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The Story Behind BYOP Watches

Oxford Dictionary defines pi·lot as a noun 1. a person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft. I define pi·lot as a person who operates the controls of their life. A pilot is brave, independent, and navigates the skies according to who they are. They are not a passenger; they make their flight plan and fly above and through turbulence. They have an unwavering need to be their own person, or as I say, to be their own pilot in life. This belief is the inspiration behind the BYOP brand, which stands for Be Your Own Pilot.  

When I began to design BYOP watches, I wasn’t interested in simply creating another watch brand, I wanted to create watches that had a brand with meaning. Something more than a time piece, something that can inspire others in the way I was inspired in my life. I took this inspiration from aviation cockpit dials and specifically chose military aviation fonts and the black and white sword style hands that correspond. I wanted BYOP watches to have the feeling of being in a cockpit reminding you that you are the pilot. I also wanted the attributes of a true pilot’s tool watch—clean, simple, highly legible, and multiple models featuring internal rotating bezels for various aviation functions. Quality was just as important so every BYOP pilot watch is engineered with a 316L SS case, Seiko NH35 automatic movement, sapphire crystal with blue anti-reflective coating inside, and Swiss Super-LumiNova C3 on the dial, bezel an hands for low-light vision. The launch of my BYOP Air Force Collection is the culmination of all of this.

Taxiing the Runway

In 2017, shortly after I retired from my career as a law enforcement Investigator, my passion for pilot watches suddenly grew, growing into an inspiration and dream I couldn’t ignore. I spent the next 3 years doing research and design. After many prototypes, an eye for perfection, and partnering with multiple companies BYOP watches was born. I didn’t recognize it immediately, but this inspiration came from my childhood experiences and inspiration to be a pilot.

Childhood Inspiration

After spending time in group homes and foster care, I came to live near an airport when I was 9. It was then I was given my first pilot watch, and an inspiration. Wearing my watch felt like I had a co-pilot with me and that I was a pilot, a pilot of my own life. Watching airplanes fly overhead grew into a love for aviation and planted a dream in me of becoming a pilot. It was this dream that motivated me to be brave, independent, and to be my own person. Aviation showed me the world is much bigger and being a pilot meant I could go anywhere. My hope is the BYOP brand and what it represents will inspire others in the same way, including kids in my up-coming BYOP Kid’s Club.

When I was in the 4th grade, I was a big fan of a popular WWII military aviation television show - Ba Ba Black Sheep. Many of the kids in class wanted to be the Squad Leader, Captain Boyington. We created our air squadron, made paper insignia to designate our pilot ranks, taped them to our sleeves, and wore them during recess. We immediately ran to the swing sets shouting flight commands at one another as we jumped into our cockpits. We flew high, as high as we could, until bailing out of our planes, flying into the air even higher. The flight wasn't over until we landed safely back on the ground - after all, we were pilots.

​The feeling of freedom associated with these childhood experiences is part of the inspiration behind the BYOP brand. I hope the brand’s motto is as inspiring and meaningful to you as the feeling was for me as a kid and is still to this day. Always remember “Don’t be a passenger, Be Your Own Pilot.”

Me standing in front of a Vought F4U- Corsair, the same model aircraft from the television show "Baa Baa Black Sheep"

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