Also available in: Deutsch
To start the year, I have compiled the 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023. Here you’ll find my top picks that you can’t avoid if you’re looking for your new pilot this year. Of course, there’s something for every budget!
The 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023?
The first month of the year is already over. How was that again with the goals you set for yourself New Year? More sports, more time for the family and maybe treat yourself more often (as long as ‘treat’ doesn’t refer to chips, chocolate and stuff like that). Which brings us to the topic, because one or the other will certainly have thought about how they want to expand their watch collection in 2023. Pilot watches are on the roadmap? A good choice! This is a list of the 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023
The birth of fancy pilot watches was heralded a little over 100 years ago. Decades after their heyday in the early 20th century, pilot watches are still hardly used seriously in the cockpit today. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine the lifestyle sector without them. Whether as a simple three-hand watch or as an imposing chronograph, they can be found in many designs and sizes.
Why we love pilot watches so much
Since today’s pilot watches, unlike divers (with exceptions), are hardly worn by professionals in the field, many manufacturers refer to the golden times of their company history and revive the icons of past decades. It is hardly surprising that many models on this list of the 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023 are based on historical models.
The fascination with pilot watches is easy to grasp, but difficult to describe. Pilot’s chronographs in particular are often the best choice when a man is looking for a statement on the wrist that should look emphatically masculine, yet businesslike, sporty and straightforward. A comfortable leather strap completes the vintage look and provides the necessary elegance that we love so much about aviators. Last but not least, historical awareness plays a big role in choosing your new Daily Rocker.
This listing of the 20 Best Pilot’s Watches 2023 should make your buying decision easier. At the end of each short test summary, you will find the direct link to the store. If you want play it safe and see the watches in color and action or don’t feel like reading, you should definitely check out my YouTube video on the topic. There I show and explain each model. Enjoy!
Sinn 356 Sa FLIEGER (Reference 356.020)
It goes without saying that a Sinn has to show up among the 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023. The importance of the iconic 356 Sa FLIEGER chronograph within the collection can be impressively seen by the delivery time of about 20(!) weeks. With its clean, timeless and Sinn-typical design as well as the strongly curved acrylic glass, the 356 FLIEGER is recognizable at first glance. Anyone who wears the masterpiece of the traditional German watch brand radiates self-confidence and demonstrates a love of technical perfection. The Sinn 356 Sa FLIEGER stands for this like hardly any other watch. In addition to an overpressure of 10 bar, the sleek pilot’s chronograph can also withstand negative pressure, which can occur under certain circumstances in the cockpit. Despite the mass of information, the wearer keeps an overview on the dial. With leather strap, this reference is priced at 1,890.00 euros.
Here you can find the watch in the store
DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic (Reference 161.565.46)
The DAVOSA Neoteric Pilot Automatic is designed to revolutionize the pilot watch as we have known it until now. In contrast to the classic three-hand watch, the Swiss manufacturer shifts the minute track to the center and sets it off from the rest of the dial in color and contrast. With the help of skeletonized hands and Arabic numerals, it should be possible to read the time even faster. A sensible addition, which does not replace the conventional pilot chronograph, but fills the gap between this and the three-hand watch well. Since DAVOSA approaches the theme very carefully, the Neoteric looks timeless – just like a typical pilot’s watch. Details like the accent color and three different color variations additionally ensure that no boredom arises. The price of only 798.00 euros includes a Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement!
Here you can find the watch in the store
The whole collection at a glance
Hanhart 417 ES Flyback Reverse Panda
This is probably the most sought-after pilot watch from Hanhart, the traditional German-Swiss manufacturer, which was founded 140 years ago and became famous for the first watches with stop function. The 417 ES is back as the Flyback Reverse Panda to celebrate the anniversary. More than 60 years ago, the original became the first pilot chronograph of the German Armed Forces. The new edition with the Reverse Panda look features everything we love about Hanhart: the striking design with the red marked and fluted bezel, best premium quality and the legendary stop function. The inclusion of a flyback function and the uncomplicated Bicompax concept with only two totalizers make the 417 ES Flyback Reverse Panda unbeatable as an all-rounder among pilot watches. Everyone should know this pilot’s watch! The model costs 2,390.00 euros.
Here you can find the watch in the store
Have you ever asked yourself which pilot watches the professionals of today wear? Eurofighter test pilots are exposed to short-term forces of up to 12G. For more than 10 years they trust the brand DAMASKO. The official duty watch is the DC56. To earn this status, the model has been subjected to rigorous stress tests that underline its outstanding quality and functionality. In addition to high G-forces, the DAMASKO DC56 can withstand temperature fluctuations from -40 to +56 ° Celsius, as well as pressure differences. The Tri-Compax arrangement of the totalizers reveals that inside the pilot chronograph works the powerful ETA Valjoux 7750 caliber in Elaboré version. With a diameter of 40 millimeters, the DC56 also has a moderate size. A reduced, functional design makes the high-performance athlete among pilots a must-have. Cost: 2,425.00 euros.
Click here for the watch in the store
Laco Pilot Watch Original Paderborn (reference number 861749)
In the 1940s, there were only a few companies that had official permission to produce so-called observation watches. They were used for navigation to determine the time to the second. Laco, one of the select watch brands at the time, is reviving the 55 millimeter pilot watches and now offers them in handy diameters like 42 or 39 millimeters. What I find outstanding is the wealth of configuration options, which is unique. Two examples: Laco offers its automatic movement in two quality levels. The sapphire crystal can be either single or double anti-reflective. This turns a pilot’s watch into an individual companion for everyday wear. All available model variants are named after German cities and differ in diameter, dial design and movement. My test model linked here is named Paderborn and costs 980.00 euros.
My test watch in the store of Laco
AVI-8 Orissa Carey Dual Time (reference number AV-4088-04)
You want to buy a pilot’s watch, spend as little as possible and still enjoy the best watch experience? With the Orissa from AVI-8, that’s already possible at an entry-level price of 200.00 euros, which makes the sporty chronograph the most affordable pilot’s watch of this best-of. Although the Orissa Carey Dual Time is not a typical retro timepiece in my eyes, AVI-8 designed it as a pilot’s watch that pays tribute to the legendary British pilot Frank Reginald Carey. In my eyes, the quartz watch does this in a very modern way as well as with good quality. The sporty case is contrasted by the dignified leather strap. My budget tip for all who love good pilot watches!
Click here for the AVI-8 Orissa Carey Dual Time in the store
Fortis Pilot F-41 Automatic (reference number F.422.0008)
Fortis does not rest on past eras and has a modern and almost radical watch in the collection with the Flieger F-41. The Pilot with the stainless steel bracelet comes up with some in-house innovations concerning the dial, which Fortis has had protected. With the SYNCHROLINE, pilots in formation flight synchronize their timepieces. BRIXTRACK, on the other hand, refers to a new luminous system. It’s clear that Fortis is going its own way. Last but not least, the traditional Swiss manufacturer installs its UW-30 automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve. No wonder the ‘Flieger’ has been a perennial favorite for more than 35 years. This modern classic does so many things right while being quite unique. The price is CHF 2,300.00.
The Flieger F-41 Automatic in the Fortis store
Read my detailed review about this watch
Fischer + Cie. Flight Captain “Baumuster A”
You don’t know Fischer + Cie. yet? Until now, the small custom watch manufacturer from Hamburg was an insider tip for wealthy watch enthusiasts with a penchant for special designs. With the Flight Captain, the brand’s watchmaking skills go into series production for the first time. Although this area is new territory for the manufacture, this is not noticeable in the Flight Captain. You expect the highest quality from specialists – and you get it. Visually, the pilot’s watch falls back on the “Baumuster A” design, which was originally produced as commissioned work for the Luftwaffe by IWC, Laco or Lange & Söhne. In my eyes, the price is surprising. With such customers, no one would have expected the in-house creation to cost only 689.00 euros. No question, this is the price-performance winner!
Click here for the watch in the store
Tutima M2 Pioneer 6451-03
Tutima’s M2 follows in the footsteps of the legendary NATO chronograph, which still serves as a duty watch for German Army pilots. The successor also proves that pilot watches are not a discontinued model with vintage character but can be modern high-tech timepieces. In the following, I would like to mention only a few of the numerous highlights. The M2 Pioneer 6451-03 is powered by the in-house manufacture caliber Tutima 521, which covers all important chronograph functions. It is protected from magnetic fields by a soft-iron inner case construction. Among all pilot’s watches, the M2 is also the most underwater capable, withstanding 30 bar maximum pressure – more than many dive watches. With the included tool set, the titanium bracelet can be replaced with an alternative made of Kevlar fabric. Cost: 5,200.00 euros!
The M2 Pioneer 6451-03 in the Tutima store
Atlantic Pilot Classic Edition Automatic Black (reference number 52752.41.63)
There are pilot watches that no one can say anything bad about and that everyone who is interested in pilots will like. In my opinion, the Atlantic Pilot Classic Edition Automatic Black definitely belongs to this category. A brown leather strap, beige numerals on a black dial, the domed sapphire crystal and a stainless steel case make the watch a retro eye-catcher that still looks sporty – the epitome of a pilot’s watch. It is equipped with a Sellita SW 200-1. At a price of only CHF 640, this timepiece is ideal for anyone who wants to get their first pilot’s watch. Alternatively, Atlantic’s Pilot Classic Edition is also available with a white dial.
You can find the Atlantic Pilot Classic Edition Automatic Black in the store here
Mühle-Glashütte Terrasport II (reference number M1-37-47-LB)
A cream dial and a brown buffalo leather strap are the best ingredients to turn a wristwatch into a classic aviator with a finely tuned design. If you appreciate traditions and have always thought that some things were better in the past, you can’t avoid the Terrasport II made by the German company Mühle from Glashütte in Saxony. While the competition always wants to go higher, further and faster, this classic men’s watch shifts down a gear. One is more relaxed, without neglecting technical perfection. That’s what it’s always been about. And so, the SW 200-1 automatic movement also features the in-house conversion, including the typical Mühle speckle-neck regulation. Sportier is the black dial and metal bracelet. In this version, the Terrasport II costs 1,350.00 euros and is well worth the money!
The Terrasport II in the store of Mühle-Glashütte
ZEPPELIN Eurofighter Automatic Chronograph (reference number 72183)
The Eurofighter chronograph has already appeared in its fourth generation in 2021. However, since then, the popular watch has been sold under the ZEPPELIN brand, which belongs to POINTtec. Before that, Junkers took over, but it has not belonged to POINTtec for a long time. Like other premium chronographs, the Eurofighter Automatic Chronograph relies on the famous and proven ETA Valjoux 7750, which operates in a high-quality stainless steel case (Made in Germany). On the unconventional rotating bezel, you can measure speeds with a tachymeter. Equally unique is the midnight blue dial with gradient. Currently, the chronograph costs 1,749.00 euros. If you want to spend less money, it’s best to go for the much cheaper quartz chronograph or the automatic three-hand watch!
Click here for the detailed review of the Eurofighter Automatic Chronograph (with light dial)
The ZEPPELIN Eurofighter Automatic Chronograph in the store
bauhaus aviation Titanium Automatic GMT (reference number 2868M5)
Bauhaus watches have probably produced the most timeless designs in the watch world. Logically, I would like to present you a representative of this philosophy. The bauhaus aviation Titanium Automatic GMT combines – as the name suggests – two popular concepts. Titanium is extremely light, corrosion resistant, comfortable to the skin and hard to find in this price category. Frequent travelers and globetrotters will quickly appreciate the GMT function. Combined in a smart Bauhaus design, titanium and GMT time make this timepiece a versatile all-rounder. With the Miyota 9075, the bauhaus aviation is even powered by an automatic movement. The attractive overall package at the price of 549.00 euros is a watch for connoisseurs. Especially for those who think they have already seen every pilot watch, I can recommend the timepiece of the German brand.
Here you can get to the bauhaus aviation Titanium Automatic GMT
Iron Annie Flight Control Automatic Chronograph (reference number 51225)
The Flight Control Automatic Chronograph of the brand Iron Annie, which is known as a specialist for strong character aviator designs, is much more classic. However, the Flight Control Automatic Chronograph also has strengths in the area of functionality. In the comparison of the 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023, the pilot watch inspires with the most convincing night readability. The watch manufacturer realizes this with a fully luminous dial – unique! You can buy the watch with the comfortable brown leather strap already for the price of 1,199.00 euros. Considering the excellent SII NE86 automatic caliber from Seiko and the high-quality case materials (sapphire crystal and stainless steel), the Flight Control Automatic Chronograph is one of the pilot watches with the best price-performance ratio in this listing.
Here you can find the watch in the store
The Bradfield from the British brand Farer, which was only founded in 2015, is – compared to most other pilot watches – very unconventional. With its light blue centered minute track, yellow hands and petrol blue leather strap, the automatic pilot watch doesn’t really want to be pigeonholed. However, I was really surprised when I wore the watch on my wrist for the first time. The well-designed dial extends to the edge, which made it possible to build the case compact and maintain the good readability. In the dark, the Bradfield convinces with an innovative luminous concept. Thanks to the inner soft iron cage, the Sellita SW200-1 is protected from magnetic fields, to which the watch is constantly exposed in everyday life. We also have to emphasize the above-average warranty period of 5 years. 885.00 euros are relatively moderate!
The Bradfield in the Farer Shop
IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire (reference number IW326803)
Great names have always triggered fascination in us. IWC is no exception. The enthusiasm for wristwatches is inseparable from this fascination. You love the functional luxury from Schaffhausen? In my opinion, one of the best pilot’s watches in IWC’s program is the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire, which offers all-rounder qualities for every situation in life and makes the pilot’s watch fit for everyday wear on the wrist of the modern, style-conscious man. Functions are not the focus here, rather the love of quality and perfection. The Spitfire was one of the first watches to be equipped with the new manufacture caliber 32000, which has a power reserve of an incredible 72 hours. Since its market launch, the retail price has skyrocketed and currently stands at 5,500.00 euros.
IWC’s pilot watch in the store
Junkers J1 Limited Edition (reference number 9.58.02.01.N)
It is just over 100 years since Hugo Junkers designed the first metal aircraft in aviation history – the J1. It completed its first flight flawlessly. Today, the name Junkers is a classic and a household name to anyone interested in pilot watches. This J1 special edition is intended to pay appropriate tribute to the milestone from 1915 and is accordingly limited to 1915 pieces. In the test, it proves that the pilot watch not only tells a great story, but also qualitatively follows the achievements of the prototype. High-quality materials and a successful finish round out the good overall impression of the colorful J1 with NATO strap. My test reference costs 580.00 euros. Other color variants are also available.
VANDAAG Schallmauer Automatic White
The German company VANDAAG is represented this year with two pilots. The first is the Schallmauer Automatic, which will not be delivered until March 2023 and can already be pre-ordered now at a price of 1,699.00 euros. In the “Panda” version, the chronograph is a visual highlight in black and white. It is accentuated by the (typical for VANDAAG) red date window. In addition to exclusive premium materials, you’re getting a pilot’s chronograph that is powered by a Sellita SW510BHa caliber. Still on site, the Swiss refine the rotor, which you can admire through the viewing window. Conclusion: the established premium brands have got serious competition in the field of pilot chronographs, which they have to take on first. Tip: hurry up with your pre-order. This Schallmauer Automatic is limited to only 100 pieces.
Here you can pre-order the pilot watch
VANGAAG Schallmauer – Tradition
If you’re convinced by VANDAAG but can’t shell out that much cash, there’s an affordable alternative to the automatic chronograph. In the ‘Tradition’ version, the Schallmauer has a quartz movement from Miyota as well as a Reverse Panda style dial. My tested reference comes with the brown leather strap from Chicago in the style of the 50s and 60s, which definitely has its charm. For a price of 349.00 euros, VANDAAG brings out the big guns. 10 bar water resistance, double anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a three-dimensional airplane embossing in the center of the 316L steel case back leave nothing to be desired – provided that you can do without the expensive automatic movement. Then one of the 999 pieces is the right choice for you!
The VANDAAG Schallmauer – Tradition in the Shop
Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 (reference number AB0121211B1X1)
The Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 can rightly be called the queen among pilot chronographs. The timepiece, which is considered one of the most famous pilot watches ever, embodies pure luxury with its opulent design and whistles at any minimalism. Nevertheless, the motto ‘more appearance than reality’ does not apply. Inside the exquisitely crafted stainless steel case ticks Breitling’s Manufacture Caliber 1, which has been certified as a chronometer by the Swiss inspection body COSC – a hallmark of above-average performance and precision. In addition, the Navitimer is known for its famous slide rule on the bezel, which can be used to calculate important data such as the distance traveled or the rate of descent – without any electronics at all! That the Navitimer is also the most expensive of these 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023 is hardly surprising. It costs 7,450.00 euros.
Here you can buy the Navitimer!
At this point, I would like to present you another watch, that needs to be part of the 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023. Because of the total work of art consisting of brand, materials and design, I would call this pilot watch insider tip.
Maurice de Mauriac Chrono Modern Titanium (Reference MDM.330.TI42.BK.GN)
In my listing of the 20 Best Pilot’s Watches 2023, the Chrono Modern Titan from the house of Maurice de Mauriac is one of the most expensive pilot’s watches. The dark pilot chronograph costs a proud CHF 4,725. In my opinion, however, the price is worth it, because the Swiss watch has a lot to offer. At the forefront is the titanium case, which is vastly superior to stainless steel with its lightness and corrosion resistance. In addition to a diameter of 42 millimeters, you can also purchase the watch one size larger (45 millimeters). Behind the large, glazed case back works ETA’s legendary Valjoux 7750, perhaps the most successful chronograph movement of all time in TOP execution! Even more superlatives round off the excellent overall impression of the Titan, which already enters the luxury segment. A clear buy recommendation on my part!
Here you can find the watch in the store
Further blog posts on the topic “The 20 Best Pilot Watches 2023”
Here you can find all pilot watches, which I have tested so far
The 18 Best Dive Watches 2022/23