Mar 11 , 2021

Pilot and Aviator Watches

There are a number of pilots who used to have their first onboard computers as wristwatches. Pilot and aviator watches have particular features that help the pilots with better visibility and assist them to navigate the skies.

Just like multiple types of watches, a pilot and aviator watch is one of the types of watch that is specially tailored to cater to the needs of a pilot. Santos by Cartier is considered the first pilot and aviator watch.


Brief History

With the technology of watch, pilots faced issues in the early 20th century. Back in those times, the wristwatches were not as staple as in the present day, however, men still used to wear pocket watches. With time in the late 19th century and early 20th century, people started wearing their pocket watches on their wrists using special straps.

In the year 1904, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who was a Brazilian aviator requested Louis Cartier to design a pilot and aviator watch – the Santos by Cartier was introduced then after the names of two friends. Being a pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont wanted a reliable way to keep a check on time, where he would not have to remove his hands from the controls. Louis Cartier created a small gold watch with exposed screws and a square face. The pilot and aviator watches have gone through a great evolution over time. However, people still consider the Santos Cartier as not only the first pilot watch, in fact, the first wristwatch as well.

Since the presentation of the Santos-Dumont wristwatch by Cartier in the early 1900s, watches intended for flight have taken a lasting spot on the wrists of pilots all over. Quite a bit of this can be credited to the most punctual Flieger watches worn by the Luftwaffe in World War II, which actually direct a large part of the practical design language of pilot watches today. Indeed, even in the present feature-laden cockpits stacked with GPS and the management system of flights, recreational and professional pilots still keep a watch nearby—regardless of whether only for the value of novelty.


To help pilots and make their jobs easier, a number of innovations have been made throughout the years in the pilot and aviator watches. Different brands integrated multiple elements like Breitling introduced circular slide-rule and chronograph – helped the pilot meet the demands of ever-evolving flight complexities. Other than that Bell and Ross, IWC, Longines as well participated in the pilot watches in times of war.


Characteristics of a Pilot and Aviator Watch

The pilot and aviator watch have gained massive popularity due to their sharp legibility and utilitarian aesthetics. Positioned more as a piece of statement today than the essential tool watches initially utilized in the air, pilot and aviator watches, similar to the dive watches, were conceived out of the need. The pilot and aviator watch possess several features and characteristics including:

  • A legible and large dial
  • Oversized winding crown
  • Extra Bezel Marking
  • Luminosity
  • GMT Functions or dual time



The pilot and aviator watches are to satisfy the needs of pilots and help them with their work. They have large dials and computerized bezel markings. Moreover, the winding crown is oversize with leather riveted straps. If you are new to the aviation world the first wristwatch that you should consider is Santos by Cartier.

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