Disclaimer: Eveswatch.com is reader-supported, meaning that I may include affiliate links in my articles for which I may receive compensation without any additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Pilot watches are one of the most famous timepieces, known for their sporty, appealing, and functional features. Since they are designed for a pilot, they can be expensive. Luckily, the market also produces affordable pilot watches.
Like dive watches and other timepieces, many individuals wear pilot watches for their purpose and simply because they appreciate the design.
If you want to know more about the most budget-friendly pilot’s watches, keep reading. But before diving in, let’s first understand what pilot watches are.
What is a Pilot Watch?
As the name suggests, pilot watches are initially made for pilots who need an essential timekeeping tool during their flights. They are one of the most famous timepieces and have been around for over a century. Since then, many things have changed, and some consider it a staple.
Louis Cartier presented the first pilot watch. His aviator friend, Alberto Santos-Dumont, requested a timepiece to tell time without taking up the pocket watch. During this era, people didn’t use wristwatches. So, Cartier crafted the Santos model, which soon became the first pilot’s watch.
Now that you know the basics of a pilot timepiece, here are our top picks:
Top 6 Affordable Pilot Watches
1. Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron BN5058-07E
First on our list is the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron. This pilot watch has a large and bulky design, making it suitable for those with large wrists. It features a black-ion-plated stainless steel case with a 14.5-millimeter thickness and a 46-millimeter diameter.
Some excellent features include a water resistance of 200 meters of 660 feet and an Eco-Drive power movement for optimum accuracy. It also features a scratch-resistant mineral crystal at the top of the case.
Other valuable functions of this pilot watch include large white Arabic numerals, which contrast against the black dial and a date window at 3 o’clock. Its large hands consist of white-painted frames for better contrast and luminescent material.
Moreover, the watch features an altimeter that measures from 1,000 to 32,000 feet, a date, and a compass. So, if you’re searching for a timepiece that offers durable construction and an edgy, sporty style, this pilot’s watch is worth buying.
- Large and bulky design
- Features a black-ion-plated stainless steel case
- Offers a 660-feet water resistance
- Provides an Eco-Drive power movement for optimum accuracy
- Scratch-resistant mineral crystal
- Includes luminescent material
- Has an altimeter from 1000 to 32000 feet
- No quality control
- Inoperable altimeter and compass
- Poor movement
2. Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind Day Date H77765541
The Hamilton Khaki Aviation is another pilot watch that made it to our top picks. In case you didn’t know, Hamilton is a brand with a long and tight history with aviation.
This aviation watch presents a 12.8-millimeter thickness and a 45-millimeter diameter. The timepiece offers a tool-like and sporty style inspired by aviation. In addition, it features a stunning blue dial with a brushed sunburst finish.
Another excellent feature of this aviation watch is its bi-directional rotating bezel and scratch-resistant Sapphire crystal. It also provides water resistance, which can withstand a depth of up to 100 meters or 330 feet.
The watch’s dial offers a day and date window, where you can easily read its large Arabic numerals in a contrasting white color. Moreover, its large white hands provide optimum contrast as well.
Furthermore, this Hamilton watch is powered by automatic movement, which watch enthusiasts highly appreciate. You can also view its action inside through its see-through case back.
Suppose you’re looking for a great everyday watch with an athletic design and high-quality movement. In that case, this timepiece might be for you.
- Sporty and tool-like design
- Features a blue dial with a brushed sunburst finish
- Powered by a high-quality automatic movement
- Offers a bi-directional rotating bezel
- 100-meter water resistance rating
- Provides a see-through case back
3. AVI-8 AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane
AVI is a brand that produces pilot’s watches, and the Avi-8 AV-4011 Hawker Hurricane is another watch inspired by aviation. Hence, its name is Avi-8 (Aviate).
This classic pilot watch offers a stainless steel case with a 42-millimeter diameter. However, its water resistance only provides up to 50 meters or 165 feet, making it unsuitable for deep water activities.
On the other hand, a Japanese quartz movement operates the watch. It also utilizes a tachymeter scale with the chronograph to measure average speed.
Another excellent feature of this timepiece is its classic pilot design with a discreet case and a large dial, leaving all the focus on the dial. Reading this chronograph watch is easy, thanks to its prominent white Arabic numerals and contrasting hands.
This watch is perfect for those who prefer a stylish and sporty design, making it suitable for casual days and formal events.
- Offers a Japanese quartz movement
- Utilizes a tachymeter scale to measure average speed
- Easy to read
- Only provides a 50-meter water resistance
- Fragile wristband
4. Seiko SNN241
Another excellent and versatile pilot-inspired watch that made it to our list is the Seiko SNN241. Despite being affordable, this popular pilot watch features a classic design that works for everyday wear.
This traditional pilot watch features a stainless steel case, a 42.6-millimeter diameter, and a brushed finish for an athletic charm. Moreover, its water resistance offers up to 100 meters or 330 feet, making it suitable for light water activities. Meanwhile, a Hardlex crystal features on top of the case.
Additionally, the timepiece includes a large brown dial divided into two sections: one consisting of a sunburst part in the center and one with large hour markers with luminescent material in the outer part of the dial.
The center dial includes large white Arabic numerals and hands with LumiBrite. Meanwhile, the frame of the white hands creates a better contrast against the brown background. For convenience, you will find a date window at 6 o’clock.
The SNN241 provides a classic brown leather strap, as many aviation watches do. Moreover, it features a chronograph function and a Japanese quartz movement. Overall, this watch is easy to read and offers a mix of elegance and sportiness.
- Offers a classic and sporty design
- Offers a 330-feet water resistance
- Features a Hardlex crystal
- Provides a stainless steel case
- Suitable for everyday wear
- Hard to operate
- Small band
Also Read: Grand Seiko Vs. Seiko
5. Laco Augsburg Type A Automatic Pilot Watch 861688
The Laco Augsburg Type A Automatic Pilot Watch is a perfect timepiece for those who prefer an authentic, sporty, and classic pilot-inspired design.
What sets this apart from the more traditional pilot watches and brands is how it stays true to the design language of classic pilot watches from World War II. Because pilot watches are classic, this makes the timepiece more appealing and fascinating.
Some features include a 42-millimeter stainless steel bracelet with a thin bezel and moderately short lugs, leaving room for the dial. And like most pilot watches, it presents with a brown leather strap.
Moreover, it has a large, oversized crown at 3 o’clock. The watch is also easy to read in low-lit situations with the help of its large matte black dial and large Arabic numerals and markers with Superluminova.
In addition, its large and sharp hands are also applied with Superluminova. However, its water resistance rating only offers 50 meters. Overall, all the watch’s features make it a true vintage-inspired pilot’s watch.
- Offers an authentic, sporty, and classic pilot-inspired design
- Powered by a Citizen Miyota 821A automatic (self-winding) movement
- Applied with Superluminova
- Only has a 50-meter water resistance rating
6. Kienzle Fliegler Automatic
If you’re not on a very tight budget, look at the Kienzle Flieger Automatic watch. This Flieger watch offers a modern take on the classic pilot watch. Some excellent features include a simple date window at the 3 o’clock position and a minimalist dial with luminous hands and indices.
Moreover, a lovely gray PVD coating comes with the watch’s stainless steel case, which pairs well with the nylon strap. This sport watch also includes a 10-bar water resistance, making it suitable for adventurous individuals.
- Offers a modern and classic design
- Includes a simple date window at 3 o’clock
- Features a minimalist dial
- Provides a 10-bar water resistance
What to Look For in a Pilot’s Watch?
Here are a few features to consider when looking for the best pilot watches:
Some of the best aviation watches are powered by high-quality movement. One example of a great watch movement is the Japanese Quartz.
Depending on your preference, style is another factor to consider before buying your ideal pilot watch. If you’re adventurous, opt for a bulky or edgy design. Meanwhile, consider a timepiece with a minimalist design if you prefer simplicity.
Even though you’re under a tight budget, durability should still be a part of your criteria. High-end watches don’t guarantee you a robust watch either. However, choosing a timepiece with a durable construction ensures that it can last for years.
4. Additional Functions
What makes a great pilot timepiece a great watch are its useful functions since they are originally made for pilots or those who work in aviation. You should include GMT function, legibility (easy to read in low-lit conditions), chronograph, altimeter, and a legible dial.
A pilot watch is an excellent timepiece for your collection or closet. Not only is it functional, but it can also be fashionable to wear on different occasions.
We recommend the Seiko SNN241 as the best affordable pilot watch. This vintage pilot-inspired watch offers valuable features such as 330-feet water resistance, a Hardlex crystal, and a Japanese quartz movement.
If you liked this article, read our other articles at EvesWatch.com.
My name is Eve Acosta and I’m the person behind this site. Watches are what get me ticking ;).
No, but seriously, I just love watches, I have over 30 myself. It’s an obsession of mine, which is why my husband recommended me to put my hobby into some good use and build this site – so I did.
My passion for timepieces came from the fact that my parents own a small chain of shops selling timepieces. I’ve worked at the shop since I was 11 and fell in love with the merchandise.