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Orient Sports Automatic Pilot under $200What Is a Pilot Watch?
So, what makes a pilot watch a pilot watch? First off, unlike dive watches, there exists no universal standard for a pilot’s watch in terms of a measurable capability to withstand altitude, pressure, or g-forces, but there are universally accepted features a pilot’s watch should have. A good pilot’s watch should really have excellent legibility with high contrast numerals (white or cream). Arabic numbers on the face instead of simple markers are customary so as not to impede legibility for the wearer while flying. Excellent lume is also vital for low light and nighttime visibility. A darker dial and lighter hands and numerals are ideal for contrast, and the crystal should be made of mineral crystal or sapphire glass and also have anti-reflective properties for glare reduction. A good pilot’s watch should also have at least a 40mm diameter or larger, upwards of 46mm. This adds to the easy legibility. The crown should also be big and easy to grip with gloves.
no arguments on this one. Nice looking watch
Torgoen T16 Gunmetal Sapphire - $368
kinda tramples on that definition of a Pilot watch at the top of the article; I'll pass.
AVI-8 Avon Automatic Black Arrows - $425
Another one that totally misses that "must be legible" part.
Laco Altenburg 42 - $460
Kind of hard to argue with the Godfather of Pilot watches. They've got a whole catalog of pilot watches.
CWC RAF Pilot Chronograph - $778
Another chronograph and this time it's quartz. clean look but I'll pass
Archimede Pilot 42 Bronze - $1,228
Awesome looking watch but looks so much like a Laco and costs a good bit more. Bronze does not have to cost more than stainless steel.
Farer Lander Midnight. - $1,450
This website really loves this Farer brand; I suspect money changing hands. Colorful, but pricey. I would've skipped the date window. The tiny bronze chapter ring is a neat touch but that price gives me pause.
Longines Avigation BigEye. - $2,625
Another chronograph but looks nice.
Oris Big Crown Pro Pilot Chronograph. - $3,400
My favorite among the chronographs listed as it is the most legible but also expensive. The coin edge bezel is a nice touch; is this the inspiration for all the cables on Invicktas?
Sinn 717 SZ-01 Chronograph - $5,160
Super high contrast and a twist on the traditional "B" Flieger.
Bremont ALT1-C Griffon. - $6,295
Sharp looking; the pictures on the Bremont website are awesome.
IWC Big Pilot 43 - $8400
Wow! A really nice looking watch that knows the definition of a Pilot Watch. It's got the size at 43mm, the onion crown, the triangle at the 12 position, the sword hands, the blind you at night lume, the uncluttered dial. And a in-house movement with 60 hours reserve. Only thing not to like is that price.
I'll throw out my choice for "Best Bang for the Buck Pilot Watch"
San Martin. - $138
This has the Epson YN55A movement which is a clone of the NH35, which is hard to source due to covid.
When I bought my manual wind San Martin, the website said ETA 6498 but it is actually the Seagull ST3621 clone.
I also have a smaller automatic San Martin with the NH35 movement
Both were less than $200.
Edit: forgot to add the link to the article: https://coolmaterial.com/style/best-pilot-watches/
Each watch has a link to where you can buy it. Plus whatever the writer has to say about each one.