Gavox is a Belgian micro-brand started in 2011 by Michael Happé, grandson of one of the legendary Flying Tigers. With DNA like that, Gavox produces, as you might imagine, aviation-oriented watches at reasonable prices. We’ve covered a few of their pieces before – the Aurora and the Squadron – and found them to be capable and interesting watches. Having cemented their place in the micro-brand field, Gavox have stepped up their game by producing their first automatic watch, the Gavox Avidiver, which stands for aviation diver. The hybrid name might irk some people who think Gavox is trying to please everyone, but the watch proved to be a solid daily wearer.
In terms of physical size, the Avidiver is 43mm wide and 12.8mm thick. The watch wears well for its size and the large dial and straightforward design language make for instant readability. Looking at the watch, it’s a lot more cockpit than diving bell despite its 200m depth rating. From the oversized numerals at three, six, and nine o’clock, to the very gauge-inspired sword hands, the watch’s DNA is mostly from the world of aviation.
The dial markers, hands, and even the rotating pointer are all coated with SuperLuminova and the lume performs admirably all night long. The dial deserves some attention. Gavox has made a four layer sandwich dial with thick lume underneath the actual dial’s surface. This gives the dial an interesting sense of depth and brings a certain amount of refinement that’s not entirely common at this price point.
One nod to vintage diving is the use of two crowns, giving the watch a dash of vintage Super Compressor style. Unfortunately, the crowns are painfully small for a diver’s watch (or, for that matter, a pilot’s watch). Inside the neatly finished, brushed stainless steel case, which is also available in PVD, and under the perhaps unnecessary exhibition case back, beats the venerable Miyota 9015, a reliable, hacking, and hand-winding caliber produced by Citizen. This movement operates at 28,800vph and provides a decent 42 hour power reserve. Though this is a pretty common and perhaps uninteresting movement, the Avidiver models I’ve reviewed have all kept excellent time. Plus, winding and setting have been a breeze.
The Avidiver is a perfect example of what Gavox does well. They’ve taken the most essential design elements of many classic pilot’s watches, seamlessly modernized them, and added features and value to create a unique, aviation-inspired watch which is capable of going diving. The most impressive innovation on the Avidiver is Gavox’s answer to the rotating diver’s bezel. Rather than the traditional unidirectional rotating bezel with some type of insert printed with elapsed time numerals, they chose a novel movable pointer design.
The lumed orange pointer, normally positioned in a purpose built cutout at the twelve o’clock position, can be spun independently around the dial by means of a screw down crown located at the two o’clock position. The crown even has a small orange triangle painted on it in case you become intoxicated or forget. This moving triangle theoretically allows the watch to be utilized in a variety of ways from measuring elapsed time on a dive, to keeping track of a second time zone, to marking an hourly interval, and more. The action of using the pointer is easy and positive. The crown, although a bit small for my taste, screws out easily and spins the triangle quickly. This is a very cool feature and an innovative one in this $500 price range. As a side note, this pointer feature is most easily used when the watch is off the wrist. I found it difficult to unscrew either crown while wearing the watch.
I feel compelled to comment on the dichotomy of the aviation diver concept. Diver’s and pilot’s watches are inherently different but are both purpose built tools with specific operating criteria. All you really need to be a diving watch is capable water resistance, legibility, durability, and a means for measuring elapsed time. The nature of what makes a pilot’s watch is more vague and probably has more to do with style. Basically, with a pilot’s watch, we are typically talking about a large, legible dial housed in a case which is durable enough to go on flights and survive low pressure environments.
So, to an extent, any diver’s watch can be a pilot’s watch. However, to be an effective “aviation diver” some consideration must exist for the undersea world and the clouds above. The Avidiver attempts that feat by combining water resistance, a means of measuring elapsed time (and other stuff), and a definite aviation look with undeniable legibility.