Archimede 42 B Automatic
While you’ll find a Swiss automatic movement at the heart of the 42 B Automatic, the case was made just outside Stuttgart, and all Archimede’s watches are assigned and assembled in Germany. The watch features a classic design, with an arrow at 12 o’clock, an inside hour track, and an outside minute track on the dial, read by prominent, lumed hands; each hour is clearly marked, as are the minutes, in segments of 5. At 42mm in diameter, the 42 B strikes the right balance between the pilot watch’s traditionally large size and modern everyday wearability. Better yet, it’s priced well under $1,000.
Alpina Startimer Manufacture
The Alpina Startimer’s layout pares down the traditional Pilot’s watch, removing the 3 and 9 Arabic numerals, in addition to a sub-dial with date complication at 6 o’clock that fills the dial’s bottom portion. The result is a symmetrical design that sacrifices a small amount of legibility in favor of flexibility. Sized at 44mm in diameter, with a large crown, the Startimer is prominent on the wrist, an unmistakeable version of the extremely legible pilot’s timepiece; an in-house movement sweetens the deal.
Bell & Ross WW1-92 Military
Meant to recall the watches worn by pilots in the mid 1920s, the Bell & Ross WW1 (Wrist Watch 1) packages old-world design with modern execution. An inside hour track and outside minute track account for precise timekeeping, with the arrow and dots laying claim to the 12 o’clock position. What could be a legibility issue — the hour hand extends over the hour track — is solved by a 45mm case diameter, understated by a distressed leather strap. A Swiss automatic movement keeps things moving, and the normal-sized crown makes for more comfortable daily wear.
Hamilton Pilot Auto
The Hamilton Pilot Auto offers a new take on the traditional (read: huge) Pilot’s watch layout: the inside hour track is framed inside the hollow portion of the hour hand (solving a problem of the Bell & Ross watch, above). The applied minuted numerals are read by a massive, lume-filled minute hand; it barely fits inside the huge 46mm case. But if you have big wrists and want to spend less than $1,000, you’re in luck.