Detroit Watch Company Pride of Detroit Aviator Review

Detroit Hands on Watch Reviews Independent


The Aviator is fitted with a large sapphire crystal measuring almost 37mm in overall diameter. As you will see in the photos and the video, the crystal has a high quality anti-reflective (AR) coating applied, as the glare is quite minimal providing a great look at the dial and handset. The large dial opening will definitely lend to the illusion that the watch is slightly larger than the advertised 44mm. Beneath the sapphire crystal is a well laid out black dial. The dial is very clean and uncluttered, with minimal company branding above and below center dial. The Arabic numerals surrounding the dial are painted on and are perfect in font size, keeping the dial from appearing cramped. The numerals are not lumed, which is probably the only disappointing feature of the dial. If numerals are going to be painted on the dial, why not just go ahead and lume them?


A white date window with black font is positioned at the 3 o’clock position, which is of perfect size for those of us visually impaired. The handset is rather unique, as I do not believe I have ever seen anything even remotely similar. The hour and minute hands remind me of broadswords and are partially skeletonized with a small amount of surface area containing what appears to be C1 Superluminova. The lume is average at best. Since this is a pilot watch and lume is more of a marketing aspect what is present I see as just a bonus. The only puzzling aspect is that the hand finish doesn’t match the high polish finish of the case, but I tend to appreciate the contrast provided. I really like the second hand, especially the counter balance that is the DWC logo. The last feature I want to mention about the dial is the additional tribute to the city of Detroit painted on the dial in fine print above the 12 and below the 6, which I find quite tasteful. I am quite certain everyone will appreciate all the features of the dial on this particular model.


Next, let’s take a look at the case back. The case back is secured to the upper case using 5 small flathead screws. The case back has the typical specification and model information etched around the central portion. At the center is the “Pride of Detroit” airplane, which is a prominent symbol relating to the aviation heritage of the city of Detroit. William S. Brock, Sr. along with Edward F Schlee, planned to fly around the world in the airplane. Today, the airplane is housed in the Henry Ford Museum located in Dearborn, Michigan. The case back is a fantastic tribute to the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. Beneath the case back is the tried and true Miyota 821A automatic movement. The 821A is just a revision of the 8215, as it seems to have all of the same features. The movement does allow for hand winding but like the 8215, the movement does not have a hacking feature. The movement has been highly accurate since delivery, which I found unusual for this specific movement. I was informed that the movement was adjusted for accuracy by DWC prior to shipping which is a fantastic added bonus. Of course, like the 8215, the 821A has the stuttering second hand at times, which doesn’t bother me most times, unless the second hand starts skipping large segments of time or behaves too much like a quartz. I would really appreciate seeing this model with a Miyota 9015 or a Unitas manual movement.


Moving on to the strap, I was pleasantly surprised as I am sure each consumer will be. So many times, new watch companies can get the case and case features right but the strap tends to be an afterthought. I have encountered so many instances where it is either low quality or too short. Well, that is not an issue with the Aviator and I’m certain with the other current DWC models. DWC sourced the straps for their models from Germany. I have reviewed many quality custom leather straps over the years, including several from Germany, and I find this strap to be equal in overall quality to many that I have seen. The sample watch provided came with a brown strap measuring 22mm at the lug tapering to 20mm at the clasp. The strap is a substantial 3.75mm thick with finished edges and refined stitch work. Obviously a lot of time and effort was spent on the clasp. The DWC logo is etched into the clasp, which is a perfect area for company branding. Many times the strap thickness causes issues with sliding through the clasp. However, on this particular sample the clasp slides smoothly across the strap to obtain the perfect fit. Overall, I am extremely impressed with the strap and buckle and wouldn’t change a single aspect.


If you are looking for a pilot watch with a ton of quality specifications, then definitely check out what DWC has to offer. Besides all the quality specifications covered above, remember this is a watch model that was fully designed by DWC with no off the shelf components, except the Miyota automatic movement. All of the watches are assembled right here in the United States in Detroit, Michigan which adds a level of quality control. This level of quality control also provides a little peace of mind if any warranty servicing issues would present themselves. The watches are assembled as each are ordered and the movements are adjusted for accuracy prior to shipping. I have been informed that some utilization of Swiss components are upcoming with some new DWC releases, so I am extremely excited to see just how successful the company will become. If the current models and level of quality are any indication then the stars are the limit for DWC. I would like to thank DWC for working with on arranging the review. I would also like to thank each of you for reading and look forward to your thoughts and comments.


Michael Wolfe has been a watch fan for years. Michael has been developing his watch review techniques over the past 4-5 years. His true passion involves reviewing dive watches in any price category, but also enjoys stepping out and reviewing other watch styles from time to time. Michael is developing a reputable following and solid reputation for the insight he provides through his reviews. When Michael isn't immersed in a watch review, his other interests include following college athletics and spending time with his family.

1 Comment

  1. I like the looks, but MUCH too expensive for the low quality movement. $800 for a watch that doesn’t hack? No thanks.


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