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Time To Fly

ICONIC PILOT WATCHES THAT CELEBRATE THE WONDER OF HUMAN FLIGHT

On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright changed the course of human history by making the first powered, sustained and controlled flight in the Wright Flyer at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. Etching their names into the history books, the Wright Brothers would then go on to cement their legacy five years later.

August 8, 1908, saw the brothers orchestrate the first public flight in Hunaudieres, France. Lasting only a minute and 45 seconds, Wilbur Wright expertly manoeuvred the aircraft in the sky much to the amazement of the crowd at hand. The spectacle was done to not only showcase the ingenuity of their invention but to also silence their critics in Europe. That public demonstration would mark a turning point in the history of flight.

The evolution of flight has played a big hand in the world of horology. Pilot watches, first designed to aid aviators and pilots, are now a staple offering amongst many brands. With their unique designs, complications and multiple functions, they are also the top choice for watch enthusiasts. Here we look at some fine examples that have captured the attention of today’s high-fliers.

ICONIC PILOT WATCHES THAT CELEBRATE THE WONDER OF HUMAN FLIGHT

On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright changed the course of human history by making the first powered, sustained and controlled flight in the Wright Flyer at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. Etching their names into the history books, the Wright Brothers would then go on to cement their legacy five years later.

August 8, 1908, saw the brothers orchestrate the first public flight in Hunaudieres, France. Lasting only a minute and 45 seconds, Wilbur Wright expertly manoeuvred the aircraft in the sky much to the amazement of the crowd at hand. The spectacle was done to not only showcase the ingenuity of their invention but to also silence their critics in Europe. That public demonstration would mark a turning point in the history of flight.

The evolution of flight has played a big hand in the world of horology. Pilot watches, first designed to aid aviators and pilots, are now a staple offering amongst many brands. With their unique designs, complications and multiple functions, they are also the top choice for watch enthusiasts. Here we look at some fine examples that have captured the attention of today’s high-fliers.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter

Oris put its aviation heritage to good use with the creation of the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter in 2014. Sporting dual crowns – one for time and date, and the other to activate the mechanical altimeter – the timepiece is an essential flight tool for pilots and adventurers. Powered by the Oris 733 movement, the 47mm timepiece features a dual-phase dial which indicates altitude (outer scale and yellow pointer) and barometric air pressure (inner ring with red hand, indicating up to 15,000 feet).

Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle 90th Anniversary

The Hour Angle watch was created based on feedback Longines received from legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh following his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. To commemorate the historic occasion, the brand delivered a stunning replica of the timepiece on the 90th anniversary of that trans-Atlantic flight. Sporting the same sized 47.5mm case, the Lindbergh Hour Angle 90th Anniversary watch offers a mechanical movement with a galvanic black rotating central dial and black PVD steel rotating bezel. Its complex dial with a ‘rail-track’ minute circle with roman numerals also features a 180° scale designed for calculating the longitude.

Breitling Navitimer

When talking about pilot or aviation watches, it’s hard not to include the Navitimer in the conversation. The Navitimer 01 B01 Chronograph 46 lives up to the heritage of the model with features such as a circular aviation slide rule, which enables calculation of fuel consumption and distance conversion and the generous real-estate on the dial. The 46mm timepiece is powered by the chronometer-certified, high-performance self-winding chronograph calibre, Manufacture Breitling Calibre 01, which can be viewed via the transparent caseback.

Bremont U-22

Inspired by the U2 spy plane squadron, the Bremont U-22 is a certified pilot watch, which was reportedly tested at extremely high altitudes where it was exposed to temperatures as low as -50°F. The reason it was able to function so well is down to the impressive BE-36AE automatic chronometer certified movement and hardened stainless steel Trip-Tick® case construction. The 43mm sized watch also offers a bidirectional rotating bezel, which has been tweaked to form a compass quadrant that can be applied in navigation and weather mapping.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

IWC Schaffhausen has been in the business of making pilot’s watches since the 1940s, and the Mark XVIII represents a perfect reiteration of that heritage. Housed in a 40mm stainless steel case, the watch offers a dial that has been reduced to the bare essentials. But don’t let the simplistic design fool you – the Mark XVIII is powered by the automatic 35111-calibre movement with a 42-hour power reserve and 6-bar water-resistance, and finished with a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields.

Zenith 031930681.21C Pilot Watch

This Zenith pilot watch is not only simple and elegant but also a perfect representation of precision Swiss timekeeping. The 40mm stainless steel watch arrives with a black dial with easy-to-read Arabic numeral hour markers, luminescent silver-toned cathedral hands and a small, seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. Powered by a Swiss automatic movement with a 50 hour power reserve, the watch is paired with a highly-stylish and contrasting brown leather strap, which lends it a welcome vintage outlook.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter

Oris put its aviation heritage to good use with the creation of the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter in 2014. Sporting dual crowns – one for time and date, and the other to activate the mechanical altimeter – the timepiece is an essential flight tool for pilots and adventurers. Powered by the Oris 733 movement, the 47mm timepiece features a dual-phase dial which indicates altitude (outer scale and yellow pointer) and barometric air pressure (inner ring with red hand, indicating up to 15,000 feet).

Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle 90th Anniversary

The Hour Angle watch was created based on feedback Longines received from legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh following his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. To commemorate the historic occasion, the brand delivered a stunning replica of the timepiece on the 90th anniversary of that trans-Atlantic flight. Sporting the same sized 47.5mm case, the Lindbergh Hour Angle 90th Anniversary watch offers a mechanical movement with a galvanic black rotating central dial and black PVD steel rotating bezel. Its complex dial with a ‘rail-track’ minute circle with roman numerals also features a 180° scale designed for calculating the longitude.

Breitling Navitimer

When talking about pilot or aviation watches, it’s hard not to include the Navitimer in the conversation. The Navitimer 01 B01 Chronograph 46 lives up to the heritage of the model with features such as a circular aviation slide rule, which enables calculation of fuel consumption and distance conversion and the generous real-estate on the dial. The 46mm timepiece is powered by the chronometer-certified, high-performance self-winding chronograph calibre, Manufacture Breitling Calibre 01, which can be viewed via the transparent caseback.

Bremont U-22

Inspired by the U2 spy plane squadron, the Bremont U-22 is a certified pilot watch, which was reportedly tested at extremely high altitudes where it was exposed to temperatures as low as -50°F. The reason it was able to function so well is down to the impressive BE-36AE automatic chronometer certified movement and hardened stainless steel Trip-Tick® case construction. The 43mm sized watch also offers a bidirectional rotating bezel, which has been tweaked to form a compass quadrant that can be applied in navigation and weather mapping.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

IWC Schaffhausen has been in the business of making pilot’s watches since the 1940s, and the Mark XVIII represents a perfect reiteration of that heritage. Housed in a 40mm stainless steel case, the watch offers a dial that has been reduced to the bare essentials. But don’t let the simplistic design fool you – the Mark XVIII is powered by the automatic 35111-calibre movement with a 42-hour power reserve and 6-bar water-resistance, and finished with a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields.

Zenith 031930681.21C Pilot Watch

This Zenith pilot watch is not only simple and elegant but also a perfect representation of precision Swiss timekeeping. The 40mm stainless steel watch arrives with a black dial with easy-to-read Arabic numeral hour markers, luminescent silver-toned cathedral hands and a small, seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. Powered by a Swiss automatic movement with a 50 hour power reserve, the watch is paired with a highly-stylish and contrasting brown leather strap, which lends it a welcome vintage outlook.