Apple Watch — a Pilot’s Wristwatch

I have been wearing an Apple Watch Sport Edition for about a month now. I have always worn a timepiece — as a commercial pilot I am legally required to do so as part of the aircraft’s minimum equipment list. We have two clocks in the flight deck and if one or both of them becomes inoperative then an accurate pilot’s wristwatch is acceptable as a replacement. Apple says that “it is an incredibly accurate timepiece …it keeps time within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard”. That’s accurate enough for aviation.

The Apple Watch brings my airline schedule to my wrist. I have selected the modular watch face on my Apple Watch which displays my work schedule that I have imported from my airline’s employee website. With just a simple glance at my watch I can see what flights I am operating the next day. As my schedule is so varied this is really handy for setting alarms and planning my free time.

As I spend long hours in a seated position in the flight deck, exercise is very important for me. The Apple Watch has made me acutely aware of my lack of activity when I am at work. I am in a seated position for anything up to ninety minutes at a time and I only leave my seat for physiological needs. So in flight the watch is in airplane mode and the stand reminders are off. I typically fly four flights a day, so after each flight I stretch my legs for a few minutes by taking a short walk around the aircraft which helps me to complete the move and stand rings on the activity app.

After work I use the Apple Watch when I exercise on my bike. I also carry my iPhone with me so the watch will track my calories burned, distance, time, speed and heart rate. At the end of the workout I can save the session and view all the results by date on the activity app on my iPhone. This really does help to motivate me to get out on my bike more and to be a healthier pilot.

In the early days of aviation pilot watches were essential instruments in the cockpit as they were used for navigation. Charles Lindbergh used a Longines watch to navigate across the Atlantic in 1927 — time was his main way of telling where he was. Nowadays, we have GPS and pilots only need an accurate watch for telling the time and perhaps a second time zone hand to show the local time. An aviation themed watch face on the Apple Watch could take a more modern approach — complications could include a digital compass, show information taken from aviation weather reports or flight hours from my logbook so that I can keep track of them with a glance.

Of course I would happily pay to download an iconic aviation watch face from a watchmaker such as Longines, Rolex, or Bell & Ross. Now that would be very cool.

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