There’s a fine line between unique and gimmicky when it comes to the design of a watch that doesn’t follow traditional route. I say fine line because a design can easily go the gimmick route rather quickly. I find myself gravitating towards the more unique watches these days. Why? The current market is flooded by uninspired homage watches that I find extremely boring. When I saw the Tacs AVL II watch it was kind of a no brainer choice for me. The obvious reading is because I am obsessed with watches and the other reason is because I am also obsessed photography. The TACS AVL II combined both of my obsessions into this unique 47mm watch. The watch arrived in one of the best packaging presentation that I have experienced. I was more impressed by TACS presentation than I was when the Rolex SD43 arrived.
The AVL watch came in a handsome dark wooden box. I don’t normally talk much about the box a watch comes in but I love the details on the box the AVL arrived in. The outside of the is detailed with silver on three of it’s sides. Each plaque is engraved with specific details about the watch and the company. The top of the box is a hinged lid that fastens closed via a leather strap and a silver fastener post. I know it’s all about what’s on the inside of this box, but know that the watch arrives in safe style. The last detail that I want to talk about before we get to the watch itself is my favorite detail of this whole package. It is found protecting the watch and it is so freaking cool. The watch is protected by a leather cap that is designed to mimic an old school lens cover. It is by far the best and the most original design of a protective cover I have seen. Tacs gets major points for this little detail.
I initially spent quite a bit of time just admiring the amount of detail on the case of this watch. Throughout my time with this watch I was constantly discovering new details that I missed previously. The charm of this watch is all the styling cues that come from the inspiration behind the watch. As technology quickly marches on, the old ways are slowly forgotten. Especially how digital technology has advanced over the past few years. Manual cameras that use actual film is a dying art. Tacs has done an excellent job with keeping the memory of “old school” photography alive with the AVL II. As important as the style of this watch is to it’s essence, function is king when it comes to it’s “soul”. After all it’s a watch, not a camera.
The bezel has that same smooth, gliding feel when you rotate it, that is reminiscent of the feel a vintage camera’s manual focusing lens. The knurled edges on the bezel allows for easy grip. This bezel is bidirectional and rotates ever so smoothly. The clever design of the bezel, crystal and dial all come together to give the illusion of an actual camera lens and aperture. I like how the arch of the domed (fisheye) crystal sits below the top of the bezel. Just like the bezel, the crown features knurled edges allowing for easy grip for operating. The crown function is without flaw. It screws/unscrews smoothly as does the winding motion/setting the time. It was a cold and rainy day when I took the AVL out for a 10 mile hike for some photographs. Along the way I periodically would set the time back to 10:10. Operating the 8mm crown and occasionally the bezel was easy to do even with cold, wet hands. This watch isn’t small and it isn’t light, but it does wear comfortably on the wrist. It never once became a nuisance during my hike.
There is an exhibition case back on the AVL that allows the wearer to get a good view of the movement ticking inside. If that isn’t enough for you, part of the Citizen Miyota 82S0 movement can also be viewed for the dial side. The dial is quite simple and it works brilliantly for this watch design. The hand set on the AVL is also simple, a combination of black & white with a touch of silver at the tips and a splash of lume thrown in for those dark situations. There isn’t much in terms of a traditional dial layout with numerals and all. Again Tacs took it’s design cues from vintage manual cameras when they drew up this dial. There are some numerals on the chapter ring starting at 12 minutes and finishing off at 50 minutes. The numbers are small but they suffice to give you good reference points for telling the time. Rest assured that you will have legibility in the dark because the numerals are coated with lume. Tacs took the design a bit further by also coating the letters found on the bezel.
I really like the size and weight of this watch. It feels substantial teamed with it’s good quality, the AVL II is a pleasant surprise. I am impressed with this watch, impressed by the details, the quality and the unique design. The 100 meters of water resistance actually was a welcome surprise. Compare this to a deep dive watch and I get that it’s not that impressive. It’s impressive because typically watches like this have very little water resistant capabilities. In terms of function, everything on this watch functions without any issue whatsoever. For $599 the AVL II is a welcome option in the ever growing sea of boring homages. You get a unique, well made watch that comes in an impressive presentation and equipped with a solid, quick release bracelet.
What would I suggest to make the AVL II better? Well to be honest nothing comes to mind initially. When I first started spending time with this watch my initial recommendation was going to be with the hands. I thought that the hands could have been longer and wider. That opinion changed though. This is why I prefer spending a lot of time with a watch before I write it’s review. The more time that I spent experiencing this watch gave me a deeper understanding of the why of the design, specifically the hands. If Tacs made the hands larger it would block the small skeletonized portion of the dial. This would create a chain reaction throughout the dial causing change that would jeopardize the overall pleasant aesthetics on this dial. This watch is a strong contender option for those who love photography and who love watches. The design of this watch is extremely unique and works brilliantly. Unique yes, gimmicky no. The attention to detail and how well those details were executed is what impressed me most about this watch.
The AVL II is available via Tacs website:
Thank you for reading. Thank you Tacs for allowing me to conduct my review.