The History of Pilot Watches: The Rich History of Our New Apple Watch Bands

Some watches are known only for their excellent functionality, while others are known purely for their iconic looks. Our watch bands, though? They are the very best equal mixture of both. We took two classic designs from the early 20th century and redesigned them for the future. The new Aviation Series for Apple Watch Bands are essential to a rugged gentleman's wardrobe. They're sleek, modern, and gorgeous. However, as Siri Hustvedt said, "There is no future without a past." So, let's take a look back to see the legacies that established these bands!

The Origins of Pilot Bands

First, the Pilot's Band for Apple Watch. The pilots in World War II initially made this style to keep their watches in place mid-flight. Any spare part can turn deadly at high-g forces, and watches were especially susceptible to breaking apart. To solve this issue, pilots placed the rivets just a few millimeters from where the straps meet the lugs. They added the strength and grip that the pilots needed.

The very first edition of this life-saving design was called the B-Uhr. Later editions built upon it and soon, many had their own spin on the design. Some watch bands of the era had a double buckle, some doubled up on rivets, while others still changed the thickness of the band. All of which fell under the umbrella of "Pilot Bands". Above all, the watches had leather straps with those essential rivets.

Since their introduction in WWII, the pilot bands have maintained their minimalist nature.  This includes its' signature rivets. Although a modern man may not have barrel rolls on his docket, the rivets serve as an homage to straps gone by. Moreover, they are still one of the best ways to fortify the band. Additionally, the first pilot straps were made to go over flight jackets. Pilots extended the length of their bands to make sure they fit properly. They needed quick, accurate access to their watches. Our newest pilot band has a wider silhouette and extended sizing, perfect for a true vintage wear or a snug modern fit!

The Origins of the Aviator Cuff Style

The Lowry Cuff Edition is the second leather Apple Watch band in our Aviation line. In addition to being an homage to flight history; it's also a part of our history here right in Minneapolis. To the South of our warehouse, The Lowry Ave Bridge spans the Mississipi River. This cuff band bridges (ha!) the past to the present.

The idea for the design of our Leather Apple Watch Cuff Lowry Edition was initially sparked by our love for the Bund-style aviator band. Like the Pilot Band, the Bund-style was pioneered by pilots during World War II. However, this classic cuff style served a slightly different purpose. The two-part cuff style protected the pilots' wrists against extreme temperatures during flight. Back then, cockpits would go from blazing hot to freezing cold and direct contact with a conductive material (like the metal of a watch face) could harm the pilot and cause significant damage.

Once perfected, the cuff style quickly outgrew the fighter jet niche. The cuff style really found its' stride in the 1970s. The thick leather cuff was a perfect way to tie an outfit of chunky boots and tassels together. Celebrities brought the cuff out of the history books and into civilian life. People like Elvis, Miles Davis, and Steve McQueen rocked the cuff-style. From WWII pilots to superstars, this band is a great fashion statement in any era. For more info, Bloomberg and Hodinkee have a fantastic write-up on the history of celebrities and the Bund-style cuff.

Lowry Cuff Edition For Apple Watch

Your modern Apple Watch needs a rich historical horological icon to go with it.  Therefore, when we set out to reimagine our best selling Apple Watch Band, the Lowry, we wanted to create something spectacular. We took everything great about the Lowry and made it even better! Our Lowry Cuff Edition has our famously tenacious full-grain leather. And, it is now lined by an incredibly soft and strong pigskin lining. The leather will patina and show its own history over time.

Furthermore, we upgraded the hardware on our Lowry Cuff Edition. Now, we've got unbreakable, forged brass hardware that will secure your Apple Watch and strap into place. Additionally, our nylon thread is intricately stitched for longevity and comfort. The Lowry Cuff Edition is the most durable, luxurious, and stylish leather cuff ever.

It's Time to Make History

We truly cherish the rich history of watches and other timepieces. One of our favorite events just had its 50th anniversary! As a tribute to the importance the Apollo missions, and the Omega Speedmaster worn on them, we added a special, intricate parachute-grade thread to our Aviator Bands for added endurance. The team at NASA understood the value in craftsmanship. They relied upon a small group of artisans to ensure their astronauts got home safe. We wanted to honor that and add a little bit of our own flair. In addition to the UV-resistant nylon thread we used, you'll also notice a bright orange stitch.

The stitching on our Aviator Bands acts as our tribute to our favorite qualities: an intrepid spirit and charitable soul. Everything we do here at Pad and Quill is guided by those qualities. That's why we craft everything by hand, one at a time. Every band is discreetly initialed by the individual artisan who crafted it. Then, we back up their work for the next 25-years with our incredible warranty. We're that confident. Welcome to the PQ Family!

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