AVI-8 is a brand obsessed with pilot watches. I started a count of their current models on offer and simply lost track. Twice. The Hawker Hurricane Kent is another variation on this theme. Most of their watches are commemorative in nature–harkening back to the Second World War for inspiration. For its part, the Kent makes reference to Flight Commander John Kent and his 303 Squadron of Hawker Hurricanes.
Kent, a Canadian, led the primarily Polish squadron during the Battle of Britain in 1940, acquiring more victories than any other Allied air group. Among his many honours was the Distinguished Flying Cross. The watch that bears his name is a vintage-inspired design with contemporary flair. I really like the Hampshire colourway and the highly legible sector dial featured here (there are three other models available).
The Kent case design is a nod to the traditional Flieger-style made popular by German watchmakers of that era and much-copied since by pilot watch manufacturers around the world. It is 43mm in diameter with a 50mm lug to lug measurement. It is also brushed for a toolish, utilitarian appearance. The screwed caseback is engraved with the 303 Squadron emblem, and each colourway is a reference to a flight station where Kent held command during his career: Newton (sold out), Sussex, Hampshire, and Stanton. The watch is water resistant to 50m.
AVI-8, who have a reputation for brash, colourful designs, have actually produced quite a subdued and well-balanced dial in the Kent. In the outer sector, there are applied markers and bold numerals framed by a ribbed chapter ring with minute indicators. The juxtaposition of pale yellow against the khaki green is quite tasteful. Surrounding this, on the rehaut, is a printed 24-hour scale. On the inner sector, we find a second register on the fives, a date window at six, and the brand name at twelve. A subtle addition of Kent’s aircraft code is stamped just above the date window. Perhaps unnecessary are the two lines of text–“Automatic 21 Jewels” and “21 600 Vibrations Per Hour”–which refer, of course, to the Miyota 8215 beating away on the inside. Nonetheless, they are not obtrusive. Dauphine hands and a custom seconds bearing the silhouette of the Hawker round things out. These hands, and all of the markers, are lavished with two-tones of Swiss lume.
The crystal is gently domed sapphire glass which remains legible from all but the most severe angles, where equally gentle distortions become apparent.
Each of the Kents come on a vintage-styled genuine leather strap.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
50 Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
50m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire /w AR|
Date @ 6
|Movement||Miyota 8215 (non-hacking)|
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Vintage-Styled Leather Band|
AVI-8 Hawker Hurricane Kent
For an automatic watch in this price point, the Kent is decently finished. The brushing is uniform. The dial is slick and well laid out. But the lume shoots for the moon. On wrist, just passing through a dim room, the watch will light up. There are also a lot of Easter eggs in the design which will delight military buffs.
At 43mm, the Kent is on the larger side, and it wears larger than its specs suggest. There is a lot of real estate dedicated to the dial and very little bezel. Those with wrists under seven inches beware. And while the strap is adequate, I would suggest the addition of a NATO. Thicker spring bars would also help reduce excessive movement at the lugs.
An AVI-8 is meant to be fun. And you should take it as such. The Kent, in spite of its more subtle design in the brand’s pantheon, still commands a great deal of wrist presence. It’s a conversation starter. Beyond horology, I love what AVI-8 is doing as a storyteller. They’re a gateway drug into history as much as they are a watchmaker. In the end, the Kent tells a good visual story. It’s also a solid build with a workhorse movement. Take it for a drive this summer, window down, arm propped on the sill, and just admire it in your wing mirrors. Might I suggest “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins on the stereo?
The Hawker Hurricane Kent retails for $295USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
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