Over the past few years, we’ve reviewed a lot of different AVI-8 models.  While there have been a variety of collections and design inspirations, they have all hewn closely to the idea that these are watches inspired by flight (AVI-8, aviate, you get it).  There have been a lot of clever and unique designs, but they have not gotten into the world of automatic movements (at least that have crossed my desk).  Well, with their new Centenary collection, the brand is getting into vintage-inspired designs, as well as bringing an automatic to the table.  The first of these we’ll be reviewing is the AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920.

Now, as you can probably guess, the AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920 (ours was reference AV-4058-01) draws inspiration from aviation watches of the 1920s. What struck me most about this watch (both when I first saw photos of it, as well as when I got it in) is the dial.  Here, the brand has really nailed the look and feel via the font used for the numerals, as well as the cathedral-style handset leveraged.  These are lume-filled, and I really liked the shadowing that they painted onto those embossed numbers as well.

For how vintage that all feels (even the railroad outer ring and the subseconds contributes to this, in my book), the other text on the dial is a bit jarring.  There’s not much of it (just the brand name at 12 o’clock and the collection name at 9 o’clock), but it sort of breaks the suspension of disbelief (to borrow a phrase).  I get there’s branding to be carried here, but I think going with an era-appropriate script font, say, would have helped the dial design a little bit more.

But that’s a minor quibble on the AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920.  And before we leave the dial, do take a look at those indices at 3 and 9.  Yeah, they’re smaller, but that also means that the 3 isn’t cut off by the date window (perhaps not period appropriate, but I appreciate the utility), and it also fits into the alternating small-large-small pattern established on the dial (big zero, anyone?).

Then again, the automatic movement (in this case, a Miyota 8218) is nowhere near period authentic, but it’s a nod to modern sensibilities.  The movement isn’t particularly decorated or embellished, but it does have  nice rotor, and you can view things through the signed crystal on the caseback.  For interacting with the movement, you’ve got a crown that hearkens back to one from a pocket watch, and you get a bit of the RAF color scheme on it for good measure.

Aviation watches are generally on the larger side, and at 42mm, the AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920 is no dainty dumpling.  At only 12mm thick, though, it’s easy enough to wear.  It’s not a particularly heavy watch, and the thicker leather strap conformed over the course of the first day I wore it. The strap here is another place I wouldn’t mind seeing the brand going a little more upmarket as well.  Sure, it’s a great color, but it wasn’t anything I found myself wishing I could swap on to another watch, you know?  Then again, at this price point, some cost cutting needs to occur, so the strap is a logical place.

Speaking of price – the AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920 is going to be carrying a retail price tag of $340.  However, there’s going to be a two-phase pre-order period that is going to drop the price a bit (we’ve not been told how much as of yet).  The regular pre-order period is going to launch on March 7th, with general availability occurring on March 22nd.  Now, if you pre-order, you will get a discount.  However, if you visit this page between February 13th and February 19th, you’ll be able to sign up (not to pre-order, but to indicate interest) which will net you an additional discount on top of the pre-order savings.

I think it’s great to see AVI-8 expanding into some more recognizable, historical, references, as they’ve done with the AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920.  Given their track record of producing watches, I would only presume that the pre-order and delivery should go without a hitch.  Also, given that this is a new collection, there will be subsequent releases.  The next one up is from the 1940s, and we’ll have a review of that for you tomorrow.  AVI-8.CO.UK

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: AVI-8 Flyboy Centenary 1920
  • Price: $340 (MSRP)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like your flying watches vintage in an art deco sort of a way
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? I liked it, yes, but not sure enough to permanently add one to the watch box
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Find a more vintage-appropriate font for the text on the dial
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: That dial and handset
Tech Specs from AVI-8
  • Movement:  Miyota 8218 automatic (21 jewels)
  • Case:
    • 316L stainless steel
    • Diameter:  42mm
    • Thickness:  12mm
    • Lug width:  22mm
  • Crystal:  Sapphire
  • Dial:
    • Colored Patterned Dial in white, linen, or black
    • Deep Embossed Indexes with LumiNova
    • LumiNova-filled Hands
  • Crown:  Normal (pumpkin shape)
  • Bezel:  Fixed Case Bezel
  • Strap:  leather with tang buckle
  • Functions:  date display, subseconds
  • WR:  5 ATM
  • Weight:  80g

Last Update: February 14, 2018