Mayday, Shmayday: Four Pilot Watches for Those Who Don’t Fly

Mayday, Shmayday: Four Pilot Watches for Those Who Don’t Fly

If fear or finances has kept you from flying the friendly skies but you’re not quite ready to go public with your secret, then look like Maverick and act like Ice in one of the following four pilot watches.

By Barbara Palumbo

A couple of months ago, I discussed my disdain for the ocean and all things related to the water in an article titled “Four Dive Watches for Those Who Don’t Dive.” But the air, on the other hand, has always appealed to me, despite the fact that I grew up with two parents who’d never stepped foot on an airplane in their lives. Flying, in my opinion, offers the world’s travelers a freedom like no other; it is an opportunity to break out of our bubbles and explore lands and ideas that are foreign to us. Yet despite that outlook, there are those who just don’t like flying, or worse, who are deathly afraid to spread their wings. In fact, a quick “celebrities who are afraid of flying” search in Google will pull up the same names over and over: Ben Affleck, William Shatner, Aretha Franklin, and Jennifer Aniston.

But just because a person isn’t a fan of flight doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of looking like they love it, which is why I’ve decided to highlight the following four affordable and practical pilot watches.

The Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle

If you’re one of the unlucky souls who suffers from aviophobia (yes, I looked it up) but would prefer not to share that in your Tinder profile picture for fear of being shunned (also known as, “swipeleftophobia”), then I suggest going with a watch that is named after the pilotiest pilot that ever piloted: Charles Lindbergh.

As the story goes, after Lindbergh’s historic solo Trans-Atlantic flight, the pilot approached the watch brand Longines and suggested they design a watch that would serve as a working tool for pilots, allowing them to navigate their routes more easily by relying on radio signals and inner rotating bezels to calculate the hour angle, thus giving the pilot a better idea of his position. And while all of this means nothing to you and possibly makes you nauseated just reading about it, trust me when I say that it’s all really freakin’ cool stuff.

The 47.5 mm Lindbergh Hour Angle watch is available in stainless- steel. The watch contains the self-winding mechanical movement L699 (ETA A07111) which has a 42-hour power reserve, is water resistant to 30 meters, has a scratch resistant sapphire crystal, and comes with a brown leather strap.

The Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic Chronograph

Maybe your reluctance to flying isn’t due to any type of fear or dislike. Maybe you’re the kind of guy who likes saving your money in the bank where it’s safe rather than spending it on silly things like air travel or watches or memories or awesomeness, and I get that, I get it. (I’m lying. I really don’t get it.) But if you are that guy, you’re in luck, because not every pilot watch in the world is going to cost you an arm and a leg, so even if you don’t want to spend money on something you know won’t last longer than a couple of hours before it runs out of fuel, you can still look like a big spender to that one friend you have who occasionally comes over to watch The Flash.

The Startimer Pilot Chronograph by Alpina runs a mere $1,995.00 USD, which is pretty sweet for a watch that looks and feels the way this one does. At 44mm in diameter, the stainless-steel case is big, but not obnoxious. The watch features the AL-725 automatic chronograph movement with a 46-hour power reserve, is water resistant to 100 meters, has a black matt-finished dial with a date window at the 3 o’clock mark, brown leather strap, and screw-down crown.

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special 40 mm Bronze

There are also plenty of guys out there who used to fly but who – for some reason or another – decided that the skies just weren’t so friendly anymore. This could possibly be because they had a ton of frequent flier miles with Pan Am or Eastern Airlines at one point in time, or because they just never got over the fact that TWA no longer exists. Whatever their reasons, it’s clear that they long for days gone by, which is why a vintage-inspired pilot watch might be the perfect choice for them.

The bronze version of the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special could possibly bring the wearer back to the golden age of air travel. The 40mm case is smaller than the other pilot watches written about here but no less substantial, and with a case thickness of 12.95mm, the weight of the piece can easily be felt on the wrist. The timepiece contains the Elite 679 automatic movement with 50-hour power reserve minimum and the watch is water resistant to 100 meters. The green, vintage-style oily nubuck leather strap comes with a protective rubber lining and the strap is fastened with a titanium pin buckle. 

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII, Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”

There is no shortage of celebrities who love themselves an IWC Pilot watch – particularly the Big Pilot – which is why it would have been a bit “on the nose” to include that model in this list of pilot watches for people who don’t fly. But perhaps you’re not the kind of person who cares about celebrities, anyway.

Maybe you’re just a normal dude who gets out of bed and goes to work every day, volunteers at the local retirement community on the weekend, belongs to a local softball league, but who also happens to break out in hives whenever you’re within two miles of an airport. If you are that type of person, then perhaps a pilot watch with meaning is one that might suit you best.

Earlier this year, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” was introduced at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco. The limited-edition watch is the 12th issued by the brand as part of its commitment to support Laureus Sport for Good.

The watch’s 41mm black ceramic case also contains a titanium case back and houses the caliber 35111 automatic movement. It has a 42-hour power reserve, is water resistant to 60 meters, antireflective sapphire convex crystal, embossed black calfskin strap, traditional blue dial, and is limited to 1,500 individually numbered pieces.

(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)

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