Watches and What Else: Taking Flight with Abingdon Mullin, Founder and CEO of the Abingdon Co.

Abingdon Mullin is both a pilot and the founder of The Abingdon Co. watch company. I had the great fortune to meet Abingdon at this year’s Wind-Up Watch Fair in New York City, and to say that Abingdon is one of the most exciting people I’ve ever met in watches would be an understatement. There seems to be no adventure she shies away from, and no obstacle too large to overcome. After our conversation at Wind-Up we agreed to reconnect when Abingdon returned to Las Vegas, where her company has its headquarters, and have a conversation about watches and taking to the skies. 

What Else: 

To understand how Abingdon got into watches, you must first know the story of Abingdon the pilot. So, I’ve switched format this time around, to give you a taste of the “What Else” first. 

When I asked Abingdon why she became a pilot she went wide-eyed and said, “I did it for the free food,” as if I should have known that that’s why anyone should do anything. Abingdon went on to explain that she didn’t come from a family of incredible means, and when she attended high school in Burbank, CA she’d always hit up the career center for the free lunch they offered along with the presentations they held for students. “There was this one particular Wednesday where I went in, and in walk these two pilots from Burbank Airport, and they said two things that really stuck with me: you don’t have to join the military to become a pilot, and the second thing they said was that you don’t have to join the airlines once you become a pilot. So I went home and told my parents I want to be a pilot, and my mom said ‘that’s very nice; pass the peas.’”


Eventually Abingdon’s parents realized she was serious about it, but she would have to find a way to support herself through the training. After college, Abingdon had saved enough money to start taking flight lessons, but went to flight schools with some questions in mind: “One: can you teach me how to fly really really fast? I have college loans to pay off. Two: do you have any jobs available? Three: will you pay for my flight training?”  She was forward with her questions because of advice her mother gave her; advice that she lives by — “be smart enough to be dumb enough to ask.” And eventually there was one flight school that said “YES” to all three questions. 

Since receiving her pilot’s license Abingdon has flown over 4000 hours, and close to 100 different planes (most frequently the A320 Airbus), and has been all over the world, with favorites being Sedona, New Caledonia, Bryce Canyon, and Bocas del Toro. 

Abingdon received her private pilot rating in 2006, and entered an internship to get her commercial pilot’s license immediately after, and that’s when she joined a group called The Ninety-Nines. The Ninety-Nines is an international group of women pilots that started in 1929 and whose first president was Amelia Earhart. Abingdon speaks of this group with such reverie and appreciation. And it was with The Ninety-Nines that Abingdon was inspired to start The Abingdon Co.


“I was 21 years old when I got my private pilot license […] after I got my private in 34 days, I wanted to treat myself to a gift,” Abingdon told me. “And I had always been told by my flight instructors that every good pilot has three high-quality things: a good headset, a good pair of sunglasses, and a good watch, because a watch can be a back-up to a failed instrument. So, I started looking online for a female pilot’s watch and it was crickets.” Abingdon quickly became frustrated over the fact that she couldn’t find just the right watch that suited her as both a tool, and in fit. 

Soon after her failed experience buying her own watch, she was having dinner with some of the women in The Ninety-Nines before Christmas and they were all talking about what they wanted for the holiday. “One woman said she always wanted a pilot’s watch that was made for women. And when you look at the marketing there was no pilot’s watch aimed toward women. There’s only around 50,000 women pilots in the United States – 6% of pilots are women.” And although The Abingdon Co. is doing well and serving many customers, Abingdon at first said “I really should’ve done some market research before starting my own watch company, but I just jumped right in.” 

So, these pilots went around the table discussing how none of them could find a good watch, and Abingdon further explained that “it’s not just watches. It’s uniforms that we have to cut to fit us and headsets that always have a seal leak. None of these things are made for women.” Eventually Abingdon asked the others, “Ladies, if I could figure out how to make a pilot’s watch would you all help me design it?”  She went on to set a deadline for herself to get this done, and in the full-on Abingdon gung-ho nature, it had to be done soon. Eleven months. 

“I looked at all the things pilots need in a watch. And I’m talking about function here. Not vintage style aviation watches. Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful, but you can’t have a pilot’s watch that’s automatic. There’s no way I can wear that because it just won’t work for me on a flight deck when there’s something more functional out there. There’s a difference between pilots and people who love aviation. A functional pilot watch needs to have a stopwatch, a GMT, needs to be quartz, have luminosity, and be easy to read.” Soon after Abingdon reached her deadline and came out with the first two Abingdon Co. watches: the Amelia and the Jackie. One was a GMT and the other a chronograph. 

Since then, Abingdon has gone on to serve so many women with her watches, well beyond pilots. “The wonderful thing that a watch does, that nothing else can really do for you when you wear it,  is it’s a constant reminder of what you can be and what you can do. Some we get to commemorate a point in time, just like I wanted one to commemorate becoming a pilot. I have a customer who bought one of my watches and told me she had this watch through a break-up with her boyfriend of ten years, moving to another country and starting a new job, and her Marina dive watch reminded her that she’s part of a group of strong women. And you know, something like that just gives you the shivers.” 

The only watches Abingdon owns that are not her brand’s were gifted to her. One is a Bulova Lady Lindy, and the other is a watch The Ninety-Nines once made and gifted to her. 

Reflecting on my conversations with Abingdon has convinced me that there isn’t anything too far out of her reach, and that if something is possible to do that it can, in fact, get done. For goodness sake, how many people can say that they went to buy themselves a milestone watch, and when they couldn’t find it they built their own watch company, and have it be so successful that it’s still thriving seventeen years later? The Abingdon Co.

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Chris Antzoulis is a published poet and comic book writer who over-romanticizes watches. Ever since his mom walked him through a department store at the budding age of six and he spotted that black quartz watch with a hologram of Darth Vader’s face on the crystal, he knew he was lost to the dark side of horology. He is currently eye-balling the next watch contenders now caught in his tractor beam.