2019 has seen the rise of many, many trends in watchmaking — steel sports watches with integrated bracelets, bronze cases, limited editions … you get the drift. Another incredibly vogue tendency has been watch manufacturers introducing homage models or watches that aesthetically borrow heavily from vintage timepieces. And, unquestionably, the genre of watches that has most felt the effects of this yesteryear savoir faire is pilot’s watches. Don’t get us wrong, though, that’s not a bad thing … not at all. In fact, this year has given birth to some of the most arresting examples of pilot’s watches that we’ve seen in quite some time, and here are three of our favourites:
BLANCPAIN AIR COMMAND
While most would think of diving watches (specifically the Fifty Fathoms and the Bathyscaphe) or dress watches when the name Blancpain pops up in conversation, the oldest surviving watchmaker in the world (founded in 1735) is also a dab hand at producing watches for the skies. The Blancpain Air Command is a particularly retro pilot’s flyback chronograph brought up to date by modern manufacturing techniques. Limited to 500 pieces, this one is unlikely to hang around in the hangar for long.
Ref No: AC01-1130-63A / Case size: 42.5mm / Case material: Steel / Movement: F388B / Price: $24,750
IWC PILOT’S WATCH AUTOMATIC SPITFIRE
One of the nicest aspects of the IWC Spitfire in steel is its extremely retro diameter of 39mm. With an edge-to-edge dial boasting supreme legibility and enough visual interest (three pad-printed colours!) to remain eye-catching, this hardy automatic is just a great, daily watch. Overall, this is an eminently wearable classic wrapped up in an affordable package from a brand whose name is inextricable from aviation.
Ref No: IW326801 / Case size: 39mm / Case material: Steel / Movement: 32110 / Price: $6700
HAMILTON KHAKI PILOT PIONEER MECHANICAL
This Hamilton is one of the best examples of a vintage-inspired military watch we have seen in recent years. It draws inspiration from a watch produced in the 1970s for the British Ministry of Defence. Retaining the same shape as the original watch, the case flows seamlessly into the lugs, all confined within the original 36mm dimensions. The grained dial texture and creamy lume add additional flavour, making it a reissue with seldom paralleled historical accuracy.
Ref No: H76419931 / Case size: 36mm / Case material: Steel / Movement: H-50 / Price: USD$770