Wristwatches have been a part of aviation since its inception. In fact, one of the first purpose-specific men’s wristwatches ever made was for a pilot friend of Louis Cartier back in 1904 (the iconic Santos watch).
In 1904, the first Cartier wristwatch is created. Louis Cartier develops the Santos for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian flying legend. Santos-Dumont complains that pocket watches are unreliable and dangerous to use while flying, so Louis makes him a wristwatch with a square face and flat profile.
The Cartier Santos wristwatch hit the market in 1911. The first ‘Cartier pilot watch’ wasn’t a chronograph and it wasn’t a chronometer as we know it today. However, as Gisbert L. Brunner and Christian Pfeiffer-Belli say about the 1911 ‘Santos’ in The Watch Book, ‘Louis Cartier emancipated the styling of this new star in the watch heavens.’ With the first Cartier pilot watch, the aviation watch had literally and figuratively taken off.
If there’s one brand whose aviation pedigree is front of mind in the popular consciousness, it’s probably Breitling. The company was founded by Léon Breitling in 1884 and is now promoted with the ‘Instruments for Professionals’ tagline. Breitling, which has always focused on measuring brief intervals of time, has enjoyed a long, close relationship with aviation and chronographs.
Replica Breitling UK ’s Navitimer watch has been the “favourite of pilot’s and aviation fans alike” since in launch in 1952, according to the brand. Now a best-selling collection, this was originally a watch created for pilots, so featured a lot of tools essential to flying. This included the ability to measure flight times and fuel requirements, using its patented slide rule bezel. The distinctive look of a Navitimer is instantly recognisable, with its signature high-contrast dial design, chronograph sub-dials and rotating bezel and it is this design which has captured the imagination of pilot’s and pilot watch fans alike.
Inspired by the art of flying, pilot watches have been instruments of great acclaim not only for their impressive functionality but also for their imaginative design. All in all, pilot watches are a piece of the coveted aviation fantasy that every man can be part of.