Really, AVI-8’s promotional video for this limited-edition Capcom “1942” arcade game explains this wristwatch nicely. To summarize, it begins with a view of the classic video game cabinet with the camera zooming in and proceeding to capture the first moment of gameplay of the top-down plane shooter game that was originally released in 1984. The view of your bi-fuselage character shooting its pixelated ammunition becomes the face of the watch, over which a more traditional time display dial is placed. Numerous little details on the watch hearken to the classic game including the font of the main hour markers to the pixel-style font of the date wheel. In short, notwithstanding the actually very reasonable price of this limited-edition mechanical timepiece, AVI-8 demonstrates one way to get a video game wristwatch done correctly with this loving nod to video game history.

Still found in various forms today as emulators or in remaining arcade parlors, 1942 is demonstrative of what so many people valued in classic games including cartoon military glory, high-score chasing competition, deceptively simple yet nuanced gameplay, and a rich sensory experience that made coming back time and time again seemingly desirable, despite gameplay that quickly becomes punishingly challenging. 1942 is a wonderful exemplar of an entire generation of games and recreational experiences that mark the past of millions of adults today. I’ve seen children today dazzled by the approachability of these skill-based shooting games decades after they ceased being state-of-the-art. Wristwatches serve as excellent reminders of things we enjoy, so long as designers can ensure that they are timepieces first, and a souvenir item a distant second.

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That’s what AVI-8 did so well with the Flyboy Capcom 1942 Automatic Limited-Edition watch. This is a wristwatch first that is handsome and tells the time, and only in the margins does it suggest the 1942 game theme. There are no cheesy “1942” logos on the dial. There is no forced branding with “Capcom” written on the face (instead, it is elegantly engraved in an era-appropriate pixel font into the side of the steel case), and there are no overt design cues that tell onlookers you as an adult are trying to be reminded of a video game. In fact, I think that the AVI-8 design team has specifically taken my past advice to heart when designing this product and restrained themselves just enough so that you could wear this watch out with people who might not share your nostalgia for arcade games. At the same time, the watch offers rich storytelling and conversation opportunities with someone who would eagerly nerd out with you over wristwatches and classic video game art.

On the wrist, the dial elements related to the 1942 gameplay are quite subtle and mostly show themselves in the dark if the luminant has been very well charged. I like the more conspicuous placement of the plane character above 6 o’clock, as well as the 12, 6, and 9 o’clock hour markers which are applied and designed to look like the font from the video game. Once you see the connection (and the fact that numerals 1,2, and 9 are all in the game logo) you can see how this was a clever game to base a timepiece around. The plane shows up again as the counterweight on the seconds hand, and on the rear of the watch there is special artwork. I do believe that in addition to using artwork elements from the game itself, AVI-8 negotiated the right to produce some of their own artwork for this limited edition timepiece.

The AVI-8 Flyboy AV-4104 Automatic watch case itself is in brushed steel and 41mm wide, 12mm thick, and water resistant to 50 meters (100 meters would have been nice, but this is a very affordably-priced product). It does have a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial, and the deep, all-matte dial is very legible and easy to read. In addition to this blue-dialed reference AV-4104-11 with its brushed case and tapering bracelet, is the AVI-8 reference AV-4104-22 with a black-coated steel case and a black dial. Both of the watches are limited to 300 pieces each.

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Given the Japanese origin of the Capcom 1942 video game, this watch has a Japanese engine in the form of a Seiko SII NH35-DS. This is a 3Hz automatic movement with about two days of power reserve that display the time with a date indicator window. Attached to the case is a simple yet handsome steel bracelet with a locking folding deployant. AVI-8 offers a slightly above-average buckle here given the price point which is nice. The packaging also includes a leather and fabric strap option along with a handy changing tool. Though quick-release spring bars that do not require tools would have been a bit more contemporary and appreciated.

AVI-8 presents the Flyboy Capcom 1942 Automatic Limited Edition watches in rather impressive packaging suitable for collector interests who want to see more visuals linking the wristwatch to the game and to enjoy the more artistic side of their arcade game memories. In addition to being decent as tool watches and not overly suggestive of the video game theme, what I like about these AVI-8 AV-4104 family watches is their humble price points. This reference AV-4104-11 has a retail price of just $365 USD and the black AV-4104-22 has a retail price of $385 USD. Learn more at the AVI-8 watches website here.

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