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What’s The Best Pilot Watch Under $200? 9 Watches You Should Be Flying With (A Pilot’s Guide)

[2020 Update]

You’re about to take off but you don’t have a proper watch to wear. This is a shame if you have 200 bucks to spare. Well, we have found the best pilot watch under $200 on the market. So, keep reading to find out what they are.
Disclaimer: Some prices may have updated since publishing the post and maybe over the mentioned price limit.

The Watches - At A Glance

The best budget pilot watch is right at your fingertips. First, take a look at the table below. We’ve summarized our top picks and their specs.
Preview
Our Pick
Stuhrling Original Mens Leather Watch -Aviation Watch, Quick-Set Day-Date, Leather Band with Steel...
The Best Looking
Seiko Men's SND255 Tachymeter Watch
The Most Durable
Casio Watch (Model: GA1000-1A)
Water Resistance
330 feet (100 m)
330 feet (100 m)
660 feet (200 m)
Bezel
Stainless steel
Stainless steel
Resin
Case Size
1.73 inches (44 mm)
1.65 inches (42 mm)
1.85 inches (47 mm)
Strap
Leather
Stainless steel
Rubber
Colour
Black and beige
Silver and blue
Black, white and orange
Movement
Japanese quartz
Japanese quartz
Japanese quartz
Our Pick
Preview
Stuhrling Original Mens Leather Watch -Aviation Watch, Quick-Set Day-Date, Leather Band with Steel...
Water Resistance
330 feet (100 m)
Bezel
Stainless steel
Case Size
1.73 inches (44 mm)
Strap
Leather
Colour
Black and beige
Movement
Japanese quartz
More Information
The Best Looking
Preview
Seiko Men's SND255 Tachymeter Watch
Water Resistance
330 feet (100 m)
Bezel
Stainless steel
Case Size
1.65 inches (42 mm)
Strap
Stainless steel
Colour
Silver and blue
Movement
Japanese quartz
More Information
The Most Durable
Preview
Casio Watch (Model: GA1000-1A)
Water Resistance
660 feet (200 m)
Bezel
Resin
Case Size
1.85 inches (47 mm)
Strap
Rubber
Colour
Black, white and orange
Movement
Japanese quartz
More Information

The Watches

Our Pick

1. Stuhrling Original 3916.1

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The watch will certainly catch your attention from across the room. Its dial is black while its numerals are bright yellow. This contrast is great as it can get pretty dark in a cockpit, so not being able to read your watch will never be an issue. Speaking of when it’s dark, the Stuhrling 3916.1 has quite the luminous dial. We have to say, its lume is incredibly strong. 

If you look closer, you’ll notice that there’s a cool texture on its dial. It’s almost gritty, giving it a unique look. Frankly, it makes the Stuhrling device look more expensive than it actually is. 

The layout of its calendar feature is unusual. It’s not nestled away in a sub dial, instead the days of the week are plastered across its display. There’s a mechanism that places a red dot on the day in question. This not only gives the watch the wow factor but makes its calendar much easier to read, more so than having the day on a tiny sub dial tucked away. 

You can also read the date. It is in a tiny sub dial on the corner of its display. It might be hard to read due to its font and size. 

Flying across the seven seas, you want to do so in style. The Sturhling comes with a genuine leather strap, so you’ll feel like a million bucks with it on. Its chic watch face also helps with the illusion. 

Its window is noteworthy too. You get a Krysterna crystal display. You’re probably aware of sapphire being the best but Stuhrling’s Krysterna gives it a run for its money. The brand even says that it’s more resistant. 

Overall, the watch is big. Its case is 1.73 inches (44 mm) across, which makes it easy to read. As a pilot, you definitely want this. 

You would also want to be on time. No need to fret as the Sturhling comes with a Japanese Quartz, so its time-keeping is more than accurate. 

So far so good, but things are about to get better. The 3916.1 is water resistant. It can take quite the dip as it’s resistant up to 330 feet (100 m) underwater. This is great for a pilot if you find yourself stranded at sea. 

What makes it special: 

Its Krysterna display
The Best Looking

2. Seiko Men's SND255

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The Seiko SND255 is a vision in blue. Its sapphire toned dial and bezel will certainly turn heads, especially since its red seconds’ hand is a stark contrast. 

At first glance, its watch face looks intimidating. Don’t panic as it’s full of great features. Its rotating bezel comes with a slide rule, which allows for a number of calculations to be done. It can be a lifesaver as you can calculate fuel use and even your dead reckoning

The bezel comes with a fully functional compass that helps with navigation. Of course, you won’t be flying your plane solely by the compass on your watch it but it’s a nice touch. 

The dial isn’t as busy as its bezel but it’s very blue. It hosts 3 chronograph sub dials. With these, you can track yourself for up to 60 minutes, in 1/10th of a second increments. 

Rotating bezels are usually found in watches that have good water resistance. You won’t be disappointed as the Seiko SND255 is resistant up to 330 feet (100 m) underwater. With its rotating bezel, you can time how long you’ve been underwater. Once again, if your plane ever crashes into the sea, this can be very useful. 

It gets better: 

The SND255 is a gift that keeps giving as you even get a tachymeter. As a result, you can track the distance between two objects.

Its dial is not Krysterna crystal, or even sapphire. Before you get disappointed, know that it’s Hardlex. The material is Seiko’s favourite and can handle a number of drops. The one on the SND255 is especially scratch resistant but is still nothing compared to its Krysterna and sapphire counterparts. 

The Seiko is a stainless-steel device. Its case is made from polished steel so it looks extra expensive, while its band is made from the material as well. It’s not heavy but is considerably chunky, however. 

You’ll notice that its case is on the larger side too. That being said, t’s not gigantic at 1.65 inches (42 mm). So, it won’t fit uncomfortably on your wrists. 

How could we not talk about its lume? Its hands and the markers that replace Arabic numerals are filled with it. So, you can easily tell the time even when it’s dark out. 

What makes it special: 

It’s a vision in blue

3. Citizen Eco drive CA0683-08E

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Hands down, Citizen’s Eco Drive is the best solar powered watch line out there. With the 08E, anything and everything would charge it, even the light from your TV. As you’re always on the go, this is amazing as you most likely will not have time to change a battery or wind some gears. 

Its case is the biggest so far. This isn’t a problem as pilot watches need to be big. Its case stretches 1.77 inches (45 mm) across, giving its large Arabic numerals a better canvas to be read on. 

The Citizen device comes with luminous paint. However, the intensity of its coats are disappointing. They’re only on the watch’s hands so they’re not that bright. Also, the hands are thin, so the lume doesn’t have much space to fully shine. 

There are 3 chronographs, which are always appreciated. What’s more, the watch comes with a tachymeter so you’ll be able to calculate speed and distance.

Looking at the watch, you’ll notice how big its crown is. It’s the largest we’ve seen so far and this is a blessing in disguise. Large crowns are something pilot watches have had for a very long time and they make it easier to maneuver the watch as smaller crowns are hard to grip. 

The watch also looks pretty good. It comes in a rose gold case. Don’t get your hopes up, however, as it’s actually stainless steel. The rose gold finish makes the watch look quite expensive. What also helps with the illusion is its strap. You get genuine leather, so you’ll feel like a million bucks. 

Once again, we’re met with a Japanese Quartz movement. This isn’t disappointing as Japanese quartz are known for their accuracy but lack the same craftsmanship as their Swiss counterparts. Also, the Citizen CA0683-08E is another watch that’s water resistant up to 330 feet (100 m) underwater.

However, it’s disappointing that the Eco Drive device doesn’t come with a rotating bezel but we’re not too mad. 

What makes it special: 

It’s from the Eco Drive line

4. Stauer Men’s Co-Pilot Watch 35771

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This is a strange looking watch. You aren’t wrong to think this. The Stauer has an almost woody look to it, very forest-like. The majority of pilot watches out there are chic, so this is a sharp contrast. We don’t know about you but we still dig it. 

According to Stauer, the device was designed to look like a retro aviation watch. We certainly see it and that’s a reason to get hold of it. 

Like any good pilot watch, the Stauer device has a chronograph feature. A tachymeter is also at your disposal. You can record the speed in either kilometers or miles which is a nice touch. On its bezel, there is a slide rule which shouldn’t be a surprise as it’s in some of the best aviator watches out there. 

A pilots’ watch is supposed to be easy to read. We don’t think this is true for the Stauer. Its dial is very busy and unfortunately, the Arabic numerals are kind of small. Also, its second hand doesn’t really pop as it’s not too far off from the colour of the dial. 

What’s more, the Stauer is on the smaller side. It’s only 1.57 inches (40 mm) across which doesn’t make it as easy as the rest of its competitors to read. 

The aviator watch’s strap is leather which makes it feel expensive. Its distressed as well, keeping with the vintage look. You’ll fool people into thinking the watch is a family heirloom.

So far so good but we’re about to rain on Stauer’s parade. The 35771 has the weakest display so far. It’s made from mineral crystal which is nothing compared to its competitors. 

Like many of the watches we ran through, it is also a Japanese Quartz. We have no reason to complain, though. 

However, there is something you should be disappointed about. This is the Stauer’s water resistance. Unfortunately, it’s not waterproof. 

What makes it special: 

Its vintage look
The Most Durable

5. Casio Men’s G- Shock GA1000-1A

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With one look at it, you’ll know how durable it is. The watch looks tough with its resin body and rubber strap. Although they don’t feel that premium, they make the aviator watch extremely shock resistant. It will save you from a number of heart attacks as it’ll bounce before hitting the ground. At the end of the day, the ‘shock’ in G-shock lives up to its name. 

The Casio is no joke. Not only is it very shock resistant, it’s resistant to magnetism as well. It comes with an ISO 764 level resistance, so you won’t have to worry about anything affecting its time keeping. Being up in the air, you’ll have to deal with a lot of electromagnetism, which can ruin your watch’s insides.

The G-Shock is the most water-resistant pilots watch on our list. It can take a 660 feet (200 m) dip underwater. Due to this, you might be tempted to dive with it on. You shouldn’t as it’s more suitable for snorkeling. 

It doesn’t have daintiest of appearances, so you might not like how it looks. That’s fine as you can change its strap up

Although its body is so durable, it’s a shame that its display was only made from mineral crystal. Normally, we’d want more but the G-Shock has such a thick resin case that its display will never touch the ground. 

The best pilot watches are huge. You won’t be disappointed as the G-Shock device has a case that is 1.85 inches (47 mm) across. This is great as its Arabic numerals are already enormous. So, the watch is extremely easy to read. This is especially true as it has neon white paint on its markers. 

If you’re wondering if it’s luminous or not, it is. However, there’s lume only on its hands. This isn’t too big of a deal as with a click of a button, its dial lights up. 

Once again, we’re met with a Japanese Quartz device. What a surprise. What is a surprise, however, is the fact that it comes with a stop watch, so no chronograph is needed. It also has a LED calendar function.

What makes it special: 

It’s extremely shock resistant

6. Seiko Men's RECRAFT SSC669

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The watch looks clean. Its dial doesn’t have much clutter which we appreciate. This doesn’t mean that any features are absent though. You get the chronograph and tachymeter that we’ve grown to love so much. At this point, they’re pilot watch staples. 

You might find its dial hard to read. This isn’t a surprise as there are no Arabic numerals on its display. Instead, there are large, rectangular markers. They’re not bad but reading the time when there’s a 24 hour clock takes the least effort. 

You might not notice it but there is a calendar feature on its dial. It’s noticeably small and can easily be missed if you don’t know where to look. However, it’s still functional and is in the 4-o’clock position. Why Seiko decided to place it at such an angle baffles us as you’ll be left tilting your head at awkward angles trying to read it.

Citizen’s Eco Drive CA0683-08E wasn’t the only solar powered watch on our list. The Seiko SSC669 is a considerable solar powered watch as well but is not as good, which is why it ranks lower. Once charged, the watch can last around 6 months. Like the Eco Drive, it’s great that any light source will power the device.

So far, you might’ve gotten used to seeing many leather watches on our list. Sorry to disappoint you but the strap on the Seiko Recraft is made out of nylon. It definitely doesn’t feel as premium, or even look the part. However, nylon is more durable than leather, so it’ll last long. What’s more, nylon is easy to clean which is what any pilot would want. 

Although the watch isn’t shock resistant, it can take quite the beating. This is mainly due to its case. It’s stainless steel that has a hard layer on, so good luck trying to dent it. 

The Seiko device is another Japanese Quartz. It’s also very water resistant. Like the many watches we looked at, it can go up to 330 feet (100 m) underwater. It would’ve been nice if it came with a rotating bezel, but we’re not too disappointed. 

Being a pilots’ watch, it’s only natural that the Seiko device is huge. It’s not gigantic but it’s definitely not small at 1.712 inches (43.5 mm).

What makes it special: 

Its nylon strap

7. Invicta Men's 17204 AVIATOR Stainless Steel Casual Watch

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Remember how we said that the G-Shock GA1000-1A was big? Well, the Invicta takes the cake for the biggest watch on our list. Its case is 1.88 inches (48 mm) across which makes it an enormous device. Although it’s easy to read, its size can make wearing it uncomfortable, so keep this in mind. 

You’ll realize that it doesn’t have the traditional 24-hour clock, or even markers that mark the hours/minutes passed. Instead, there is 10,20,40 and 50 minute markings, with nothing in between them. So reading it can be an issue. 

When watches are designed like this, they usually have an outer ring with the minutes passed, but no, the Invicta doesn’t come with such a thing. Instead, you’re met with a tachymeter and compass which are nice but not as useful. 

We have to say though, its design is pretty unique. There’s no aviator watch like it on our list which is a silver lining at least. Its colour way gives it a futuristic feel as well. This is primarily due to its gun mental bezel that comes with red accents. 

The Invicta device can take quite the beating. Firstly, it’s made from high quality stainless steel, so scruffs are things you never have to worry about. What’s more, its display is made from sapphire. As we’ve established, sapphire is the toughest material out there. Before you get too excited, however, the sapphire on the Invicta is not real, but is a synthetic version

We have to say, its crown is easy to work with. Not only is it large, its very easy to grip. This may not seem important but large, tactile crowns have been in pilot watches since forever. And just look at its chronograph buttons. They are a delight to meddle with.

Surprised that we didn’t mention that it was water resistant? Don’t be, as the Invicta device can last up to 330 feet (100 m) underwater. At this point, such a rating has become the norm. 

Before we forget, the aviator watch it’s a Japanese Quartz as well. 

What makes it special: 

Its (synthetic) sapphire display

8. Swatch Irony Night Flight Quartz YVS444G watch

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The Swatch is one of the most luminous watches on our list. Being a pilot watch, such a thing is great as you never know how dim it can get in the cock pit. There’s some serious photoluminescent pigment on its hands and markers. There’s so much that they’re tinted a pale green. 

You probably didn’t notice but there’s a calendar feature on the watch. Look closely, at the 6 o’clock position. You’ll see a small circle with the day’s date. However, the font is clear and bold, so reading it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

It’s all black which is the epitome of sleekness which we just love!

You would’ve noticed 3 sub dials on the watch. Yes, they’re for its chronograph. And if you guessed it, it also comes with a tachymeter. These are pilot watch staples and the Swatch watch doesn’t disappoint. 

Moreover:

The device is big but it’s not as big as some of the other watches on our list. Its case is only 1.69 inches (43 mm) across. 

The aviator watch is water resistant but to our surprise, not as much. It can only go up to 100 feet (30 m) underwater. If your plane ever crashes into the sea, this won’t be of much help. 

What’s not a surprise is that the watch is a Japanese Quartz. We’ve almost reached the end of our review and have still not encountered any automatics. Spoiler alert, this isn’t going to change. Pilot watches that are automatic would be way over our budget

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the most durable display. There isn’t a hard case or extra layer of shock resistance protecting it like in some of the other watches we ran through. What’s more, you get a regular mineral window on its display. It won’t crack with a single drop but you’ll have to be more careful with it. 

If you’re a watch enthusiast, you would’ve noticed something. The Irony YVS444G looks a lot like the Omega Speedmaster Moon watch. This is great as the Omega watch is over $5000 USD. So, you just got yourself one hell of a dupe. 

What makes it special: 

The watch is an amazing Omega Speedmaster Moon watch dupe.

9. Citizen Eco Drive AW1361-10H

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Having looked at many extravagant pilot watches, we thought that it would be a great idea to top our review off with something more classic and simple

If you looked at the watch and thought it seemed retro you aren’t wrong. It comes in the Flieger style which was used in the very first pilot watches on the market.

Now:

There are 4 rings around the AW1361-10H’s dial. The outermost one reads the minutes passed. The ring after that reads the minutes in an hour, from 5-55. And the ring following that has a 24-hour clock and finally, the inner most ring has a clock that reads military time. 

At the end of the day, a pilot watch needs to be easy to read. You have enough options to read the time with the Eco Drive 10H.

What’s more, you get a calendar feature on the 3-o’clock position. This seems like it’s nothing to write home about but it’s large, so your eyes won’t get strained. However, we’re kind of iffy about its font but this is just personal preference. 

Being an Eco Drive, the aviator watch gets charged from any light source. For reasons already discussed, this is great. 

It’s rather big which you know we love. It’s one of the larger watches on our list, at 1.77 inches (45 mm) across. Once again, this is what you’d want from a pilot watch. You’d also want a luminous display. You won’t be disappointed as there is quite a bit of lume on its hands but not its markers for some reason.

Although its crown isn’t the largest, it’s certainly easy to use. It’s diamond shaped so gripping it would be a breeze. 

The Citizen device comes with a genuine leather strap that’s embossed, so you’ll feel extra elegant. 

The trend of water resistant watches has not ended. The Eco Drive AW1361-10H can take quite the dip underwater, at the usual 330 feet (100 m) of resistance is at your disposal. A rotating bezel would have gone great with it but Citizen decided to disappoint us. 

What makes it special: 

It looks quite minimalistic.

Things You Should Know

No question about it, aviator watches are quite the rave. They come with a range of features that anyone would find useful, not just pilots. That’s why we’ll be looking at the watch type in depth, answering any questions you may have below.

What Is A Pilot Watch?

We ran through some of the best pilot watches on the market but do you really know what a pilots’ watch is? To be honest, its definition is loose and you can only think of it as any watch a pilot would wear. 

Now that begs the question, what kind of a watch would a pilot wear? This is anything that would make flying easier of course. This is why pilot watches never seem to run out of features. 

The earliest pilot watches didn’t come with that many add-ons, however. Watches especially for pilots came into being in the 1930s and followed the Flieger style. So, they only had a large case, with large numerals plastered on. There are still pilot watches like this but the ones we’re used to only started popping up in the 1950s and 60s, with the advancement of airplanes.

What Features Make Up A Pilot Watch?

We know that aviator watches come with many features. Since there are so many, which should they be?

Slide Rules

There’s no hard or fast rule for what needs to be there but most pilot watches come with slide rules. They’re basically mechanical, analog computers. They help with a range of calculations, like fuel consumption. 

Chronographs

Along with slide rules, you’ll most likely see a pilot watch with a chronograph feature. Chronographs act as stop watches and can be very useful when in the air. 

Tachymeter

Another thing that would be present is a tachymeter. Tachymeters measure the distance between point A and B.

A Large Watch Face

A pilots’ watch should be a big watch. It needs to easily be read and this can’t happen if its case is 1.10 or so inches (27 mm). Not only should its case be big, so should its numerals. Pilot watches are all about ease of use which is why they’d have 24-hour clocks. 

Luminous Displays

Keeping with the theme of being easy to read, pilots watches have luminous displays. Some of them even have LEDs on their dial.

Water Resistance

There is water resistance in aviator watches. Although you’re in the air, something could happen and result in your plane landing at sea. As your pilot watch has so many features, it could save lives. 

An Attractive Appearance

Pilots have a reputation of being playboys which is why their watches need to help them look good. As you’ve seen from our list, the majority of them are chic and incredibly sleek. 

What Are The Advantages Of Owning A Pilot Watch?

You don’t have to be a pilot to own a pilots’ watch. As it comes with many features, anyone would enjoy owning such a device. 

For starters, you’ll feel like a million bucks. The watches were made to create the illusion of a lavish lifestyle, after all. 

What’s more, aviator watches are quite durable. They’re pretty water resistant so you never have to worry about getting it wet in the pool. 

You may have poor eyesight. No need to squint at your watch anymore as its large dial and bold Arabic numerals make reading it a breeze. The fact that it comes with some great lume helps when it’s dark out as well. 

If you’re ever in a pickle and need a calculator, a slide rule is always a good substitute.

Conclusion

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Stuhrling Original 3916.1 is one of the best cheap aviator watches out there. For starters, its price tag is great. Although it’s budget-friendly, it comes jam-packed with many features. However, not as much as other watches on our list. It won us over with its chic look and significant luminosity. We especially loved how durable its Krysterna display was. 

All the other watches were almost neck to neck but there were little differences here and there that helped them stand out. 

Overall, we’ve established how great it is to own a pilots’ watch. So, if you want to take the leap, any of the 9 watches here would do serve you well, especially since they fit snuggly into your budget.

Before you go, tell us what you think in the comment section below! While you’re at it, don’t forget to share our article.

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