You want the best. And damn it, you deserve the best. But there is a lot to choose from, and sometimes the best is hard to find. Fortunately, we know where to find it. Every week, Esquire editors reveal their favorite brands, from flights under the radar to loves of luxury, so you can invest in the best clothes, watches and accessories money can buy.
This week, the fly-boy’s original accessory: the pilot’s watch.
Charlie Teasdale, Style Director
“Despite the recent expansion of its product line – which is now separated into Land, Sea and Air and features esoteric collaborations with Bentley cars, Norton motorcycles and Kelly Slater’s sustainable surfwear brand, Outerknown – Breitling is still best known as a manufacturer of aviator’s watches and continues to keep aircraft technology at the forefront of the brand.
“Take the new Red Arrows limited edition of the Avenger Automatic GMT. A tribute to the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the watch is designed to be easily used if you’re wearing gloves. And there’s the Avi Ref. 765 1953 Re – Edition, a faithful recreation of one of the most rugged watches in mid-century aviation.
“And again, despite Breitling’s recent design victories – such as the Premier collection and the refresh of the Chonomat range – the Navitimer is still the brand’s calling card. First released in 1952, the oversized dial (46 mm), perfectly proportioned and the navigation ability of the watch made it an instant classic, and the Navitimer became one of the mainstays of watchmaking. Reading, with the just adjustable slide rule inside the bezel, allows the wearer to calculate air speed, fuel mileage, climb rate, elapsed time and more. Not just a beautiful watch, but an example of technical excellence super functional. ”
Finlay Renwick, Associate Style Editor
“The original name for red, white and blue watchmaking, Hamilton may have moved to Switzerland in the 1980s, but that only polished off its watchmaking power. Inventors of the first digital watch in the Pulsar , as well as making a name for himself in Hollywood, where Hamiltons appeared on Elvis’ wrist in Hawaii Blue, at Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey and at Christopher Nolan Interstellar (plus lots of others).
Rounding out this global influence is Hamilton’s pilot watch offering. There is the Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date Auto, a giant 46mm stainless steel piece, and the Air Zermatt, which is slightly more elegant, with a black leather strap, a black dial and striking blue accents; or the Aviation Chrono, a large piece of kit with heavy pushers and a dial that reads like a pilot’s console.
“My favorite, however, is the Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, an aerial version of Hamilton’s inimitable Khaki Field mechanical fabric strap military watch. It’s inspired by old RAF watches from the 1970s. The kind of watch you would want to pass on. even if your most daring aerial feat is to survive a long-haul flight alongside someone who takes off their shoes as soon as the plane leaves the tarmac. “
Johnny Davis, Associate Editor
“Oris makes great watches that offer real value for money. Their styling ranges from retro-influenced pilot’s watches to high-performance diving watches, typically for a few thousand pounds. relaxed luxury “” Exclusive luxury doesn’t work anymore, “said co-CEO Rolf Studer Squirestandalone watch publication of The watch ledger in 2019. “Exclusive is a word that sounds so good but excludes people. Luxury is now more inclusive, where you want to be a part of something and share it. This is where we come into the game.
“His aviator’s watches are a good place to start. Oris has been making them since the 1910s – the birth of aviation, basically. Oris Big Crown is his signature aviator collection, launched in 1938 and part of the series. ‘The brand’s DNA since. Cool, clean and classic, with clear dials and bold hands reminiscent of an airplane dashboard, these are beautiful watches and always executed in style. “
Bell & Ross
Nick Pope, Digital Assistant
“The French brand Bell & Ross started life as a university project between two friends, Bruno Belamich and Carlos A Rosillo, in 1992. The fact that they managed to start their business during university is quite impressive ( my main project? how long I could get by on just one bag of Uncle Ben’s rice pilaf) but it’s the duo’s continued dedication to old-school aviation design that earns my respect.
“Example: the BR 01. Released in 2005, the modern classic is inspired by old instrument panel clocks from military aircraft. The utilitarian structure of the watch fits perfectly with Belamich and Rosillo’s strict maxim: that “function shapes form”. It has been redesigned several times since, but it has never strayed from that philosophy. “
Tom Banham, digital editor
“The International Watch Company entered the aviation fray in the 1930s, providing precise and rugged stopwatches for the cockpits of a new generation of all-metal high-speed flying machines. In the 1940s, it had become a watchmaker for the Department of Defense, making the iconic Mark 11, which was worn by RAF navigators to calculate latitude and longitude.
“IWC has since become synonymous with aviator’s watches, thanks to a series of technical and aesthetic innovations, such as unbreakable glass, anti-magnetic movements and luminous hands. Today, it has many collections of aviator’s watches, including the sporty Top Gun, in vintage style. More refined Spitfire and Classic, all of which have proven themselves in cockpits around the world.
“For me, the IWC Big Pilot is still the quintessential aviation watch, with its bulbous crown (best for handling in flying gauntlets) and a dial that somehow manages to provide all kinds of pilot friendly information without ever feeling crowded. However, 46mm is a lot of dial for a man with thin wrists like mine, so I go for his little brother, who shows up at a much more subtle 40mm It’s more Goose than Maverick, and that’s fine with me.
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