Ultimate Guide to the Heuer/ TAG Heuer Pilot

While TAG Heuer is well-known as a maker of racing chronographs and diving watches, the company has also made a number of aviation watches, such as the Bundeswehr of the 1970s and this watch- the Pilot. The Pilot was a niche part of the “Specialist” range of watches from its launch in 1983 until it was phased out in 2003.
TAG Heuer PilotJust as the 1000 series of the late 1970s owes a lot to the design of the Rolex Submariner, the Pilot builds on the look of the Breitling Navitimer, with its complex multi-layer inner and outer-bezels. But the Pilot also drew inspiration from others in the Heuer catalogue, in effect replacing the Calculator of the 1970s.

So what makes this an aviation watch? It’s really to do with the multiple bezels, which allow a range of measurements to be taken. The external bi-directional bezel has a tachymetre scale (allowing speed to be calculated), while the internal bezels are a circular slide rule, which can be used for a range of calculations. For a detailed set of instructions on how to use the Pilots’ various scales and bezels, take a look at the manual here.

Heuer Pilot

Heuer 1984 - 36 (1)The Pilot first appears in the 1983 Heuer Catalogue after the exit of Jack Heuer from the company.

As an aside, its interesting to see the two 1000 series watches in this catalogue (9809.032 and 980.031) shown as “aviation” watches- to me, the 1000 series is a pure Divers watch.


Dial Variations

Heuer 1984 - 30 (1)There were two dials offered on the Pilot- Silver (230.006 quartz/ 130.006 automatic) and Black (230.206/ 130.206). Both of models have the same black inner and outer bezels.

As you can see in the photo below, the watch had the same triangular hour-markers and hand-set as the 2000 series.

The Pilot also shared the same Chronograph-pusher design as the 2000 series, although you can’t see it from these photos, with the over-sized bezel covering the crown and pushers.

Much like the 3000 Series, the Pilot also had a cyclops over the date window that sat under the dial.


The early Pilot series was only available as Chronograph, with either a quartz or automatic movement. Like most of the Heuer and TAG Heuer watches of this era, the automatic movement was the LWO 283, which mated an ETA base movement with a Lemania/ Dubois Depraz Chronograph module. The quartz movement is the Calibre 185, which uses the same Chronograph module, but this time mounted on an ESA 555/ ETA 955 quartz tractor. As I’ve pointed out in the past, these really are an interesting pair of movements- think of the quartz Calibre 185 as the inspiration of today’s Calibre S mechanical-quartz.

TAG Heuer Pilot- First Generation

The first TH logo Pilot appears in the 1987  catalogue and continued over with exactly the same case and dial as the Heuer versions- only the logo is different.

Photo by steveziv

TAG Heuer Pilot- Second Generation

The Pilot was entirely re-designed in 1991- with a new case, dial, movements and hands. The new model was water-resistant to 200m, double the First-Gen model.

TAG Heuer Pilot Black TAG Heuer Pilot Blue

Case and Pushers

The first change to note is to the case itself. While the First Generation Pilot had a rounded case with shallow crown and pushers, you can see below that the new model (bottom) moved to an angular case, featuring a crown guard that extended beyond the width of the bezel and new, rounder pushers.

The new design took the Pilot closer to the 2000 series in terms of looks, and like the 2000 also featured open lugs and a bracelet with end pieces, rather than the semi-integrated design of the original.


Like the original model, the revised Pilot was available in two colours- but the Silver was replaced by a white-dial version that had Blue sub-dials and bezel. The Black dial version had contrasting Silver silver sub-dials. The Silver sub-dial rings make a nice difference to the design and give the dial more depth- the First Generation Pilot has quite a flat dial.

TAG Heuer Pilot

Photo by 1976vett2nv

As a result of the new movement (see below), the sub-dial layout also changed, moving to a 10, 2 and 6 o’clock layout.

The hour markers were changed to a baguette design and the date window loses the cyclops and becomes a lot smaller at the 4 o’clock position.

s-l1600 (2)

Photo by 1976vett2nv


Not only did the hands change to the ubiquitous Mercedes-style hands, but the Second Generation Pilot also picked up an extra central hand. Like the Lemania 5100 watches, the Red-arrow hand you see above records elapsed minutes for the Chronograph, with the steel central hand measuring elapsed Chronograph seconds. Running seconds for the time are on the 6 o’clock sub-dial.


The Automatic version of the watch was dropped, leaving only the Quartz movement, which switched across to using the 27-Jewel ETA 251.262, a movement used on many TAG Heuer watches of the same vintage, including the 2000-Series

Reference Numbers

The Second Generation Pilot was reference number 530.306 (Black) and 530.806 (Blue and White) from 1991 through to 1992/3, when the TAG Heuer numbering system changed, becoming CS1111 and CS1110 respectively.

s-l1600 (3)

Photo by 1976vett2nv

s-l1600 (4)

Photo by 1976vett2nv


Photo by 1976vett2nv

Special Versions

While the Pilot was never offered in a dazzling variety of models like other TAG Heuer’s of the time, there was at least one Special version of the watch, being the version below made for King Hussein of Jordan. The watch was given out as a gift, and has the Royal Crown of Jordan at 12 o’clock

Photo by swisswatchportal

Photo by swisswatchportal

Photo by swisswatchportal

Photo by swisswatchportal

Photo by swisswatchportal

The Pilot Series- Looking Back

Along with the Super Professional, the Pilot made up the TAG Heuer Specialist range for more than a decade. While  the watch was never more than a niche model, it is one of the more interesting TH’s of the era and one that can be quite hard to find. I prefer the Second Generation watch to the original (although the Crown extends too far), mainly because I really like the White and Blue dial version of the watch, which looks more up-market than the First Generation dial. These typically sell second-hand for around US$1000, which means that you get a lot of watch for the money.

The Pilot was phased out in 2003 and we really haven’t seen an Aviation-themed watch since. I wonder whether TAG Heuer will go back into this market, or perhaps they see Aviation as being the domain of others brands. It’s the sort of watch that could be released as a niche re-edition and would be a cool addition to the range, because the Pilot is one of the more interesting and better-looking watches from the  back-catalogue.




– Pilot Case back: http://jualanjam.blogspot.com/search/label/Tag%20Heuer%20Sold%207

– Second Generation Pilot Blue/ White: S.a Timepieces

– Quartz Movement: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Tag-Heuer-Pilot-Chronograph-1-10-/150626875991?pt=Wristwatches&hash=item23120fba57

And a special mention to Chuck Maddox’s great article here: http://www.chronomaddox.com/tag_heuer_pilot.html





  • Himawan

    Hi David,

    I think if TAG-Heuer ever wants to bring this back to life, also to be able to compete with stronger pilot theme brand such as Breitling, they need to be more creative & genuine with the design. Be fresh and bold rather than immitate others. btw, I like the 11630.

    great review as usual.


  • George

    Perhaps they feel they cannot offer an avant-garde design in this market, pilot watches tend to be rather traditional. I would love to see a very clean and updated design to compete with the Breitling aerospace. All black with floating HD red LEP (or some other future tech) display.

  • tman

    Hi, good to see that TAG made aviation watch market.

    I am a GA pilot and a TAG fan..however when I fly, I generally prefer my 20$ CASIO as I find digital watch much easier to use in a small plane cockpit.

    The essential functions required in flight are : 1.Time 2.Dual time (set to UTC), 3.Chronograph (preferably 23.59.59 digital format),4 back lit dial for night hours, and lastly and to some extend less important is an alarm.

    Some breitlings come with conversion charts for fuel -weight-temp etc engraved on the case back, and also computation bazel. There is also one breitling in particular which can be set to send out an emergency freq 121.5 mhz in an even of a crash …which is cool!!

    Personally, the only TAG in the current line-up that I would use for my flying would be the Aquaracer Chronotimer as I believe it has all the essential fuctions.

    The small computer bezel on a wrist watch, whilst really nice, is not at all that fuctional in flight.

    Here is a picture of a proper rotating flight computer used by pilot to find wind direction, conversions, speed, distance, drift angles, simple maths and much much more. (some of these can be calculated using the above pilot watch)

    thanks DC for another review.

  • DC

    Hi Tman,

    Great to hear from someone who actually uses the functions on their watch for the intended purpose…hardly any of us do.

    From what you saya bove, it sounds like digital watches are the preferred option, given that they're easier to read at night. I remember reading about that Breitling with the emergency signal..a black box for your wrist


  • Dave Bevan

    I've owned one of the later watches (CS1111) for about seven years. Still wear it daily, it's aged well. Would love a Navitimer, but they're much more expensive, a lot less waterproof and therefore much less practical! Sliderule is better suited to currency conversions than in-flight speed/time/distance calculations, but still more useful than a uni-directional 60 minute bezel.

  • DC

    Cheers Dave- good to hear that its still keeping good time


  • Enrico

    This last generation Pilot is on my wish list… In fact, your cool articles help my wish list grow. lol

  • DC

    Hi Enrico, which one? Black or White dial? There was a really nice looking black-dial model on eBay a couple of weeks ago.



  • Bruce McDonough

    I have a Tag Heuer Pilot which I Purchased new in 2002 from a The Tag Store in New York. My Ref. number is 530.306, not the CS1111 referenced in the above article. Is my watch actually 10 years older than I thought? Did Tag use 530.306 to reference the pilot only from 1991-1992/3?

    P.S. I am looking to sell this watch, any interest?


  • DC

    Hi Bruce.

    Yes, I think that's right. TAG Heuer switches over all of their model reference numbers in 92/3, even though the model itself didn't really change from 1991-2003.

    Your watch may have been at the Dealer for a while- not sure how else to explain it?


  • Bruce

    Thanks David!

    The watch must have just been waiting for ME… for 10 years….!

    I have another Tag mystery. I have a TH night diver very similar to the bond watch pictured in the bond article, except on the dial it simply says professional 200 meters, and the second hand is hollow instead of filled in. also the case and band are stainless and the date window is white. Problem is the number on the back of the case is worn with only three numbers visible: 980 and perhaps an L that looks like a scratch. Can you help me figure out an approximate date of manufacture of this watch, and is it a bond watch?



  • DC

    HI Bruce- this one?

    <img src="http://heuerville.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/similar-with-countdown-dial-1985.png&quot; alt="" />

    Its a 980.032L. The one in this photo has "1000" on the dial, but that varried from year to year. This photo is from the 1985 catalogue


  • Bruce

    No, it isn't either of those, however it is like the silver one on the right except it is a Tag Heuer instead of just Heuer. Also the bezel has 15 one second hash marks then numeric markings of 10, 20, 30,40. and 50.

    The dial looks identical except mine says only professional and 200 meters, and my second hand has a hollow dot.

    I hope these scraps of info prove useful to you!


    P.S. How can I post images? I am a professional photographer, and I think a good image could shed some light on this mystery.

    Thanks for all your help!


  • Dave Bevan

    Another thought. My dream watch was/is a Navitimer Cosmonaute – they're pretty rare but I know two people who own one. Never met anyone else who owns a Heuer Pilot though.

  • DC

    Hi Dave- I do like the Cosmonaute as well…and also like you, I don't think I've ever seen anyone wearing a pilot, although I do know of a couple of collectors who have one.


  • SWeiner

    I have an early Tag Pilot 230.006, white face that still works perfectly. Trouble is, its very hard to find parts for these and I cannot find a replacement bracelet pin that holds it to the case.

    Wish I knew where to find such things.

  • TM

    Really cool article, got the pilot watch bug recently and just looked up this site. Was stunned to see not just the great looking pilots watches but my old chronograph 273.306 with tachymetre bezel. I bought this watch in April 1990 at Ernest Jones in Nottingham it had the less desirable TH label by then. Still, a superb watch until stolen from my flat in Withington, Manchester in 1993.I still pine for it 20 years on, one TH, one Omega, and even one Heuer special later 🙁

  • Jay Anderson

    I have one like new second generation Tag Specialist Pilot watch with the blue dial. It has just been overhauled by Tag. It looks like new, runs like new. It is the closest watch to new that you will find. It is 100% and has the overhaul papers from Tag. I am asking $2000.
    Contact me at: pilotjay@ymail.com