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The History of the Aviator

Posted by Alexis Smith on

The History of the Aviator


Despite the constant evolution in technology, the wristwatch continues to be among most coveted possessions. Whether as a status symbol, milestone purchase or a symbolic gift or heirloom, the significance of watch is as historically important as the personal experience. Historically, the introduction of the Pilot’s watch clearly charts the impact of the wrist watch on both the aviation industry and mainstream menswear.

The introduction of the men’s pilot watch was ultimately a product of friendship between Brazilian Pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont and Louis Cartier. As Santos-Dumont’s career in aviation began to expand, he complained of the trouble of balancing the need to check his pocket watch (yes, we said it…his pocket watch) mid-flight. As a reaction to his friend’s complaints, Cartier introduced the Santos.  With an easy to read dial and numerical markings, Santos-Dumont became the first man to replace his pocket watch for  a wrist watch–until then only women had exclusively adorned the wrist watch.

As the celebrity of Santos grew and his designs more technical, so did the concept of men’s wrist watches. After the introduction of the Cartier Santos and World War I, the aviation industry became more mechanical, increasing the demand for the chronograph and other Aviation models.

Despite the demand for more functionality and evolution of the aviation-inspired timepiece, even over a century later, the historically bold watch is recognizable across brands and models. And due largely to the first model by Cartier himself, still remains both functional and luxurious.

The historical significance, bold features and iconic place in both American and timepiece history have made the Aviation style watch as recognizable now as in it’s original form. So when it came down to choosing the inspiration for the launch of the Jack Mason watch line in 2015, the Aviation Collection seemed like a no brainer. At the opportunity to launch the first ever collection for the brand, Jack Mason’s Creative Director Peter Cho wanted to not only design something he himself would wear today, but as a lifelong watch enthusiast and veteran watch designer, Cho also wanted to tip his hat to the historical significance of the watch in its truest form: “I wanted to pay homage to something both classic and iconic with our first collection–something that would represent our direction for the brand .” 

As we introduce our newest collection of Jack Mason Aviation watches, we take a look at some of the features that make Pilot watches, and Jack Mason’s aviation collection specifically, something very special to the history of timepieces, the technological successes and founding of the Jack Mason Brand as well.

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