Everything You Need to Know About Buying Aviation Watches

aviation watches

Ever since the earliest days of aviation, pilots have been strapping oversized watches to their wrists so that they could more accurately navigate the skies.

And while technology has definitely transformed the world of aviation to all but eliminate the need for aviation watches – at least as a navigational aid – that doesn’t mean that pilots have been giving up with these watches. Not by a long shot.

In order to help you purchase the aviation watch of your dreams, we’ve put together this quick list of 10 things you’ll need to consider before you pull the trigger. Hopefully we are able to help!

Detail the kind of aviation watch you’re thinking about before you start window shopping

There are a lot of different things you’re going to have to factor into your aviation watch purchase, but you need to get as specific as you can about your ideal aviation watch before you plunge into the market.

Because there are so many different options available at so many different price points, it is going to be absolutely impossible for you to comfortably navigate the market without knowing exactly what you’re after – as well as exactly what you don’t want your new watch to look like or to come with.

Get this down in writing and you’ll be able to speed up the purchasing process dramatically.

Find out how much you’re willing to spend

Another thing you are going to need to take care of before you think about browsing the aviation watch selection out there is how much you are willing to spend on your new watch.

A lot of people really under-appreciated just how expensive aviation style watches can be – especially those that are collectible or from big brand names that have a legendary history in the world of aviation.

At the same time, there is almost always going to be an aviation style watch available at your price point. Regardless of whether or not you are looking to spend $25,000 or just $25, the odds are good that you’ll be able to find an aviation watch for you.

Are you going to go brand new or vintage with your purchase?

The last thing that you’re going to want to think about before you start to look at your options is whether or not you’re going to be purchasing an aviation style watch brand new or if you are going to be looking at Vintage options.

Brand new watches are going to have the benefit of advanced technology and modern manufacturing processes, but vintage watches have the kind of style, flair, and value that you probably aren’t going to be able to get out of New watches for quite a while.

On top of that, brand new watches usually cost more than vintage options – unless you are looking for something really mint, really in demand, or really rare.

Durability is king of the hill when you are purchasing an aviation style watch

The important thing to remember is this – aviation style watches have been designed to be tools first and foremost.

If you intend to use your watch as it was designed or even if you only want to be able to wear your new aviation watch – black tie events, you’re going to want to make sure that it is going to look better than brand new and that the mechanism isn’t going to break down anytime soon.

Aviation watches usually include a lot of special features, so make sure that they are easy to use

The overwhelming majority of the aviation style watches are going to include a lot of special features that some of them designed for aerial navigation, others designed for time keeping purposes, and even some special watches with altimeter is so you know just how high you are – which is why you’ll need to make sure that you are able to use those special features without any headache or hassle.

Most of these watches are going to have controls around the side of the watch case, but many of them also have bezels that rotate and other buttons that need to be depressed to cause certain actions to happen.

You want to be able to effortlessly manipulate your new watch and your controls without ever having to take your hands off of the joystick, so to speak.

Accuracy is paramount

As we mentioned above, aviation watches were used to help pilots accurately navigate before the advent of radar and GPS technology.

While you might rely on your Smart Watch to do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping track of time, that doesn’t mean that you should expect anything less from your aviation watch when it comes to timekeeping accuracy.

This is still a critical component of the best aviation watches out there.

Choose the right type of timekeeping movement

A lot of fancy aviation style watches today no longer use mechanical movements like they did in the past, but instead use quartz or automatic style movements.

If you want a watch that is incredibly accurate and loses very little time throughout the year, a quartz or automatic style is probably right for you.

At the same time, if you want a more authentic style aviation watch, you’ll want to look for a beautiful mechanical movement and a case that shows it off.

Oversized watch faces are the defining feature of aviation watches

There may be a lot of different features that help to separate aviation style watches from the rest of the pack, but the most visible and instantly recognizable difference would have to be the oversized watch face with the oversized watch face details.

Aviators needed to be able to tell time quickly and accurately with just a glance at their wrist while flying, which is why the numbers and the dials on these watches are so large.

This is the number one design element you should look for in a new aviator watch.

Aviator style watches are large in general

On top of that, you’re going to want to look for a larger and chunkier aviation style watch if you are serious about an accurate representation of the style.

Larger watch face details are going to require a larger watch case, and you definitely aren’t going to miss an aviation style watch strap to anyone’s wrist.

These are big watches – that’s just the name of the game!

Closing thoughts

Hopefully now you are armed with everything you need to think about when it comes time to purchase an aviation style watch.

We have broken down all of the most important two elements you’ll want to zero in on. Just know that there are a lot of different options for you to pick and choose from on the market right now, both brand new and vintage, you really shouldn’t have any trouble finding the best one for you.