered by the automatic Miyota 9015 movement running at 4 Hertz. The case has a domed sapphire watchglass and a 10 atm water resistance. €300 approx. Read more on the Wancher website. Here is the link to the dedicated web page for the Wancher Flugel.
5. Laco Neapel 39 Pilot’s Watch
The distinctive feature of the Laco Neapel 39 is the orange colour highlight, on hands, dial indications and stitching on the black calf leather strap. The orange coating on the dial is in SuperLumiNova providing good visibility in low light levels. The watch is powered by the Laco 21 movement, which is a Miyota 821a automatic movement with personalized details, power reserve 42 hours, and the stop seconds function. The case is in matt stainless steel with a sapphire crystal, 39 mm diameter, 11.55 mm thickness, water resistance 5 atm. €340 including tax, excluding shipping. Read more on the Laco website. Here is the dedicated web page for the Laco Neapel 39 Pilot’s Watch.
6. Undone Aero Commando
Undone is a brand founded in 2014, based in Hong Kong, and their range includes the Aero Commando whose 40 mm case has a rotating bezel that can be locked using the crown at 2 o’clock. The watch is powered by the Seiko NH35A or NH39 automatic movement. The case is quite thick at 15 mm and apparently the watchglass is in Lexan polycarbonate. Water resistance is 10 bar, 100 metres. You can order the watch on the Undone website which offers many personalization options, with different dials, the possibility of adding your initials on the dial, baton or syringe hands, red or blue seconds hand, a choice of straps, and even your own photo on the caseback instead of the usual transparent display window. €393, shipping included. Take a look at the Undone website. Here is the direct link to the dedicated web page for Undone Aero Commando.
7. Borealis Icarus Cerakote Pilot’s Watch
The Borealis Pilot’s Watch is 38 mm in diameter, with a classic pilot’s dial comprising X1 Old Radium lume on dial numerals and hands, a quick-setting date display at 3 o’clock, a sapphire watchglass and a solid caseback with a mermaid engraving. It is fitted with the Swiss-made Ronda 150 automatic movement, the first mechanical movement made by Ronda after decades of solely quartz movements. It runs at 4 Hertz, has a 40-hour power reserve, with a rotor that winds the movement bidirectionally. Case, crown and buckle are treated with Cerakote H170, a thin-film ceramic coating that provides enhanced durability, hardness and scratch resistance. The crown is screw-down and the watch has a 100-metre water resistance. $524, approximately €452. Available for pre-order at the Borealis website, deliveries from end October 2021. Borealis was founded in 2013 by Maria Ivanova (Portugal), with help from Carlos Carvalho from another dive-watch microbrand, Prometheus.
8. Steinhart Nav B-Uhr 44 Handaufzug
This 44-mm watch combines the classic B-Uhr Type A pattern with a hand-wound movement which will appeal to people who prefer the view of this sort of calibre through the caseback. The small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock doesn’t correspond to the pattern but was made necessary by this type of movement, the Swiss-made Unitas 6497-1 which runs at 18,000 vibrations per hour, 2.5 Hertz. The watch has a domed sapphire watchglass with double anti-reflective coating, blued hands, and luminescent coating on hands and dial markings. €470 inclusive of tax, plus shipping. Purchase at the Steinhart website. Here is the link to the dedicated web page for the Steinhart Nav B-Uhr 44 Handaufzug.
9. Iron Annie Flight Control 51565
Flight Control 51565 by Iron Annie, one of the brands operated by German company POINTtec, is a good-looking interpretation of the B-Uhr Type B pattern, with conical crown and a 42-mm stainless steel case with satin finish, 5 atm water resistance. Its most distinctive feature is the luminescent old radium coating used on the dial, so that in the dark, the entire dial glows blue, providing a contrast with the black digits. The ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW 200 automatic movement can be viewed through the caseback. €499 inclusive of VAT, plus shipping. Shop online at the Iron Annie website. Here is the dedicated web page for the Iron Annie Flight Control 51565.
10. Bulova Pilot A15
The Bulova Pilot A15 is an interesting tribute to a 1944 Bulova U.S. Army Air Force issue, and its distinctive feature are two internal rotating bezels, one marked in minutes, the other in hours. By using the two crowns at 2 and 4 o’clock, you can move the bezels so that you can add a GMT function with the hour bezel, and use both to time events lasting up to 12 hours. The watch is powered by the Miyota 8S26 automatic movement. It is provided with a vintage-look distressed leather strap. Water resistance is the standard 30 metres. €499, further details on the Bulova website. Here is the dedicated web page for the Bulova Pilot A15.
11. Perseo Nighthawk
Perseo watches are available at retail outlets in Italy. The Nighthawk has a distinctive pilot’s watch design, with conical crown, neatly disguised date window, black or blue dial, and a 44 mm case. It has a Sellita SW400 automatic movement. Perseo Nighthawk costs €698. Read more in this post, or visit the Perseo website.
12. Farer Morgan pilot’s watch
Farer’s pilot’s watch is reminiscent of B-Uhr Type B designs. One of its technical features is a soft-iron inner cage providing anti-magnetic protection. The watch is powered by the Swiss-made Sellita SW200-1 calibre which runs at 4 Hertz and has the stop-seconds function, power reserve 38 hours. The case is 39.5 mm in diameter, 12.5 mm thick, with domed sapphire watchglass, water resistance 5 atm. Farer is a British brand that was launched in 2015, and it receives consistently good customer reviews. €880. Read more about the Farer Morgan pilot’s watch on the dedicated web page.
13. Laco Westerland Pilot Watch Original
Laco’s classic pilot watch is not a 2021 novelty, but I couldn’t avoid including a piece from the Laco range that expresses the Type A Flieger to such perfection. Classic unbranded dial, 45 mm case diameter, large crown, solid caseback, hand-wound movement (probably ETA 2801.2 Elaboré), pure pilot’s DNA. €1,130 plus tax. Purchase on the Laco website’s dedicated page.
14. Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic
The limited-edition Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic has a hinged caseback that can be opened by pressing a button at 4 o’clock, to reveal a display caseback showing the movement. Other classic pilot’s watches features include the generous case diameter of 44 mm, the large fluted crown, vintage-colour luminescent paint and a thick calf leather strap. It is powered by the AL-525 calibre, adapted from the Sellita SW200-1. €1,195. Read more in this post, or see the Alpina website.
15. Sinn 104 St Sa I MG
Sinn’s classic pilot watch is designed for maximum clarity, and it presents time, date and day of the week on a shimmering metallic green dial, with luminous hands and indices. The pilot’s bezel with luminous reference triangle has minute ratcheting and enables intervals of time to be measured using the minute hand. The 41 mm case has a water resistance of 20 bar, 200 metres, and it is also resistant to low pressure. The watch is powered by the Sellita SW 220-1 calibre, which can be viewed through the transparent caseback. Prices from €1,280, inclusive of VAT, plus shipping (free in Germany). More information from the Sinn website.
16. Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 36
Stowa consistently makes some of the most attractive pilots watches of all, and they are brilliant at finding the best combination of historic patterns and seamless modern design. The Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 36 has a 36-mm bronze case that works to perfection with the old radium SuperLumiNova, blued hands and hand-stitched leather strap. You can choose a dial with or without logo, with or without date, and you can also choose between an automatic ETA 2824-1 or a hand-wound Sellita SW215-1 movement. In both cases, the movement can be viewed through the display caseback. The case is just 9.2 mm thick in the hand-wound version, 10.2 mm for the automatic. Purchase at the Stowa website, price €1,290 inclusive of VAT, plus shipping. Here is the dedicated web page for the Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 36.
17. Stowa Flieger Classic Sport
The Stowa Flieger Classic Sport won the “Sport Watch of the Year” category in the competition run by Armbanduhren magazine, in front of the Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Mosquito and the Borgward Big Forty-One Chronograph. It is a very practical watch with 200 metres water resistance and extra-thick sapphire watchglass. The dial can be configured in various options, with or without date and logo, and in some alternative colours. The movement is the Sellita SW200 automatic calibre. €1,350 inclusive of VAT, plus shipping. See the dedicated web page for the Stowa Flieger Classic Sport, or visit the Stowa website.
18. Guinand Series 31E
The Guinand Series 31E is a classic pilot’s watch, 42 mm in diameter, 11.95 mm thick, 10 bar water resistance, with an HS81 hand-wound movement based on the Unitas 6497 Lépine, running at 2.5 Hertz. This pocket watch movement has been converted to central seconds by means of a mechanism designed by Helmut Sinn, and it has an unusual second-stop function. On most watches with the second-stop (hacking) function, the second hand stops when the crown is pulled out. In the “second lock” version featured on this piece, when the crown is pulled out, the second hand continues running until it reaches the top of the dial, and then it stops automatically. Hands and dial indications are coated with luminescent paint. The watch is entirely made in Germany. €1,549 inclusive of VAT, plus shipping (free to German addresses). See more on the Guinand website. Here is the dedicated web page for the Guinand Series 31E.
19. Fortis Flieger Midnight Blue F-41
This modern interpretation of the pilot’s watch is attractive for the vertically-brushed dark blue dial. The piece has a lot of practical features such as the bi-directional 24-click rotating bezel that can be used for timing, 200 metres water resistance and screw-in crown. The brand is dedicating attention to sustainability, with a recycled stainless steel case and a leather strap made from sustainable resources. The watch is powered by the UW-30 self-winding movement, 38 hours power reserve. €2,050 inclusive of tax. Read more about Fortis Flieger pilot’s watches in this post, or see the Fortis website.
20. Longines Spirit
The Longines Spirit has some elements of the classic pilot’s watch, and it is available in different versions, 40 or 42 mm, in various dial colours and with different straps and bracelets. Detailing is excellent, with touches like the diamond tip on the second hand that matches the index pips. Water resistance is 10 bars. The automatic movement by ETA runs at 3.5 Hertz and it is chronometer-certified. Solid caseback. Prices from €2,050. Read more in this post or visit the Longines website.
21. Oris TLP Limited Edition
The Oris TLP is a limited-edition version of the brand’s celebrated ProPilot watch, 44 mm in diameter, with a grey PVD stainless steel finish. The green dial is a tribute to TLP pilot’s overalls, and the green strap is in Ventile, a high-performance textile invented during the Second World War and used by RAF pilots. Its tight weave made it ideal for helping pilots’ survival when they had to bale out over the sea. The movement is based on the self-winding Sellita SW 220-1 which runs at 4 Hertz. The watch provides day and date indications with letters and digits that are larger than normal. €2,050 inclusive of tax. Read more on the Oris website.
22. Ball Engineer Master II Waco Glider
Ball makes watches which use micro gas tubes containing tritium for constant luminosity, 100 times brighter than SuperLumiNova, without the need to recharge it from the sun. The Ball Engineer Master II Waco Glider is a 1,943 limited edition, with the hand-wound Ball RR2102 movement based on the ETA 2836-2 inside a large 46 mm case. The watchglass is in sapphire crystal, and likewise the display caseback, which is protected by a hinged steel caseback that is opened by a button next to the oversize crown. Calf leather strap plus a green Nato strap. €2,282. Read more on the Ball website.
23. Oris Okavanga Air Rescue Edition
Based on the Oris ProPilot, the Oris Okavanga Air Rescue Edition has an attractive textured green dial inspired by the grasses of the Okavanga delta, and a green fabric strap. The 41 mm case has a domed sapphire watchglass, a steel caseback and a screw-in crown, for a water resistance of 10 atm (100 metres). The movement is based on the self-winding Sellita SW 220-1, modified with an enlarged date window. Power reserve is 38 hours. This 2,011-piece limited edition costs €2,150. Read more on the Oris website.