Looking for an affordable, but well-made and reliable pilot watch? You’ve come to the right place. We searched far and wide to compile a list of the best available options under $300, and came up with these winners. These finds make for an excellent gift as well, given that one of our long-standing rating criteria is a universally flattering design.
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The Aviator watch we’re starting with is from Stuhrling. The unique dial design definitely caught our eye, and we love all the available color combinations. The sizable (44mm) case is balanced beautifully with the thin, understated bezel.
Invicta’s Aviator is as beautiful as it is functional: the 24-hour chronograph function, date and day calendar functions, and the unidirectional silver/black bezel make it a complete package. The classic steel case and deep gray dial is contrasted by the sporty silicone band for a comfortable wear. Due to the large case size (50 mm), we recommend the Aviator to gentlemen with larger wrist sizes.
Dan Henry 1945 WWII Chronograph
The Dan Henry 1945 WWII Pilot Chronograph’s high lume cathedral hands are bringing an element of vintage elegance to this otherwise rugged and tough pilot watch. The 1945 is a wrist-worn cockpit instrument with intricate telemeter, tachymeter, and chronograph features. The brushed steel case, red triangle at 12 o’clock, and sharp coin edge bezel all pay homage to the watches worn by Allied pilots during a daring period of flight. A bold choice!
AVI-8 Classic Chronograph Dark Earth
Interested to see what a jet engine would look like on a wrist? We love a good creative design, and the Classic Chronograph Dark Earth by AVI-8 is just that. Its design is inspired by the Hawker Hunter aircraft. The olive green dial and light green Arabic numerals give a great military feel to the watch, and the way this chronograph’s sub-dials are designed just makes you think you’re looking at plane’s dashboard. We love it!
Citizen’s Chandler is another military-inspired timepiece. It’s a great combination of a rugged look and comfortable fit. Added features include analog day/date and 12/24-hour time, as well as Citizen’s own Eco-Drive technology – powered by light, you don’t have to worry about a battery!
TIMEX Expedition Scout
In our humble opinion, Timex watches are one of those slightly underrated, great pieces that stand the test of time. Great design, solid movement–all for a comparatively low price. The Expedition Scout is a classic field watch design with 12 or 24 hour settings. We love the olive green nylon strap, and the pop of yellow in the unique arrow shaped second-hand completes it just perfectly.
This pilot watch from Orient has a 42.4 mm case width, and the brushed stainless steel case adds a very classy feel to this timepiece. The fact that it comes with an automatic movement (F6722) makes this watch an outstanding value that cannot be passed up. We love the black and white look, nothing trendy about this design–it is guaranteed to stand the test of time.
If you are looking for a unique, minimalist twist on the usually not-so-minimalist pilot watches, Maven is the brand for you. The simple yet beautiful design of their watches is inspired by the French Marine Nationale. Complete with a Swiss Quartz movement provided by Ronda so you can be sure of accurate timekeeping. The elegant color combination of taupe and white reminds of summers in the south of France, so we are envisioning this watch as your go-to summer accessory.