We all have a certain image in our heads of what a pilot looks like. That image includes things like a perfectly pressed uniform, sunglasses, and often time a fancy looking wristwatch. There is even a type of watch called – you guessed it – an aviators watch. They are full of dials and info that we assume only pilots can understand.
This gives people the impression that wearing a watch with certain dials and gadgets is part of the job. Many people even ask if this is a requirement of the job. So, are pilot’s required to wear a watch?
No, pilots are not required to wear a watch while flying.
Let’s take a look at some of the details around why they aren’t required to do so along with some other interesting facts.
*Related: The different types of pilot licenses
Why aren’t pilot’s required to wear a watch?
One of the reasons people assume pilot’s would be required to wear a watch is that they would need to use all of the tools and dials on the watch. The reality is that modern airplanes have every tool and reading that a pilot would ever need. There is no sense in relying on a wristwatch when the aircraft is one of the most modern pieces of machinery on the planet.
There is no situation where a pilot should have to rely on the time or any other reading on his watch instead of being able to depend on the readings from much more sophisticated and accurate tools.
Why do many pilots wear watches?
If it isn’t required, then why do so many pilots then wear watches? After all, you may have noticed while flying as a passenger that many pilots do in fact wear watches. There are many reasons for this.
One of them is just a personal style choice. Many people wear watches for no other reason than being able to tell the time while adding that extra piece of fashion to their outfit. It really comes down to looking nice with a uniform and adding to an overall professional image.
Another reason a pilot might wear a watch is for his or her personal convenience. Pilots obviously travel a lot and can be in and out of airports, hotels, airplanes, ground transportation, and more. It is very convenient to see what time it is with a quick glance.
What types of watches do pilots prefer?
Honestly, pilots can wear a variety of watches based mostly on personal preference. There isn’t really a go-to watch that all pilots want.
These days you can see pilots wearing anything from fancy mechanical watches like a Rolex or something simple and effective like a Timex or Casio. Others like the conveniences of modern technology and prefer to wear one of the many modern smart watches that many of us also wear like Apple Watch or FitBit.
Did they used to be required to wear a watch?
A long time ago, watches were much more of a necessity for pilots than they are now. Although I won’t be giving a complete history of watches and pilots here (but here’s a great one if you’re interested) it really comes down to how important the functionality of keeping accurate time was when airplane technology wasn’t where it is today.
This includes not only early pilots relying on a wristwatch for time-keeping while flying but military pilots using them to plan and execute time specific airstrikes on targets during WWII.
In those days not only was having an accurate wristwatch important, many pilots would even take their watches off and place them in the cockpit while flying. This made it even easier to keep an eye on it.
Historically, these watches were very important for pilots and nearly required to achieve their objective.
The good news is that if you’re interested in earning a pilot’s license (whether it’s a Private Pilot License for fun, or you want to go all the way and become an airline pilot) there is no requirement that you do or don’t wear a watch. That means you can choose to wear one if you want, or don’t bother at all if you prefer not to. It’s completely up to you.
Good luck on your journey to become a pilot regardless of what you decide