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Aviation Watches

Posted By:
Ryan Hornback
#1 Posted: 6/28/2011 11:14:03

I am a currently a student pilot, and am looking for a good aviation watch. I want something that is built good and also looks good. I am just 16 years old so price is a big factor, I can be spending several hundred dollars, or even thinking about that watches that are in the thousand range (I wish I could though!). I need to to be fairly cheap so I can get a watch and still have money to take my flying lessons. Thanks for any ideas you can give!

Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
#2 Posted: 6/30/2011 08:55:05

Hi Ryan,

All those fancy watches are like fishing lures, they're meant to catch fishermen.  At 16 I know you have a need to impress the girls with hot pilot stuff, save your $ for flying.  I use a cheap Timex digital watch you can get one at most any Wal-Mart and it will allow you to set-up military time and at least 2 time zones.  Mine has a chrono feature that gives elapsed time with alarm sets so you can use it to switch fuel tanks or determine your fuel burn time.  If you want to impress the ladies take them up for a low and slow flight around the local country, the sight seeing will impress them far more than a fancy watch.

Best of Luck with Both of these challenges!



Jason Scharrer
#3 Posted: 6/30/2011 10:20:09


Get yourself ANY watch with a second hand, if you feel the need....you'll find out why later.  In reality, the only reason you need an "aviation watch" right now is to make sure you make it to your lessions on time.  As already mentioned, save your $$$ for your lessons and get that "license to learn"!!

P.S.  There is NOTHING cool about about an "aviation watch" and unless you've got that little plastic card in your wallet to go with it!

Good luck

Carl Alburn
#4 Posted: 6/30/2011 22:42:16

A couple of years ago I was in a local jewelry store.  The clerk was helping a couple of young men who were looking at various aviation watches.  From their conversation, they were student pilots.  I went up to them, and said, "Pilots, huh?  Remember the fundamental rule, the size of the watch is inversely proportional to the skill of the pilot."  They left without buying a watch.


But FWIW, I have 2 Seiko aviation watches.  I don't wear the older one; the newer one is a much better watch, because the stopwatch function minute "clock" shows 60 minutes, whereas the older one had a 30 minute "clock" and was harder to read.  The E6b function on both of them is too small to use in the cockpit, but it's fine for calculations on the ground.  Both are extraordinarily accurate.


Louis Knapp
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
#5 Posted: 7/1/2011 00:44:07

Personally, I'd recommend spending the money on more flight time over expensive "man jewelry", but what the heck, it's a free country.


Early in my flying days I bought an expensive Seiko watch, which was really out of my budget,  just because I thought a "big shot" aviator like me would look good wearing something like that.  The thing quit after a few months and after I found out it would cost more to fix than I'd paid for it I junked it and wished I'd spent my money elsewhere.  I've worn Walmart specials or the equivilant ever since then.  I've logged somewhere over 20,000 hours in the air and have yet to experience any sort of inflight emergency caused by wristwatch failure.....Louis

Jim Heffelfinger
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#6 Posted: 7/1/2011 00:47:05

I agree with the other posters.  I have a nice E6B watch and I need a microscope to use it.  It will never be used in the cockpit.  Big hands/big numbers and might consider old school analog.  It's easier to see at a glance.  Save your bucks.  I use a cheap Timex.for all my outdoor activities - $40 to replace.  Unless in terrific shape I don't replace batteries.  Never gets sealed back up right and has water problems.  Replace it.  

Alarms - can't hear them in the plane.  

Keith Leitch
#7 Posted: 7/1/2011 08:12:07

So I am not the only one that bought one of those pieces of sh!* Seiko aviation watches. Mine quit right after I got it and the warranty service sucked. They ended up dragging things out until the warranty was no longer valid. Then the repair was more than the thing was worth. What an overpriced piece of junk. I will never buy another Seiko product after that experience!!! (To be fair I paid very little for the watch as I had accumulated 'bonus bucks' while stationed overseas and was able to get it at the AAFES for less than $20 plus the nearly $400 in bonus bucks, sure glad I didn't spend real money on it.)

I had similar thoughts as you when I first started flying....just had to have an AVIATOR watch to show everyone I was a cool pilot. Saved all those bonus bucks specificly just to be able to buy an aviator watch. Probably one of the worst expenses I have ever made towards my flying budget.

I agree 100% with the rest of the response on here....save your money for flight time unless you are a spoiled rich kid who's daddy is paying for your flight time and you have the luxury of spending money on frivolous things.  Like has been said, a cheap watch from the loacl " X"-Mart is all you need for most flying. But definitely try and get one with dual time capabilities as one can be set to Zulu time and it makes life a little easier.

John Owens
#8 Posted: 7/2/2011 23:24:14

Quite a number of years ago I was in the market for a watch, and I wanted a good watch.  I foolishly allowed a jeweler to talk me into buying an Omega Chronometer, a fairly expensive watch, it was the worst watch I ever owned.

I learned the hard way that buying an expensive watch isn't all its cracked up to be.

Frank Giger
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#9 Posted: 7/4/2011 02:52:31

The funny thing is that after using my very good Timex, I opted for this ten dollar digital watch at WalMart because it had BIG digit display and a stop watch feature with big buttons for stop/start/reset.

Here's the thing - as a student pilot you'll be using the darned thing on your cross-country trips as part of navigation.  That means that in addition to flying the aircraft (your first priority ALWAYS) you'll be looking your airspeed, landmark to fly at, airspeed, compass, sectional map and the time.

You simply can't afford to squint at a watch - no matter how cool looking.  You need to read the darned thing at a glance.

Trust me, you'll look cool enough stepping into or out of an aircraft no matter what watch you're wearing.

David Deweese
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
#10 Posted: 7/4/2011 11:48:44

My stepdaughter works at the fine jewelry counter at Macy's, allowing her and my wife to score a major discount on a Citizen Skyhawk. Setup is a little complex, but if, like me, you just plain like watches it's pretty neat. Feature-wise it's overkill for any kind of flying I plan to do. I'd never have sprung for such a gadget myself, favoring Frank Giger's strategy, which would allow me to spend the savings on spruce and 4130. (Or flight lessons in your case.) My advice: find a girlfriend who works in retail and ask her to keep an eye out for the best price, then add her employee discount to the deal. Good luck on the lessons, by the way.