If you have yet to hear about AVI-8, the up and coming British pilot watch specialists, then take time to check out what they have to offer. Founded in 2012, each watch in the AVI-8 range has been carefully considered, detailed, designed and built to be a unique, robust watch that is, in the company’s own words, a wearable reflection of history, of modernity, engineering and precision.
To ensure authenticity for each collection, AVI-8 works closely with both active and retired pilots and engineers who have served in Air Forces around the world.
Whereas Senior Editor Bhanu Chopra’s Flieger Friday series tends to focus on German B-Uhr watches of the WWII era, AVI-8 focuses on tributes to illustrious WWII British aircraft including the Lancaster Bomber and the Hawker Hunter, as well as more contemporary aircraft such as the Hawker Harrier II and the Hawker Hunter. There is also the new Flyboy Centenary collection of which two models are on offer to Watchuseek readers.
With affordable pricing, AVI-8 aims to attract collectors who can build up a portfolio of painstakingly designed watches which have genuine input from professional pilots. One look at the dials of the AVI-8 watches and you can see there is a strong aviation inspired DNA for each piece.
AVI-8 unabashedly aim their watches at watch and aircraft nerds, those who know probably more than is necessary about the aircraft on which the watch is based. However, there is nothing nerdy about the distinctly masculine and imposing design of the brand’s chronographs. The average AVI-8 watch is between 43mm and 45mm in size and designed with powerful military grade design cues.
Now inevitably, some of the watches will receive flak from Watchuseek readers (no pun intended) for running on Japanese quartz chronograph movements, but the idea is to keep certain collectible watches as low in price as infiltrating pilots dodging enemy radar.
But fear not, the new Flyboy Centenary Collection on offer here, does indeed run on a trusty Miyota automatic chronograph movement.
THE FLYBOY CENTENARY COLLECTION
You should really stand to attention and snap a smart salute while reading this. 2018 marks the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom. To mark 100 years of the worlds’ first independent air force, AVI-8 has developed a unique collection of watches that incorporate design aesthetics and references that pay tribute to different eras of the RAF.
The collection spans the early derring-do of young “Flyboys” who took to the sky in the first iterations of military aircraft, through to the immense engineering developments that have characterized more modern generations of the RAF’s arsenal of aircraft.
Each watch in the Flyboy family features a unique dial, font, hand, strap and index customization that create from the same chassis a different watch for each decade highlighted.
Forged from 316L stainless steel and with a scratch resistant sapphire lens, each watch houses the work horse dependability of a customized self-winding automatic Miyota movement with second sub-dial and date display.
Each piece is true to historic design codes but is at heart, a truly functional robust pilot field watch designed for every day wear and tear.
CENTENARY 1920S EDITION
This 43 mm watch is made from 316L Stainless steel case and features a scratch resistant slightly domed sapphire lens and see through exhibition caseback. The watch is features an oversized “pumpkin” crown as used in early pocket watch to wrist watch conversions of the early 1900s.
The crown has the blue and round circles of the Royal Air Force roundel applied as an epoxy filled cabochon. The dial is a homage to 1920s watch and typeface design. Neo-gothic fonts mark out the hours with ample super LumiNova for enhanced low light visibility.
With a date display at 3 o’clock, there are railroad minute markings, cathedral or squelette hour and minute hands so as to provide clarity and legibility in time readout.
Powering the watch is the Miyota 8218 uniquely customized by AVI-8’s own watchmakers with a signature “Centenary” edition rotor and sub-dial seconds display at the 5 o’clock position, with date display at the 3 o’clock position. The watch comes on a hand stitched buffalo hide stripe.
CENTENARY 1940S EDITION
By the 1940s the watch had become an essential part of a pilot’s kit. Precision and unambiguous legibility became crucially important in the design and manufacture of these watches. Such watches from the era remain iconic, and continue to be mined for inspiration by watch companies and designers alike. Made from 316L Stainless steel with a scratch resistant sapphire lens the watch measures 43mm. The crown is crafted in an easy to grip conical shape with the RAF roundel stamped on the top.
The watch runs on a 21-jewel customized Miyota 8218 self-winding automatic that features the signature Centenary rotor design visible from the exhibition see through caseback.
The minute markers are clearly pronounced and applied with luminous coating for superior visibility in low light conditions. Hallmarks of pilot watch design include thr equilateral triangular index at 12 o’clock, which offers a reference point for quick read out of time as needed. A sans-serif font marks the minutes at 5 minute intervals with a standalone seconds hand gliding along its own sub-dial at the 5 o’clock position. As with the 20’s Centenary Edition, the date display is at 3 o’clock.