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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I hope you're having a nice Thanksgiving weekend, or a nice weekend anyway if not in the US!

I'm looking for a gift idea for my son who's graduating from USAF pilot school. He'll be moving on to fly an AC-130W gunship. It's under the AF Special Operations branch, and they do a lot of their work at night.

I'm looking for an extremely durable, atomic-synched timepiece for him, budget is $1000 or less. I'm also leaning towards luminous hands, rather than digital, so he can see the time at night without pressing a button to light it.

I'm leaning towards the G Shock, a GWA1000. The Casios are bulletproof, dead accurate, and won't need batteries. They aren't the most elegant things, but I'm thinking that, at work, one would fit right in.

I would actually prefer something more refined, but like the durability and the solar/atomic features of the Casio.

Any new or better ideas? I would love feedback.
 

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As a USAF pilot, I found the analog hands of my gshock not very legible at night in the cockpit. Otherwise they're awesome. Definitely not a bad choice, especially since the time is always displayed in the cockpit somewhere or other.

Another choice could be the Breitling Aerospace for just a little more than that price, used, and it's as accurate as an atomic watch with its super quartz movement.

Blue skies, it's a helluva ride!
-only Jake
 

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It's always hard to pick something out for a stranger whom you don't know, but keeping it under $1,000 here is what I'd do-

First, I have a Citizen Skyhawk and in general I like it a lot and it has the features you are wanting- solar, atomic clock calibration and analog hands.

Like JFingers and his Casio, my main peeve is with the luminous hands so here is how I'd go about creating a very special gift watch-

Get a Titanium model:
Amazon.com: Citizen Men's JY0010-50E Eco-Drive "Skyhawk A-T" Titanium Watch: Skyhawk: Watches

Then find one of the watch modifiers that post here and get the watch seriously lumed, and also have a sapphire crystal installed.

For the lume, something I have never seen done before but I'm going to have done to one of my watches eventually is have the minute and hour hands lumed in different colors. Green is typically the brightest so have the second and minute hands done in that and the hour hand done in orange or red. Have the hour marks also lumed, and have the 3,6,9, and 12 done in a different color from the other hour marks. Talk to someone who knows more than me and has actual experience with seeing the lume in low light to suggest the actual colors to you, just make the minute and second hands the brightest and the hour hand slightly different in color. Some different hands might not be bad either, especially a second hand with a dot on the pointer.

Besides the bling factor, the titanium version is noticeably less weight

The Skyhawk has a bunch of timers on it should he ever need those so it is pretty versatile and the E6B is useable too.

Done up that way with a sapphire crystal it will definitely stand out in the cockpit and be quite the conversation piece too and be pretty functional as far as watches go, cost will be comfortably under your budget, and when someone asks your son will have the opportunity to tell people "Yeah, my Dad had that custom made for me when I graduated. Pretty cool watch huh?"
 

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GPW1000-1B

Atomic AND GPS synchable.
Sapphire crystal
1 alarm
24 minute stopwatch
24 hour countdown timer
UTC time
World Time
Bullet Proof from the sand to the sea (supposedly anyways) !

 

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Another choice could be the Breitling Aerospace for just a little more than that price, used, and it's as accurate as an atomic watch with its super quartz movement.
I do not own an Aerospace, but I have heard that the single button design affects the usability. Perhaps some Aerospace owners here can chime in?
 

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GPW1000-1B

Atomic AND GPS synchable.
Sapphire crystal
1 alarm
24 minute stopwatch
24 hour countdown timer
UTC time
World Time
Bullet Proof from the sand to the sea (supposedly anyways) !

This... Or an Aerospace. You cannot go wrong with either, all though I am not sure you can even find a decent used Aerospace on that budget. Just get the G-Shock Aviation and be done with it.

My gosh, that Citizen Skyhawk has just way to busy of a face. Whiz-wheels are about as useful as a slide rule now days. Yeah, they work... But I have not used one since basic pilot training 23+ years ago.

I've owned two Aerospace watches in my day. If you are a young, straight out of the academy pilot, they are perfect. The single operational point (crown) can be cumbersome, but once you are used to it, no problem. The only reason I no longer use the Aerospace is my old man eyes are not as sharp as they were a long time ago, and the LCD display is a little small for someone pushing 50.

Did I mention getting the G-Shock??? b-)
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
All helpful information, thanks. I'd be worried about the Breitling, from a service perspective. Getting the battery in mine changed every year or so was an ordeal, and not cheap. I'd like to get him something that doesn't cost much to maintain, which is why I was looking at the Casios. They are just so clunky.... His tastes tend towards the classic/relatively understated.

I'm revising my requirements, now that I've thought harder about how he'll be using it. Superb accuracy is still a requirement, but since the 73rd SOS does a lot of night ops really good lume and a GMT readout at night should be there.

I was looking at the Luminoxes, for the lume, but having trouble finding one on the market with a GMT hand.

I like your idea of customizing, Dark30, but ideally I need it by Dec 12, for graduation.

Any other ideas for an accurate, not expensive to keep, strong lume, GMT watch?
 

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I was looking at the Luminoxes, for the lume, but having trouble finding one on the market with a GMT hand.

I like your idea of customizing, Dark30, but ideally I need it by Dec 12, for graduation.

Any other ideas for an accurate, not expensive to keep, strong lume, GMT watch?
I would not go with the other brand you mentioned. They are not built like they used to be imho.

If you don't want to go G-Shock, Seiko does make a Diver with a GMT hand. The Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT. It's hard to go wrong with a Seiko diver... Well under $1000 US.



Since it's your son, and he's graduating USAF pilot school... Thats a BIG DEAL... If you absolutely need a GMT with good lume... Just saying...

 

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I haven't seen them in the flesh, but the luminox p38 or sxc might work. But really, a classy, classic, accurate watch with good lume for flying means Seiko, Breitling, or rolex, in my opinion. But I've only flown C-5s, King Air 350s, T-38s and U-2s... Ymmv.

Blue skies and good luck,
-only Jake
 

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AFSOC typically issues Suunto Core to crews, so I'd lean toward something other than a Gshock just for variety. Gunships typically fly at night, so something NVG compatible would be a big bonus. i know the Breitling Aerospace is, but frankly their are enough clocks and stopwatches in a modern cockpit to make using a watch somewhat impractical. That said, a watch with a GMT feature is pretty useful for reference on the ground--I'd lean towards a Citizen Skyhawks in titanium if anAerospace is out of your budget. They're plenty accurate, the lume is decent, and they can handle that pesky .5hr time zone in Afghanistan.
 

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As a USAF pilot, I found the analog hands of my gshock not very legible at night in the cockpit. Otherwise they're awesome. Definitely not a bad choice, especially since the time is always displayed in the cockpit somewhere or other.

Another choice could be the Breitling Aerospace for just a little more than that price, used, and it's as accurate as an atomic watch with its super quartz movement.

Blue skies, it's a helluva ride!
-only Jake
Random thought from a non-pilot - no issues with having a watch that auto-syncs? Ie, you don't get frequency overlap or screwy things happening with the instruments?

Last thing he needs to is plant that AC-130 into a hill because his horizon turns 90 degrees whenever the watch updates.
 

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Random thought from a non-pilot - no issues with having a watch that auto-syncs? Ie, you don't get frequency overlap or screwy things happening with the instruments?

Last thing he needs to is plant that AC-130 into a hill because his horizon turns 90 degrees whenever the watch updates.
Not an issue.
 

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Please remember "auto sync" doesn't mean the watch is "causing some electronic interference" nor is it transmitting anything... Alls it does is "Receive" radio or GPS generated signals that are just floating about the airwaves...


Electronic post generated by human via apple interface...
 

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Last thing he needs to is plant that AC-130 into a hill because his horizon turns 90 degrees whenever the watch updates.
Non issue. I promise.

No playing with the watch during low-level flight though... ;-)
 

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Please remember "auto sync" doesn't mean the watch is "causing some electronic interference" nor is it transmitting anything... Alls it does is "Receive" radio or GPS generated signals that are just floating about the airwaves...

Electronic post generated by human via apple interface...
Got it. That makes more sense.

I was thinking more like a cell phone pinging a tower or something.
 

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Non issue. I promise.

No playing with the watch during low-level flight though... ;-)
Low level in a Gunship? Not gonna happen.

Sent from my company iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Fellow C-130 pilot checking in.

I actually have a G Shock aviator watch (GW3000 series) and I have to say I wouldn't recommend it. Flying through multiple time zones constantly, it's a pain to reset - it's a series of holding buttons down in specific orders to change the time zone, which I forget all the time. It'd be much easier to do it with say a mechanical piece.

It's a little pricier, but I really like the Sinn 856 UTC. We do all of our time information in zulu time which would be really helpful. It also looks great on a military green nylon strap or the tegemented black bracelet. Like Joseph06 mentioned though, he may get issued a Suunto watch. Have a few friends in AFSOC and they got issued those as well.

(Not my images)
Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Strap

Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Strap
 

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I have the GWA1000D as a holiday watch. It looks smarter than most G Shocks but it is still very chunky. The lume is very mediocre, be warned ! If you fly all the time then the time reset/resync is in fact more cumbersome than simply setting the time traditionally. So, I like it but not sure if it is the best choice for your intended use.
The Breitling is a classic but I am not sure if I'd give a 2nd hand something as a graduation present! Victorinox has a very similar model as the Breitling for around your budget (why so much cheaper: steel instead of titanium, a normal quartz variant of the movement, lack of premium brand pricing):


It does look more refined than a G Shock or a Luminox. Seems good as a gift.
 

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The Skyhawk A-T gets you auto timeset, large unambiguous lumed analogue dial and sword hands, solar charging with charge level dial, and Zulu and UST dials. Other useful options in the status windows available as well.
Can be found well under the $700 MSRP.

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
 
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