How to Purchase The Right Aviator Watch 如何选购合适的航空表?

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How to Purchase The Right Aviator Watch 如何选购合适的航空表?


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These are some of the things that come to mind when we think about aviator style.


Today we’re going to talk about aviation watches. 今天我们要谈的是航空用的手表。

As a pilot in the US Air Force I’ve always had a keen interest in aviators’ watches and I’m going to share my insights and observations to help you choose your ideal timepiece.

作为一名美国空军飞行员 我一直对航空手表很感兴趣。这里我将分享我的见解,帮助你选择理想的表。

Origins Of The Aviator Watch


The earliest watches worn by pilots were simply repurposed field watches. They had to be accurate, of course and they had to be readable under low-light conditions.


Field watches, with their hand-wound movements and black dials with large white numerals satisfied both of these requirements.


Over time, air forces around the world began to develop watches with specific aviation functions.


In the 1930s the Luftwaffe developed the Flieger style of watches: the Type-A with simple numerals and delta index at 12 o’clock, and the Type-B with large minutes in the outer dial and hours in the inner dial.


The original Type-Bwas a massive 55mm and was issued to navigators who needed precise timing for dead-reckoning navigation: finding a target by flying solely referencing time and magnetic heading.


Three of the five original manufacturers still produce fliegers today. Laco, Stowa and IWC. They aren’t huge anymore though, they’ve been scaled down from the massive original watch.


Lacos Type-As are available in quartz or Japanese automatic movements. TheLaco Paderborn Type-Bis their flagship offering in Swiss automatic with traditional thermal blued steel hands

Lacos Type石英系列和日本自动机芯机械表Laco Paderborn Type-B是瑞士自动旗舰产品,传承其传统热蓝钢的手表风格。

Stowa watches are only available directly from their website. They produce traditional Fliegers with Swiss automatic movements.


IWC is a Swiss luxury manufacturer. Their Fliegers are modern updates to the Type-A. Expect to spend between $4,000 and $15,000 for an IWC.


The Space Race & Aviator Watches


In the jet-age, as pilots found themselves flying across multiple time zones a new requirement emerged.


In order to standardize global operations, airlines and air forces began coordinating operations based on Greenwich Mean Time, aka GMT or Zulu time.


In response, Rolex developed the GMT Master II featuring two hour hands, one corresponding to the traditional 12-hour watch face on the dial and the other synchronized to a 24-hour bezel.


This allowed pilots to track flight time with the Zulu bezel and still use the local timezone while on the ground.


Once the space race got into full swing and astronauts became celebrities, watch manufacturers were quick to advertise the watches that NASA selected for use in space.


The most famous such watch is theOmega Speedmaster Professional.


Ed White wore his personal Speedmaster during the first space walk and NASA then selected it as the standard issue watch for the Apollo program.

Ed White穿着他的个人手表首次太空行走,然后选择它作为美国宇航局的阿波罗计划的标准问题

The Digital Age & Aviator Watches


Aviation watches can vary from super-minimal displays which provide a very quick read, to feature heavy watches which have a lot of complications.


The three versions: the Navihawk, Skyhawk and Nighthawk all feature multiple time zones, solar quartz movements, 1/100s chronographs and their most distinctive feature, the circular slide rule.


The circular slide rule, or “whiz wheel” is a tool used by pilots to perform all kinds of time/fuel/distance calculations and unit conversions. It can be an extremely useful feature if you know what you are doing and knowing how to use one is a sign of credibility among aviators.


The Hawks are complicated, in fact some would say they are too busy. Their metal case designs and link bracelets or optional leather bands make them suitable for business and casual occasions, while their rugged design means they can stand up to outdoor or active use as well.


In my experience, airplane pilots tend to prefer Skyhawks, while the Nighthawk is favored by helicopter pilots.


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