History of Aviator Watches

When I was little, my grandmother always wanted that I become a pilot. Why is that? The Berlin historianTilmann Siebeneichner says to:

“Pilots are historically hero figures-and absolute confidence people. Aviation works so that it is his life in the hands of pilots in confidence, that he will sure bring a to the destination and has the technology for this absolutely under control.”

The myth of the pilots is expressed for example in films such as Aviator and top gun. Freedom, sports and adventure are just three associations, which are often associated with the image of pilots in connection. Because in the long run the tragic, can in my opinion deliberately by the co-pilot induced Sandy off a Germanwings machine in 2015 change anything…

But what is a pilot’s watch at all? On the one hand, pilot’s watches have an historical facet, leading Germany in a dark time: the 2nd World War. So were some watch manufacturers had to build the so-called observation watches designed for the air force (short B-) according to exact specifications of the Reich Aviation Ministry.

Additional function sthat facilitate the everyday life of a pilot are another facet of Aviator watches. Example Hamilton: In the pilot’s watches collection of brand models that needed E.g. features like two time zones, calculation of the speed, conversion of units, calculation of drift angle or the found fuel quantity on Board have etc.. All this sounds great for of course, but for people with no pilot’s license, this is no more than a nice optical gimmick, for example on the dial:

Pilot’s watches usually have a rather simple, clean design and are rather large-which makes them generally excellent readability. But as always, exceptions prove the rule: the pilot’s watches classic par excellence, while not exactly impresses with the Breitling Navitimer, good readability but has one for pilots quite sensible function on board: A second central hand with red lace specifies the local time in a different location around the world on a 24-hour scale.

Let’s go with the historic Aviator watches including a real Price-performance tip on VAULTEDWATCHES

Historic Aviator watches: observation watches during the second world war by IWC, LACO, Stowa & co.

Often handed down the historic observation watch worn by pilots. That’s just plain wrong-there were the navigators on board, that could determine the exact position of the aircraft in combination with an Octants (Protractor). The exact mode of operation is very nice by the collector and expert Konrad Knirim grouped together. The pilots even wore usually Chronograph, E.g. by Hanhart or Tutima, as a reserve if a clock should fail.

Observation watches had some typical characteristics.The exact specifications of the B watches were a huge diameter of 55mm and a very large zwiebeförmige Crown, so that the navigators could use the watches even when wearing gloves. At the observation watches, there are two models: the model A had a triangle with two points instead of the Arabic “12”. This is the case even when the type B, except that instead of the Arabic numerals 1 to 11 seconds in 5 steps are printed. The classical hour classification from 1 to 12 in turn is located in an additional inner ring.

Here are two models of the historic manufacturer LACO (type A left, type B right):

Yikes, how did because a Swiss manufacturer in the list get cheated? Now, the Switzerland is known as the “neutral rock solid”. So also in the second world war, where the Switzerland is more or less has held out. For this reason, “Less”, as the country was at the Center a multi-layered and complex, but also problematic capital movements, which were often used to cover up the unlawful appropriation of foreign gold in favour of the Nazi regime before the eyes of the public. The production of watches for the German air force acts Yes already almost harmless compared to this thing…

It should be noted that IWCs pilot watches history but before the 2nd World War began: the built first 1936 at IWC pilot’s Watch, the pilot’s special watch, had stable glass, a rotating bezel with register pointer for short time reading, a non-magnetic escapement and strongly contrasting, Luminescent Hands and numbers.

Even today the brand IWC wrote Aviator watches image on the flag is, what is evident for example in this promotional video for the pilot’s watches model number:

Interesting: While special focus throw E.g. LACO or Stowa , also today still as detail to recreate the historic observation watch, IWC whistles as far as possible to and interpreted the models on their own, modern way, with a red inner ring, Chronograph functions, or a gold-plated housing:

IWC pilot s watch chronograph TOP GUN Miramar (REF. IW389002), image: IWC

All in all rows with the modern interpretations IWC but slightly back. Christian Knoop, Creative Director of IWC Schaffhausen, explains:

“Dial design the classic pilot’s watches have we: How can we move closer to the original, as it has established IWC big pilot’s watch and the mark 11?” Because we were going back to the authentic, you can say: the historic Aviator look. He lives by the clarity of the digit sheet of timeless simplicity and the reduction to the essentials. Our entire pilot’s watches line is under the sign of the original. Therefore we have decided also to revive the digit ‹9›, who disappeared in 2006 with the redesign of the big pilot’s watch of the dial. The triangle also has returned to his ancestral seat at ‹12 Uhr› under the hand.”

Real history geeks, the value on a detailed replica (so-called “replica”, not to be confused with Replica watches from the far East) place, E.g. the B pattern observation Watch in a 55 mm chassis for scarce €3000 buyat LACO. This diameter may look weird but even on Arnold Schwarzenegger – not says so I didn’t warn you!

Who wants to have it historically still correct, look also for original observation watches from World War 2 at ebay & co.. Depending on the State, these will change hands but sometimes for well above €3000.

All in all there are the best introduction to the world of original observation watches at LACO. A real Price-performance tip is for example LACO Faro B pattern observation watch, which has a Japanese Miyota automatic movement scratch resistant Sapphire Crystal, diameter 42 mm on board. Price point: very fair €348 directly from the manufacturer.

Go to the review of the LACO Faro:

If you prefer something more unusual, can drop sometimes at rock hard: there’s E.g. a type B-Uhr with Sapphire Crystal and Swiss ETA hand wound movement in a chic bronze casing for €470.

You must be worried actually weird to be looked at, when you’re wearing a historic observation watch? Rather not: Watch fans, the historic Aviator watches are anyway very popular-but also less informed people have swinging me to never the morals Club, if they have approached me on my pilot’s watch…

Breitling – the pilot’s watch par excellence?

Léon Breitling founded the eponymous company in the Switzerland in 1884, and at the latest since the grandson of Léon Breitling in 1936 supplying the British air force with Board – and pocket watches man, the future focus on pilot’s watches was clear. In the 50s and 60s, Breitling has delivered then Board watches in the commercial aviation, first for fan guns and later also in jets of from various manufacturers.

All in all, surprising is that Breitling thus reputation as

“official supplier to world aviation”


A charming vintage display by Breitling underlines the focus on pilot watches:

In 1952, Breitling has brought one of the most famous chronograph of the world on the market: the Breitling Navitimer. The special feature of the clock: the rotatable bezel, which serves as a slide rule does – hold for example for the calculation of fuel consumption or average speeds in the past without modern avionics is certainly a useful feature. Today, the function for most new vehicles is likely a nice gimmick.

Even today, the Breitling Navitimer is the flagship of the company. Breitling is of course aware of the popularity of the model which is why the models are getting not for less than €4600 original price . As further down in this article is clear, there is but a cheaper alternative with an interesting backstory.

Until today, is (understandably) on the long history of Aviator watches Breitling and re-engages the actor and avid hobby pilots John Travolta for current advertisements and videos. Breitling has since 2003 a Own Jet Squadron with seven L-39 C Albatros-the “C” stands for Cvičná (training). From the basic jet trainer, over 2600 units were manufactured by the manufacturer Aero in the Czech Republic. Various armed forces also use the jets to military purposes (E.g. the Bulgarian air force).

The combination of a considerable history of the brand in the aviation industry, the huge expenses for the three flight teams as well as a real pilot’s watches classic, the Breitling Navitimer, Breitling make my opinion to the pilot’s watch brand at all.

Hamilton-long aviation history on the other side of the Atlantic

While Breitlings Aviator watches history on the European continent started, has itself raged from the from the United States, watch brand Hamilton on his home continent and from there mixed aviation: when aviation was still in its infancy, Hamilton already developed the first Board watches for aircraft. Later then also watches models were added, which were freely buyable.
Some milestones in the history of aviation from Hamilton include:

  • 1918: Hamilton watches are the official timepiece when U.S. airmail flights between Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
  • 1926: On his historic flight over the North Pole, Admiral Richard E. Byrd used a Hamilton.
  • 1927: a Hamilton clock is used for the navigation of the first flight from California to Hawaii.Thanks to their accuracy the position of Hawaii can
    Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean accurately be determined (a difference of only a few degrees would have resulted that the Islands would have been missed entirely).
  • 1928: After this success 60 Hamilton watches come as official timer at Byrd’s first Antarctic expedition in 1928 for use.
  • 1930: Hamilton is the official watch of the airlines, TWA, Eastern, United and Northwest Airlines.In addition, Hamilton is timer on the first flight of United Airlines from the East Coast to the West Coast – from New York to San Francisco in 15 hours and 20 minutes.

Still, Hamilton continues its history of Aviator watches: with many squadrons, including the F-16 demo team from the Netherlands, the pilot’s watches from Hamilton are standard equipment.

The brand is also official timekeeper for a variety of international Flight events, for example, the American show of flight EAA Air Venture Oshkosh, which is considered the world’s largest aviation meeting.

In addition, the French aerobatic pilot is Nicolas Ivanoff, who starts in the Red Bull Air Race in a Hamilton aircraft, international Ambassador of the brand.

Hamilton Khaki X-wind car chronograph (REF. H77616533) justifies the MSRP of €1345 with a well laced “Swiss Made” package: 44 mm diameter, scratch-resistant Sapphire Crystal, screw-down Crown, and this 10-bar water resistance and a transparent Caseback.

In the model suggests the movement with the designation H-21, which is based on the ETA Valjoux 7750.The movement offers power reserve 60 hours and is regarded as reliable “tractor” among the auto works, which even in hochpreisigeren watches such as Tag Heuer Carrera day date (calibre 16) is used.

From the category of “things that don’t need 99.9% of watch buyers, but somehow cool sound” the Hamilton Khaki X-wind has also still a

Drift angle calculator to the course correction in lateral jacks.

on board.

Another model series of Hamilton, which is based on the historical construction of pattern B watches, is the Hamilton Khaki pilot. From approx. €800 for the variants with Swiss automatic movement, you get a modern interpretation of the observation watches with fancy patch (not printed) numerals in Hamilton. The good portable to most 42 mm version has even a weekday (“day date”) in addition to a date.

Sense – special clock wrought by the “wayward overachiever” Helmut Sinn

“The wayward overachiever” headlines the Frankfurter Neue Presse , portrays the almost 100-year-old Helmut Sinn, who can tell some fascinating stories from his life. The blind flying instructor and pilot founded in 1961 in Frankfurt am Main “Helmut Sinn Special watches”, to produce even watches with a good value for money. The company first focused on the production of navigation Board watches and Aviator chronograph.

If you researched the history of the brand sense Special watches – by Helmut Sinn sold -, however comes something thinking: the original pilot’s watches brand essence can be seen only at a second glance and maximum is casually communicates: sense communicates rather than a pure pilot’s watches images rather the technological advantages of his models, i.e. watches for all rough applications you can imagine. So sense is as supplier of the special unit of the Bundespolizei GSG 9 and the special forces command (SFC) of the Navy.

One reason for the communicative orientation is certainly also the new owner of Lothar Schmidt, Helmut Sinn sold in 1994 to the. Helmut Sinn wanted to be further advised, but there was argument with the new owner, Helmut Sinn loses court processes and gets even banned. That of course still gnaws at him.

Also, if I think it is a shame that of the original core of brand not too much seems to have left, the success of sense the new owner Lothar Schmidt right is.

Next to the historically less-detailed observation watch sense 8562016 presented the Frankfurt special clock wrought at Baselworld, sense offers even an relatively low-cost alternative to the Breitling Navitimer: Sinn 903. The latest version is 903 St B E with chic, deep blue Zieffernblatt, which at first glance, the Breitling Navitimer looks like a simple tribute to the 2015 presented sense:

Sinn 903 St is but a mere Designkopie, but has a historical background: when in the 70s as a result of thequartz crisis had to close the doors of Breitling and Ernest took over Schneider the trademark rights to “Breitling”, “New” etc. of the Breitling family, were bought production of watch components by Helmut Sinn. Sense so further 903 St in Frankfurt the Navitimer under the name. When the old parts of Breitling were used up, sense has continued production along the lines of the Navitimer. Only in the 80s, revived the Navitimer Breitling and had to confront the self-created new Navitimer competitors.

While that starts from approximately €5000 Breitling Navitimer, is entering the world of the senses withalmost €2700 for the version with leather band comparatively human. For the price, sense provides a Swiss automatic movement by Sellita (SW 500), 10-bar water resistance and anti-reflective Sapphire Crystal, causing the blue dial is great. Sense is carried out also in the 903 St its expertise, robust to build clocks: Sinn 903 St is antimagnetic to DIN 8309, shockproof to DIN 8308 and low pressure.

Sense and the new DIN 8330: TESTAF Aviator watches

In a multi-year joint research project, the Department of aviation and Aerospace Engineering University of applied sciences Aachen at the suggestion of sense Special watches have developed a technical standard for pilot’s Watch (TESTAF). The TESTAF ensures that a pilot’s watch meets all requirements on the timing during the flight operation according to Visual or instrument flight rules. The model Sinn EZM 10 TESTAF was the first watch worldwide, which turned the test procedure and successfully went through. The catalogue is divided into three categories:

  1. functionality
    • Required functions for Visual or instrument flight
    • Readability by day and night
    • Safe operability
    • Accuracy and power reserve
  2. resistance to external loads
    • Absolute and cyclically changing pressure
    • Rapid temperature changes
    • Shock – and impact safety, G-loads and vibrations
    • Water resistance and resistance to typical flight operating fluids
    • Effects of magnetic fields on the clock
  3. Security and compatibility with other instruments
    • Impact of the magnetic signature of the clock on the avionics
    • Avoid reflections and glare
    • Special design
    • Secure strap fastening

On the basis of the requirements catalogue, the FH Aachen as a neutral institution developed an inspection regime the all watch manufacturers can use. A certificate certifies the conformity of the tested pilot’s watch with the TESTAF after successful testing. TESTAF certified must wear watches protected seal of quality on dial or case – a stylized silhouette of the plane, in the cockpit-display of the “artificial horizon”.

Tutima-historical watches in Glashütte

The history of the brand Tutima begins in the Saxon town of Glashütte (UROFA) and the watch factory Szk³a AG (UFAG) with the formation of watches-blanks factory Szk³a AG. In the 1920s, the first 27-year old Dr. Ernst Kurtz starts the production of the first Glashütte wristwatches. Soon the watches under the brand Tutima (from the Latin tutus for secure, protected) were expelled. The last development of the UROFA UFAG become the milestone in the history of the brand in 1941: the legendary two handle Flieger Chronograph “Tutima” with fluted bezel, which pilots of the air force around the wrist is strapped in the second world war. Even today, the model in different variants from around €2000 is sold.

Anyone looking for an low-cost alternative to the Tutima Fliegeruhr, can take a look to the Hamilton Khaki pioneer (REF. H60515533) throw, which is for about €750 and as the Tutima neatly exudes vintagecharm. The model comes with 45 mm case diameter, fluted bezel, Sapphire Crystal and Swiss ETA automatic calibre.
A highlight of Aviator watches by Tutima dates from the year 1984: Tutima won the Aviator watches tender for the official clock of the service of the Bundeswehr. In particular the robustness against shock, vibration and Acceleration dropped the choice on the Tutima watches-chronograph. Until today, all Bundeswehr pilots wear this pilot Chronograph, which can be obtained also from the Otto-normal customers for just below €4000 . For these pretty sporty price package, the customer receives a good “made in Germany”: super lightweight titanium case and band, scratch-resistant Sapphire Crystal and a decent size of 43 mm. For those who like something cheaper, look Chronograph on ebay or Chrono24.de for vintage versions of the Tutima military. However, the old models of this series are made of stainless steel.

Even today Tutima bears the historical heritage of the brand in its communication: so the company founded the Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety, one of the world’s leading schools for precision flight training in California in the year 2006 with the U.S. aerobatic legend Sean Tucker. As a partner of the German Aero Cluband main sponsor of the powered flight teams, Tutima also for many years actively promotes the air sports.


Aviator Watch

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Source: www.watcheshistory.com

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