When you think of a pilot’s watch today, you’re likely thinking of a design style, not a purpose-built piece of aviation technology. In the past, a pilot’s watch had several unique features that aided both civilian and military flyers. The watch had to fit over the pilot’s jacket and be large enough to read at a glance, day or night. Some had larger crowns that could be manipulated while wearing gloves. Complications included things like chronographs and slide rules for tracking speed, fuel consumption, and navigation.
Of course, the instrumentation in most modern aircraft make the pilot’s watch more of an accessory than an indispensable flight tool. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that most people who wear pilots’ watches today aren’t pilots at all.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a good aviation watch. Even if the only thing you’ve ever piloted is a four-door sedan, there’s a lot to love about these rugged and storied timepieces. We’re going to be looking at a new watch from AVI-8, the Hawker Harrier II AV-4047-01. AVI-8 builds watches inspired by famous aircraft, paying homage to the engineering breakthroughs of each plane and the exploits of those who built and flew them.
Hawker Harrier II – The Plane
To appreciate the Hawker Harrier watch, you might want to know a little more about the Hawker Harrier aircraft. Although the inspiration for most AVI-8 watches are historical aircraft, the Hawker Harrier II is a modern plane still in use today. Most famous for its vertical and short takeoff and landing capability, this modern “jump jet” is continually updated with the latest guidance systems and avionics. It’s truly a versatile, high-tech fighter jet.
Hawker Harrier II – The Watch
The AVI-8 AV-4047 Pegasus Concept watch deconstructs the traditional concept of the pilot watch. Where the inner workings of most watches are concealed or – at most – shown only through the caseback, the engineering of the Pegasus Concept watch is on full display with its several layers and moving parts. Again, rather than serve as a true aviation tool, the watch’s design and construction pay tribute – often in subtle ways – to the features of the Harrier aircraft.
Style and Build
Visually, this watch has a lot going on – a two-toned band, three independently rotating discs on the watch dial, an overall bold look and a lot of wrist presence – and yet, taken as a whole, the piece is visually coherent and not at all busy-looking.
The case is crafted from Marine Grade 316L stainless steel. At 45 mm in diameter and 13 mm thick, AVI-8 themselves say this watch is “exactly the size it should be” to allow you to appreciate the design – which won’t prevent us to say that it remains quite a statement piece on the wrist. The window is flat synthetic sapphire. If you’re a fan of screw-down crowns, you may be disappointed to find that this watch has a push-pull crown, so it is only water-resistant to 5 ATM. But if you were concerned with water resistance, you’d probably be in the market for a dive watch anyway, right?
The case itself is pleasantly crafted, with several surface finishing offered. The bezel is circular brushed, the top of the lugs is satin-finished, the casebands feature a vertical brushing effect, and to enlighten the overall design, a nice polished bevel runs on the sides of the lugs. Assembly and precision of the different surfaces is extremely decent, considering the price level of this watch (GBP 350 / EUR 399 / USD 450). On some versions, the case can be black coated.
On this version, the dial is silver-white (black versions also exist), and part of it bears a minutely scalloped texture while the rest is buffed smooth. The focal point of the dial is the most conspicuous tribute to the Harrier jet itself–the second hand forms the vertical stabilizer on a frontal silhouette of the aircraft that spans the width of the dial.
The Harrier references don’t end there, but you may have to look more closely to spot the others. The rotation of the hour, minute, and second discs, for instance, is meant to mimic the Harrier’s powerful Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine.
Speaking of the rotating discs, they’re an unusual but exciting feature you may be seeing for the first time. True, the watch has three “hands,” but these actually remain stationary while the hour, minute, and second discs rotate past them. Telling time might take a little more “interpretation” as you track each of the dials across the multilayered watch face, but most wearers will adapt to it. There is a small amount of lume near the 12 o’ clock position, but don’t count on reading this watch in the dark.
The Pegasus Concept watch is powered by a Miyota Japanese 21-jewel self-winding movement. The see-through caseback puts this movement on display, showcasing a Pegasus Concept black-dot rotor. The rim of the caseback has a military feel with block-style lettering engraved all about. Overall, a very decent movement, which has proven to be precise and reliable enough on a daily basis.
With its 45 mm case, the AV-4047 is going to have a substantial wrist presence for most wearers, but that’s fairly standard for an aviator watch. And with the 22 mm, calfskin leather band, you’re sure to find this watch comfortable and snug despite its heft. The thick strap nicely complements the bulky case, and you’ll find a heavy-duty clasp at the end, as well as the AVI-8 name branded into the underside of the leather.
The Pegasus Concept watch is not your typical aviator’s watch. You might be tempted to write it off as a novelty watch—after all, this British-engineered timepiece would have been confusing to a wartime pilot of the Royal Air Force—but fans of innovation and clever engineering will appreciate the unique features of this AVI-8 product. The build quality is excellent for an entry-level watch, and the eye-catching references to the Harrier jet are sure to be a talking point. Finally, the non-standard display of the time, even if not the easiest to read at first, is something that we clearly encourage here, at Monochrome-Watches.
The AVI-8-4047 is currently available in two varieties: the stainless steel version we’ve already mentioned, and a titanium carbide ionic plated version. Dials and straps are customizable as well. Besides the silver-white dial, black and “gun” are also available. We also looked at the light brown strap with orange edging, but similar two-tone straps are available in base colors of dark brown, green, and army green. For more information on this watch, including orders and availability, check out avi-8.co.uk.
This article is written by Matthew Catellier, who covers “Value Propositions” for Monochrome, and also publishes affordable timepieces on his own website Watch Review Blog.