I had a look at the first two releases of the Avi-8 Centenary Collection (the 1920s and 1940s), and I was suitably impressed with what I saw: well-built automatic watches at a reasonable price, with a clever design representing each decade. Now, it’s time to check out the newest members of the family: the 1960s and 1980s. It’s more of the same: utilising the same movements and case styles, they differ in the dial and strap only.
At a glance, I think the 1980s is my favourite, but the more obvious RAF nod of the 1960s due to the roundels on the dial will no doubt call out to many. After all, this collection was released as a celebration of a century of the RAF (the Royal Air Force – the air force of the United Kingdom). Let’s take a closer look.
- Dimensions: 42mm diameter x 12.5mm height (1960s) / 14.5mm (1980s) x 48mm lug to lug
- Weight: 78g (1960s) – 88g (1980s)
- Water resistance rating: 5ATM / 50m
- Movement: Miyota 8218
- Accuracy: -3.7 sec/day (1960s); +10.2 sec/day (1980s)
- Lug width: 22mm
- Warranty: 2 years
- Price: RRP £280 / Using code WIAB will get you 20% off making it £224
- Buy here: https://avi-8.co.uk/pages/avi-8-centenary
The case used is the same standard barrel case throughout the rest of the range. Interestingly, the 1980s is 2mm taller – this is most likely due to the special small seconds indicator which has a surround above it, requiring extra height. You don’t notice it though until you put them right next to each other.
The cases are 95% brushed – the only part that’s polished is the top shoulders of the lugs. This makes sense; it provides a bit more of an industrial feel that is more suited to a real aviator timepiece. It’s also more rugged and hard wearing.
The 42mm diameter is perfectly reasonable for an aviation timepiece, and I personally find it perfectly wearable.
We have a reasonably domed sapphire crystal, which yields visual distortion at tight angles as it’s only domed on the top.
The push-pull crown has the RAF roundel deeply engraved in the end. It’s not very shapely at all – it just sticks straight out, which is rather boring. It’s a shame it’s not a proper onion crown that is synonymous with aviators – much like the crown that was found on the 1920s for example.
The exhibition caseback has various details lightly laser etched around the window, each with their own model year featured.
The layout of the dial is the same across the entire range, mainly due to the selected movement: date indicator at 3, running seconds hand at 4:30. Indeed, that’s not the only similarities – the general feel to the dial design is cleverly intrinsically linked between the ranges, due to the various features such as the hour markers, raised platforms, and font used.
Personally, the most subtle appearance of the 1980s appeals to me more; I think the bold RAF roundel on the 1960s a little too eye catching for my liking.
They both have a slightly translucent backing to the dial, which is a nice twist from the original two releases. It allows some of the movement and date wheel to be visible which creates an interesting visual backing.
The hands are the same on both, sword-shaped with a brushed border and black base. They are lume filled, but the lume strength isn’t the most impressive.
The hour markers are all very precise and thick too – signifying good quality. The 1980s hour markers are batons with a slight downward turn at the end, whilst the 1960s hour markers have a lume filled channel in the centre.
The small running seconds indicator at 4:30 is fairly straightforward on the 1960s, with a detailed RAF roundel as the backdrop. The 1980s second hand has a cockpit instrument panel-esque vibe to it, with a sheath surrounding the bottom half, and the hand having two ends so you can still read the seconds.
I find the straps on Avi-8 watches are always excellent quality: usually thick, very supple. Despite the straps on both the 1960s and 1980s are two different types (leather and canvas), I’m equally as happy with both of them.
The 1960s has a distressed, rugged full leather construction. It’s thick as expected, and suits the watch well – I like the dark olive colour which works well with the dial. It has some small stitched detailing at top.
The 1980s is a sand canvas strap rather than leather, with a light cream stitching. Like the 1960s, this strap works very well with the appearance of the dial of this model; I’m pleased that some thought went into the straps and the same one wasn’t just slapped on all the range.
Both are fitted with the same brushed tang buckle as is usual for all Avi-8’s, with a curved top and the Avi-8 logo engraved on the bar.
The movement itself is nothing particularly exciting. Whilst it’s not the best looking, the Miyota 8218 is a true workhorse that performs well and is durable.
Some specs include 21 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve, low-beat of 21.6k bph (6 ticks per hour), however, it does not have a hacking seconds hand.
What is impressive is the fact that Avi-8 have included a custom rotor, which is slightly skeletonised with the RAF roundel in the centre and some custom print – a pleasant surprise.
As was the case with the previous two models, I’m impressed with the quality for the price. Avi-8 have ditched the old pricing structure they used to follow: overpriced RRPs with massive discounts, which is a good thing. Instead, all their latest offerings have been extremely fairly priced. At £280, there’s not much to complain about at all, but with the code WIAB, you can get an extra 20% off making them £224.
For those of you looking for an out-and-out RAF-themed watch, then I don’t think you can get better than the 1960s. For those interested in a slightly unorthodox aviation-themed watch, then the 1980s would be a great option to consider. When it comes to negatives, there’s a couple of bits on the case that could be neater – for instance, the finishing around the polished shoulders of the lugs, and the caseback could do with being engraved rather than laser etched. But if you watch the video review above then you’ll also see the pretty impressive case it all comes in.
All in all, I really like them both and I am very happy to recommend them to anyone who is considering them.