The 10 Best Pilot (Aviator) Watches of All Time

best pilot watch

There’s something uniquely romantic – and masculine – about the life of a pilot: the lifestyle, the reputation, the style.

And while we can’t all actually get a license and fly, we can at least get a little taste of it by matching the fashion – like getting hold of some classic aviator sunglasses.

Another way to feel like you’re flying through, is by getting hold of a pilot watch: not only do they look stylish and sophisticated, they are also hugely functional and generally beautifully constructed.

This article is dedicated to presenting you with the very best pilot watches on the market – the ones that will truly make you stand out and feel like you’re living that aviation life.

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
Citizen Watches’ AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion

Top of our list is Citizen Watches’ AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion – with its truly vintage look, it is simply one of the coolest watches you’ll ever find.

Timex Men’s Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch

Our no.2 pick Timex Men’s Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch – is ideal for men looking for an affordable option, with its great aesthetic and luminosity.

So we really have got something for everyone.

And not only that:

We’ve also got a rundown of the best accessories that will help you maintain your watch, as well as a couple of helpful tips to wear it with more style.

First, let’s look at the 5 essential factors you need to consider when buying a pilot watch.

Quick Summary

bb2-table__imageCitizen Watches AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion
  • Eco-Drive technology
  • Vintage look
  • Luminous
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bb2-table__imageTimex Men's Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch
  • Stylish
  • Great price
  • Variety of colors available
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bb2-table__imageHamilton Men's H64715885 Khaki Pilot Automatic
  • High-quality, durable construction
  • Automatic movement
  • Luminescent dial
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bb2-table__imageInvicta Men's 17204 AVIATOR Stainless Steel Casual Watch
  • Striking look
  • Weight and thickness are great
  • Durable design
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bb2-table__imageGarmin D2 Delta PX, GPS Pilot Watch
  • Great battery
  • Stylish look
  • Versatile features (GPS, NEXRAD weather)
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bb2-table__imageCasio Men's EF527D-1AV "Edifice" Stainless Steel Multi-Function Watch
  • Casio look
  • Solid functionality
  • Easy to use
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bb2-table__imageMil-Tec Vintage Aviator Watch
  • WW2 vintage look
  • Easy to read
  • Great price
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bb2-table__imageBulova Men's Moonwatch - 96B251
  • Sapphire glass
  • Six hand calendar chronograph
  • Stylish
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bb2-table__imageSEIKO Men's Pilot Watch Alarm Chronograph
  • Unbeatable water-resistance
  • Durable
  • Great functionality
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bb2-table__imageSeiko Men's SNK805 Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch
  • Military design
  • Automatic movement
  • Luminous
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Before you buy: 5 Things you have to consider when purchasing a pilot watch

1. Material

Like almost any item of clothing, the material of an aviator watch matters. Not only is it important to know it’s well constructed, durable, and won’t scratch too easily, there’s also an aesthetic component to the material.

For the actual body of the watch, sapphire crystal is a great material to look out for – super resistant to both scratches and functional damage, and generally great looking.

As far as the strap is concerned, canvas is the most authentic material – it was used by the original pilots in the early 20th century – but leather and stainless steel have their aesthetic appeal, too.

2. Weight

As with any watch, the weight and feel of the product should be seriously considered – how long could you wear it for?

Does it feel authoritative and manly?

Because the dials tend to be bigger on pilot watches, you’ll find they often are quite heavy, and you should be aware of this – and how you feel about it – when you’re looking at prospective purchases.

3. Aesthetic

Clearly, there are functional elements to the pilot watch.

But let’s be honest: the look is also a huge part of the appeal.

As we’ll discuss later in this review, the style of the watch doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so you need to be thinking of what you could wear the watch with and when you might best make use of it.

A big part of this is simple comparison: looking at plenty of options back to back and being critical about their relative merits. If you can, it’s also good to try on a watch to see how it looks on your wrist.

4. Brand

Many businesses specialize – and are renowned for – their pilot watches. And while it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll love the product, it’s important that you have a sense of the reputation and background of the company you’re buying from.

5. Value

Finally, you should have a clear sense of what you are willing to pay and what you expect to get. Because otherwise, you run the risk of severely over or underpaying, and finishing ultimately unsatisfied with the purchase.

The 10 best pilot watches in 2020

1. Citizen Watches AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion

Citizen-Watches-AW1361-10H-Eco-Drive-Avion

Best features:

  • Amazing vintage look
  • Eco-Drive Technology
  • 100m water resistant

The best pilot watch for:

Truly capturing that classic pilot look

Overview

Vintage pilot watches are surprisingly hard to come by these days: there are plenty of newfangled versions, but products that really capture the style and sensibility of the cockpit.

Citizen is one of the few to really nail it, and the AW1361-10H Eco-Drive Avion is their crowning achievement. With its cool brown leather strap and striking dial, you can’t help but feel that little bit more manly while wearing it.

But not only does it look cool – it also features Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology, which converts light into energy that the watch runs on. This makes it very eco-friendly and kind of fun to use.

It’s also water-resistant up to 100m and boasts great luminosity so that you can see it in the dark.

While not every man will love the thickness of this watch, it seems to be a fairly universal hit with owners – we certainly love it. And if you’re looking for a vintage pilot watch – which, if you’re reading this review, it seems likely you are – this is as good as you’ll find.

Pros

  • Really captures the vintage aesthetic
  • Eco-Drive light charging is great
  • It’s totally luminous

Cons

  • Some find it too thick

Bottom line

Stylish, sophisticated, and functionally excellent – the best all-round pilot watch on the market.

2. Timex Men’s Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch

Timex Men's Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch

Best features:

  • Great value
  • Different colors to choose from
  • Stylish design

The best pilot watch for:

Saving while looking suave

Overview

Let’s be real: many of the watches on this list are very expensive. Not break-the-bank expensive, but enough that we’d understand a little reservation before you take the dive.

So it was important for us to include an affordable pilot watch for those whose budgets don’t extend quite so far, to ensure they can still enjoy the pleasures of a good pilot watch – and that’s why Timex’s Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch has made the list.

With a stylish design and plenty of colors to choose from, it’s no slouch when it comes to aesthetics.

And with the scratch-resistant mineral glass, 5 years’ battery life, and water resistance up to 100 m, the functionality is also totally on point.

But ultimately, it is the value you get here that stands out: at this price, you’d expect a watch not half as good as this.

Pros

  • Fantastic value for money
  • It’s luminous and stylish
  • Easy to find a color that matches your personal style

Cons

  • Many of the features are hard to get the hang of

Bottom line

As good value as you’ll find – a high-quality watch for a truly fantastic price.

3. Hamilton Men’s H64715885 Khaki Pilot Automatic

Hamilton Men’s H64715885 Khaki Pilot Automatic

Best features:

  • Automatic movement
  • 200m water resistant
  • Protects from scratches

The best pilot watch for:

Total ease of use

Overview

Swiss watches are known around the world as things of beauty, and this wonderful watch from Hamilton is a perfect example of this.

So before you wince at the price tag – which, we realize, is pretty eye-watering – let’s remember that sometimes you have to pay more to get true quality.

Put simply, this is the best automatic pilot watch you’ll find: extraordinarily stylish, with a stunning sapphire crystal that protects from scratches and a beautifully lined leather strap.

And it’s totally automatic, which makes it less of a bother than many other watches – though we realize some will miss the act of winding the watch.

Not only that: it’s also water resistant up to 200m, which is pretty unusual and makes it highly versatile.

Pros

  • Classic aesthetic is great
  • Incredibly high-quality construction
  • Luminescent dial is useful and looks cool

Cons

  • It’s undeniably expensive

Bottom line

A Swiss quality automatic pilot watch that looks beautiful and works just great.

4. Invicta Men’s 17204 AVIATOR Stainless Steel Casual Watch

Invicta Men's 17204 AVIATOR Stainless Steel Casual Watch

Best features:

  • Stainless steel case
  • Very large dial
  • Striking aesthetic

The best pilot watch for:

Sheer masculine weight

Overview

Invicta is a well-loved watch brand, and its reputation for high-quality constructions proves totally accurate with this stainless steel pilot watch.

It’s not what you might expect: it doesn’t have the classic pilot watch aesthetic, with its huge stainless steel band and dial, this is not the watch for a man who’s looking for the classic pilot watch style. But it has a lot to recommend it beyond that.

For one thing, the weight of the dial is great and will make you feel more masculine just for wearing it. It’s also extremely solid, which suggests great durability.

On top of that, the synthetic sapphire is totally scratch-resistant and is also 100m water-resistant.

Plus it’s got a great arrangement of its timepiece: the chronograph, tachymeter, and compass all interact in a very cool way, making it just fun to watch at work.

Pros

  • The weight and thickness are great
  • Highly durable and scratch-resistant
  • Very eye-catching

Cons

  • Quality of the band isn’t amazing

Bottom line

An unusual pilot watch, but one that’s very much worth considering if you like the heft of a manly dial.

5. Garmin D2 Delta PX, GPS Pilot Watch

Garmin D2 Delta PX, GPS Pilot Watch

Best features:

  • GPS
  • Great battery life
  • NEXRAD weather

The best pilot watch for:

Gadget geeks with an eye for style

Overview

Pilot watches are, almost by definition, gadgets: they’re designed for a specific situation to help pilots keep time across multiple time zones and to be usable with gloves on.

Even so, few other pilot watches come close to the sheer scope of the gadgets embedded in Garmin’s D2 Delta watch.

You can pair it with your smartphone, to get information and function essentially as a wearable to keep up to date with your heart rate and various other things.

But it also features various in-watch features, like dynamic color mapping, airport data, automatic flight logging, and GPS. And you can even store up to 500 songs in it.

On top of all the smart functionality, it also boasts a spectacular battery life (up to 20 days!) and a sleek, smart aesthetic that will make you feel confident and in control.

Pros

  • Exceptionally versatile features
  • Really simply, stylish look
  • The battery life really is unrivaled

Cons

  • The price is intense

Bottom line

A super-smart, gadget-heavy watch that truly stands out for its functionality.

6. Casio Men’s EF527D-1AV “Edifice” Stainless Steel Multi-Function Watch

Casio Men's EF527D-1AV Edifice Stainless Steel Multi-Function Watch

Best features:

  • Great value
  • Multifunctional
  • 100m water resistant

The best pilot watch for:

Versatility and ease

Overview

Casio is a legendary brand and isn’t really known as a pilot watch manufacturer. But here they’ve shown that they know their way around the style just fine, producing a watch that matches their classic look with the pilot watch functionality.

It has a very technical look: the dial is super detailed, with a 1/20-second chronograph function, a slide-rotating inner bezel, and a data window.

It’s also super easy to operate – which isn’t always the case – and sits very comfortably on the wrist.

On top of that, it’s water-resistant (100m) and comes at a very reasonable price, making it overall a highly versatile and great-value watch.

Pros

  • The functionality is solid
  • It has the classic Casio look
  • It’s very easy to use

Cons

  • The dial’s luminosity is not great

Bottom line

A Cassio pilot watch – everything you’d expect and more.

7. Mil-Tec Vintage Aviator Watch

Mil-Tec Vintage Aviator Watch

Best features:

  • WW2 design
  • Easy to read
  • Scratch-resistant

The best pilot watch for:

WW2 fanatics

Overview

Not much good can be said for World War 2, but still, the period stays in our minds and retains a fascination for many.

Mil-Tec’s Vintage Aviator Watch absolutely taps into that feeling, having been modeled on the kinds of navigation watches soldiers and fighter pilots would have worn during the war.

But even if you’re not interested in the historicism of the watch, you’ll still find plenty to recommend it – in its quality construction, its simple style, and its highly affordable price tag.

The dial itself is very large, in that vintage way, and easy to read. And the watch hands are luminous, which helps too.

Plus the frame is scratch-resistant, adding to the durability of this solid construction.

Ultimately, this is a great, affordable option for vintage-lovers; the only reservation is the strap, which doesn’t quite work with the dial and many reviewers seem to end up replacing.

Pros

  • Genuinely looks and feels vintage
  • The dial is easy to read with luminescent hands
  • It’s an exceptional deal at this price

Cons

  • The strap isn’t quite right

Bottom line

Few watches are as good value as this, and for lovers of the vintage style, it’s well worth a look-in.

8. Bulova Men’s Moonwatch – 96B251

Bulova Men's Moonwatch - 96B251

Best features:

  • Comes with spare straps
  • Sapphire glass
  • Six hand calendar chronograph

The best pilot watch for:

Lovers of space travel

Overview

The Bulova Chronograph was literally worn into space in 1971, and this watch – the Moonwatch – has been constructed specifically to recreate that classic space-bound specimen.

But this isn’t only for men who love the idea of cruising to another planet – it’s also a solid, high-functioning pilot watch in its own right.

For a start, it boasts a 262kHz Quartz Movement using Bulova’s proprietary technology, making it extraordinarily accurate and trustworthy. Combined with its six hand calendar dial, this is one impressive timepiece – exactly as you’d expect from such a storied brand.

On top of this, the watch is stylish: with its sapphire glass, silver-tone finish, and black dial, it looks tremendously authoritative and bold. Plus it comes with 2 interchangeable straps – one black leather, the other nylon.

It’s also water-resistant – though only up to 50m, which makes it less resistant than most on this list, and ultimately probably it is best to avoid water as a general rule. And it’s bulkier than some would like, too.

But if you can overlook these small weaknesses, this really is a watch worthy of attention and consideration – especially given its relatively low price!

Pros

  • Works like a dream
  • Very stylish and understated
  • Has a great story to it

Cons

  • The watch face is very thick

Bottom line

A faithful replication of a timeless classic watch.

9. SEIKO Men’s Pilot Watch Alarm Chronograph

SEIKO Men's Pilot Watch Alarm Chronograph

Best features:

  • Water-resistant to 200m
  • Luminous
  • Chronograph

The best pilot watch for:

An exceptional timepiece

Overview

Seiko is a very respected brand for pilot watches, and this is a great example of what they can do.

Aesthetically, it’s totally beautiful: the dial is beautifully detailed and the white and black create a great contrast which is totally striking. Plus the Hardlex dial window is solid and scratch-resistant.

The bracelet is made of stainless steel, with a push-button clasp and safety closure. And the Japanese quartz works beautifully – super reliable and easy to wind.

It’s also water-resistant to 200m and can be safely worn during most water sports and activities.

Ultimately, this is an attention-grabbing watch – one that you’ll not only want to wear as is, but may choose to accessorize and swap the bracelet out, too.

While some will wish the face was larger – as it appears in photos – it is hardly a major concern and most folks seem to feel this is an absolute steal at the current price.

Pros

  • Really striking dial
  • Water-resistance is higher than most
  • Really reliable, functionally

Cons

  • Face is smaller than you might like

Bottom line

A really exotic looking watch for men looking for something more unusual.

10. Seiko Men’s SNK805 Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

Seiko Men's SNK805 Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

Best features:

  • Automatic movement
  • Military-inspired design
  • Luminous

The best pilot watch for:

Military lovers

Overview

Another entry for Seiko – this time very different, indeed.

Inspired by the classic military style, its green canvas strap, and deep green dial definitely make a statement. And while it won’t be to every man’s taste, those who love it will really love it.

Functionally, it’s totally solid, boasting automatic movement with an analog display, luminous accents, and day and date functions. But it is worth noting though that it does require quite a bit of maintenance and regular adjustment.

It can also withstand a little splash, though generally, this is definitely a watch to keep away from water.

And it also comes with a stainless steel case, making for a lovely package.

Pros

  • Well color coordinated
  • Automatic functioning is solid
  • Stainless steel case is beautiful

Cons

  • Needs adjusting regularly

Bottom line

An automatic pilot watch that will polarize – but many will truly love.

Method to the madness: How we chose these products

Despite being a relatively niche market, there is still an extraordinary number of pilot watches knocking around, and for that reason, we can hardly hope to have covered every single item that’s available.

However, for this review, we used our tried and test method of consulting a huge range of reviews to narrow down our choices before personally testing and reviewing as many potential contenders as possible.

We believe every watch we’ve chosen is a truly stand out choice, but if you feel we’ve missed something really great – please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments!

7 Pilot watch accessories you won’t want to be without

Taking care of a pilot watch can be time-consuming and costly, especially if you haven’t got the right tools to hand. So here are 7 essential accessories that will make looking after it far, far easier:

1. Batteries

Amazon Basics Batteries

Quartz batteries generally last at least a year, but it’s still vital to have a spare to hand in case something goes wrong – or you simply forget how long it’s been since you changed the batteries!

AmazonBasics’ 4 pack of lithium batteries is a perfect choice – affordable, simple, and usable in a variety of other gadgets, too.

2. Watch box

Hauterow’s Watch Box

Having a stylish space to store your watch is not only great for keeping it safe – it also makes picking it up to wear feel cooler, too.

While they are something of an investment, you can be sure that it will be more than worth it – especially if you go for a product like Hauterow’s Watch Box, which has a timeless design and plenty of space to store other accessories in.

3. Watch repair kit

The EZTool Watch Repair Kit

Let’s be real: you don’t want to be hauling your watch to a professional every time some small repair needs to be made. So rather than putting yourself in a position where you have to, having your own watch repair kit can save huge amounts of time and money.

The EZTool Watch Repair Kit, for example, boasts everything a DIYer would need, and all at an incredibly reasonable price.

4. Scratch remover

PolyWatch Crystal Scratch Remover Polish Tool

Sadly, there’s really no way of avoiding the occasional scratch to your watch, no matter how hard you try. Having scratch remover immediately to hand is great for salvaging and solving the problem though.

The PolyWatch Crystal Scratch Remover Polish Tool is exactly what you need in those situations, and will help you ensure your beautiful watch stays beautiful for longer.

5. Watchband

Hstrap’s Silver Stainless Brushed Watch Bands

Just as scratches happen, so too do straps snap or snag. Keeping a spare watchband will help mitigate this problem, particularly if you’re likely to have to wear your watch on short notice.

Our recommendation is that you try Hstrap’s Silver Stainless Brushed Watch Bands – not only do they look good, they’re also easily adjustable to the exact length you need.

6. Watch winder

WOLF 270102 Heritage Double Watch Winder

When your mechanical timepiece falters, a watch winder will help keep it ticking.

Personally, we’ve always found WOLF 270102 Heritage Double Watch Winder to work like a charm, especially on the large dials most aviator watches have.

7. Case opener

Pixnor’s Watch Case Opener Tool

Getting snap-off watch cases off can be tough, so having a specialized tool for it is really handy.

Our advice: go with Pixnor’s Watch Case Opener Tool – an affordable product that does the job every time.

4 Tips for looking fly with your aviator watch

The best aviator watches can be worn for many occasions – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the subtleties of how you wear it and what you wear it with.

Here are 4 tips for ensuring you look as fly as possible with your aviator watch:

1. Create color contrasts…

Between their luminosity and their often ostentatious colors, pilot watches can create a fantastic contrast when they are given the right canvas. You can bring out the colors and maximize the impact of your watch simply by avoiding putting too many competing colors around it.

Blacks, greys, whites: these are great colors for really allowing a striking, colorful dial and stylish strap to really take center stage and shine.

2. …But make sure the material match

That said, it’s also vital that you don’t clash materials: if your watch is metal, reflect that in your rings; if your strap is leather, leather shoes will compliment it nicely.

3. Get the fit right

There’s nothing worse than a watch that isn’t quite in place and keeps slipping. It’s really hard to take someone seriously if they’re continually adjusting their watch – so make sure you get it nice and tight around your wrist, so that it sits as confidently as possible.

4. Wear it with confidence

The final – and most essential – tip is simple: be confident. Because if you’re not, honestly, it will end up looking like the watch is wearing you.

Pilot watches are generally sophisticated, understated, and suggest a level of dapper refinement that is unbecoming of a man who doesn’t look comfortable in who he is. So wear it with pride but don’t overthink it – make sure you wear the watch, not the other way around.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve explored the world of pilot watches, we’re willing to bet you’re excited to get one of your own – and we’d love to know how you find it.

What’s your favorite on the list? Have you got a model we haven’t included that you think is worth considering?

Let us know in the comments below.


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About The Author

Domen Hrovatin
Domen Hrovatin

Domen—a self-confessed facial hair addict—is a grooming professional, style enthusiast, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about male pattern baldness. His work was mentioned in countless notable men's grooming and style publications, including Beardbrand and AskMen.

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