Big pilot’s watches make a bold statement on the wrist. Here’s a look at a couple of the special ones.
Watchmaking has always been spurred on by the requirements of different professions. The need for accurate timing to the millisecond brought us some of the great chronographs, like the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona for instance. Even the Omega Speedmaster, the famous moon watch, was originally designed as a racing chronograph. There are, of course, more specialized watches – such as the Seiko Marinmaster, which deep sea divers have tested to astonishing depths.
Another category that’s led to the development of a number of specialised timepieces are pilot’s watches. If you look at the history of aviation, especially when commercial aviation started taking off in the 1940’s, there was no GPS, satellite tracking, weather radar, or other such modern tools available to pilots. Therefore, they relied on mechanical instruments, like their watches, for vital functions.
The most important requirement here is that the dial needs to be large enough to be legible in all sorts of conditions. Hence, its common to see the dial sizes of pilot’s watches being quite oversized. For instance, the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage watch has a 55mm dial! The other design touches are there to ensure that the vital points of the dial are clearly visible at a glance. IWC’s famous Big Pilot’s Watch Edition ‘Le Petit Prince’ features a 46mm dial and a large triangular symbol signifying the 12’o clock mark for easy reference, as well as an oversized crown for use even when wearing gloves. Equipped with IWC’s in-house 51111-calibre movement, the watch features 7-days of power reserve. The secondary dial at 3’o clock reflects the status of the power reserve, while the date display is at 6’o clock. The combination of the starburst blue dial and the Santorini leather strap also gives the watch a classical look.
The Brietling Avenger Hurricane 12H – in yellow – features an even larger 50mm dial that makes it a watch that’s not suited to the thin-wristed. Powered by Brietling’s in-house Manufacture 01 movement, the watch has a power reserve of 70-hours, and the case is constructed from ultra-light and ultra-rugged Brietlight material. To enhance the watches’ usability, the dial features large numerals in a stencil-type design. It also has a non-slip treatment on the crown and push pieces for ease of use even when wearing gloves.
Given their size, and prominence, pilot’s watches aren’t for the unassuming watch connoisseur. But if you prefer large watches that immediately grab the eye, or are conversation starters, pilot’s watches are a great way to achieve that.