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The easiest-to-read analog watch is a pilot Type B

Laco Type B

The more I research watches, the more I get interested in particular designs concerning readability. And I do believe the absolute easiest-to-read and fastest-to-read timepiece is the pilot's "Type B".

Before I show what a Type B is, this is a Type A:

Laco Type A
Shown: Laco Type A

Black dial with high contrast white lumed indices, up arrow at 12 position. This is really easy-to-read...

...but the Type B is even easier:

Laco Type B
Shown: Laco Type B

On the Type B dial, the outer ring of numbers mark minutes, and the inner ring marks the hours.

Out of every style dial that exists, the Type B is by far the easiest and fastest to read. When you want a dial that you can literally tell the time on in less than 2 seconds, you want a Type B.

Traditionally, watches of this style are called Flieger watches. The original design was introduced in 1941 for German pilots. The case was a huge 55mm size and had a very long strap so it could be worn around the outside of the pilot's jacket.

It is still possible to buy the ginormous 55mm size if you really want it, but fortunately there are others that are much more reasonable sizes.

I'll list a few below, but before I do, here are a few things to know.

True Flieger style watches do not have applied markers and no date complications at all on the dial. The originals were built for purpose, and as far as I'm aware, Laco has Type A and Type B designs that are what Flieger watches are supposed to be. While true they're not 55mm in size (they're 42mm to 44mm), it is the closest thing you can get to the real deal as far as style is concerned.

One more note on Laco: Some models are quartz, some use the Japanese Miyota movement, and some use a Swiss movement (which I'm assuming is ETA).

What I'll be showing below are Type B-like styles. You will see date complications, applied markers and other things.

The first one is something I'll be receiving myself soon. I'll be getting the beige version but will show the black version here:

Seiko SNK809
Seiko SNK809

This is the smallest Type B style with a 37mm size. The case is bead blasted so it's not super-shiny, but neither are true Type B pieces. The advantage to that is that this Seiko can really take a beating.

While the movement isn't hackable, you actually can see it as it does have an exhibition window in the back of the case. It also features a day-date complication.

Orient Flight
Orient Flight

This one has a date complication, 100m water resistance, a 42mm case size and one of the easiest-reading dials you'll ever see (arguably even easier than a Laco). You can go for a swim and take showers with this one and not worry about it.

Hamilton Khaki King Pilot
Hamilton Khaki King Pilot

This offering from Hamilton is the one most guys would want. It has a day-date complication, but its two big sells is that it has a Swiss movement and 200m water resistance. Yes, that means you could technically dive with this watch.

The best design feature on this watch is that the hour hand tip is just a frame that allows you to easily read the hour marker right through it. That's a nice touch.

While the Khaki King Pilot looks huge, it's not. It's a 42mm just like the Orient, but the crown guards make it look bigger than it is.

Is the Type B the best analog dial design ever?

For style, no. A Type B would look ridiculous if worn with a suit, unless you actually work in the aviation industry in which case it would be acceptable.

For readability and efficiency however, yes it is. The dial of a Type B can be easily read from a distance or in bright or low light. The Type B dial can even be read while moving (such as taking a quick glance at it while driving).

Where easy, efficient reading is concerned on an analog dial, the Type B is the best you can get no matter who it's made by.

Published 2016 Dec 2

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