2022 Year in Review: Flying High With 5 New Pilot Watches

Continuing our round up of some of the most important watches launched this year, today we look back at more exciting and innovative releases that broke onto the scene in 2022. Aviation is the theme for today’s recap with a host of memorable novelties on review today. So please fasten your seatbelts and place your tray table in the upright position as we discuss five pilot watch introductions from the past year. 

Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph

Breitling’s Navitimer turned 70 this year and the brand celebrated with the release of five new models with a bold redesign. The Navitimer B01 Chronograph maintains the classic three sub-dial layout and the slide rule bezel that are both characteristic of the Navitimer collection. The new models feature a bold steel case with the option of a copper, blue, green or silver main dial all with black sub-dials, or an inverse black dial with white sub-dials. Not only do the range of colorways give this family an innate variability, but they are also available in three distinct sizes: 46mm, 43mm, and 41mm. Between the range of dial color options and variety of size choices, there are 15 different possible variations of the new model. Inside the watch is the manufacture caliber Chronometer B01 with COSC certification and a power reserve of 70 hours. 

The Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph in the 41mm variation retails for $9,000, the 43mm option retails for $9,100, and the large 46mm version is priced at $9,200. 

IWC ​​Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Top Gun

Arguably the highest profile event in the industry calendar this year was Watches and Wonders, with the international trade show once more serving as a catalyst for many brands to make their major annual debuts. Among them was IWC with its new ​​Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Top Gun. The model is a new take on previous models from the Big Pilot Top Gun family, and is the first model to debut with a substantial diameter of 43.8mm. The sleek ceramic case is clad in “IWC Jet Black,” while on the reverse the metallic case back is decorated with the Top Gun logo as well as the Big Pilot’s collection signature markings. Powering the hands is IWC’s automatic caliber 82100 that is made from wear-free ceramic and offers a power reserve of 60 hours. 

The IWC ​​Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Top Gun is presented on a green textile strap and retails for $10,300. 

Rolex GMT II “Destro” ref. 126720VTNR 

Our next list item is a model that has certainly transcended the boundaries of the pilot watch category in recent years, though the Rolex GMT Master collection at its debut came as part of the golden age of commercial aviation in 1955. Recalling those natural aviation roots this year, Rolex introduced their latest GMT-Master II via the new “Destro” ref. 126720VTNR.

Undoubtedly the most notable attribute of this release is the design of the 40mm steel case, dubbed “Destro” via it being left-hand oriented via its crown and matching dial details. A striking 24-hour ceramic bezel completes the look, itself split in the middle between a rich Kelly green and the other half in black. The southpaw model operates with the caliber 3285 movement which offers a second time zone indication, synchronized date, and 70 hours of power reserve. 

The new Rolex GMT-Master II retails for $11,050 via certified Rolex jewelers.

Longines Spirit Zulu Time

Swiss maker Longines has a long history of making pilot watches that extended from the early 20th century and continues to define the modern genetics of the brand. Its latest marriage of retro styling with contemporary watchmaking is the Spirit Zulu Time released in March of this year. The steel model measures 42mm in diameter and is available in two dial variations, one that is matte black and the other that is sunray blue. The bi-directional rotating bezel takes shape in the color respective to the dial and features a 24-hour scale and each colorway has a contrasting GMT hand to explicitly indicate a second time zone. Longines opts for the caliber L844.4 to power the watch which utilizes an innovative silicon balance spring and offers a power reserve of 72 hours. 

The Longines Spirit Zulu Time retails for $2,950 when presented on a  leather-strap and $3,050 for the steel bracelet variant.

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph

Closing out our recap of the pilot’s watch category is the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph from Hamilton. The 40mm steel case design references the form and function of traditional chronographs produced by the brand in the 1970s. The dial layout features two horizontal sub-dials indicating minutes and running seconds that share the same black coloring of the matte dial. To contrast the dark coloring, Hamilton opts for bold beige-toned indices and hands. Another highlight of the watch is the internal H-51-Si mechanical chronograph movement that utilizes a silicon balance spring, with manual winding and a power reserve of 60 hours. 

The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph is presented on a leather strap and retails for $2,045.

Oh, how time flies. 

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