The worlds of horology and aviation have been synonymous with each other since 1904, when Louis Cartier designed a wristwatch for pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont to wear on his wrist while flying on his single engine plane.
As aircraft manufacturing and technology progressed into the late 1930’s, watchmaker Breitling introduced onboard chronographs for pilots to use in aircraft cockpits for navigational purposes. During World War II the British Royal Air Force relied on Breitling’s onboard chronographs for air force missions on their fighter planes. In 1952, Breitling introduced the Navitimer mechanical chronograph, one of the very first pilot watches, which featured a circular slide-rule bezel that was expressly designed for pilots to calculate aviation navigations while in flight. The Breitling Navitimer is still in production today and remains as one of the first watch choices for professional pilots throughout the globe.
The slide-rule bidirectional rotating bezel is one of the major elements that clearly defines an aviator watch along with 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph functions on the dial. In addition to Breitling, many prominent watchmakers including Invicta, IWC, Bell & Ross, Luminox, Citizen, Revue Thommen, Longines, Bulova, Swiss Legend, Zenith and Seiko feature pilot inspired watches in their collections.