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Home > Flying Schools
Are Breitling watches worn by many pilots?
Professional Pilots - General
Written by Capt Lim   
Friday, 09 September 2005 03:22

Hi Captain Lim,

I understand Breitling watches are worn by many pilots. Do you have one? Why would pilots wear Breitling watch only? Is there any significant reason why that might be?

Mark.

Hi Mark,

It is not true that Breitling watches are worn by many pilots. After I had completed my flying training with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, I was not issued with a Breitling, but rather a free Omega watch. When it broke down, I merely got it exchanged with another Omega!

Yes, I almost forgot about your questions (my apologies - too many queries and yours were hidden in my GuestBook) until I saw a large advertisement in the newspaper showing John Travolta wearing a Breitling in front of his jetplane at his private runway in Ocala, Florida.

Why is there a fascination for such watches made specially for the aviators? (In fact, Breitling is not the only one favored by pilots. Other notable ones are Omega and Rolex). It was said that these watches are about as strongly linked to aviation as a hot dog is to the cow from which it was made! Well, Breitlings are aimed specifically at marketing "aviation romance" to those who aspire to be pilots. No wonder, they have to get an actor to promote this aviation heritage, and John Travolta is also a seasoned pilot who once did a promotion for Qantas and flew the Boeing 747-400 for the airline.

It was generally thought that these watches were mainly worn by pilots, navigators and aircrew for performing aviation duties - such as departing at the precise time, flight planning and other navigational chores. In reality, modern avionics have eliminated the need to wear such an aviator watch.

No doubt, in the past, some of the navigational functions in the Breitling watches were very useful (work like a slide rule) but in practise, they were cumbersome to use especially when a cheap calculator would have been far more precise and fast. Today, pilots use their watches more for their original purposes rather than for anything else. So, any watch would do for me. (I wear a Seiko!) Yet, I still find some real pilots going for these "designers watches". Yes, they are going for models such as the NAVITIMER where the designers have claimed that it has become the 'cult objects for pilots the world over'(?). Well, what can I say - To some, tradition dies hard!

I saw a question being posted in one time piece column. It asks, "Can I pretend to be a pilot when I wear a pilot's watch?" It receives an interesting response, "Yes, if only you are willing to pretend that you can land the airplane when the pilot becomes incapacitated during the flight!"

(To all pilots out there, wear what you like... but please takeoff on time! Smile)

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