Affordable Pilot Watches Under 200
Pilot watches have been around since the early 1900s. At a time when pocket watches were no longer good enough for pilots needing to know time and speed, the first Pilot watch was invented.
Since those early first watches, Pilots watches have evolved through a few different styles.
First there was the WW2 Flieger style watch that was a simple dial with an arrow at the top and easy to read, large clear dial.
Later, more complex calculations were required and the bezel and outer ring of the watch was used to help pilots instead.
So, there are a range of different styles to choose from. Let’s take a look…
1. Stuhrling Original Aviator
Keeping to the original German Flieger style, at least around the outside, this watch from Stuhrling stands out from the crowd.
With large arabic indexes at 6 and 12, and an inner train of minutes, it appears to be a flieger from the start. It’s the inner part of the dial that is unique though with the day indicator appearing raised and along the vertical, as well as the raised branding at 9 o’clock.
The black leather band also has a rugged look with the two studs just below the pin.
It also comes in 3 different color/style combos, so you can choose the one that suits you best.
2. Orient Flight
Another more traditional flieger style watch from Orient is the Flight. It has a very simple and clear dial with contrasting colors. The minute markets are large along the outer, and the inner hour markers are quite small.
It has a date window at 3 o’clock and the prominent flieger arrow at 12 o’clock. The canvas band adds to the rough and ready feel you expect from a pilots watch too.
It also comes in a large variety of colors and other band options (I think the canvas is more true to the flieger) like steel as well.
3. Fanmis Hand-wound Pilot
This pilot’s watch from Fanmis screams flieger! Clear white markings on a black background. An oversized crown. The upwards arrow at 12 o’clock. All absolute classic markers of this kind of watch.
The first thing you notice is the seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, which is something rarely seen on any watch. The lack of writing or branding in general may put some people off, but it helps keep focus on the watch’s simplicity.
This is a completely manual hand-wound watch and for some a little loud (like a Swatch if you have ever owned one) but for the look and throwback to old style watches, it’s a great purchase.
4. Parnis/Fanmis Big Flieger Automatic
5. Citizen Eco-Drive Pilot
Another style of pilot watch that has become popular is based on the German observer watch. It features an inner ring to help quickly and easily determine how many minutes have pass.
This Citizen is just such a Pilot Observer watch. A perfectly round steel case with inner and outer markings. A large crown just like the WW2 pilots liked to use with their gloves on. And a extended date window at 3 o’clock.
Lastly, being an eco-drive, this watch is solar charged and won’t need battery replacement.
6. Mil-Tec Luftwaffe ME 109 Pilot Vintage
If you want to go with a true classic flieger watch, this replica German Luftwaffe from Mil-Tec goes for the authenic look.
Large clear numbering and markers, big white hands, a large crown and a nice brown leather strap to add to the look.
You are either going to love or hate the faded dial coloring, designed to make this watch look aged.
7. Seiko 5 SNK809, 807, 805
Not very often referred to as a Pilot Watch, this Seiko 5 has all the markings we expect from such a watch. The upwards arrow at 12 o’clock, the outside minute markings and clear contrasting dial/marker colors.
The Seiko 5 range is a classic of quality, durablility and value. Loved by watch wearers around the world. You can so much for your money with such a watch: day/date, hardlex crystal glass and an automatic movement.
MODERN AVIATOR STYLE
8. Invicta 17204 AVIATOR
As flying became more complex, the needs of the modern aviator developed. So too did the watches, offering more methods of determining speed, direction and countless other values.
This Invicta Aviator is typical of such watches with the 3 sub-dial chronometer with large push buttons above and below the crown, and the tachymeter around the bezel.
There is also a compass ring on the very outside of the dial, adding to the features this watch has to offer.
It comes in both a black/red or blue/gold/red variation.
9. Seiko Flightmaster Pilot (SND255 & SND253)
The Seiko Flightmaster is a renowned aviator watch with more calculation possibilities on the bezel than any other watch I have seen. Including a 3-dial chrono, compass, sliderule outer ring and more.
It stands out from the crowd with the stunning blue dial, luminous hands, red second hand and brushed stainless steel case.
You won’t find anything like the Flightmaster on the market at this price point.
10. Casio Men's Edifice EF527D-1AV
11. Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Nighthawk
Citizen have given their own unique spin to the aviator style watch which I think looks stunning.
Similar to the flightmaster style above, it has a complex calculation style sliding bezel but the hour/minute portion of the watch is still clearly visible in the middle ring.
The inner area has a date function of course, but also a dual-time GMT capability on the left hand side.