10 Best Pilot Watches for Every Budget in 2021 – Reviews

There are a number of essential tools that every pilot needs. Owning a wristwatch while flying makes it a lot easier for pilots, especially to make specific calculations.  A majority of the pilot watches are very versatile with numerous various features.

The design of those watches is also awe-inspiring and looks rather stylish and classy. Pilot watches started gaining popularity when Louis Cartier was commissioned to make an aviation watch.

The watches had significant numbers and a simple look, and they were made in the 1900s. However, some aviator watch brands started making pilot watches that took their inspiration from the military, and they were easy to read with sleek designs.

With time, the design and features have advanced, and there are a lot of options available in the market these days. There are affordable pilot watches, while some are instead on the expensive side.

We will be discussing some of the best aviation watches in 2021. This pilot watches review will include watches of almost every budget that will suit your style and needs the best.

Our 10 Best aviation watch Reviews

With the changes in technology, aviation watches get more features every year. These days, pilots have been equipped with many accessories and tools that make their flying experience a lot easier than in previous years.

The pilots can efficiently compute the distance, check the time of the destination regardless of the differences in time zones, and many more. One of the most remarkable features that have been seen in almost every aviation watch is the luminous display.

With the help of the backlight display, even while flying in the dark, the pilot can quickly check the time and no issues of changing the batteries. The majority of the watches listed below are solar-powered, and the energy can be derived from any source of light.

1. Hamilton Men's H64611535 Khaki King Pilot Black Watch

Hamilton Men's H64611535

The history of Hamilton aviation watches dates back to the 1918s since the pilots were able to navigate their route precisely from California to Hawaii in 1927, which was very difficult at that time.

Due to this reason, Hamilton aviation watches are well-known for their accuracy. The Hamilton Men's H64611535 is the best pilot watch for under $1000. The watch is made of stainless steel, and it is 42mm.

The most striking feature of this pilot is that it has a seconds-hand. Other than that, the watch movement is also a bit different than the other aviation watches. It is a Swiss Quartz, while the other aviation watches are automatic.

These are also water-resistant for specific water sports or other activities. However, it can't be used while scuba diving. Since this aviation watch is more on the expensive side, the water-resistant depth of this watch is 660 feet. A majority of the aviation watches do not cross 100 feet in terms of the same.

Pros

  • The watch has a black dial with Swiss quartz movement.
  • It includes the feature of tracking inner hour as well as outer minute as well.
  • The design is absolutely sleek with a 42 mm case that has an anti-reflective dial window.

Cons

  • The watch does not have a deployment with a relatively fragile band.
  • The 42mm case might be a bit wide for some people, especially since comfort is integral while flying.

2. Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk

Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk

This comes under the category of the best pilot watches under $500. As the name suggests, this watch has a solar-powered movement and does not require batteries. Its dial window is made of Eco-Drive technology, with the material of the same being mineral.

The energy is stored in the cell, and once the watch is exposed to the light, it recharges itself. The energy is mainly converted from any light. However, it does warn the user if the battery needs to charge itself.

Moreover, this watch provides large and bright dial hands that are very easy to read. This makes it convenient for the pilots, especially while flying. The glass of the watch is non-reflective, which makes it favorable to check the time in any sort of climate.

The design of this watch is also quite impeccable that shows dual timings. With a lot of added features and unique battery cells, this is one of the best aviation watches citizen has to offer.

Pros

  • The markers in this watch are luminous to make it easy to read the time.
  • The batteries need not be changed.
  • It provides dual time as well.

Cons

  • The Lume does not last long and needs the exposure of light to be recharged.
  • The watch is not available with a non-metal band.

3. Stuhrling Original Men's Leather Watch -Aviation Watch

Stuhrling Original Men's Leather Watch

This watch is one of the most affordable pilot watches with great features and excellent design. As the most required feature in all aviation watches, this has a readable dial that you will be able to see even in the dark.

Moreover, the design of this watch is rather stylish, and its band is made of genuine leather. The dial window material is Krysterna, and the thickness of the case is only nine millimeters. The watch dial is specifically designed in the aviator style with a second hand as well.

However, the water-resistant depth is about 100meters. With the large strap, there is no problem with the watch being too tight on some and can be adjusted very easily. The bold numbers in it with the sleek design of the dial make it look very stylish.

Pros

  • The watch has excellent design along with top-notch functionality.
  • The mechanism of the date and day is also very smooth.
  • It is very accurate and easy to read.
  • This comes under the most affordable aviation watches list.

Cons

  • The readability decreases to some extent in the dark.
  • The leather band might not be very durable.

4. SEIKO Men's Pilot Watch Alarm Chronograph

SEIKO Men's Pilot Watch

This watch also comes under the category of aviation watches under 500 dollars with a stainless steel band that can be clasped while wearing it. This watch features a bezel that is gear-edged along with numerous subdials.

The dial window is made of the Hardlex material with an analog display. Although the watch movement is Japanese quartz and is a bit on the affordable side, the accuracy and durability are worth mentioning.

Due to the stainless steel bracelet, it can fit on smaller wrists as compared to other watches that need frequent adjustments. Along with some of the best features, it does have a great look as well.

Pros

  • The buttons can be locked to make them more water-resistant.
  • The stopwatch has a split function as well.
  • The bezel can be used for other calculations at the same time.

Cons

  • Due to the size of the chronograph, it might be a bit difficult to read.
  • The width of the lug might be irregular at times.

5.Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Blue Angels World Chronograph

Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Blue Angels World Chronograph

This Citizen watch has many features that are an excellent option for pilots. It has a slide-rule bezel along with stainless steel case. The dial window is anti-reflective, which is made of sapphire. The band is made of artificial leather that can be adjusted since it has a buckle closure.

The time can be changed from automatic to synchronized. Moreover, it recharges continuously. The energy is used from light and is then stored for future use. This is one of the main reasons so to why the watch can run for several months.

The watch also has a feature of the perpetual calendar along with water resistance depth up to 666feet, making it favorable to use while swimming or even snorkeling.

Pros

  • The clock can be synchronized within various time zones.
  • The time is easy to read in the dark, and recharging it regularly is not needed.
  • The quality and the design are worth mentioning, especially at this budget.

Cons

  • The artificial leather might not be as durable as stainless ones.
  • The slide rule bezel might make it difficult to read since the size is relatively small.

6. Citizen Eco-Drive Men's JY8030-83E Navihawk

Citizen Eco-Drive Men's JY8030-83E Navihawk

The watch is made of silver stainless steel that is in the form of a bracelet. The clasp also has a push-button. Moreover, it does have a slide rule dial ring that can be rotated, which is very convenient for the pilots to use.

The case size of this watch is 48mm with a mineral crystal that is anti-reflective. As compared to other Citizen aviation watches, this is a bit expensive since it includes the features of both the eco-drive as well as timekeeping.

The thickness of the case is also slightly more prominent as compared to other models. It is 15.5 millimeters, with the band size being 7.5 inches. Other than that, the band of the watch can be changed frequently since it uses spring bars.

The design of this watch is quite sleek, with a polished surface on the bezel as well. Overall, it does have a theme of aviation which makes it even more stylish if worn while flying.

Pros

  • This is one of the most durable watches on the list.
  • It is easy to receive signals on this watch which is perfect while flying.
  • Changing the time while traveling in different cities is very easy.

Cons

  • The digital display is a bit small to read.
  • The Lume is less vibrant and does not provide proper backlighting.

7. RSC Pilot Watches Men's Analogue Quartz Watch Hawker Hurricane

RSC Pilot Watches Men's Analogue Quartz Watch

This analog watch uses the Swiss Ronda quartz technology that also features sound control. The clasp of this watch is Tang Buckle which makes it easy to adjust the straps quite frequently. Moreover, a majority of aviation watches have mineral dial windows, but this one is made of synthetic sapphire crystal.

The band material is leather, along with a case made of sapphire crystal. The brand provides three years warranty along with a worldwide repair service. The diameter of the case is 43mm. However, the calendar does not have the day feature, and it only comprises the date feature.

Pros

  • The plate at the back of the watch is water-resistant, along with incredible designs engraved on it.
  • The watch is luminous, which allows the user to read the time even in the dark.
  • The model comes with a variety of strap colors.

Cons

  • Despite its numerous features, it might be a bit on the expensive side as compared to other models.
  • The Tang buckle can be difficult for some to clasp. It could be either too tight or too loose.

8. Citizen Eco-Drive Men's JY8037-50E Navihawk A-T Watch

Citizen Eco-Drive Men's JY8037-50E Navihawk A-T Watch

The watch provides timekeeping features that can be sorted out for more than 40 cities all over the world. This watch also has four subdials with digital displays that vary in size. The clasp is also deployed along with a stainless band.

The watch movement is Japanese quartz along with energy-driven features which do not require the usage of batteries as such.

The bezel function is stationary, along with two alarms and battery-saving features. Along with the perpetual calendar, it has a countdown timer as well as coordinated time that is universal. The luminous option provides a backlight to make it easier to read the time in the dark.

Pros

  • The chronograph can measure up to 24 hours.
  • The water resistance depth of this watch is 666 feet.
  • The signals received from this watch are very precise and easy to read in the dark.

Cons

  • The inner dials are four in number, which isn't useful.
  • The band of the watch can be a bit tight due to its metal edges.
  • Numerous features present might be overwhelming to use at times.

9. Stauer Men's Stainless Steel Co-Pilot Watch

Stauer Men's Stainless Steel Co-Pilot Watch

This is one of the best automatic pilot watch under 200 dollars. The band of the watch is distressed leather which is not too tight around the wrist. Moreover, it also has a 24-hour dial made of mineral crystals.

However, the hands aren't luminous, which makes it difficult to read the time at night. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of this watch. The side rule of the watch is functional but does not have a second hand either.

Regardless of the luminous feature lacking in this watch, the markings are very clear, making it easy to read at other times. The strap can be changed to nato if the user does not prefer distressed leather.

Pros

  • The diameter of the case is only 40mm.
  • The bezel can be easily rotated manually.

Cons

  • The crystal is very fragile and needs extra care.
  • The bezel can be a bit tight for some.

10. Citizen Men'sMilitary' Quartz Stainless Steel and Nylon Casual Watch

Citizen Men'sMilitary' Quartz Stainless Steel and Nylon Casual Watch

The design of this model is highly inspired by the military, which is visible even in the band color that is green. Moreover, the material of the band is nylon with a buckle strap. Due to this reason, it might be comparatively shorter on some. Most Citizen watches are able to top the list of best pilot watches under $500.

The bezel on this watch is stationary, which means it can't rotate on its own. However, it can be charged merely by pushing the button. The indication for the low battery is also given time and again.

The numbers are luminous, which makes them convenient to use in the dark. There are three dials in total that are all in the military time. The band of this watch is rather tough and won't break easily, which is why it might take time for it to loosen up for the ones who find it too tight. This is considered as one of the best pilot watch under $500.

Pros

  • The three dials make it easier to check the time, date, and the like.
  • It is easy to charge and doesn't require a change in batteries.

Cons

  • Sometimes the second hand might be lagging a bit due to low power.
  • The band can be tight for some, and they might have to change it.

What Makes the Right Aviation Watch?

There are a lot of various factors that need to be taken into consideration before purchasing an aviation watch. Moreover, there are specific characteristics that make it more convenient for the pilots to use.

A majority of the pilot watches have open dials with luminous hands that make it easy to read the time even in the dark. The numerals in those watches are in Arabic, most of the time.

However, with the rise of the availability of pilot watches, some watches do not include Arabic numerals. The bezels on the watches contain the ability to compute angles and the like.

Another feature that is frequently seen in aviation watches is the dual-time feature. As mentioned in the reviews of some of the watches above, some watches have the quality of changing the different time zones without any hassles as such.

Aviation watches are mostly of two categories. They either have the military-inspired design, which was brought out since the beginning of World War II. At the same time, the other type of aviation watch is computer-based. Those sorts of watches are beneficial in navigating and computing the flight distance and the like.

There are specific tools that are integral for almost every aviation watch. Those tools make them different from other regular watches. The bezels and tachymeters help the pilots immensely to navigate while flying.

Moreover, the movement and the functionality of the watches should also be taken into consideration. These days majority of the aviation watches use quartz movement because they are a lot more precise and affordable as well.

The correct material of the band and the width size makes the watch either very comfortable or tight around the wrist. For pilots who need to continually navigate, use various other tools in the aircraft for safe flying should always have gears that are very comfortable.

One of them being watches; if they are the right size with a band that does not pressurize the wrist too much, the pilot will easily be able to read the time. Along with that, they will be able to make specific calculations and also make changes with regard to the time zones.

Most pilot watches reviews include watches that do have these specific features, which are all very integral.

Important features

As mentioned above, there are many common features that can be seen in almost every aviation watch. However, there will be small differences in terms of the design and materials and the size as well.

Easy to read the time

There are many things that the pilot needs to pay attention to while flying. Being able to check the time and calculate the distance for proper navigating is very important. Hence, the watch should have proper dials that are large enough to be seen easily.

Easy to read the time

Numerals in the watch that are small might not be ideal since reading the time should be quick and easy. Other than the size, the watch should also have a luminous feature in them. This allows them to read the time even when it is dark.

Sometimes for long distances, the duration of the flight might be 12 hours and more, and while flying the aircraft, the pilots prefer watches that have a background light display. Hence, this is yet another important feature that most aviation watches should have.

Size of the crown

If the crown of the watch is relatively large, it becomes easy to wind the same. This feature is quite prominent mainly because earlier, the pilots used to wear gloves. Hence, with large sized crown, there wasn't any need to remove them if they had to wind the crown.

Functional bezels

There are various types of bezels in aviation watches. Some have bezels that can slide while the others are stationary.  The most important use of the watches for pilots is calculating the distance, fuel, speed, and more.

The markings on the bezels will be beneficial in doing these tasks with no difficulty as such.

Dual time features

This particular feature was not available in traditional aviation watches. However, this feature is very useful in getting the information regarding the time the flight might arrive, especially if it is from a different time zone.

Calculating the time of the destination regardless of the time zone difference can be easily done with the help of aviation watches, which is very helpful to the pilots.

Budget

This article has explored almost every aviation watch with top-notch features essential for proper navigating and calculating the distance and more. Along with these, the designs and styles are also very modern.

How Vital is Mechanical Movement?

The movement of the watches determines how accurate the time is and whether it is working correctly. Mechanical movement acquires its energy with the help of the mainspring, which then leads the clock to keep ticking, especially if it is an analog one.

In this type of movement, the working of the balance spring is very important. However, mechanical movement is slowly losing its relevance because it is much more expensive. Since the workings are either manual or with the help of mechanics, it is less accurate as well.

Different watches have movements that are either mechanical or automatic. The manual movement is generally when the gears are used to move the hands and in keeping the time regular.

Quartz movements are comparatively less expensive than mechanical. Moreover, this movement is being used in a majority of watches because it is highly accurate.

The energy is released with the help of the battery and provides enough motor activity for the time to be kept regular. Most affordable aviation watches do have quartz movement.

How to Ensure the Durability of the Watch?

There is a list of things that needs to be kept in mind for the maintenance and durability of aviation watches. A majority of aviation watches are water-resistant to a certain extent.

Ensure the Durability of the Watch

This should be checked before you get involved in any sort of water activity so that the watch does not get damaged. However, most of the time, there are certain cracks in the case or the crown that might allow the water to seep in the watch, which will damage the movements of the same.

  • To avoid such situations, the crown should be screwed properly or pushed back. Other than that, a majority of the buttons should not be pressed when you are underwater.
  • In terms of the bands of the watches, they should be replaced frequently, especially if they are made of leather. Leather ages very quickly, and for hygienic purposes, it must be replaced at least once in six months.
  • Moreover, the bands should not be exposed to direct sunlight for very long, and they should be kept away from oil or any other product that might harm the material of the band.
  • Regardless of the watch's water-resistant depth, the band should not be frequently exposed to moisture or even water, for that matter. Leather seems to age quickly if it is exposed to various substances often. 
  • As for watches with metal bracelets, they should be cleaned often with a small brush or cloth. It should be slightly moist so that the marks or dirt is rubbed off. However, the metal bands should not be directly put in water to clean them.
  • If the battery is not changed frequently, it might lead to the malfunctioning of the movements inside. Hence, the entire watch might stop working. Batteries should be changed frequently and doing so from proper stores is necessary.
  • You can also give your watch for frequent services so that its functionality is always checked for more extended durability. 

FAQs

1. Why do most pilots prefer big watches?

The pilots need to focus on many things while flying the aircraft. Hence, if the dials are large enough, the pilots find it easy to check the time at a swift glance.

2. What are moon phase, day and night watches?

The moon phase is a feature found in aviation watches that shows the moon's phase and the calendar. Moreover, the day or night can also be figured out on the watch while flying, as it indicates a sun or moon.

A day and night watch is a bit different than a moon phase. Moon phase shows a lot of different things. While a watch having a day and night feature can only show whether it's daytime or night. It does not show the phase of the moon or the calendar.

3. What are the other tools that are included in aviation watches?

There are many essential tools that are preferred to be in aviation watches. Those include altimeters, tachymeters, and compasses as well. Another handy and essential tool is the bezel.

The bezel that has a slide rule will help the pilot make specific calculations with respect to the distance, the estimated time of arrival as well as the amount of fuel that might have been used.

Final Verdict

A majority of aviation watches have similar features that are quite useful to pilots. With the rise of technology, it has become convenient to perform various tasks which are regarded as integral, especially while flying.

The power sources are a lot in variety, and one of the most popular ones found in aviation watches these days are the solar-powered ones. These can acquire energy from any sort of light. These are much more common these days.

There is no need to change the batteries of the watches that are solar-powered, and the energy is renewed every time it is exposed to light. These are environment friendly, and it does not involve the wastage of excessive number of batteries.

Other than that, with numerous functionalities and designs, the pilots now have a rather long list of options to choose from. Hence, keeping in mind the proper features required while flying, comfort, durability, and budget, you might be able to get the perfect aviation watch.

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