AVI-8 divides opinion: is the company a microbrand or does it just make factory direct fashion watches? Their latest release, the Hawker Harrier “Ace of Spades” blurs the line even more.
AVI-8 Hawker Harrier “Ace of Spades” Edition Review
First things first, I was given this watch by AVI-8 to review. Not all reviewers are open about this but I think it is important to disclose. Of the two AVI-8 models I have reviewed, I loved one (the Flyboy Centenary Edition 1960s) and was seriously underwhelmed by the other (the Hawker Harrier Bulman Edition). This one sits nicely between the two.
Presentation is good, with a functional military-themed green canvas box keeping the watch well protected on its trip fro Hong Kong. This seems to be the standard AVI-8 presentation box (the special edition Centenary had a huge padded box) and it’s much better than the cardboard two-piece boxes supplied with AVI-8’s sister-brand Spinnaker.
When I read that the watch had a 46mm case I was dreading opening the box. I had visions of a huge monstrosity but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the short lugs make the AVI-8 Hawker Harrier Ace of Spades edition wear much smaller. The crown at 2 is used to wind and set the time. It’s not screwed down, as the watch is only rated for 50m of water resistance (which, confusingly, is effectively no protection at all against the watch being submerged). 50m WR is fine for a watch designed for up in the air rather than under the sea, I suppose!
A sapphire crystal protects the dial from scratches and round the back, the Miyota 8-series movement is powered by a cool turbine-shaped rotor. I found myself wishing for a larger crown, and it looked a bit lost in its position three-quarters of the way down the case instead of being centred. I wasn’t sure about the PVD black finish, either: it suits the watch’s theme but seemed to pick up fingerprints very easily.
Dial and Hands
The dial has a great sense of depth. Applied features bring to mind the exhaust port of the Harrier planes that inspired the watch and an arc of lumed numbers represents the angled engines that gives that plane its famed Vertical Take-Off and Landing ability. Instead of a second hand, there is a cool rotating disk that reminds me of the design of Seven Friday watches and a large 24-hour dial dominates the left-hand side of the dial.
I found myself wishing that AVI-8 could have crammed a date window somewhere on the Hawker Harrier Ace of Spades dial, but I suspect many will find the dial busy enough already. The lumed hands are big, bold and easy to read against the dark-coloured watch. Overall, the applied features and quality of construction are reflective of a well-built watch.
Strap and Buckle
As always with AVI-8m, the strap is excellent. It’s thick, soft and wells stitched. The leather is not the finest possible quality but it is well ahead of other watches in its price range.
The buckle is in PVD black to match the watch case and the AVI-8 text is deeply engraved into the logo – not lightly etched as is often the case in lower-end watches.
AVI-8 Hawker Harrier “Ace of Spades” Edition Video Review
What I Liked
- Fora big watch the AVI-8 Hawker Harrier is very comfortable to wear
- The design – especially the turbine rotor – is really original
What I Didn’t Like
- The crown was smaller than I would have liked. An aviator “onion” would have been easier to use
- The PVD coating picked up fingerprints easily, I’d prefer a plain steel case
- The £300 price point will put off a lot of potential buyers, considering the relatively low-end automatic Miyota 8-series movement
AVI-8 Hawker Harrier “Ace of Spades” Edition – the WRUK Verdict
I’ve handled self-winding AVI-8 watches before and seen problems with the indirect-drive Miyota 8215 second hand as it stutters around the dial. I was worried that this watch would be similar but I am pleased to report that it has no such trouble – in part because instead of that problematic centre second hand this watch uses the Miyota’s offset sub-dial. Although the rotor design is unusual it managed to keep the watch charged through the week so that concern was also unfounded.
Ultimately, potential buyers are either going to love or hate this watch. I must admit that the dial design grew on me over the week and I think the steel-case and coloured-dial versions are much better looking. You are not going to get anything that looks like this for the money, even if £300 is a touch on the high side for the specifications on offer. If you do like it, buy with confidence.
Buy an AVI-8 watch
The Hawker Harrier “Ace of Spades” watch is released on October 2nd. In the meantime, you can sign up at https://avi-8.co.uk/pages/avi-8-hawker-harrier-ii-ace-of-spades-av-4070-sign-up-now to be kept notified.
AVI-8 sell direct to the public via their website: you can browse the full range at www.avi-8.co.uk/wruk – and get 20% off by using discount code WRUK at the checkout.