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5 Seiko Pilot Watches For Aviator Watch Fans [2021]

seiko pilot watches

Seiko is one of the most well-known watch brands in the world, but you may not instantly link them to Pilot watches. 

That’s because the vast majority of their models focus on the sports, dress and dive watch categories with just a sprinkling of specialist tool watches, including pilot watches.  

For those looking to take to the skies, the good news is that there are some Seiko watches that fit the traditional characteristics of a pilot watch. We’ll start by confirming exactly what makes a great pilot watch before pulling out five Seiko models to help you get up above the clouds! 

Note – Seiko really do have a limited range of dedicated Pilot watches. As such, we’ll pick out models that get as close to the traditional Pilot watch spec as possible.

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What Makes a Great Pilot Watch?

For those new to the Pilot watch category, let’s break down exactly what separates this type of watch from other more popular ranges such as dress or sports. 

As aviation became more popular in the 1900s, military, commercial and amateur pilots needed a watch to help them keep track of time (and other metrics) whilst navigating their airships. 

Specifically, they needed a watch with at least some of the following characteristics. 

  • A watch with a large and easy to read dial
  • Good luminosity when flying at night
  • Extra dial markings and tracking (e.g tachymeter)
  • A watch with a large crown for winding
  • The ability to track multiple time zones

We’ll benchmark our Seiko picks against these to see how they shape up as a traditional aviation watch. 

1. Seiko SSB031 Men’s Chronograph 

To get us started, we’ve pulled out the SSB031 chronograph model from one of Seiko entry-level ranges. As discussed in our introduction, there aren’t many dedicated Seiko pilot watches, but the SSB031 fits a number of the Pilot watch characteristics. 

The SSB031 is large and easy to read at 40mm, incorporates large, lume covered hour markers and hands, offers additional time tracking thanks to the tachymeter and tachymeter and has a large, easy to wind crown. 

Outside of the dedicated Pilot specs, the black/white/red design is really nice and classy with features such as a mineral crystal, high-quality steel bracelet and 100m of water resistance, making it a good all-rounder outside the cockpit. 

Again, whilst this isn’t a dedicated Pilot watch, it does enough to be classed as a good aviation companion, especially if you want a watch that’s not solely for flying. At around $120, it’s also a reasonable price as a gateway Pilot watch, giving you the ability to track time/speed/distance in the sky before moving onto something more specialist. 

2. Seiko Automatic Compass SRPD35K1

With the Seiko SRPD35K1, we take another step towards a fully-fledged pilot watch. By combining a large 43mm case, large lume filled numbers, a sizeable crown and a compass dial, this Seiko is perfect for adventure. 

Those who like darker watches will also love this, thanks to the black stainless steel case and black leather strap. It all comes together with the beige coloured markings to provide a watch that could be described as a sports/military/pilot hybrid. 

Spec-wise you’re getting a whole host of extras with this watch. A good quality automatic movement drives a day/date window, with other features such as 200m of water resistance and a mineral crystal offering some protection. 

We take a step up on price with this watch, with the SRPD35K1 coming in at around $470. Whilst it may seem like a lot, you’re getting a piece that moves closer to a full Pilot’s watch whilst delivering premium compass and automatic movement features. 

3. Seiko Adventure-Solar SSC081

If you liked the previous watch, you’ll like this one too. There are many similarities as the SSC081 delivers a watch that’s easy to read, incorporates a compass, an easy to use crown and a super-bright lume finish. 

Whereas our last watch had a lot of military feel to it, this model delivers more of a pilot/dress watch combination. That’s reflected in the slightly smaller 42mm case and a combination of standard steel and a brown strap. 

Inside the case, you’re getting a very handy solar quartz movement with other features such as a hardlex crystal and 330m of water resistance also included. Like our previous watch, you also have that internal compass dial on hand, which is operated with a separate crown. 

We’re at a similar price point with this watch too – expect to pick up an SSC081 model for around $475. At that price, you’re getting a watch with a superior solar movement that strikes a great dress/pilot watch balance meaning you’ll look good in the skies and on the ground. 

4. Seiko Pilot Chronograph SNA411


We finally arrive at a true Seiko Pilot’s watch with the SBN411 model, known as the Seiko Pilot Chronograph. This watch ticks most of our Pilot watch boxes with a large dial, luminous hands, super-large crown, and a range of extra markings, including fuel tracking. 

This is definitely a watch for serious pilots with all of the markings and functionality this watch delivers. But for generic watch lovers, there are things here for you too. Three chronograph windows are accompanied by a date window, meaning more traditional tracking is also available. 

The 42mm piece also comes with additional features in the form of a full steel bracelet, 200m of water resistance, a hardlex crystal and a good-quality quartz movement. 

True aviators and Pilot watch fans will absolutely love the detail on this watch, and it’s definitely one for the professionals who need extra functionality. At around $250, it’s also fantastic value. When it comes to Seiko Pilot watches, the SNA411 is one of the best picks out there and one we’d definitely recommend. 

5. Seiko Astron SSH003J1

To finish up, we’ve pulled out a model from one of Seiko’s latest brand lines, the premium Astron range. As part of Seiko’s expansion into the mid-market, a number of more premium ranges have been launched underneath their sister brand, Grand Seiko. 

The SSH003J1 model specifically delivers a number of the more technical features we expect to see in a Pilot watch. A 43mm dial, lume markers and a large crown combine with chronograph features and a bezel that’s great for tracking multiple time zones. 

The premium solar GPS movement ensures the most accurate of timekeeping no matter where you are in the world, with the chronograph features dedicated to tracking multiple timezones simultaneously. 

Of course, a watch of this spec includes a range of additional features, including titanium/ceramic case construction, a sapphire crystal, titanium bracelet and 100m of water resistance. 

Given we take such a significant step up in spec, you can expect the price to follow. For serious long-haul pilot’s who need to track multiple time zones, you can get a Seiko Astron SSH003J1 for just over $2,000. It’s a big investment, but if you love Pilot watches and want a seriously technical piece of kit, this watch could be the one for you! 

Summary


For those who love taking to the skies, having a Pilot watch on the wrist is essential to ensure you can keep track of time accurately. Whilst you’ll be able to buy a dedicated Pilot watch, as long as the watch is large, easy to read and offers supplementary tracking abilities (such as a tachymeter),, you’ll have what you need. 

Luckily for Seiko fans, there are a number of different options which can serve as a Pilot watch. We’ve pulled out just a few today, but do shop around to find the one of many Seiko Pilot watches that’s perfect for you!