Some watch brands have carved out a truly unique niche, and AVI-8 is one of my favorite in the affordable range. This young watchmaker, founded in London in 2012, specializes in timepieces that are inspired by famous aircraft. Their name is even a pun. AVI-8 sounds like “aviate.”
As of February 17th, 2023, AVI-8 is announcing the release of a brand new watch: the Hawker Harrier Farley Multifunction AV-4098, and the version I have here with the white dial is called the Stratosphere. This watch is named in honor of John Farley, one of the most famous test pilots of the renowned Hawker Harrier “Jump Jet.” During his career, Farley would test various versions of the Harrier, from early prototypes to upgraded versions. He pioneered the so-called “Farley takeoff,” where he would hover the jet and tilt the nose almost to 90 degrees, then apply full afterburners.
The AV-4098 is inspired by the interior of the Harrier’s cockpit, with subdial frames and a unique see-through date mechanism that brings to mind an instrument display panel. Using my super-special influencer perks, I was able to get my hands on an early model. Here are my impressions.
A Serviceable Case
The Farley Multifunction AV-4098 has a wide, 44mm case that measures 14mm thick. This gives it a medium-large wrist presence, although at 140 grams, it doesn’t feel terribly heavy. The stainless steel has a brushed finish, with a round profile and long, straight lugs. The lugs are spaced 22mm apart, which is a good proportion for the size of the case.
The pull-out crown is located at the 3 o’clock position. While it doesn’t screw down, it’s well protected by protrusions on the side of the case. There’s no knurling, but there’s a groove in the side that makes it easy to pull.
The bezel is blacked out, which provides a contrast to the case and makes the dial seem to “pop” more. It’s flat on top and beveled around the edge, and is non-rotating. Inside is a flat crystal, which is made from durable mineral glass with an anti-reflective coating. Because it’s flat, it doesn’t distort the dial, regardless of your viewing angle. Like the bezel, it’s beveled around the edge, which creates subtle highlights when the light hits it from various angles.
The metal caseback is decorated with a “Hawker Harrier” imprint in the center, along with embossed artwork. It’s very attractive, and a fitting design for a Harrier-inspired watch.
The AV-4098 is water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters. It’s fine for showering, but it’s not a good idea to take it in the water.
A Harrier-Inspired Dial
The Harrier watch comes in four different colors. I have the white version, but it’s also available in black, charcoal, and blue. Other than the color, they’re all the same, and they all have the same elements.
To begin with, the outer index is very subtle. It’s a narrow band around the dial, with a two-tone pattern that’s reminiscent of a plane’s attitude indicator. Along the band are fine hashes, painted at the 1-minute marks. The inner index consists of a set of large applied markers that overlap slightly with the band. They’re silver-colored 3D wedges, with smaller lume stripes down the centers.
The hands are long, broad and two tone. There’s a set of blue stripes down the sides – red on the black watch – and lume stripes in the center. The second hand is skinny and black, with a lume-filled triangular tip.
At 9 o’clock is a 24-hour subdial with a tiny arrow for a hand. It has small Arabic numerals for the even-numbered hours, with dashes in-between them. It runs on the same time as the main dial, and sits in a square frame with faux bolts that looks like an airplane gauge.
A similar square subdial is located at 6 o’clock, but it’s a retrograde dial. The needle sweeps from left to right as it goes from 0 to 24 hours, then jumps back to the beginning at midnight. You can set this subdial to a second time zone.
Perhaps the coolest feature is the 3 o’clock date window with its blue-striped frame. Inside are Arabic numerals on a white background, but there’s a smoked glass arc that continues above and below the window. This provides a somewhat obscured view of the inner date mechanism, which isn’t something you see everyday on a quartz watch.
A Reliable Strap and Movement
The AV-4098 is powered by a Japanese quartz movement. It doesn’t have the same charm as an automatic movement, nor do you get the same fine workmanship. On the other hand, it’s quartz. You’re looking at a very accurate timepiece that you’ll only have to set once a year or less.
One thing I really appreciated was how comfortable this watch is – not just the watch itself, but the strap. It’s made from soft leather, with cross-stitching near the lugs and more stitching down the borders. My white dial version came with a black strap, while the black one comes with a brown strap, and the blue and charcoal versions come with straps that match the dials.
For more information you can visit the official AVI-8 website here.