Today we are examining two pilot watches, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII and the Orient Flight FER2A003B. Pilot watches are extremely popular for their dark dials, large numerals, and big cases, all of which combine for a watch with great legibility. These watches came about during WWI when pocket watches became too cumbersome for pilots to use during flight. Their simple and high contrast dials provided easy reference in tight cockpits.
On The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII
IWC has a long history of producing pilot watches and this tradition is carried into the Mark XVII. The roots of the Mark XVII can be traced directly back to the Mark 11 of the 1940s. A 30110-calibre movement, which is a modified ETA 2892A2, powers this IWC piece. The Mark XVII has a 41mm diameter stainless steel case, a hacking self-winding movement with date function, sapphire crystal and a water resistance of 6 bar (61.19m). The Mark XVII also boasts IWC’s soft case structure for improved anti-magnetism. All of these features come with a steep price of $4,900.
Now let us take a look at Orient’s pilot watch, the Flight model.
The Orient Flight shares many of the same features and even improves upon some of the features that are in the Mark XVII. The Flight features a slightly larger and more appropriate size for a pilot watch at 42mm. The case has also been engineered to withstand a water resistance of 100m. Like the IWC, the Orient is powered by an automatic movement, but unlike the Mark XVII, the Flight’s movement is manufactured in-house by Orient. Both watches share a date functionality. The Orient Flight can be had for just $295, a serious price difference from its Swiss counterpart.
If you are in the market for a straightforward pilot watch, both the Mark XVII and Flight would be suitable options. But what do you actually get for an additional $4,600 in the Mark XVII? you get a hacking seconds hand and sapphire crystal, along with a greatly weaker water resistance, a smaller case, and a non-in-house movement. In day to day wear, it’s easy to see that the confidence of Orient’s 100m water resistance and more substantial case size would prove to be more noticeable; not to mention that Orient manufactures their movements in house from start to finish in Japan. Additionally, it also doesn’t hurt that you can currently get an additional 30% off and free shipping with the Orient promo code ‘winter2013′, effectively dropping the price to only $207, essentially 4% of the price of the Mark XVII.