Watch Review: Szanto Big Pilot Aviatore


Personally I have always admired pilot watches from afar and I always had respect for the history behind the original pilot watches of yesteryear. They just never quite spoke to me like diver watches have. I have to say though that the Szanto’s take on an affordable pilot watch here is pulls in that vintage magic in my opinion. The overall style of this piece has beautiful vintage charm with a WWII vintage feel all around the case and the dial. The oversized onion style crown stole my heart from first sight. The styling of the crown is perfect from the blasted finish, to the edges, to the shape/ size. Crowns like this didn’t just serve on an aesthetically pleasing plane back in the day. It was for functional purposes so that the pilot could easily grip and operate the crown while wearing gloves when they were in the cockpit of the plane flying high in the sky. This push/pull style crown has smooth operation when winding, setting the time and when setting the date.


As for the case itself, it is a combination of brushed and blasted finish. I prefer these finish choices over a high polished case, especially for this style of watch. High polished cases have their place on dress watches in my opinion. The one thing that I would change about this case is to have a solid case back that features an unique aviation themed engraving. Don’t get me wrong here, Szanto did give the wearer something to look at besides the movement itself. The Szanto logo was printed on the underside of the mineral crystal screwdown case back. If you prefer seeing the movement of a watch you still get to see it but with the addition of the printed logo.


The lugs on this piece are very reminiscent of the welded  style that are found on those vintage WW2 pilot watches as you can see from the side by side comparison pics below. The inspiration for this piece is apparent as Szanto borrowed a lot of it’s styling cues from those early pilot watches that served as the inspiration. The lugs on this watch have a standard style spring bar holding the black leather strap in place which means you won’t have to cut your strap off or wait for it to rot off before you can do a strap change.


I am a fan of the large matte black dial on the Aviatore it creates a large, legible backdrop for the hands and hour markers. I personally would have preferred white for the hands and markers vs. the faux patina color Szanto chose.  The cathedral style hands though were absolutely the right choice for this watch and they are probably my favorite detail on this dial. The hand nicely complement the hour markers both in color and in shape. What I like about Szanto dial design/layout is that they went traditional with 3 hands vs. a small seconds subdial. In place of small seconds, they went with a 24 hour sub dial which is more helpful in my opinion. What I mean by more helpful is in terms of use in my profession since we are on military time. I also use the second hand for timing treatments in which I find it much easier to use a large seconds hand than that of a small seconds subdial. The dial has lume treatment with Super Luminova done in that old “Radium” color fill which is found on both the hands and on the indices.


Out of Szanto’s current pilot watch offerings, this is my personal favorite of the group. It is an affordable option in my opinion for those looking for a vintage inspired pilot watch who are on a budget. There is room for improvement on the big Aviatore watch as mentioned in the review. Are they deal breakers? That is up to personal preference. I can say that the watch has some nice vintage style designs/features. The hands are my favorite of the aesthetically appealing details on the dial and the crown is my favorite in terms of the case details. The watch is comfortable on the wrist and has a large wrist presence coming in at 46mm. It is a watch that can easily translate from the office to the weekend.

Thank you for reading and your questions and comments are welcome below.

Thanks to Szanto.



46mm 316L Stainless Steel Case with Brushed and Sandblast finishing
Exhibition Caseback
Japan Automatic 21 Jewel Movement with 3 Hands & Date
24 Hour Subdial
Super Luminova “Radium” Color Fill on Hands and Indices
Oversized Onion shaped Push Crown
Hardened K1 Mineral Crystal
Dial with Arabic Numerals
Genuine Calf Leather Strap with Signature Szanto SS Buckle
100 Meters Water Resistant





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