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What pilot watches to own in 2020

The Aeronaut has finally completed its list of most appreciated watches for 2020. This doesn’t mean that the watches have necessarily been released this year. It’s more a view on how they compare to peers and the general trends in terms of watches.

It was a really tough choice because of the many excellent watches available. Also, I hope you will forgive the delay in publishing this list, but due to very high workload it was impossible to write earlier.

Enjoy and be safe!

Gavox Spitfire

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Gavox is one of the brands I love for many reasons: Michael Happé designed this watch for pilots and maintains its impeccable taste throughout all models while ensuring to meet the operational needs of any aviator: readability, durability and precision. Do you need a proof for this? Many fighter jet pilots and also cinema celebrities like Monica Bellucci wear Gavox on their wrists.

Let’s get, however, to the reason why I chose the Spitfire. Right when I felt satisfied about my collection of pilot watches by Gavox and was thinking to move to another micro brand, Gavox released the Spitfire and it was love at first sight! The Spitfire features a 36mm case, sapphire crystal and a Seiko quartz movement. You read right: 36mm! In facts, in today’s world, this is an unusually small size. However, I tested the watch in flight and can enthusiastically say that this is a pure pilot watch, well readable even during bumpy rides. But its charm is not limited to the sky. indeed, it will catch a lot of attention also discretely sliding out of a suit’s cuff.

The price is EUR 210 at Gavox shop.

Bulova A15

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Bulova is a name that grew closely linked to the American air and space industry. The NASA chose their clocks to display the official time in the control rooms of the US space program during its Mercury, Gemini and Apollo years. Bulova’s Accutron even made it to space during Apollo 15.

The recently issued A15 is the remake of a watch commissioned by the US government for the military pilots in 1943. The government requested a reliable and solid watch and it needed to have a very specific function: keeping track of the lapsed flight time. Only a few test watches were produced, the series production sadly never took off. Along this line, many things changed over time: Bulova went into financial trouble is now owned by Citizen and this watch mounts a Miyota automatic movement instead of one of the innovative and original movement Bulova became known for. Nevertheless, we have to be thankful to Citizen for keeping alive a brand that accompanied some of the bravest conquest in mankind.

However, I chose this watch for three main reasons: 1. the way its 42 mm case looks and feels is absolutely amazing, 2. I keep cheering for Bulova and hope in the future it will make us talk because of some new crazy proprietary movement and 3. I desperately needed a watch with a lapsed time marker for my flights.

The hands and dial numbers are treated with blue luminescent paint.

The watch prices around EUR 499 and is available from multiple online stores.

Breitling Navitimer B01 Cronograph

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One may argue that recommending to purchase a watch that has been around for ages does not make much sense. I disagree and I will tell you why: Breitling recently became property of a private equity fund. Accordingly, the group took some decisions that are in my view excessively profit oriented and disregard the long tradition and history of Breitling. under the new owenrship of CVC Capital partners, the company is selling a new version of “Navitimer”. Unfortunately the new watch has very little to share with the original model holding this name: the Navi-8, the name given to the new Navitimer, indeed has no flight ruler, no cronograph and no proprietary movement. So my choice to include the B01 is a way to celebrate the real Breitling spirit with one of the most iconic models ever made.

Unimatic – Modello 1 (U1-FN)

This is not exactly an aviator watch. It’s a diver’s watch, which works great also in the air. Indeed, it offers a very simple dial, with minimum visual disturbances. The hands are treated with Super Luminova (R) C1 and the case is dark and brushed, which prevents disturbing glare when flying on a sunny day. All these features together ensure maximum visibility. The caliber is an automatic Seiko and the watch is water resistant up to 300m.

Price is currently EUR 625 on the Unimatic website.