AVI-8 Hawker Hunter Solar
COLLECTION: HAWKER HUNTER
MOVEMENT: Japan Solar Power Reserve Movement with 3 Hands & Date
CASE: Stainless Steel
CASE SIZE (mm): 44 X 55
CASE THICKNESS (mm): 13
CASE SHAPE: Rectangular
CASE COLOUR: Stainless Steel
DIAL COLOUR: Black
BAND: Genuine Leather Strap
BAND COLOUR: Dark Green
BUCKLE: Strap Buckle
BAND WIDTH (mm): 22
WATER RESISTANCE: 5ATM
WATCH WEIGHT (g): 100
WARRANTY: 2 Years International
Price (On AVI-8 website and Amazon) $265 USD
AVI-8 is a brand that has been covered here a few times by other reviewers, but this is my first time with one of their models. While I can honestly say most of their styles are not my cup of joe, I figured it was time I saw what this budgetary pilot watch company was all about. This model, the Hawker Hunter Solar, is very similar, if not identical to other Hawker Hunter models, especially when it comes to the case, but with a different movement and dial. A 44mm by 55mm square case that wears large but yet is surprisingly lightweight, comes in two different dial options and two case options (pvd and brushed stainless.)
So, lets get to some of the basics. Style is subjective, so I will not harp on that I am not personally in love with it. As far as materials and quality, I will say for the price point, the Hawker Hunter is a pretty decent value. The PVD coating is nicely applied, and the steel is brushed underneath. The crown does not screw down, as one would expect from a watch with a 5atm (50 meters) water resistance rating. And while on that subject, let me veer off a bit. Why is it that companies do not put screw down crowns and implement 100 meters of water resistance into watches that are not dive or sport watches? Yes, I understand that you are not going to take this watch into the pool or ocean, but should I really have to worry about my almost $300 watch getting fogged up in the rain or while washing dishes etc? Okay, mini rant over.
Back to the Hawker Hunter Solar. Dial work is one thing I can say that AVI-8 always gets right. Even on their less detailed models, the dials at least have a nice dial texture to them. This version has a lot going on when you start to look at it, and some of it might be overkill like the large plane on the dial. But overall I really like the look of this dial and feel it sets it apart from your standard aviation style watch, which is what AVI-8 seems to strive for.
The hands are quite large and easy to read, as are the numbers and markers on the dial. One thing I did notice though, is how small the actual date readout is. This is due more to the the fact of how they bordered it, and less about the size of the date wheel. One thing I am still not sure of, is what the color of the dial is. In certain light it looks all black, in some the center dial looks grey and other times green. This was whether I was outside, inside in regular light, or in my light tent in the studio. (AVI-8 also lists the leather strap as green too, which it is clearly not).
What is the solar movement you ask? I am not sure. I know, that sounds bad for a reviewer, but the website does not list a specific manufacturer, and an email into the company was not answered at the time of this writing. I am going to imagine it is either a Seiko or Miyota but I could be wrong. Covering the movement is a pretty standard case back in polished stainless steel. Seems they did not give the case back the same pvd coating, maybe for fear of scratching or rubbing off after extensive wear.
At $265 I never expect anything other than a mineral crystal, which is what is being used on these models. Then I started to think, if not using a sapphire crystal, what is setting this watch apart or making it stand out? It is a solar movement, and does have some intricate dial work, but I think a better water resistance rating and a sapphire would really set this watch apart. AVI-8 has only used a sapphire crystal twice. Once on an exclusive model for a blogger collaboration, and the other for their new bronze that is currently on their website, that has a price tag of $800.
It might sound like I am being harsh or negative, but I am not. The competition is stiff out there in the watch world, and I am just being as real as I can. When it comes to lume application, I was not disappointed as it is decently bright and long lasting, but is somewhat blotchy and unevenly applied.
I will say the leather strap is quite nice and fits my 7 1/2 inch wrist comfortably. It is a damn good looking strap as well, with its distressed brown color.
Obviously, the AVI-8 Hawker Hunter Solar is not the watch for me, and I might have been critical about it here, but that is only because I feel they have a lot of potential. They seem to be somewhat stuck between a budget fashion brand and an enthusiasts brand. They offer both automatic and quartz on their website and prices range from about $150 to now $800. This one at $265 will not break the bank and if you like the square style aviation watches, this is an affordable route to go. A sapphire crystal and an automatic movement would make it even better, even if they had to raise the price another $50-$75. But that extra money might just put it out of reach for some as well, so I do get what they are trying to do.
One thing I know for sure, AVI-8 has quite the following, so they are doing some things right. While researching this model more, I noticed on the website they are offering 20% off if you sign up for their newsletter. That would bring this model down to about $213, which would definitely make it a much better value.
I actually enjoy mineral crystal vs sapphire for one reason. I have had 2 sapphire crystals break. One a complete shatter, the other a huge crack splitting the crystal into 2 pieces.
Having said that, I have carved some minor scratches into a few of my mineral crystal dial covers. One I had polished out by a jeweler for about 10 dollars.
I have noticed that the larger the sapphire crystal is, the easier it is to stress and break them. I’ve never hurt an average sized sapphire piece.
My wife has a Rolex with a resin crystal. It scratches pretty easily, but is the easiest to polish back to new. It is hard to buff a sapphire 🙂
Two days ago I bought a version of this watch with the polished silver case and saddle leather brown band. It’s a great looking watch and I really like it. However, I just noticed that the movement has stopped working and only starts again after disengaging the crown as the to set the time and then reengaging it–the second hand flicks a few times than dies again.
I’m thinking that the internal battery may be dead and it’s possible that the solar cell may not have had enough time to charge after I bought it. I’m not giving up on it just yet but the price I paid for it is too expensive for a watch that doesn’t work, no matter how good it looks.