For those of you that have been following worn&wound for the past several months, the Maratac Pilot Watch should be familiar territory. We highlighted it a few months back and included it in our holiday gift guide for guys. I’ve owned a Maratac for some time now, and having it as a part of my watch collection has been a pleasure. With a quality automatic movement, sapphire crystal and outstanding pilot watch styling, all for under $200, how can you go wrong?
Review: Maratac Pilot Watch
The headline to any discussion of the Maratac Pilot has to be what an outstanding value it is, and not just for its superb mechanical and material components. Of course, the Miyota 8245 Automatic movement is a surprise in any watch under $200, and the inclusion of a domed sapphire crystal (a rather expensive material) adds tremendously to the watch’s value. But the superb design, spot on pilot styling and clean finish of the Maratac is what dives its value over the top.
Given the size of the Maratac, and that its styling so closely references the classic (and very familiar) World War II pilot watch aesthetic, there is really very little room for error in design implementation and construction of the watch. Magnified by a massive sapphire crystal, the face of the Maratac is stark and clean with a vintage military feel. The off-white hour markings and indices have been cleanly applied and are free from inconsistencies. In darkness, the C3 Super Luminova shines bright and even, with the small second hand remaining easily visible. Further, the absence of any logos or other markings gives the Maratac a true utilitarian military feel.
The case of the Maratac is simple, as it should be, but upon closer inspection features some very nice detailing. The stainless steel case is brushed throughout and is free from any jarring geometry. Looking directly at the watch, you see the lugs transition smoothly into the rounded case, and taper nicely preserving the smooth lines of the case. In viewing the watch’s profile you see a well-executed curvature, rounding the case to the shape of your wrist. Staying with the profile, you also notice a very clean transition from the case to the domed sapphire crystal, giving the effect of one clean rounded line across the top of the case.
I also really appreciate the style and positioning of the crown on the Maratac. Located in the bottom right-hand corner of the case, there is an oversized onion crown, featuring wide grooves and a flat polished top. The crown is well machined, with cleanly finished lines. Its size also fits quite well with the over-sized aesthetic of the watch. Being tucked away in the corner of the case, the crown also doesn’t get in the way when wearing the watch, which is a concern with crowns on larger watches. Due to its size and design, adjusting the crown of the Maratac is also very easy. The mechanic of the crown also has a very nice feel. Note that the Maratac is non-hacking (the second hand will continue to rotate when changing the time) and has the ability to be wound manually.
Similar to the Maratac itself, the packaging and accessories that accompany the watch are minimal and simple, yet very useful and well constructed. The Maratac comes in a “watch taco” made of a rigid canvas frame and soft plush interior. This is a very handy accessory to have when storing the Maratac or when traveling with an extra watch. The strap that comes with the Maratac is a black nylon mil-series made by the same company. The strap feels well constructed, and my experience with this and other Maratac straps has been positive. It is also worth noting that the mil-series strap design is quite nice, as it combines the look of a military strap with the functionality of a classic watch buckle (as apposed to the more ornate NATO style strap).
Wearing the Maratac is more effortless than you may expect, given that the watch measures 46 mm in diameter. This is made possible in great part due to a number of the design elements I have described. The curvature of the case and its lugs fits well to your wrist, making for a lower than expected profile. The watch is also only 12.5 mm tall, which for a watch of this size is rather slim. The offset crown also adds to the comfort of wearing the Maratac, as does the watch’s overall weight (110 grams by my measurement with a leather strap). The Maratac is also very easy to read, with a large face free of distraction, featuring no erroneous markings and magnified by the sapphire crystal.
Adding to the Maratac’s value is its versatility of style. This watch looks great on any number of military straps or leather bands. A number of worn&wound readers commented on the strap featured in previous photos of the Maratac (see my initial impressions), and how beautifully the two pair. As you can see in the photos included with this review, this is no less the case with nylon military style straps (*scroll to the bottom of this post for more info on straps featured in our photos). This versatility leads the Maratac to look great in many settings, be it in the office or at home on the weekend.
So to wrap up my thoughts on the Maratac Pilot Watch, the quality components and superb design that are the foundation for this watch far exceed its $200 price tag. Taking into account its excellent construction, detailing and versatility, it is safe to say that the Maratac Pilot would be a deal at $300 or more. In fact, few if any other watches that I have come across in this price range provide nearly the same bang for your buck. So whether you’re an avid fan of the pilot watch look or just a collector with a hole in your watch repertoire, I would strongly suggest picking up a Maratac Pilot Watch.
What’s that? You think the 46 mm size is too big for your wrist? Well that’s no problem because Maratac has recently released a mid-sized 39 mm version! I think this is an incredibly wise decision by Maratac as the 46 mm case size of the original Maratac may be a non-starter for those with smaller wrists. This new model features the same great styling, movement and price.
* The military straps featured in the photos for this review are all products of Maratac. For a more complete listing of sellers of military straps, please click here. The leather bands featured are sold by Holben’s Fine Watch Bands (light brown | dark brown).