AVI-8 Watches Review – Are They Worth Buying?


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The name of the AVI-8 brand (sounds like “aviate“) tells it all – this watchmaker focuses on pilot watches. The brand’s watch models pay tribute to historic aircraft made by Hawker Aircraft Limited, a British aircraft manufacturer responsible for some of the most famous planes in British aviation history, and with motifs that pay homage to pilots that flew for the Royal Air Force.

The brand’s collection of watches honors not only aircraft, but also the pilots, engineers, and designers who made flying them possible. This article will take a closer look at AVI-8 and its collection and discuss factors like the brand’s reputation and warranty policy.

man wearing Avi-8 watch
Man wearing Avi-8 watch (Image: PxHere)

If you’re interested in aviation history and watches, this article will zero in on everything AVI-8 and discuss what makes the brand special. We will also include some information and history behind the aircraft that inspired the watch collections.

AVI-8 History

Avi-8 logo

Based in the United Kingdom, AVI-8 is a relatively new microbrand watchmaker. The company was founded in the mid-2000s by a company called Dartmouth Brands. According to the company’s website, the watches “celebrate the best of both man and machine, infusing modern and vintage elements in the watches that still offer everyday style yet rugged practicality.”

The company is also relatively new, so there isn’t much history provided online. We will, however, be able to take a closer look at its collections that have made the brand popular, which we will continue below.

One of the main things that made the brand popular is the price points. These watches are all relatively affordable.  In an interview, an AVi-8 official said that the company that owns the brand has a number of different watch brands. The founders are veterans from the watch industry, and are active and reviewing and approving their products.

AVI-8 Watch Collections

AVI-8 has five main collections: Hawker Hurricane, Hawker Hunter, Hawker Harrier II, Lancaster Bomber, and Flyboy. All of these pay homage to aviation and have each their own unique designs and functions. We’ll talk about some of the best watches in detail below.

If you’d like to learn more about pilot watches, you can also check out our article on the Best Pilot Watches Under $500 (Spoiler Alert- one AVI-8 watch made the list).

Hawker Hurricane

Avi-8 Hawker Hurricane Watch
Avi-8 Hawker Hurricane (Image: Avi-8)

The Hawker Hurricane watch was inspired by the same aircraft,s a single-seater fighter used during air battles in World War II. The plane, which hawker Aircraft Ltd. produced. The Royal Air Force is known to be one of the most successful aircraft that delivered Allied Victory.

Hawker Hurricane RAF, 1939-1945. Image: Wikimedia

For those looking for a simple analog design, the Hawker Hurricane is a good fit. The sleek and minimalist dial has a date window at three o’clock, and the small detail of alternating colors on the numerals is a nice touch.

This model has a black 45mm case and a mineral lens crystal, and a brown genuine leather strap with a buckle.

This model, which has black and white dial options and has 24-hour sub-indexes, has a vintage look and cockpit-inspired details and has the legible Arabic markers and hands. According to AVI-8, this watch aims to show “the look and feel of flying during an era gone by.” The size of the watch is 43mm, making it excellent for those looking for something robust.

Another Hawker Hurricane model – the Classic Chronograph has three subdials highlighting the fighter plane motif with the Royal Air Force (RAF) roundel at 9 o’clock position and replica aviation-style gauges for the Chrono dials.

This watch has the Miyota 6S50 movement, which can be slightly seen through the dial. AVI-8 created the dial in such a way that even the subdials remain very legible. Also worth noting are the sword-style luminous hands and the baton indexes.

Hawker Hunter

Avi-8 Retrograde Chronograph
Avi-8 Retrograde Chronograph (Image: Avi-8)

The Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft was developed by Hawker Aircraft for the RAF from the 1940s to the 1950s. This homage timepiece, the AV-I Hawker Hunter, according to the brand has an “angled off squared shape that echoes the key pieces of the Hunters own instrumentation.”

One of the most popular models is the AVI-8 Hawker Hunter housed in a marine-grade stainless steel case. This one’s a Japanese retrograde split time chronograph that has skeletonized hands and three subdials. What makes this model unique, aside from the robust and heavy-duty design, is the organization of all the features on the dial. Everything is legible, and the overall appearance is not cluttered despite the many features.

Another model of the Hawker Hunter collection is the Hawker Hunter AV-4064-02, a 44mm watch that’s crafted out of a 316L stainless steel. This watch has a cockpit-inspired dial, and like the previous watch remains organized despite the many features.

Some of the features of the collection include a chronograph, tachymeter, skeletonized Flieger hands and luminous baton-style indexes, and a hand-stitched leather strap with a tang buckle.

Both of these models have different colors and marker highlights—check out this page to see them all.

Hawker Harrier II

Avi-8 Dual Retrograde Chronograph Watch
Avi-8 Dual Retrograde Chronograph (Image: Avi-8)

The Hawker Harrier collection has a wide range of models to choose from. The price range remains reasonable, with older models costing around $125, to new arrivals around $250 (on the AVI-8 website).

One of the most affordable lines from this collection is the AVI-8 Hawker Harrier Series, 44mm watches with three hands and day/date function, applied indexes, and a genuine leather strap with buckle.

This line was inspired by the Hawker Harrier and the Hawker Harrier II, which according to AVI-8 were “designed to be operated in advanced theatres of conflict where air bases or runways would not be accessible.” This is a modern aircraft that continues to be updated to this day.

One of the latest models of this collection is the 4070 line, like the AVI-8 Hawker Harrier II AV-4070-04 watch. This unique timepiece has an impressive 30 pieces on the dia, and somee of the most important features include a 24-hour subdial and a custom modified disc that shows the passage of seconds. AVI-8 refers to this watch as having a “contemporary military industrialized look”–it’s big, has many layers and markers, but still remains easy to read. As of writing time, a watch from this line costs £305.00 GBP, which is around $400.

Lancaster Bomber

If you’re looking for a less complicated design, the Lancaster Bomber collection is a good AVI-8 line to consider.

The Lancaster Bomber AV-4067-01 has an attractive field watch design that has a vintage look. The large 43mm blue dial is simple and legible: bold Arabic numerals, railroad minute markers, and attractive hour and minute hands that have a cathedral-style design. There is also a small date window at 6 o’clock, and the strap is genuine leather.

These watches were inspired by the Lancaster, which was a British heavy bomber used in World War II. This inspiration can be seen in the construction of the Lancaster Bomber AV-4050-05.  According to AVI-8, the case back was inspired by the Lancaster’s crew, who decorated the front of the aircraft some pop culture references. In the AV4050 line, for instance, the design is a “Sugar Blues” Varga pin-up girl, which was featured in Esquire magazine in 1945.

The 4050 line has a neat arrangement of a number of features: day, date, seconds, and 24-hour readout. The design is inspired by the board of the Lancaster, where the pilot reads details like altitude and fuel.

Flyboy

The final collection is called Flyboy, which like the Lancaster collection has watches that are more for those who are looking for a less busy dial.

This is composed of sleek pilot-style watches that are similar to models that were used during the war. The size is significantly smaller than most of the AVI-8 watches we’ve featured above–the Flyboy AV-4071-03, for instance, is a 39mm.

This collection was inspired by the Eagle Squadrons of the RAF, which was formed with volunteer pilots during the beginning of the war before America joined in 1941. The Eagle Squadrons Memorial commemorates the bravery of the pilots from this group.

This collection also has the Flyboy 4054 series. Like the AV-4054-02 model, which is a chronograph with date and 1/5 second movement. The 43mm black dial has unique embossed indices, a date window at 6 o’clock, and the leather strap is genuine with a strap buckle.

AVI-8 Brand Reputation

The brand is still relatively new, but it has gained many fans over the years–not just pilots and aviation enthusiasts, but watch collectors as well.

The media quickly took notice as well. In 2016 for instance, AVI-8 was featured in a Business Insider “Insider Picks” article, where the site introduces up and coming brands.

Watch buyers on Reddit are generally favorable towards AVI-8 noting that they are good value for money based on the build quality and movements while some do criticize the oversized dials (although this is a general trait on many pilot watches). Overall, users on other watch forums express the same general opinion: decent build, fair price but oversized for small wrists.

The brand is popular for its relatively affordable price tag, and other popular watch brands may cost thousands of dollars. AVI-8, on the other hand, has price tags that are easier on the wallet. You can already have a high-quality AVI-8 watch for less than a thousand dollars. It’s still not cheap, but the quality, design, and unique concept make up for it.

Is AVI-8 A Good Brand?

Avi-8 Hawker Hurricane
Avi-8 Hawker Hurricane (Image: Avi-8)

Based on reviews on the AVI-8 website and researching watch buyer reviews on Reddit, Quora and scouring through reviews on online retailers including Amazon, watches.com, Jurawatches, Ethoswatches, and CW Sellors, among others –  the overall perception of the watch brand is good considering the price and the expectations in this price range.

The main selling point behind AVI-8 watches is the aviation aesthetic. The watches themselves have decent build quality for an entry-level quartz watch, but you’re really paying for the look of a unique pilot watch. They are popular aviation enthusiasts and as gifts for pilots, flight attendants, or anyone who likes the military vibe of a pilot watch.

The brand’s newer designs, such as the Matador Chronograph, appeal to watch shoppers looking for a modern-looking skeleton dial. However, watch enthusiasts looking for a fully functioning pilot watch (with features such as slide rule bezels) or watches with military history look to brands such as Citizen with their Promaster Skyhawk A-T Chronograph or an authentic German-made Flieger from brands like Laco.

We’ve covered all of these in our list of Best Pilot Watches – if you want to further explore this genre of watches.

Overall, however, the customers of AVI-8 watches—whether it’s a gift or for personal use—seem satisfied with their purchase.

AVI-8 Watch Warranty

According to the AVI-8 official website, a watch has a warranty against manufacturing defects for a total of 24 months from the date of purchase. The customer must present the proof of purchase to any store that authorizes the retailer to use the International Warranty.

When an AVI-8 watch with a manufacturing defect is returned during the said period, it will either be replaced or repaired. The brand’s technical team will determine the best option.

There are, however, some exceptions. There are some cases that the International Warranty will not cover, namely: defects that were caused by negligence or accident; damages on features like the battery, case, crystal, strap, and bracelet; tampering and dismantling by unauthorized repair centers; and water damage (unless the watch is marked water-resistant).

Customers can register their watch on this page. If you’d like to get a list of the brand’s official service centers or ask for help from a customer service representative, you can fill out the form on the AVI-8 support page.

The evaluation and repair take about four to six weeks. When shipping the watch, the customer will also have to cover the transportation costs lie postage and packing materials. If the watch sent has exceeded the 24-month warranty period, they will need to pay service charges if they want their watch repaired.

To learn more about AVI-8’s warranty policy, visit the International Warranty page.

Where to Buy AVI-8 Watches?

You can buy AVI-8 watches on either the brand’s official website (many reviews on the official website mention how fast and efficient shipping is) or on websites like Amazon or eBay.

The prices vary, and the warranties are different so make sure that you cross-check the sites to find the best deals.

We hope this article was helpful! If you’d like to know more about the brand or want to read about watches in general, keep checking our site for new features.