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Three Pilot’s Watches for Any Budget - Windup Watch Shop
Words by Windup Watch Shop

Pilot Watches are an excellent option for everyday wear. They’re bold, legible, and have some serious history behind them. Right up there with the field watch, Pilot watches are iconic military-style watches which have carried over into the civilian world extraordinarily well. There are a few classic elements that make a watch a pilot’s watch, the most notable being a triangle index at 12, a large and legible hand set, and a case that rides on the larger side. Today, we’re highlighting three picks from the shop that scratch that pilot watch itch at any budget. Under $500 is Seiko 5 Sports’ SRPH29, at right around $1000 is the Laco Paderborn, and in the $2000 range is Oris’ modern take on the pilot’s watch. Let’s dig in and take a closer look. 

Under $500: Seiko 5 Sports SRPH29

Seiko 5 Sports is known for making quality timepieces with an affordable price tag, and the SRPH29 is no exception. The return of the pilot collection is important for watch enthusiasts, as they’re a direct descendent of the original affordable automatic watch that Seiko put out around a decade ago. This updated version features a brand new case and striking new colors. Measuring in at 39.4mm, the SRPG hits a sweet spot for nearly any wrist. Seiko’s own Hardlex mineral crystal keeps the dial safe from bumps, thanks to its shatter and scratch-proof characteristics. You’ll notice classic pilot watch styling like the triangular index at 12 and a bold and legible handset that’s treated with lume. The brushing on the case reflects light a bit less than a polished case would, but it totally fits the feel of the SRPH. If green is not your thing, you can also pick a mid-tone blue with orange accents.


~$1000, Give or Take: The Laco Paderborn

Laco was one of the original manufacturers of pilot watches for the German army back in the 1940’s. They’re still in business today, making some of the most true-to-form pilot’s watches out there. Based on archival materials, the Paderborn is as close as you can get with a new watch to those made in the early 20th century. Flat lugs, sandblasted finish, and historical case markings all result in a watch that looks more like new old stock than it does something just plain new. The Paderborn measures in at 42mm, with a large and legible dial. Around the outside of the dial, a prominent minutes track makes mission timing an easy task, while the inner hours track is easy to read thanks to the short hours hand. Setting the time is easy too, thanks to the traditional onion-style crown. Other conveniences like a sapphire crystal, elabore-grade ETA 2824-2 movement, and premium riveted leather strap make the Laco stand out from the pack. If you’re a fan of traditional and historical pilot’s watches, the Paderborn is about as good as it gets.


Our Premium ($2000) Pick: Oris Big Crown Propilot Big Date

Taking things in a more modern direction is the Big Crown Propilot Big Date. It’s sharp, handsome, and easy to wear at 41mm x 12mm thick. This Swiss-made watch features Oris’ own design language, most obvious being the turbine-inspired bezel surrounding the dial. The angular lugs slope down toward the strap, further enhancing how the Propilot handles on the wrist. The matte black dial features contrasting white markings. Subtle nods to the history of pilots watches like the geometric angled 12 o’clock index, and prominent textured crown are complemented by modern touches like the molded lume indices and sleek handset. Inside the Propilot is an Oris 751 automatic movement, based on Sellita’s SW 220-1. You’ll also appreciate the sapphire crystal that’s extremely scratch resistant. Choose from a stainless steel bracelet or a rugged textile strap, either way, you can’t go wrong.


These were three of our favorite pilot’s watches for three different budgets, each with their own unique appeal. You can snag them now in the Windup Watch Shop, and earn some Windup Rewards while you’re at it. If you’re not already signed up, make sure to do so in order to earn points that are redeemable for discounts on future purchases.