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The Ultimate Vintage Watch Collection for Him: The Best Looking Pilot/Aviator Designs

We are featuring a very popular category of aviator watches praised among outdoorsmen. The elegant and classy aviator style has always had a large base of enthusiasts. This is why we chose to select this exclusive collection of chronograph watches for men which design has been inspired by a passion for flying and for a vintage look.

As you can appreciate, there are watches for every budget from apprentice to the collector. But in every case, this aviator watch collection is timeless in look, sporty in specs, and addictively elegant.

All products featured on Men Objects are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Main Heritage of the Aviator Watch


First off, where did this aviator sporty look that we crave originates from?

The first influence was from the military who recognized how valuable of a tool it was. The early watch models were standard pocket-watches fitted to a leather strap, but by the early 20th century manufacturers began producing purpose-built wristwatches.

In 1904 French watchmaker Louis Cartier designed a watch model for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont which became popular with pilots because of its usefulness in flight situations. It was because of the absence of a power source nearby (such as onboard airplanes).

First pilot watch Santos-Dumont by Cartier jewelry

A wristwatch was first used in World War I as an artillery officer’s tool. The so-called trench watch or ‘wristlets, were practical due to their ability for soldiers' hands freed up from operating pocket watches while on the battlefield. They quickly became standard equipment during that war's demands; they also protected against glass fractures caused by shell fragments landing nearby at times when the enemy fire would not allow immediate evacuation if needed. A special guard was protecting them sometimes through the use of hinged cages.


The "trench watch," is a device used by World War I soldiers and aviators to tell time while they're in the trenches.



















The Cartier Tank watch was the first timepiece designed as a military accessory. This style of wristwatch became popular in World War I, when manufacturers were starting to replace their fob watches with something more practical and durable for soldiers on active duty.



The Impact of First World War 1914-18


The impact of World War I transformed the way we think about wristwatch timepieces. The need for precise synchronization between artillery gunners and infantrymen advancing behind their barrage required precise synchronization.


The wear of wristwatches during World War I was heavily influenced by their design to withstand the rigors of trench warfare. Luminous dials and unbreakable glass became common features as a result, making them appealing in an era without other modes for keeping time or checking one's Bulletin Board Index Card (BBI) schedule.

Early wristwatch by Waltham, worn by soldiers in World War I (German Clock Museum). | Wikipedia

By the end of the war, almost all enlisted men wore a wristwatch (or wristlet), and after they were demobilized the fashion soon caught on.





The Modern Watches Influence


High-quality watches were produced by firms such as Patek Philippe, an example made in 1933, an example being a Patek Philippe ref. 1518, possibly the most complicated wristwatch ever made in stainless steel, fetched a world record price in 2016 when it was sold at auction for $11,136,642. - Wikipedia


Patek Philippe watch from 1943
Rare 1943 Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 | Image from Phillips Auction



A Patek Philippe 97975, the World's First Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch. This exceptional instantaneous perpetual calendar movement was made in a beautiful yellow-gold wristwatch replete with a hunter back and a large fluted crown that comes complete with an easy-to-read dial - perfect for someone who wants high style but doesn't want all the hassle!


Patek Philippe first perpetual movement watch 1925
World's 1st Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch by Patek Philippe | Image Revolutionwatch













The NASA Influence on Watches


While chronographs were around since the late 1800s, Omega Speedmaster is a classic timepiece, first introduced in 1957. Since then many different movements have been marketed under the name "Speedmaster." One such model to denote its chronograph heritage was used by astronaut Walter Schirra during his 1962 mission aboard NASA's Mercury-Atlas 8 spacecraft.


Omega's choice of movement for these watches was a Lemania-made Calibre 321, which had been chosen due to its robust construction and accurate timekeeping properties.




Omega Speedmaster Reduced - 1988


The Speedmaster Reduced is a smaller, cheaper version of the Omega Speed Master. It has an even 39mm case size that's perfect for people who want to be different from everyone else or love small things! With more affordable price points this watch was discontinued in 2009.


The modern sports chronograph watch that we have come to love and appreciate today has a rich heritage from NASA, the military's need for strong built-in functions which were passed on down through generations of timepieces.


 


What makes a good pilot watch?


A lot of people think that they need to spend lots of money on high-end watches, but the truth is you can get really great timepieces without breaking your budget.


What to look for in a pilot watch:

  • A large dial with easy reading numbers and hands;

  • High contrast illumination on all features make it easier in low light situations or at night when flying an airplane for hours upon end;

  • Non-reflective sapphire crystals so there's no glare from artificial lighting sources like daylights offshore causing uncomfortable eye strain while trying hopelessly attempt landing aircraft after dark.


THE AEROMAT WATCHES: A CREATION MADE TO IMPRESS ANY PILOT


The AEROMAT is said to be the pinnacle of watch craftsmanship. This collection of affordable watches are legible, functional, and reliable but don't think for a second that they're not precise as well. They are designed timepieces geared towards performance-driven lifestyles.

Designed for both professional pilots, watch enthusiasts, and the common gentleman who dreams of flying, the Aeromat timepiece is a powerful quality tool. The angle they aim is to evoke a feeling of adventure and exploration through a flight with a sleek design that is reminiscent of vintage airplanes!


The AEROMAT watches are designed in Paris and made in Hong Kong so they offer style and affordability. Their watch series range from $275 to $699 USD.


VOL DE NUIT Collection


VDM Black Steel



The VDN Black Steel Link carries effortless elegance with a black dial and Super-Luminova-filled hands and indexes. It features two red pushers taken from the PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator). It’s water-resistant at 10ATM.





VDM Blue & Black Leather

$245.00 USD | Get here


The VDN Blue & Black Leather is a sporty-looking watch featuring an advanced chronograph. Its blue dial sits on a stainless steel case with 10ATM water resistance. For legibility, it uses Super-LumiNova and anti-reflective glass.



VDM Grey Leather

$245.00 USD | Get here


The VDN Gray Leather shows off a stylish look along with its chronograph functions. It features two red pushers in reference to the PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator). The anti-reflective glass makes night-flight ready.





VDM Blue Steel

$275.00 USD


The VDN Blue Steel Link presents a modern take to this iconic chronograph. It features Super-LumiNova-filled hands and indexes on a blue dial. Water-resistant at 10ATM, it’s made of stainless steel to withstand rugged conditions.






VDM Black Leather

$245.00 USD


The VDN Black Leather is a tough-looking watch featuring full chronograph functions. It sports a black dial and Super-LumiNova-filled hands and indexes. Built with 10ATM water resistance for a reliable rugged construction.






AEM 450 Collection


AEM 450 Midnight Blue Bracelet

$170.00 USD



The AEM 450 Midnight Blue Bracelet shows a clean and crisp look with its Sunray blue dial and white lum-filled hands and indexes. For accurate time-keeping, Ronda 763 Swiss quartz movement. It is made with a carbon fiber-based case and IP stainless steel bezel.





AIRSPEED COLLECTION


Airspeed Pearl

$699.00 USD


The Airspeed Pearl shows a clean and crisp look. It boasts a white dial with Super-LumiNova technology. For accurate time-keeping, it is powered by a Miyota 8215 automatic movement.







Airspeed Azure

$699.00 USD


The Airspeed Azure features high legibility with a deep blue dial highlighted by Super-LumiNova technology. It is powered by an automatic movement to follow you on all occasions.




PNY COLLECTION


PNY Black Leather

$275.00 USD


The Aeromat PNY Black Leather is a tactical pilot watch best suited for air adventures. It features a black satin dial and double print indexes paired with shiny silver hands, both with cream luminous. It has a stainless steel brushed case with matte black aluminum inlay and a round polished silver crown. Its light brown leather strap with heavy white stitching perfects the overall built of this sturdy timepiece powered by the renowned Seiko VK64 movement.




PNY Rose Gold Leather

$275.00 USD


The Aeromat PNY Rose Gold Leather is a unique pilot watch fresh from a plane’s cockpit. Its sturdy built is designed to overcome extreme conditions, starting with the stainless steel brushed case with matte black aluminum inlay and IPRG. Inside this case is a captivating satin warm grey dial and double print indexes plus shiny rose gold hands, both with white luminous. It has a durable black leather strap with heavy black stitching, and a round polished IPRG crown backed with the notable Seiko VK64 mechanism.





PNY Gold Steel

$300.00 USD


The Aeromat PNY Gold Steel Link is a promising aviation watch bearing the watchmaking heritage. It has a satin black dial, double print indexes, and shiny silver hands with cream luminous. Its sturdy brushed case is made of stainless steel with matte black aluminum inlay and has a round polished silver crown. It sports a five-link stainless steel bracelet and is powered by the Seiko VK64 quartz movement.






PNY Black & White Leather

$275.00 USD


The Aeromat PNY White Steel Link is a high-quality pilot watch powered by the Seiko VK64 quartz movement. It features a white satin dial, double print indexes, and shiny black hands, all having cream luminous. The brushed case is made of stainless steel case with matte black aluminum inlay and a round polished silver crown. It sports a chocolate de-stressed leather strap for a vintage feel like no other.





TYPE GMT COLLECTION



Type GMT Black Bird

$250.00 USD


The Black Bird Type GMT takes inspiration from the original Flieger watch. Designed during the 1930s it quickly became one of the most recognizable military pilot watch designs out there.

A large case with large indexes allows for quick and easy reading which is useful when navigating.





Type GMT Arctic Bracelet

$275.00 USD


The Arctic Bracelet Type GMT takes inspiration from the original Flieger watch. Designed during the 1930s it quickly became one of the most recognizable military pilot watch designs out there.

A large case with large indexes allows for quick and easy reading which is useful when navigating.





The Aeromat PNY Chronograph Review - Seiko VK 64 Meca-Quartz - by All Things Random



The Pilot Ambassadors who own an Aeromat

 

12 UNAVOIDABLE PILOT/AVIATOR WATCHES





SHINOLA Runwell Sport Chrono 48mm

$875.00 USD


The Runwell Sport Chrono is built for the one who takes on challenges. Built with performance in mind, this 48mm timepiece is made with a polished stainless steel case, a 10 ATM depth rating, and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.




Victorinox FieldForce Sport Chrono

$575.00 USD

  • Swiss-made watch with chronograph functions and tachymeter scale

  • Victorinox exclusive set, delivered in special packaging housing a Spartan PS knife

  • Has undergone 100 homologation tests and comes with a 5-year international warranty+






Command Pilot AVI-8

$285.00 USD


In commemorating the incredible life of an American fighter ace and commander, AVI-8’s P-51 Mustang story continues with a wearable tribute to the exploits and achievements of Colonel Don Blakeslee during WW2.








AVI-8 Meadow Brook Automatic

$330.00 USD


Inspired by an American hero, the Hitchcock Automatic pays tribute to a Lafayette Escadrille member and national polo champion who directly influenced the development of the P-51 Mustang during WWII.







Bulova CURV

$780.00 USD


The world's first curved chronograph movement features proprietary high-performance quartz technology with 262 kHz vibrational frequency for precise accuracy. Five-hand chronograph in rose gold-tone stainless steel case and black bezel, exhibition case back, black dial with rose gold-tone hands and markers, anti-reflective curved sapphire glass, etc.





Jack Mason Chronograph Aviator Pursuit - 3-Hand - 42mm

$151.00


Built for everyday wear, the Pursuit pays tribute to the iconic design of a classic pilot's watch. The 316L stainless steel case is assembled and tested for water resistance of up to 100 meters. Thoughtfully designed watches, Jack Mason are crafted with luxurious quality at an attainable price.







Longines Heritage Aviation Type A-7 1935 Automatic

$2,829.00 USD


Ref No.: L28124532 Model: Longines Heritage Color: black Movement: Automatic Case Material: Stainless Steel Gender: Men's Watch







Hamilton Khaki Pilot Air Zermatt Automatic Black Dial

$599.00 USD


Silver-tone stainless steel case with a black leather strap. Fixed silver-tone stainless steel bezel. Black dial with luminous silver-tone hands and small Arabic numeral / index hour markers. Minute markers around the outer rim. Dial Type: Analog. Luminescent hands and markers. Date display above the 6 o'clock position. day of the week display centered on the 12 o'clock position.





Antique Rolex Royal Air Force Porcelain Dial

$1,850.00 USD


Vintage from the 1930s, this mechanical movement pilot watch has a military engraving on the back cover signed SAR and RWC ltd., 24 mm. Swiss lever high-grade movement, 15 jewels, stem set, recently serviced and adjusted, keep good time, 35 hours power reserve. White porcelain dial with Arabic numerals in mint condition - no chips, no cracks, no hairlines.






Pre-Owned IWC Pilot Automatic Black Dial

$8,995.00 USD


Stainless steel case with a black (alligator) leather strap. Fixed stainless steel bezel. Black dial with black hands and Arabic numeral hour markers. Minute markers around the outer rim. Dial Type: Analog. Luminescent hands and markers. Date display at the 6 o'clock position. Power reserve display at 3 o'clock position.