Fliegeruhr - Fliegeruhr

Breitling aviator watch "Navitimer" with chronograph function .
Aviator watches from Aristo with an above-average diameter of 44 mm, based on the military observation watches of the Second World War.

A pilot's watch is a wristwatch that has been developed for the needs of pilots since the beginning of the 20th century .

Since aviation was one of the most modern engineering achievements in the 20th century, many watch manufacturers offered pilot's wristwatches far beyond the actual demand in order to participate in the myth of precision and high technology . All pioneering achievements in the aerospace industry can be found in the company history of the watch manufacturers concerned. The actual or actually used pilot's watches were built into the dashboard at an early stage and developed from the technically advanced chronometers used in seafaring.

Today, the demarcation to military watches is less in actual technical differences than in marketing , especially advertising . In modern aviation, there is no longer any real need for wrist-worn timepieces, so the pilot's watch is more of a skillful labeling on the part of the manufacturer in order to give the watches a professional look and thus make them more interesting for certain groups of buyers. Today mechanical pilot's watches are an expression of the zeitgeist of a technically oriented, predominantly male target group. They are often designed as chronographs , that is, with an additional oneStopwatch function , which can be recognized by additional small dials (totalizers) on the main dial.


The Santos model from the manufacturer Cartier is a successor to the first pilot's watch of the same name from 1906.
Heuer pilot's chronograph, model 1550SG ( Luftwaffe service watch from 1967 to 1986)
Mechanical clock of a Russian military aircraft MiG-25 . Many aviator's wristwatches are based on such on-board instruments in aviation.

The French watch manufacturer Cartier developed the Cartier Santos, the first special watch for aviators that was worn on the wrist , for the Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont in 1906 . The idea was also further developed by other manufacturers, so that pilot watches were created that met the needs of the pilots of the time.

At this time, wristwatches were already known. Naval and artillery officers were the first men to use wristwatches to keep track of time . However, only wristwatches with a jewelry function that were worn by women were widespread and fashionably accepted. The advent of pilot's watches contributed to the wider acceptance of wristwatches for men.

Pilot's watches had precise mechanical movements and were unadorned, robust and designed to be shock-resistant. Many models had particularly long bracelets so that they could be worn over a flight jacket . The dial was numbered in high contrast - mostly white on a black background - often with a separate minute track next to the hour ring. A conspicuous triangle was often printed instead of the number twelve. Numbers, triangles and hands were usually coated with self-luminous, radioactively doped fluorescent paints to enable them to be read at night. The crownwas designed to be particularly large and easy to grip, so that the watch could be adjusted and wound with gloves on. The clocks often have a tachymeter , which makes it easier to calculate the speed.

Further developments were equipped with rotary dials for astronomical navigation - Charles Lindbergh was involved in this development . For use in military aviation, properties such as antimagnetism and resistance to extreme climatic and kinetic loads were essential. Purely mechanical movements proved to be superior to the emerging quartz watches for a long time.

After the First World War, on-board clocks installed in the aircraft took over the tasks of pilot's watches, which were only required as a replacement system or for the individual tasks of individual members of the mostly multi-person crew in the more modern aircraft types introduced at the time.

Pilot watches are considered to be robust and high-quality watches that are still worn today. A high demand was the reason for many watch manufacturers to include these in their range. [1]

Technical standard pilot's watches (TESTAF)

TESTAF-certified watches from Sinn (2014): EZM10, EZM9 and 857 UTC LH Cargo

The aerospace engineering department of the Aachen University of Applied Sciences and the Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH in Frankfurt am Main jointly developed the “Technical Standard Pilot's Watches” (“TESTAF” for short; old spelling until 2013. “TeStaF”) and presented it in 2012. The project was supported by Eurocopter Germany (since 2014: Airbus Helicopters), the watch magazine and external experts. The TESTAF determines which requirements wrist pilot watches with analog time display have to meet in non-military flight operations according to visual or instrument flight rules.

The aim of the "Technical Standard for Pilot's Watches" is to ensure that pilot's watches:

  • meet certain functional requirements (e.g. quick and accurate readability by day and night)
  • are resistant to external loads (e.g. cyclical pressure changes, shocks and vibrations, fluids typical for flight operations)
  • and are safe to use and compatible with the other instruments of an aircraft (e.g. no magnetic effects on on-board instruments, avoidance of annoying reflections)

The FH Aachen has developed a test regime to certify the conformity of pilot's watches with the TESTAF. The first watches to be certified were the Sinn EZM 10, the Sinn 103 Ti and the Stowa Flieger TO1.

The further development of the TESTAF is accompanied by a scientific advisory board at the Aachen Institute of Applied Sciences eV of the FH Aachen.

From TESTAF to the new DIN 8330

In June 2013, the DIN Precision Mechanics and Optics Standards Committee (NAFuO) established a “Pilot's Watches” working group with the aim of creating a new standard for pilot's watches (DIN 8330) based on the TESTAF. The working group includes: FH Aachen , DNV GL (formerly Germanischer Lloyd), Sinn Spezialuhren, Stowa, Hanhart, Laco, Glashütte Original and Lufthansa Cargo . Two years are estimated for the time up to the completion of the new DIN 8330.

The creation of the new DIN standard 8330 "Pilot's watches" is intended to enable functionally demanding, safe and reliable pilot's watches , similar to the well-known diver's watch standard DIN 8306 or ISO 6425.

DIN 8330 has been in force since March 2016 and is available in some products [2] .

Brands and models (selection)

Tutima Military Fliegerchronograph


  • Jürgen J. Ropönus, Jürgen Ropönus: The myth of the pilot watch: The history of the pilot watch - and its rise to the myth . Aviatic Verlag, Oberhaching 2004, ISBN 3-925505-80-6 .
  • Thomas Esser, Arno Gabel, Martin Hoch, Frank Janker, Wolfgang Schonefeld: Technical standard pilot watches TeStaF . FH Aachen, 2012, ISBN 978-3-86933-019-8 .


Individual evidence

  1. Pilot's Watches Today. Retrieved July 1, 2020 .
  2. https://www.beuth.de/de/norm/din-8330-1/245448918