Founded in 2012, AVI-8’s brand name is a play on the word “aviate.” This London-based watchmaker builds a full line of aviation-inspired watches, including designs from real pilots. In September of 2022, they released a limited edition watch: the P-51 Mustang Tuskegee Airmen Chronograph Limited Edition.
This watch is a tribute to the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American flying corps from World War II also known as the “Red Tails.” It was available in two variants: the Alabama and the Illinois, each with its own color scheme. I say “was” because it’s no longer available. Incredibly, all 600 watches – 300 of each variant – sold out within 24 hours of release.
If you’re trying to find one on the aftermarket, expect to pay far more than the sticker price. But is it worth your investment? Here are my thoughts.
A Reliable Case
The P-51 Mustang Tuskegee Airmen Chronograph Limited Edition has a durable stainless steel case. At 43mm in diameter, it has a medium wrist presence, with a thickness of only 13mm. One thing I particularly liked was the design of the pull-out crown. Not only is it protected to the sides, but the guard extends all the way across the top. I’ve never seen a crown this well-protected.
The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters, so it’s okay to wear in the shower. That said, you shouldn’t take it swimming, or anywhere else where it may get immersed in water.
Not that water resistance is a major concern here. This is an aviation watch, and it boasts a tachymeter bezel to prove it. The bezel is narrow and black, with hashes and Arabic numerals. The color of the markings depends on the watch variant – it’s white on the Alabama, and copper on the Illinois.
The mineral glass crystal has a flat finish, and doesn’t distort the dial. Everything on the watch will be clearly visible from any angle. It also sports an anti-reflective coating that prevents glare under most ordinary conditions.
Two Beautiful Dials
As I mentioned, you have two dial choices. Both of them have all the same elements, but they have vastly different coloration. The Alabama has a white dial, with black numerals and indices, along with deep blue subdials. The Illinois has a black dial, with copper markings and black subdials that perfectly match the main dial.
The dial has a three-dimensional design. There’s a raised plate across the entire top right quadrant, as well as a thin band around the perimeter of the dial. You’ll also see three subdials: a 24-hour subdial at 2 o’clock, a 60-minute subdial at 6 o’clock, and a 60-second subdial at 10 o’clock. The 10 o’clock and 6 o’clock plates also have raised plates around them.
Around the perimeter, in the raised band, is the main index. It consists of a series of fine hashes at the minute marks, with larger hashes at the 5-minute mark. Inside of the main index is a set of large Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, although the 12-o’clock numeral actually says “0.” The font is big and bold, with an outlined design that looks like a spray paint template. The 0 and the 3 are on the raised plate, and are fully visible. The 6 and 9 are partially concealed by the plates around the subdials. You’ll also see smaller red Arabic numerals every 5 minutes, but only those at 5, 20, 25, 35, and 55 minutes are actually visible. At 40 minutes, instead of a numeral, the words “AVI-8” are printed in block text. A small date window sits at 4:30, nestled between the 20 and 25-minute numerals.
The hour and minute hands are sword-shaped, with slender silver outlines. The hands on the Alabama have a white fill, while those on the Alabama have a copper fil. The fill on the hands is lume, as is the finish on the large numerals and 5-minute hashes. The second hand is very slender, but it’s mostly bright yellow, which makes it very easy to spot.
Movement, Strap, and Extras
The Tuskegee Airmen Chronograph Limited Edition lives up to its name, with a chronograph-grade movement. It’s a Japanese meca-quartz movement, specifically a Hattor M-SII-VK68-D4.5BK. It might not have the engineering appeal of an automatic, but you can’t beat the accuracy.
The padded leather strap is surprisingly fat, and is textured to match the seats on the P-51 Mustang. Both variants of the watch come with a black strap, along with an alternate color. The Alabama’s alternate strap is navy blue, and the Illinois’ is red.
Each watch has an individual serial number ranging from 1 to 300. They also come in an attractive display case, with a red and black nylon wrapping that pays tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen’s official colors.
AVI-8 backs each watch with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
For more information and specs visit the official AVI-8 website here.