Leather jackets. Sunglasses. Silk scarves. Big watches. Clichés though they might be, these items are historically must-haves for pilots. In the case of the latter, pilots have a multitude of choices from Citizen and Tag Heuer to Brietling and Bremont, all of which add style and class to any wearer whether they are in cockpit or ready room. However, there is one watch company who’s timepieces add the same style and class, but honor the iconic aircraft, and the men who flew them, at the same time. That company is AVI-8.
Founded in 2006, AVI-8 was created as a collaboration between a watch company and a group of aviation industry professionals. The primary lines of AVI-8 watches are named for iconic British aircraft including Hawker Hurricane, Hunter, and Harrier II as well as the Avro Lancaster and Supermarine Seafire, each of which has a look all its own. The Hawker Hurricane has a classic look with straightforward hour indexing, bold hands, and detailed vintage designed subdials that are blended together to create a timepiece with an elegant look and feel just like the Battle of Britain fighter that inspired its design and lent its name. The Supermarine Seafire line has the same classic look of the Hurricane watches, but with a touch of post-war modernity.
One of the newest additions to the AVI-8 catalog is the Lancaster series (AV-4050), which fits perfectly as both an unabashedly aviation inspired timepiece that is replete with design cues and inspiration from the iconic Avro Lancaster. Constructed of marine grade stainless steel and supple premium leather cross-stitched strap, the Lancasters are built with quality and endurance in mind. What sets the watch out of course is the intriguing cockpit position like dial which displays day, date, seconds and 24 hour readout within individual cockpit inspired gauges that mimic those on board the Lancaster that would read out pressure, altitude, fuel and other critical diagnostics of the plane.
When the Hawker P.1127, the aircraft that would become the Harrier, first appeared in the later 1950s, it was a combat aircraft unlike anyone had ever seen. In the past half-century the Harrier has been operated by the Royal Air Force and Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps among others and has seen combat around the world. Before the advent of the Lockheed F-35B, there was no other aircraft like the Harrier. Now that the Harrier enters its final years of active service, AVI-8 is set to introduce its Hawker Harrier line of watches, which are absorbing pieces of watchmaking that deconstructs the traditional pilot watch into a new breathtaking yet wearable piece of superb timekeeping. A Miyota Japanese made 21 jewel self-winding movement is completely overhauled by master watchmakers to register time via a set of 3 individual discs showing – the hour, minutes and hands rotate across the layered dial which is hand-finished with both explicit and subtle references to the Harrier.
While AVI-8 watches are inspired by and geared towards aviation professionals, they are also worn by young professional and aspirational people who have an eye for a timepiece with a classic look with modern touches that would look just as at home in an upscale restaurant in New York or London as it would in the cockpit of a warbird that inspired its design.
To see the extensive and highly-optioned lines of AVI-8 timepieces go to www.avi-8.co.uk and find your own timepiece that honors the pilots and aircraft of yesteryear, but don’t forget the leather jacket and sunglasses.
Click on the image below to visit the online store.