Saturday, May 10, 2008

Debaufre Aircraft 8 Review

On a 26mm rubber diver's band for hot weather

A month or so ago, I was given a fake Bell & Ross Instrument watch. (Ed climbs up on soapbox) I will not wear a fake, (Defined by me as an item with a brand name that was not built by its real maker). I personally think that wearing fakes is really cheesy. So, off to my brother-in-law it went. (Yeah, I should have just trashed it but he liked it. So sue me.) Period. Hmmm....well, that being said, as absurd as I felt when I put the thing on, I have to admit that it looked really good. (As an aside, this fake was really amazing. All the markings, including those on the case back, were correct. Scary.) What to do? Enter the Debaufre Aircraft 8.

The Aircraft 8 is Debaufre's homage to aircraft instrument clocks. (An homage, again defined by me, is an ode to another design. It is art based on art without the rip-off. An homage is sold under its own name and, like the Aircraft 8, goes its own way with its detail execution.) The basic idea behind this watch is that it looks like the clocks found in an airplane cockpit, just smaller. As such, it fits in well with Debaufre's military and sport themed collection.

On to the Aircraft 8 itself. The watch is quite large, measuring 44mm on each side and 52mm from lug to lug. This might be an issue if your wrist is much below 6 3/4". (On the other hand, that size gives it it's striking looks.) It is 10mm thick and uses a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. As watch crystals go, this is about as good as they get, both in regards to scratch resistance and visibility. The leather band that ships with the Aircraft 8 merits special praise. It is a thick slab of leather that really compliments this watch perfectly. Measuring 26mm in width at the lugs, it is really very well done. The superluminova lume on the Aircraft 8 is pretty good. The hands glow very nicely for several hours in darkness. The numerals on the face are also lumed, but are not as bright as the hands. The Aircraft 8 has a large knurled crown with the Debaufre star etched into it that is very easy to grip for winding and setting. Lastly, the case is rated at 3atm water resistance, which is fine as this isn't a diver's watch.

Internally, ETA’s tried and true 2824 25 jewel automatic movement powers the Aircraft 8. (The 2824 is an ETA workhorse. It is rugged and accurate and any jeweler worth his salt should have no difficulty servicing it should the need arise in the future.) My example is running at +7 seconds so far which is perfectly acceptable. The watch can be hacked and hand wound, if those features matter to you.

Given its shape, you might be tempted to think that the Aircraft 8 wears like a stainless steel brick on the wrist. Fortunately, as the pictures above hopefully convey, the designers of this watch had the sense to build in a curve to the case back. The effect is similar to that of watches having curved lugs. It makes the watch sit more firmly and comfortably on the wrist than a flat case back model would.

In summary, if you like the cockpit instrument look but can't drop 3 grand for one, check out the Aircraft 8. The build quality is excellent, the movement is a proven winner and it looks terrific. Additionally, Debaufre sells several other versions of this watch, an all black PVD model and two models with luminous dials.

As an aside, photos of this watch really don't do justice to it. This is purely subjective on my part but I really think that the Aircraft 8 looks substantially better in person.

Addendum-One reader asked if it is possible to wear the Aircraft 8 with a dress shirt. A good question really as most large watches simply cannot fit under a shirt cuff. I didn't realize it but I answered this question for myself when I wore the Aircraft 8 to work while wearing such a shirt. The watch fit without the usual contortions involved in wearing a big watch. That's one of the advantages of a watch that is 10mm in thickness. To help illustrate this, I have attached below a side by side shot of the Aircraft 8 with a Seiko Monster. I hope it illustrates the point fairly well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you wear the watch with a Dress Shirt Sleeve buttoned? I've been looking for a Bell and Ross Instrument type watch, w/o having to spend over $1,000 on a watch. I tried on a few of the Invicta Corduba's, which are close to this style.

Anyways, the Invicta Corduba was about 16mm thick, so I was unable to actually button the wrist button on my sleeves, hence making it clear I could not wear a Corduba with a suit.

What about the Aircraft 8?

Would you be willing to take a picture of the thickness of the watch beside another watch with a recognizable thickness?


9:49 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Done. I have added a section at the end of the review with such a picture. Hope it helps.


11:10 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for the picture.

I think you may have gotten them another sale.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Anytime :)

11:10 PM  
Blogger DCB said...

So you gave the watch to your brother-in-law, huh. When is your real brother going to get a watch? Hmmm.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

You got a watch band. You'll have to work your way up to the whole watch LOL!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Ste Gold said...

Hey Ed, Just received the Aircraft 8 (black PVD with green lumi face) as a gift. I love it. Yours looks great with that rubber strap...thinking about doing it to mine this summer. Be nice to switch back and forth. Where can I get this strap? Will I be able to do the exchange myself? Thanks!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Got it from these guys :);jsessionid=A48BA2D468273803AEF5F5D2661EC139.qscstrfrnt01

4:51 PM  
Blogger Ste Gold said...

Wow...quick response! Will a run-of-the-mill spring bar tool do the trick or do I need something special to swap it out? Thanks!

4:58 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

A regular spring bar tool is good.

I recomment this model below over the one you see pictured in my review btw.

It fits the watch much better. I use it now. The one pictured in the review was a very tight fit.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

Hey Great Review:

Just got an Aircraft 8 Chrono for review......and been looking for an extra strap - 26mm is an odd size - your recommendation should do the trick. If you need a Chrono function this Aircraft 8 is really nice, the way the dial is designed you can really use the timer features - large second and minute hands - again thanks picture are great also!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Sounds like a winner. Let me know when you post a review.

7:29 PM  

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