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Tutima Pilot's Chronograph 1941
A pilot's watch is a watch type which is specially tailored to the needs of aircraft pilots. As first pilot's watch the Santos by Cartier is considered (see link to the story).
Characteristics of pilot's watches
Breitling Montbrillant 1903 (with slide rule) - jubilee edition at the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the brothers Wright
It cannot be rigidly defined, which attributes a pilot's watch must have. There are chronographs, but also usual manual winding and automatic models, and there are models with bidirectional rotating bezel for the measurement of intermediate times (e.g., the air force chronographs Tutima or Hanhart), or without rotating bezel, and there are navigation watches as the Longines Lindbergh or Longines Weems, which allow the calculation of positions. There are also watches with logarithmic slide rules with which flight distances can be calculated (Breitling Navitimer). Also models used in space can be found, including the legendary Moon Watch (Omega Speedmaster Professional) or the Official Cosmonauts Chronograph by Fortis.
A flyback function can also be useful as an additional complication with pilot's chronographs, which offer a simple way (by pressing just one pusher) to measure intermediate times. Also useful is a good protection against magnetization. Several models have extended or flipout bracelets, which allow to wear the watch on the aviator jacket.
Some manufacturers have specialized mainly on pilot's watches or put the main focus of their marketing on the aeronautics field. (So the company Sinn was founded by the former pilot and flight instructor Helmut Sinn, who initially offered only inexpensive pilot's watches and now continues with his brand Guinand. Also Breitling and Fortis put a strong emphasis on pilot's watches. Other specialized manufacturers are Laco, Bell & Ross and Zeno.)
The specialization in pilot's watches is well accepted by the market, since these watches with their distinctive appearance lie in the trend and are associated with features such as “male” or “sporty”. Especially the brand Breitling owes its brilliant re-ascent in the 80s and 90s not least to this image.
Small selection of well known models
- Longines Lindbergh - Hour angle watch for navigation
- Longines Weems - Navigation watch
- IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XI and successors (e.g. IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XII, IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XV, IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVI) - Pilot's watch with soft-iron inner case against magnetization
- IWC Big Pilot's Watch - Oversized Pilot's watch with soft-iron inner case against magnetization
- IWC Pilot's Watch UTC - Pilot's watch with UTC indication
- Breitling Navitimer -Pilot's Chronograph with slide rule
- Breitling Chronomat - Pilot's Chronograph
- Breguet Type XX Aeronavale - Pilot's Chronograph with flyback function
- Omega Speedmaster Professional - Chronograph, “The Moon Watch”, used by the NASA
- Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph - Space chronograph, in a variant with additional alarm function
- Sinn 356 Flieger - Very affordable classic
- Die Fliegeruhren von IWC; Authors Christian Pfeiffer-Belli, Rüdiger Bucher; ISBN 3871880701 (engl. version ISBN 387188068X )
- Die Fliegeruhr - Infos about IWC pilot's watches (German)
- Aristo Messerschmitt Me 262 (German combat airplane of WW II)