Avi-8 have burst onto the scene offering affordable aviation themed watches. Looking through their offerings show that they are more than just another same ol’ same ol’ pilot watch manufacturer. Their designs all offer something different and unique.
Looking through their collection, the Hawker Harrier II 4001 really stood out to me. PVD coating, lovely thick vintage leather strap, and looks to die for.
Let’s take a closer look to see if it justifies it’s £300 price tag.
Avi-8 Hawker Harrier II 4001 Watch Review
The case sizes in at 42mm, so it’s not a small watch. It has a great presence on the wrist, thanks to the colour of the case and dial, and the thick strap too. It is very comfortable to wear, thanks to the light weight of the quartz movement and the soft feeling of the IP coated case.
The black IP (ion-plating) coating is a variant of PVD coating. It is visibly matt and almost almost tacky/sticky to the touch. It all feels high quality and thick – I think that if you were to accidentally knock it, it won’t chip or damage easily.
The case back is the only part which isn’t plated. It is screw-in and polished stainless steel, with a nice graphic of a Hawker Harrier Jump Jet in the centre, surrounded by the watch specifics, all of which are nice and deeply engraved.
The pushers operate in a smooth manner, with no play or wobble evident. They both have a surrounding grip which give them a tool-like appearance.
Sitting atop the case is a mineral crystal, with a fair layer of anti-reflective coating on the underside. Mineral may be easier to scratch than sapphire, but it is harder to shatter. So they both have their advantages, but ultimately, sapphire is more desired on a watch. It is a shame that Avi-8 have chosen to fit a mineral crystal. At £300, I personally would have expected sapphire.
The push-pull crown sits comfortably within the crown guards, and has good grip surrounding it. On the end there is a roundel machined nice and deep reminiscent of one you’d find on an Air Forces fighter jet. A great touch which continues the aviation theme.
The lugs are well shaped, with a decent downward sweep which follow the shape of the wrist, resulting in the strap fitting well. They also have a beveled top edge which breaks up the case, giving it a softer appearance.
The case in general is well machined and finished, all is as you would expect with a watch at this price.
The Avi-8 Hawker Harrier II may be a homage to the classic Top Gun style pilots watch, but they have done a really great job in making the dial unique and very visually stunning.
The thing that strikes you immediately is three things; the various levels of depth the dial has, the beautiful texture to it and it’s deep green colour.
They have put a lot of effort into the dial, which is evident from the plentiful applied hour markers, variety of hands and dual-levelled dial.
One thing that really surprised me though is the lack of lume. There is none. It doesn’t bother me too much, but it may put a lot of people off – and lume is kind of important if you’re a pilot and you need to check the time in a dark cock pit. It really would benefit so much if all the parts you’d expect to be were lumed – the hands and the hour markers. It would have looked awesome in the dark!
The hour markers are all applied and immaculately done. There are two markers for each hour – batons around the outer edge and numbers within, bar the oversized 12 and 6, and the 3 and 4 which make way for the Logo and the date window.
The minute and hour hands are quite thin compared to what you would expect. They are a similar style to Bell and Ross, or the Christopher Ward C11, but thinner. They are all very well made. I like the seconds hand, which is a very thin arrow with a red tip in the shape of a plane. A good way to introduce another colour which is another positive design feature. It matches the red hands of the top and bottom subdials, which are of an interesting shape. The hand on the left subdial is bold and thicker than the other small hands. The lighter colour creates a good contrast from the green dial resulting in good legibility for the chronograph minutes.
One thing that I am a big fan of is texture. And this dial has plenty of it. There is a bobbly texture to it, which I think is probably quite hard to make and look good too. It is surprising that the printing in the dial looks so good and perfect on this texture too, as I can imagine it would be hard to do.
The dual level is another thing I love about the dial, and again it shows the thought, time and effort that has been put into the design and manufacture of the Hawker Harrier II 4001. The applied upper level surrounds the outer edge of the dial, with cut outs between the hour markers, and also surrounds the top and bottom subdials.
There is a fair bit of printing on the dial, with the logo, markers on the sundials and also the minute track. All are executed perfectly with no flaws. It’s good to note how good the dial design is, because there is a lot of detail to it – and yet in no way does it look cluttered or busy. Everything has it’s proper place and isn’t too overbearing.
The date window is positioned at 4, is accurately cut and has a neat printed border around it. The date wheel is white with black printing and lines up well.
As I mentioned before, it is remarkable that with all the detailing on the dial, it’s readability is still very good. You can locate the hands and tell the time at the quickest glance. The colour of the hands, with their black surrounds contrast well against the green of the dial, allowing them to pop out.
The strap provided is surprisingly good quality, I was very pleased with it when I first felt it.
Avi-8 have used thick, high quality leather. It has a beautiful vintage brown colouring to it, feels very soft to the touch and is very supple and malleable. It has a nice indentation around the edging accompanied by cream stitching, which is thick and immaculately done.
The buckle is black IP coated stainless steel to match the finish of the case, and features a very well machined rectangle deeply etched into it with the logo within. I like the thick pin too, which is sturdy and has a sweeping characteristic to it ensuring easy and secure use of the strap.
The loops are also thick leather and have the indentation along the outer edging to match the strap itself. I like the thought that’s been put into that and the quality is evident.
The movement powering the Avi-8 is a TMI VD57. I’m going to be honest and say I’ve never heard of it before! After doing a bit of research it seems to be a budget Japanese quartz movement. It’s as accurate as you would expect a quartz to be.
The functionality is interesting and different to probably its direct competition in the form of the Miyota OS10. The big hands all work as normal – minutes, hours and seconds (rather than the big seconds hand being the chrono seconds). The top subdial at 12 is a 1/10th second indicator, which spins around like crazy for the first 30 seconds of timing. The subdial at the bottom at 6 is the chronograph seconds hand, and the subdial on the left at 9 is the chronograph minutes. One annoying thing with it is that when you reset the movement after timing something, rather than the hands immediately flicking back to the top, the bottom seconds hand has to spin backwards for every minute you have been timing for – almost as if it’s winding back up! It’s quite strange and sometimes takes a while to fully reset if you have been timing something for more than 30 minutes.
I really do like the Avi-8 Hawker Harrier II. The design is outstanding – blatant aviation theme but extremely unique. They have refused to fall into the usual design traps so many aviation watches do.
I’m really gutted it doesn’t have a sapphire crystal – at £300, I personally feel that this is a must. But that’s the only negative thing about it in my opinion. The strap is lovely, and the case and buckle with their IP coating are also quality.
So, if you want an aviation watch which is a little bit different, and you’re not too fussed on the mineral crystal – then this is for you.