The history of aviation is closely associated with the technology of timekeeping. In fact, a special type of watch, the pilot watch, has been brought into existence for this very purpose. Pilot watches on the wrist were habitual and essential companions during the rapid development of flight in the 20th century. Today they are still the primary timekeeping instrument in certain historical airplanes, and they continue to serve as back-up systems in other aircraft even in the days of satellite-based timekeeping.
However, the original term “pilot watch”, as characterized by explicit functional and technical specifications, has since lost its focus. The term is nowadays ap-plied to both mundane wristwatches with a reasonably straightforward design as well as technically superior watches with typical aviation-related features such as a low-pressure-resistant crystal mounting. Up to now, there was no accepted application-oriented definition for pilot watches in professional use comparable to that for diving watches (DIN 8306 / ISO 6425).
In response to an initiative by Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH, the DIN has decided in mid-2013 to create a new standard for pilot watches. A working group on pilot watches was created in which the following well-known companies and institutions are actively participating: FH Aachen – University of Applied Sciences, Germanischer Lloyd, Sinn Spezialuhren, Laco, Hanhart, Glashütte Original and Stowa. The users are represented in the working group by the equally renowned Lufthansa Cargo and Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter). The working group is chaired by Dr. Martin Hoch who had previously undertaken the scientific co-ordination of the TESTAF project. It is estimated that two years will be required until work on the new pilotwatch DIN standard will have been completed.
The new DIN standard is based on the Technical Standard for Pilot Watches (TESTAF – see www.testaf.org) which was developed in a joint project by Professor Dr. Frank Janser of the Flight Laboratory of the Faculty of Aerospace Technology of the FH Aachen – University of Applied Sciences and Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH in Frankfurt am Main. The project took several years to complete and contributions were made, among others, by Eurocopter (now renamed Airbus Helicopters), the professional trade magazine “Uhren-Magazin”, the ADAC Luftfahrttechnik Maintenance and Repair Facility as well as numerous additional experts. The scholarly publication TESTAF of the FH Aachen – University of Applied Sciences was presented to the public in a major event at the Eurocopter production facilities at Donauwörth, Germany in 2012.
The TESTAF aims to give back the term “pilot watch” its original meaning as a wristwatch with particular functional and technical features. The TESTAF repre-sents the first detailed, engineering-based requirements and testing list for pilot wristwatches used in institutional, professional and civilian flight operations (both VFR and IFR). The TESTAF applies to wristwatches the same rigorous standards that must be met by aircraft equipment.
A wristwatch which meets the TESTAF offers the assurance
One of the best known quality standards is the DIN Standard (“DIN-Norm” in German). The Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) has made a significant contribution to the worldwide success story of German technology and engineering. It is the prime institution in Germany to develop standards for products, processes and services. Numerous DIN standards have been adopted as European or international standards. On its own, the “DIN-Norm” has become an international standard enjoying the highest reputation.
In horology, the best known DIN standards apply to water resistance, shock re¬sistance, the antimagnetic properties of watches, the requirements to be met by diving watches as well as the precision required of chronometers. The DIN standards have proved their worth over decades and have become a success story of the German watch industry. They are cherished and applied worldwide.
Similar to the well-known diving watch standard DIN 8306, the new DIN standard 8330 “Pilot Watches” will facilitate the creation of functionally superior, safe and reliable pilot watches. At the same time, the technology-oriented German watches industry will receive an impulse to advance the development of technologically superior watches and to expand their international lead.