The best pilot watches of 2020 over $10K.
Some of us love diver’s watches, some skeletonised dress watches. But no matter what you do — driving a truck or stuck behind a desk — maybe nothing is more tempting in watches than the world of aviation, whether it be invoking the adventurous spirit of WWII dogfights, or the memories of Top Gun. You might actually fly a twin-prop Cessna and rely on the infallibility of a top-tier pilot’s watch to back you up in an emergency.
Here is a top 5 of the best, from high-tech weapons-grade ceramic to aged black steel with rose gold accents.
IWC Top Gun ‘SFTI’ Edition
Sorry, if you don’t know your pilot’s watches from divers, this might be your first impression, but look closely and the tool expertise of IWC quickly becomes apparent, from pure functionality to the sharp pop of red detail. A silky smooth case of ceramic and IWC’s own Ceratanium — yes, it does what it says on the tin, mixing Ceramic with the ’tanium in titanium, equating to strong, exceptional lightness.
Big it is: a brash 45mm that feels more like 43, and legibility with a capital L. IWC does tactical horology like few others, showing in the details.
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Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition in rose gold
The rose gold and cream creates an illusory chocolate tint to the matte black dial surface, and does make it difficult for us to concentrate on the functionality, which is here in spades. Thankfully, Breitling has foregone a high-tech automatic, instead we have the hand-wound in-house B09 caliber.
Sitting on a hand-stitched dark brown leather strap, it is only slightly larger than its workmanlike original, at 41mm, with a perfectly matched high dome sapphire crystal.
What more can you want: spirit, functionality and the perfect feel of winding a hand-wound calibre.
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Rolex Sky-Dweller on Oysterflex
The Rolex Sky-Dweller will never be a discreet timepiece or a tool watch; it owns its own rarefied air as the most complicated wristwatch in the Big Crown’s catalogue, and it is expressly for the wrist of business-class travellers and beyond.
A pilot’s watch? Yes, though the image here is one of a private jet, not a single propeller Cub. Hell, the pilot is probably the owner of said jet. Even with our sub-40mm focus today, 42mm is not large when you consider the inherent ergonomics of any Rolex case from 37 to 42mm, and why not enjoy some of the world’s most perfect bevels and dial details on a slightly larger canvas. The Sky-Dweller is the last reference to make you enjoy the soft embrace of the Oysterflex.
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Zenith Pilot Type 20 Blueprint
Featuring the classic 45mm brushed steel case, oversized onion crown (handy while wearing gloves, if you’re a pilot or just in the middle of winter) and dark blue leather strap, but the real excitement begins when you look at the dial.
Simply expressed, yet alluding to the complexity of architectural schematics, the blue dial features a criss-crossing of white lines that make up the hour markers and minute track, and much more.
To create a real sense of depth, however, the lines are printed on the dial, as well as the underside of the crystal, casting thin but precise shadows. If you’re in the design business, this will have a particularly attractive appeal.
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IWC Big Pilot 46mm
At a whopping 46mm, this is meant to evoke the spirit of fighter pilots, not slip under the cuff of a slim-fit shirt. Think frazzled loose cuff denim with a leather jacket. The shape is a delicate balance of functional purity with a brushed main body, but the detail-obsessive IWC manifests itself in a sharp bezel that brings a welcome element of shine, matching that polished crown of crowns.
The dial? Yes, there is no denying this is a flight instrument, a useful 7 days of power reserve being marked by a recessed register at 3, and a delicate pop of red to remind you to wind up your flight tool.
Source: Time and Tide Watches