Keeping time in the cockpit is essential. Whether it’s to note time off the ground, to keep track of how long you’ve been in a holding pattern, or to note your ETA (estimated time of arrival), pilots will always have a need to document time.
Alberto Santos-Dumont is noted as a pioneer within aviation, born in 1873 in a remote village in Brazil. Focusing much of his time to the study of chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mechanics, he also dedicated a lot of time to piloting balloons and dubbed himself, as the first “sportsman of the air.”
He studied many issues as it related to balloon flight, narrowing his focus to the difficulty of steering balloons. In October 1900, Santos-Dumont made the first flight around the Eiffel Tower, circling it several times and then successfully landing at a field nearby. After his successful flight, he quickly moved on to larger issues within aviation. Aided by a large headwind on October 23, 1906, Santos-Dumont flew nearly 200 feet in the 14-BIS, marking this as the first powered European flight. On November 12, 1906, he flew 722 feet in 21 seconds, which was 150 feet shy of what the Wright brothers had accomplished at Kitty Hawk in 1903.
Another first for Santos-Dumont was his introduction of the pilot wristwatch. In the 20th century, men often preferred pocket watches while women typically wore wristwatches as jewelry. While flying, Santos-Dumont found it difficult to record the time and performance of his flights while his watch was in his pocket. Visiting with his friend Louis Cartier, he requested an alternative to his pocket watch, which would allow him to keep his hands on the flight controls. Cartier quickly developed a wristwatch with a leather band and a small buckle, dubbed the Santos-Dumont wristwatch – the first pilot watch. Santos-Dumont recorded his November 12, 1906 record flight with his Cartier-designed wristwatch.
Today it is on display at the Paris Air Museum. Alberto Santos-Dumont was certainly among one of the many ‘firsts’ in aviation, merging his passion for flying and the importance of keeping track of time in-flight, to develop the first pilot wristwatch. At Garmin, we strive to keep the dream alive that Santos-Dumont envisioned. Whether or not pilots are attempting to achieve in-flight records or simply want course guidance, altitude alerts, or GPS information, the Garmin D2 certainly takes the pilot watch to a whole new level.
Amazing what 100 years will do!