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What is a Luxury Pilot Watch?

Pilot watches go under different names, such as Flieger or Aviator, and have been a popular branch of watches for years. A watch is a pilotwatch because of the design and the functions that are of added value for pilots. It used to be important that the watch was easy to read for the pilot, both in the light and in the dark. That is why the format of the hour markers was often large and conspicuous. Fliegers normally have a GMT function. The GMT function was important for pilots to be able to display different time zones while flying across time zones. The Tachymeter and Chronograph function are also often associated with Pilot watches these days.

The Rich History of Luxury Pilot Watches

The history of pilot watches actually starts with Louis Joseph Cartier. He was the grandson of Louis-François Cartier, the founder of the jewelry house as we know it. At the time, Louis Cartier was friends with the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. He pointed out to Louis that it was an annoyance to get his pocket watch out while flying.

Louis Cartier knew a solution for this for him. And that's where the first pilot's watch was born: the Cartier Santos-Dumont. This used to be unique, but this watch is still in production today.

Materials and Design

It was very important for pilots that the watches they wore were sturdy, but also easy to read. These watches are often relatively large, such as 42mm or larger. Fliegers generally have large clear dials with numerals as hour markers. The minutes are also well displayed, for example on the Rolex Air-King.

The use of materials by the manufacturers of pilot watches has changed. Because these watches had to be sturdy and impact resistant, the cases used to be often made of steel and therefore heavy. Nowadays, sturdier and lighter materials are used, such as titanium, ceramic or even carbon.

Iconic Luxury Pilot Watches

Many major brands have responded to the Aviator Watches market with a whole range of models. While Cartier was the founder of the wrist and aviator watch, other major brands have had their own take on this phenomenon, and this has shaped this market into what it is today.

Breitling Navitimer

Breitling enters the pilot watch market with their well-known Breitling Navitimer. The Navitimer has taken on many different guises over the years. The Breitling Navitimer often has a relatively large dial. This, of course, with the easy readability of the time in mind.

With a number of models under this series, they have added some functions that a pilot knows what to do with. The chronograph function and tachymeter function are often used on the Breitling Navitimer. The dial or bezel sometimes also has a slide rule that pilots can use to perform complex calculations. A Breitling Navitimer can be found pre-owned for around €3.000.

Rolex GMT-Master

Of course, the Rolex collection also includes a number of pilot watches. One of the most memorable is of course the Rolex GMT-Master, followed by the GMT-Master II. These watches have a rich history in the aviation industry, such as the Rolex PanAmerican collaboration with the now well-known Pepsi Bezel. The GMT-Master is known for its, you guessed it, GMT-Function. It allows the pilot to see the time in different time zones at a glance.

A pre-owned Rolex GMT-Master (II), depending on the configuration, can be found for under €15,000. Rolex has many well-known models, such as the Rolex GMT-Master II Sprite, which are very collectable. The Sprite is very popular thanks to its crown on the left and the green-black bezel.

IWC Pilot

The IWC Pilot is a watch known for its robust appearance and impressive functions. With a large case diameter and a striking crown, it is a real statement piece for watch enthusiasts. One of the hallmarks of the Big Pilot is its excellent readability. The watch has a clear dial with large Arabic numerals and broad hands. Another notable feature of the Big Pilot is the aviator style of the dial. This refers to IWC's historical connection to the aviation industry and gives the watch a unique look.

The price may vary depending on the specific model, materials and market conditions. Pre-Owned prices start around €7.000, going up to €20.000 and even more. These models can be found new from €6.000 and upwards, depending on the materials, functions and of course availability.

Choose your luxury pilotwatch

Choosing a luxury pilotwatch is an exciting process that involves several factors to consider. First of all, it is important to consider what exactly you are looking for in a watch. Do you want a watch with advanced aviator functions, such as a chronograph or a GMT function? Or is the design of the watch more important to you? It is also essential to consider the reliability and quality of the brand. Watch brands with a strong reputation in the watch industry, such as IWC, Breitling and Rolex, often offer excellent pilot watches.

In addition, the budget is an important factor. Luxury pilot watches can be a significant investment, so it's wise to set your budget before you start looking. Finally, it is recommended to compare different watches before making a final decision. By doing careful research and considering your personal preferences, you can ultimately find the luxury pilot watch that perfectly suits your tastes and needs.

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