The Ultimate Guide to Pilot's Watches

From rugged military "fliegers" to modern, tech-packed chronographs and beyond.

pilot watches
Bell & Ross

Pilot's watches can take many forms: big, small, military or civilian in origin, a bold and spartan dial or a captivatingly busy chronograph... But what they share in common is a focused purpose and a connection to the endlessly compelling idea of flight.

As design and functionality of pilot's watches have changed over the decades, this broad genre can include anything from a simple WWII-style flieger to a hyper-modern Breitling or a G-Shock with bluetooth connection and digital displays. Which one is right for you? What's the story behind their differences and functions?

We've collected our extensive pilot's watch coverage from over the years together in one place: Below you'll find guidance on buying your first (or second, or third) pilot's watch as well as in-depth stories behind some of the most iconic models, and much more. Enjoy!

The Best Pilot’s Watches Available Right Now

navitimer
Breitling

Whether a classic flieger or an automatic GMT, there's a pilot's watch out there for the fighter jock in everyone.

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5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Pilot’s Watch

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Courtesy

Flieger, time-only, chronograph, digital…there are more types of pilot’s watches than there are pilots! Use this guide to help you buy the right one.

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Do Today’s Pilots Really Use Pilots Watches?

paris air show pilots watches gear patrol lead full
Allen Farmelo

Once essential kit, mechanical pilots watches today have largely been made obsolete.

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What Are Flieger Watches, and Which Should I Buy?

damasko da 46
WIndup Watch Shop

What started as a small batch of watches made in 1941 has since become one of the most iconic designs in history.

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Everything You Need to Know About Some of the Most Iconic Pilots Watches Ever Made

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Photo Illustrations by Gear Patrol | PPR Media Relations AG

In this retrospective, we dive into the fabled world of pilot’s watches and the best from the fabled brand, Breitling.

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The Type 20 Military Pilot’s Chronograph Watch

dodane type 20 gear patrol lead full
Analog / Shift

Some of the coolest military chronograph watches ever were made for the French air force after WWII, and some are still being produced today.

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This Affordable New Military Watch Is Even Better Than the Vintage Original

affordable new military watch gear patrol ambience 1 v2
Zen Love

Hamilton has hit a home run with the new Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, a killer recreation of the military W10 watch produced in the 1970s.

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What Makes Rolex's GMT-Master The Best Travel Watch Ever?

rolex gmt master ii
Rolex

This two-timer from the jet age is technically and aesthetically the mother of all GMT watches.

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The History of the World’s Most Famous Pilot’s Watch

breitling navitimer icon gear patrol lead full
Breitling

There is perhaps no wristwatch still in production that’s more associated with flight and pilots than the Breitling Navitimer.

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This Pilot’s Watch Was a Critical Tool at the Dawn of Commercial Aviation

pilot watch benrus sky chief gear patrol lead slide 1
Analog/Shift

The Benrus Sky Chief was used by pilots for navigation in the 1940s, when commercial aviation was young and cockpits were a lot more analog.

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This Is the Seiko Watch Made for Japanese Pilots During WWII

seikosha tensoku kamikaze gear patrol lead full
Menta Watches

Known as the Seikosha Kamikaze, this obscure pilot’s watch has an incredible story to tell that forms a little-known facet of Seiko history.

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This Watch Was Exactly What Pilots Needed in 1953

watches you should know glycine airman gear patrol lead full
Analog / Shift

The Glycine Airman was an innovative watch when it launched in response to a simple conversation with a commercial pilot.

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The First Pilot’s Watch Ever Is Also One of the Best Dress Watches Ever

cartier santos gear patrol lead full
Cartier

The Cartier Santos probably isn't what you think of when you think "pilot's watch."

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This Pilot's Watch Is Like a Flight Instrument on Your Wrist

bell ross br
Bell & Ross

Bell & Ross's square-cased BR 01 may not be for everyone, but it's become a modern classic. Here's its story.

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