AVI-8’s Newest Watch Pays Tribute to the Lafayette Flyboys of World War I

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AVI-8 is a brand that by this point should be no stranger to Worn & Wound readers. Their unique spin on pilot’s watches are by now well known in the enthusiast community, offering something that’s not exactly “vintage inspired” in the way we normally think of it, yet draws on history in a way that few other brands even attempt. Their watches tend to take very specific pieces of aviation history and spin them into timepieces that both pay tribute to aircraft of the past, and serve as little lessons in history for both the curious and well schooled aviation history buff. Their latest creation, the Flyboy Lafayette Chronograph, is inspired by World War I era war planes and the diverse group of pilots that flew them.


AVI-8 Flyboy Lafayette Chronograph  

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial: White, blue, black, salmon
  • Dimensions: 42 x 13.5mm
  • Crystal: Mineral     
  • Water Resistance: 5 ATM  
  • Crown: Push/pull                      
  • Movement: VK68-TMI
  • Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet 
  • Price: ~ $280
  • Reference Number: AV-4076
  • Expected Release: Pre-order now open

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The Lafayette Escadrille was a unit of volunteer American fighter pilots who served under French command during WWI. Pilots serving in what would eventually become known as the Lafayette Flying Corps were known for their diverse backgrounds. Unlike modern war efforts, the volunteer pilots of World War I were often simply seeking adventure. At the time of the formation of the Lafayette Flying Corps, the United States was neutral in the war, so regardless of the reason for joining up, these pilots displayed incredible bravery. Following the war, members of the Flying Corps served in the earliest incarnation of the US Air Force, with “Flyboy,” the colloquial nickname used for this particular brand of pilot, sticking for decades. 

AVI-8’s watch that pays tribute to the Flyboys is a three register meca-quartz chronograph with modern proportions but a handful of key vintage throwbacks that have their roots in the World War I years and those just following it. It makes sense for a brand like AVI-8 to selectively quote vintage style from this period rather than copy it outright, as the watches of that time period would simply be unpalatable to most modern consumers on the basis of size alone (at least, for those that weren’t made to fit in a pocket). 

On the Flyboy, a large onion crown is a key design element borrowed from vintage watches of the time, and would have been an important feature of any timepiece made to be used in a cockpit with gloved hands. The typeface for the numerals used to mark the hours is heavily art-deco inspired, and the pulsation scale (with French text) and syringe hands are additional nods to historical pieces that are easily translated to a watch with modern proportions and tech. 

Like other AVI-8 watches, the design incorporates subtle tributes to historical aircraft. Most notably, the horizontal lines on the inner section of the dial are inspired by the wing pattern of the Nieuport 17, a plane that was commonly flown by members of the Lafayette Escadrille. The counterbalance on the seconds hand is modeled on the roundel on the same plane, and the frame of the date window is meant to evoke the airspeed indicator on an aircraft’s instrument panel. Even with those little details, however, this AVI-8 edition is more about the pilots than a specific aircraft, making all of the well chosen design elements just a bit more subtle and coherent. 

The Flyboy is available in a total of four dial variants with a retail price starting at roughly $280. AVI-8

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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