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Earned Wings

A History of Breitling Pilot’s Watches

Step foot on the tarmac at Edwards or the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan and you’re likely to see a few Breitling watches on the pilots’ wrists — as much a part of standard aviator kit as the ubiquitous and eponymous aviator shades. Breitling’s connection with pilot’s watches is more than a historical footnote or a well-branded, retro-inspired line of heritage watches. The brand has won pilots’ favor over the decades due to the functionality and rugged build of the watches themselves, which have evolved over time as much as the planes the pilots are flying.

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Flight Time

Buying Guide: Six Soaring Pilot’s Watches

New or old, a pilot’s watch much be legible, tough, accurate and reliable, with extra points awarded if it looks good riding the sleeve of a flight jacket. This flock hits those marks.

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Off-Kilter in all the right ways

Breakdown: Longines Heritage Avigation Watch Type A7

The new Longines Avigation Watch Type A7 differs visually from the 1930s original (most notable for its 45 degree canted dial) only in minor dial details. Other features remain: the 49 millimeter diameter, the hinged case back, the Breguet hands, and Arabic numerals. We break it down.

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High Fliers

Buying Guide: Flieger Watches

What started as a batch of 1,200 watches made in 1941 for the German Luftwaffe has since become one of the most iconic watch designs in history. Today Fliegers are made by both household-name German brands and a set of potent up-and-comers, in both classic styling and with an artistic license, at bank-breaking prices and for only a couple hundred bucks. Here are our favorites.

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Aviation-grade

Time on Our Hands: Bremont Boeing Model 247

When Bremont announced earlier this year that it was partnering with the airplane builder Boeing for two special edition watches, the three-hand Model 1 and the Model 247 chronograph, we were skeptical. Could this young British watch company that could do no wrong finally have gone one (Geneva-striped) bridge too far with a cheesy co-branding exercise? No better way to find out than strapping a bit of aeronautic history to our wrist.

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Showdown at High Tea

Want This, Get This: Bremont ALT1-B or Christopher Ward C1000 Typhoon

The modern pilot’s watch resembles those of the 1940s and ’50s as little as an F22 Raptor resembles a P-51 Mustang. Nowadays, it’s all about materials, ruggedness and functionality. Modern pilot’s watches are also getting as stealthy as the planes they’re modeled after, all blacked out for night maneuvers and flying under the radar. Today we look at two stealth fighters from England, both high flyers, but one that won’t dive bomb your budget.

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DECYPHERING THOSE cool-looking rings

Timekeeping 101: How to Read a Bezel

The watch is an instrument for telling time, but it can also be used to time a dive or a racing lap, take a pulse, or calculate remaining fuel or crosswind speed or the distance of thunder or artillery. How, you ask? The answer has little to do with the watch’s movement. It’s all about the bezel, that outer ring of metal (or perhaps, nowadays, ceramic) surrounding your watch’s crystal. How each type of bezel works is not complicated per se, but it is deserving of a quick guide.

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10 Top-Notch Watches that Won't Break the Bank

Wound for Success: Watches for the Budding Collector

When building anything, one must begin with strong foundation. A watch collection is no different. While anyone, given the choice, would undoubtedly begin and end with only finest examples of haute horological hardware, we can’t all justify blowing junior’s college and post-grad funds on something small and shiny. A conservative budget should not dissuade wide-eyed complication connoisseurs however: there are many excellent mechanical options available for the budding collector. We’ve selected ten rock solid options, both vintage and new, that would proudly produce any one-percenter’s tan line. So get started. Junior will thank you — it’s his heirloom, anyhow.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Calling All Top Guns

Want This, Get This: Breitling Navitimer 01 or Sinn 903 St

Pilots are daring. They wear cool clothes. They have sunglasses that are named after their profession. If you fit the mold — or even if you don’t — no one will blame you for some “finest form of flattery”, and a pilot’s watch is an excellent way to do it. In this week’s Want This, Get This, we compare two prime examples: the Breitling Navitimer 01 and the Sinn 903 St.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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Number 1 on the runway

Want This, Get This: IWC Pilot Chronograph or Alpina Startimer Chronograph

If you’re like us, you have a long list of watches you’d love to own. The watch companies maintain a continuous flow of tantalizing images of their new creations, the Web is rife with chronic watch flippers offering good deals on minty timepieces, and suddenly that watch you’re wearing is starting to look a little rough around the edges. Time for an upgrade. But reality steps in, along with bank accounts and eagle-eyed spouses, and your watch love remains unrequited. What’s a guy to do? Want This, Get This presents a lustworthy timepiece along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch.

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Fly by night

Casio G-Shock Aviation Series

We have yet to see a G-Shock watch that looks as if it couldn’t withstand a few strikes from a jackhammer. The Casio G-Shock Aviation Series GWA1000D-1A ($600) is no exception. This time, it’s geared for pilots and other such world-travelers who need a multi-function watch as formidable as they are. The GWA1000D-1A (who names…

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The sky's the limit

Timekeeping: Hamilton Khaki X-Patrol

Just in time for their 120th anniversary, Hamilton has added a new flagship to the Aviation line of Khaki watches, the X-Patrol, and it represents a terrific value in fully-featured mechanical pilot’s watches. To this end, the X-Patrol features a functional computational bezel that allows would-be Lindberghs to calculate on-the-fly metric conversions for miles to…

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The right stuff

Timekeeping | Airplane Mode: 7 Best Pilot’s Watches of the Season

Reaching down to deploy the cupholder, you glance through your aviators at the chunky pilot’s watch on your wrist. You’re good for an on-time arrival. Suddenly, you spy a minivan bearing down on you at four o’clock so you quickly disable cruise control and switch into manual mode as you approach your exit. This is…

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Time Fliegers

Timekeeping: LACO Memmingen Flieger

LACO (LAcher & CO.) has built some of the finest pilot’s watches since the 1920s and has been in the business for nearly 90 years. Known as ‘Fliegeruhr’ or ‘flyer watches’, they are highly legible and classic in style. Having been one of the five authorized watch manufacturers to supply watches to the German Luftwaffe…

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Flieger Like an Eagle

Timekeeping: Archimede Pilot Chronograph

While it is widely acknowledged that the best watch movements come from Switzerland, watch collectors and industry insiders also know that some of the best watch cases are made in Germany. Maybe it’s due to the strong heritage of craftsmanship and steelworks or just a national appreciation for good design and impeccable manufacturing. Companies like…

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I Feel The Need...

IWC Pilot Double Chronograph Top Gun Edition

Part Iceman and all Maverick, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition Top Gun ($12,000) pays homage to the fearless pilots at the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, who epitomize courage and skill. IWC has emblazoned the Top Gun emblem (and thankfully not Tom Cruise’s mug) on the back of the titanium and black…