These have been starting to show up on flash-sale sites like GILT and others over the past few months, and now Amazon is starting to sell these direct as well. Aviation inspired with an eye-rollingly high “retail” price, quality can be solid… or… less than. Seems to depend on the model (more on that below). These might be a new competitor for Invicta, Stuhrling, and other brands that make entry-level automatics with cases from the land of “imported.” And who knows, maybe one of those brands actually makes AVI-8 watches… it’s awfully hard to tell.
Left: The surprisingly sturdy Hawker Hurricane 4017
Right: The surprisingly flimsy feeling Flyboy 4021
Easily the more solid of the two. Beastly 44mm case that’s good and thick. The movement is a Japanese Automatic (looks like some if not all are miyota) that winds up quickly, and feels solid to operate via the weighty crown. The hands move slowly but surely as you set the time, with the date peeking through a round instead of rectangular window. Seconds are shown opposite the date on a sub-dial. Odd, tonal RF(Roundel)E stamp isn’t necessary, but is easily ignored. Exhibition caseback on this model, and despite being British Aviation inspired, the case looks almost like an instrument you’d find on a Russian Submarine. But skip the water with this one. Water resistance is a not-so-hot 50m, and the crystal is mineral. Yet it feels, & looks, very well put together. Nylon strap option appears to be sold out. Also available with a leather strap.
Thickums. Good weight, great feel, not all will like the styling.
These on the other hand… steer clear. The styling of the dial is cleaner for sure (anyone else seeing the Oregon Duck “O” on this particular model below?) but they feel flimsy and cheap compared to the Hawker Hurricane 4017. Also equipped with a Japanese Automatic, the second hand on this one shutters like a cheap Timex. The crown doesn’t feel all that well anchored, and the “leather” strap might be one of the worst on the market. Paper thin. Case is ion-plated, a slightly smaller 43mm, and water resistance is again 50m. Mineral crystal as well.
A pass for most. Some style for sure, but not a ton of substance. Yet, at the low $100s, expectations aren’t crazy high either. The Hawker Hurricane is a bit like a heavyweight, automatic version of the (now discontinued?) Bulova 96A102. The Flyboy… needs some work. But with more collections/styles to pick from, including the more straightforward Hurricane 4016 series, these might pick up some style points in the future. Just make sure you know what the return policy is for wherever you’re buying from. And before you click “buy”… maybe comparison shop with a few more dependable brands like Seiko or Orient.