Yes, today we are taking a look at another AVI-8 watch from Dartmouth brands. I have reviewed a few of them last year and they all were pretty nice watches. So why is the watch we are taking a look at today is so special? Well, 2018 marks the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom. 100 years of the first independent air force by a country has seen the men, women and machine of the RAF involved in seminal chapters of military and aviation. So in honour to that, they made new watches that incorporates design aesthetics and references that pay tribute for different eras of the RAF.
There will be two collections released. The 1920s and 1940s. The watch we are taking a look at today is the 1920s collection. Later this year you will also see the 1960s and 1980s collection too, but there isn’t any news on that yet. So you can sign up on the website for the 1920s and 1940s collection watches on 13th February, in that way anyone who signs up, will receive an additional discount on the pre-order Price which will be less than Full Retail Price. Here you can sign up for the watches: avi-8.co.uk/pages/centenary-20s-40s-signup The Full Retail Price of the Centenary 1920s & 1940s Watches is £249 / $340. The pre-order starts on 7th March, you will be able to get the watches for a discounted price (price will be unveiled that day) + unique discount code for another watch. The launch date of the Centenary 1920s and 1940s collection will be 22nd March, the watches then will be at a full retail price. So if you like one of these watches, go get one before they are on full retail, as these are limited edition watches, and as far I can see they look amazing. Here are the 1920s and 1940s collection lineups pictured:
So they sent me a watch from Centenary 1920s collection. The reference is AV-4058-02. This one is with steel case, a brown strap and creamy white dial. There is also black PVD coated case variant with black dial and stainless steel case with white dial version. The watch came in a very nice box. The outer box was an AVI-8 branded box with the collection names scattered around the box. The inner box was this really nice hard box with fabric wrapped all around it and AVI-8 branding embossed on a leather rectangle on top. The box opens up with these two straps. Inside you have the watch and a stainless steel card with the history of the RAF. With the original purchase, you will get a warranty and all the documents of course, this is just a pre-production sample that was sent to me to review. The first impressions of this watch were good. The watch has a nice design and it is very well made, just like all the watches in AVI-8 collections.
The case is made of 316L stainless steel. The case AVI-8 used is the classic Flyboy case they have used for many other watches in their collections. It is just a simple round case with short lugs. The case has brushed finishing throughout the case. The only polished part is the bevel on the lugs. I really like that small subtle detail, as you don’t notice it immediately. The diameter is 42mm, the thickness is 13,3mm, lug to lug is 48,5mm and the lug width is 22mm. Overall the watch has nice proportions. Pilots watches, especially the vintage styled ones usually tend to be at the bigger size, usually, it is 42mm and up. In pilot watch world it may seem small, but in the regular world, the 42mm size on paper seems for some people big. The watch actually wears pretty well despite the size. It has short lugs, so it makes it wear and look a bit smaller on my wrist. At 3 o’clock we have a vintage-inspired slightly oversized “pumpkin” push-pull crown, reminiscent of those found on an early pocket watch to wrist watch conversions in the early 1900s. The crown in addition to its serrated edge design has the blue and round circle of the Royal Air Force roundel applied as an epoxy filled cabochon. I like the pumpkin or onion style crown, I think they look amazing on these vintage-style watches. The case back is a screw in with exhibition window to see the movement. On the case back you will find some specifications engraved on it. The crystal used for the case back is sapphire. On the top, you will also find a sapphire glass, but it is domed. The domed sapphire really makes the dial pop. Water resistance is only 5ATM (50m), but it is plenty enough for a pilot’s watch.
The dial is explicitly a homage to 1920s watch and typeface design. Neo-gothic fonts mark out the hours with ample super LumiNova for lume. Railroad minute markings frame the dial suitably. Cathedral or squelette hour and minute hands have been chosen, reminiscent of watches of the era. The dial itself has this creamy white colour and the dial has a nice texture. The lume on the hour markers and hands has this faux patina on them so they look older. I actually like when brand put the faux patina on some vintage styled pieces, as it looks better than just a white or green-ish new lume. The square date window is at 3 o’clock and is pretty big to read clearly. Also at 4:30 you have a small seconds offset sub-dial, which looks really good on the dial. The dial kind of reminds me the Zenith Type 20. The only complaint is that I’m not a fan of than AVI-8 signature to put a big 0 where the 12 should be on the top. I just think it looks kind of strange. The lume on this watch is pretty good. The hands glow a bit brighter than hour markers. The lume lasts about 3 hours.
Powering the timepiece is the reliable Miyota 8218 uniquely customized by AVI-8 with a signature “Centenary” edition rotor. The movement is ok-ish, it isn’t the best movement, but it does its job very good. It is a true Japan made workhorse. I’ve been getting around +8 seconds a day which is the same as Seiko NH35 movement. The movement is 21 jewels automatic movement, 21,600 bph and 40-hour power reserve.
The strap as always is very nice. As I said in previous AVI-8 reviews, they make amazing quality straps. They are soft and bend really nice. The stitching and quality are really good. The leather is light brown buffalo hide. The stitching is done by hand. Tang buckle is made from stainless steel and has an AVI-8 logo engraved on it. Strap wears really comfortably, right out of the box it will be soft and wrap your wrist nicely.
Overall I really liked this watch. I like the vintage looks, the dial looks pretty cool with those vintage hands, faux patina and that texture is pretty cool too. Case design is simple, yet good looking with those bevelled lugs. So you get a nice vintage design, nice packaging, sapphire crystal on both sides, automatic movement and nice leather strap. It is a really good deal in my opinion. Should you get one? Yes! Wait for the sign-up page going live on 13th February!