AVI-8 recently launched their newest Hawker Harrier II watch dubbed the Ace of Spades. The aviation inspired microbrand continues to evolve and create cool affordable watches. Inspired by the AV-8B Harrier II ground-attack aircraft and Marine Attack Squadron 231, this new piece is the best AVI-8 yet and we’re thrilled to do a hands-on review.
Watch reviews typically start from the case and dial and move on the the caseback and movement. This time, we’re going to flip the script and start with the back. It’s a part of the watch that rests against your wrist, hidden from the world, giving a free pass to brands to overlook. AVI-8 did no overlooking here, nor anywhere else on the Ace of Spades.
The exhibition caseback features an Ace of Spades playing card etched in the glass. It doesn’t jump right out at you, and doesn’t block the view into the movement, but it’s there. The subtlety of this decoration was a thoughtful touch, especially considering what is beneath it. We unscrewed the caseback to get a better look.
Moving to the inside of the watch with the back off, you’re eyes will likely be drawn to the big plastic movement holder, but look past that for a moment. As seen above, it’s not visible from the exhibition caseback, and while hardcore watch enthusiasts don’t like to see plastic in their timepieces, it’s inevitable for most watches in the sub $500 range. What you should be looking at here is the rotor…
Most brands engrave their logo on the rotor, some even achieve customization with a sticker. AVI-8 took customization to a level we’ve never seen on a watch in this price range: the rotor is in the form of a jet engine turbine.
The turbine rotor powers the Japan-made Miyota caliber 8247 within, a self-winding automatic movement beating at 21,600 vph. Learn all about it at Caliber Corner. This is not just a gimmick for appearance sake. It really spins like crazy when you shake it! Not as dramatic as a wobbly 7750 rotor, but more than you’d ever expect from the Miyotas we’re all familiar with.
AVI-8 has been getting more and more multi-dimensional with their dials. The Hawker Harrier II is no exception. It has levels and textures made up from over 30 different parts. It sounds complicated, but is still easy enough to read.
The main time is displayed with the traditional center hands, with a small seconds disc spinning in the background between 3:00 and 4:00.
The subdial positioned behind the main dial displays 24 hour time.
The Miyota 8247 movement was shifted counterclockwise the distance of one hour marker to make the 24 hour dial and the running seconds disc line up on a horizontal plane. When this movement is in the standard position, the 24 hour dial is at 9:00 and the seconds are between 4 and 5. This is why the crown is located at 2:00 instead of 3:00.
The lume doesn’t cover the entirety of the dial, but it really glows where it is. Super-LumiNova is applied generously on the hands and 0-20 markers. It makes for a cool lumeshot that doesn’t look like everything else posted on Friday night.
AVI-8 rarely releases a model in one colorway. The watch here has a gray dial with a grayish green strap. The green wasn’t noticeable at first, but the edge of strap and the cracked leather effect revealed itself during the photoshoot for this review.
The watch featured here is the grey on green (AV-4070-01). Other colors include blue and black on a blue strap (AV-4070-02), black on black (AV-4070-03), and black on brown (AV-4070-04). See them all on AVI-8’s official site here.
If you’re the kind of collector who changes straps weekly or even daily, make sure you are equipped with something to fit the 22mm lug-width.
The case has a 44mm diameter and stands about 14.5mm thick on the wrist. Lug-to-Lug the case spans about 53mm.
The 316L stainless steel is polished on the sides and a satin brushed on the bezel and top of the lugs. This is the ideal combination of finishing for the Ace of Spades. The way the satin on the upper parts of the case blends in with the satin elements on the dial, while the polished sides and chamfered edges matches the polished markers. This gives the watch a world of detail and is very attractive when the light hits it in various angles.
As mentioned above, the crown was repositioned on the Ace of Spades for the layout of the dial. It is a push-pull crown, and although the caliber 8247 is able to be manually wound, it’s small and doesn’t have much grip for winding. The good news is that the placement of the crown is very comfortable and won’t dig into the top of your hand.
This model comes in the standard small AVI-8 canvas box with a booklet, tag, and polishing cloth.
On The Wrist
On the wrist, the Hawker Harrier II Ace of Spades is a delight. Ok, that sounds cheesy, but those are true words! If you’re one of those watch geeks that likes to sit there and admire the details of your watch throughout the day, this piece is guaranteed to give you satisfaction.
In conclusion, it looks great, wears comfortably, and has more value than almost anything you can find for the $395 USD price point. If this watch was being offered by another brand with a Swiss movement, it would easily be a four figure timepiece. Bravo, AVI-8, this is our favorite piece of yours so far!
Sign up to order the Ace of Spaces from AVI-8 here, or look for it in our watch shop here. Follow @avi_8 on Instagram and tell them we sent you!