Help! I want a pilot’s watch but can’t decide which of these five options to buy… Help! I want a pilot’s watch but can’t decide which of these five options to buy…

Help! I want a pilot’s watch but can’t decide which of these five options to buy…

Sean Roberts

Though I try to fight it, I can’t help but divide my collection into categories with accompanying check boxes; dress, diver, military etc. Many say this is a terrible way to collect, yet more than anything, I love how this forces me to experience different styles and aesthetics that I normally would not. Furthermore, in the process of researching these watches, I learn more about brand history and what exactly defines a particular category. Such is the case now as I’ve been on the hunt for a pilot watch for quite some time, narrowing my search down to the watches listed below. However, even after doing all the research, I still can’t decide which of these five pilot’s watches is the right one for me. Help!

The Original

I want a pilot's watch but can’t decide which one to buy

There is just something about the Santos De Cartier (medium) that draws me in. It’s the original pilot’s watch with a dressy appearance, which lends itself perfectly to the attire of my workplace. The case is rated to 100 metres of water resistance that gives it that go anywhere, do anything appeal. Dial legibility is great with its flat white colour and black roman numeral hour markers. The ability to size the bracelet without tools (SmartLink Self-Fitting System) and the included leather strap are great bonuses. However, my worry here is the high polished, wide bezel and how that will stand up over time.

The Veteran

I want a pilot's watch but can’t decide which one to buy

One would be hard pressed to make a list of pilot watch options without adding IWC. In this case, my choice is the Mark XVIII, reference IW327015. It has the Type A dial, which is highly legible. With a mostly brushed case, a few scratches over time shouldn’t hurt its overall look. As for the bracelet, it’s the best on the list, narrowly beating out Cartier’s. The incorporation of a clasp with on-the-fly micro adjustment by use of the logo button is ingenious and practical. Moreover, I appreciate the inclusion of a date complication and I’m a big fan of the simple, classic look.

The Icon

I want a pilot's watch but can’t decide which one to buy

The Omega Speedmaster Professional. I know. I know. This started life as a racing watch but if you’re being honest with yourself, it really has become the ultimate pilot’s watch. Highly legible with a beautiful and reliable hand-wound movement inside. Sizing and proportions are darn near perfect; something I hadn’t realized until I had it on my wrist. A strap lover’s dream with its versatile look and colour scheme. Yes, there is the age-old debate about its water resistance but I get the feeling that Omega’s 50 metres rating would do just fine.

The Homies from HolsteinI want a pilot's watch but can’t decide which one to buy

I’ve always been a fan of the Oris Big Crown ProPilot line. Their recent update in the Big Date model, reference 01 751 7761 4164-07 8 20 08, really reinforces the level of value they are able to bring. From the raised, lume-filled numerals, to the coin-edge bezel and crown, the watch perfectly represents Oris’ take on a pilot’s watch. Knowing that I can get that look, on bracelet, with 100 metres of water resistance, at only $1900 USD, is very tempting. However, even with all the above mentioned positives, I still wish there was a version of this watch with their new Calibre 400, so I could take full advantage of its 5-day power reserve and extended warranty.

The Comeback Kid

I want a pilot's watch but can’t decide which one to buy

Recently, Longines has been on a roll with their heritage-inspired releases, bringing the brand back into the spotlight. That success continued with the release of their Spirit collection. Once I had an opportunity to review the different options within that collection, my attention immediately went to the black dialled Spirit Prestige Edition, reference L3.810.4.53.9. At a price point of only $2650 USD, it’s impossible to ignore what I would be getting with this watch: COSC Chronometer Certification (-4 to +6 seconds a day), 72 hour power reserve, 100 metres of water resistance. Add to that the inclusion of a brown leather strap and a NATO-styled leather strap; the Longines makes a strong case for my next pilot’s watch. My only worry is the long lug-to-lug, which at 49.6mm, flirts with my own personal limitations.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

It took me two months to get to this list of five watches. Each has its own merits and would easily find a home in many a collection. Yet, as Christopher Lambert would say, there can be only one.

What say you? Which watch do you think I should pick? Which watch would you pick? Do you think I am missing a contender that should have made this list? Email me at [email protected] and let me know.