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Gavox AviDiver II

For the Air, Earth, Sea & Beyond

Whenever I see images of professional military men and women, I often find myself gushing over their large, ultra-purpose driven wristwatches. Because as long as they want to wear a watch on the job, they might as well strap a good one to their wrists. Pilots need large dial openings, hour markers, and hands to be able to tell the time at a glance in the cockpit. Divers need good water resistance and a device to track elapsed time. And foot soldiers need a robust watch that can survive the battlefield, jumping out of moving vehicles, and traversing difficult terrain. (At least that’s what I imagine they do.) Me? I need none of the above but this won’t stop me from enjoying and wearing purpose-driven and solid tool watches. 

Disclaimer: Watch collecting does not make much sense most of the time and as much as I love these little machines that tick and tock, I like to wear them. I don’t need to wear them. They aren’t a necessity but rather a personal preference. 

With that said, today we’re going to take a look at a brand we have yet to discuss on Mainspring: Gavox. I had the pleasure of meeting the brand’s founder Mike Happé a few weeks back and I was immediately drawn to the way he does things. Not only how he sees horology but also the ways in which he finds partners and gets his models tested by members of the military around the world. One of his most recent releases—and the one which caught my attention with the greatest intensity—is the AviDiver II. As its name indicates, it’s a cross between a pilot and a dive watch—so, it’s legible and solid—and it comes with a few tricks up its sleeves. 


As soon as you saw the first photo of the Gavox AviDiver II, you certainly noticed that it’s a big boy. Indeed, it comes with a diameter of 43mm, a lug-to-lug of 50.6mm, a thickness of 12.8mm, and a lug width of 22mm. By no means is it a small watch, however its physicality makes sense given the watch’s intended purpose: to be the one and only tool watch for you to pack on any sorts of adventures you might go on. Whether it be flying a fighter jet, diving to explore a shipwreck from the 16th century, or running the New York City Marathon. Indeed, the AviDiver II can do it all given its 200 meters of water resistance (the case-back and the two crowns screw down,) a domed piece of sapphire crystal, lots of BGW9, and a GMT caliber within. It’s a bit of my dream tool watch, if I may say so. 

Powering the Gavox AviDiver II is the Seiko NH34 GMT caliber that beats at 21,600 BPH and comes with 41 hours of power reserve. It’s the type of GMT movement some describe as being a “caller GMT” as it is the 24-hour hand which jumps in one-hour increments and not the local hour hand. (I honestly find this type of GMT much more useful than “true” GMT movements found on the Rolex GMT Master II and Tudor Black Bay GMT.) The NH34 is also equipped with a date function which Gavox placed at the 4 o'clock so as to not break the dial symmetry and legibility. The latter also refers to the sandwich construction of the dial which guarantees plenty of lume for nighttime visibility. (Note the white date disc which makes the date numerals pop.) 

And the Gavox AviDiver II goes a step further in claiming good water resistance and a robust build. The brand opted for a piece of domed sapphire that is rather flat on the outside, instead of one that is outwardly heavily domed one as the former does not come with distortions, and is less likely to chip when hitting a solid object from the side. The two screw-down crowns are protected by beefy crown-guards so that they won’t get knocked over during use. All of this is paired with a thick and solid black rubber strap (complete with curved end-links) and a metal bracelet. So you can “dress it up and down” depending on what you do. Given its dimensions, I enjoyed wearing it on the rubber the most since I have a smaller wrist of 6.50”/16.5cm. 

Note that the lug-to-lug extends by only 2mm to 50.8mm with the bracelet on. Despite the 50mm+ measurement, the case fits just right on my flat, skinny French wrist. 


In case you didn’t yet know, the Gavox AviDiver II is a tool watch. Yes, that’s true! And as such it begets to be legible. Mike Happé went the extra mile—as he seems to always do from what I could gather from our conversation and by looking at his expansive online catalog—in endowing this model with an extra bi-directional ring sandwiched between the dial and the angled rehaut. The ring was installed so that a lumed orange triangle could float right above the dial and align with the markings on the rehaut. On the latter you can see two scales: a 24-hour one where the even hours are highlighted with Arabic numerals; and 60-minute scale where the five-minute increments are highlighted with numerals as well. This means that you can track a third time-zone by aligning the triangle to an hour marking on the rehaut, just as well as you can time an event. 

The latter cannot be done with the precision of a dive-time bezel or chronograph counter as you must align the triangle with the minute hand and can only have an approximate idea of how much time went by. Nevertheless, I’ve found this feature useful to either measure how long I’ve been doing something for or how much time I have left before starting a new task. Mike could have done without this feature but he didn’t, and I’m glad he went this path as it provides additional functionality to an already functional watch. And it’s integrated in a way that doesn’t compromise reading the time or tracking when it is 5pm in a different part of the world. (You know, to start drinking.) The AviDiver II was tested by professional pilots and I can only imagine they found this feature even more useful than me. 

The day-to-day functionality of reading time is made possible by way of large Alpha-style hour and minute hands, painted white with color-matched matte surrounds. (Note the blacked-out sections on each of the hands for increased legibility.) The hour markers are all sandwiched, meaning their shape is incised on the dial and a BGW9 lume disc, placed behind the dial, adds the white coloring which contrasts superbly with the matte, black dial. A sandwich construction also guarantees an event and great night-time legibility since the entire backing of the dial is made of lume—as opposed to having applied or painted lume elements on the dial*. I also appreciate the orange tip of the seconds hand complete with a lollipop element, and the counterbalance in the shape of the brand’s logo. (The latter looks like a stylized “V” shaped plane and is also visible on the rubber strap.) 

*Sorry Mike, that’s the best way I got to explain it! 

The case for its part remains positively under the radar. Although the AviDiver II is large, the lugs are short, the see-through case-back is flat, and the crown guards descend just enough along the case sides to protect the crown but not so to make contact with your skin. (A tiny yet crucial design detail.) In other words, it’s very comfortable to wear and only weighs 105g on the rubber. (171g on the bracelet adjusted for my wrist.) Furthermore, the entirety of the case is brushed so that 1) visually it doesn’t command more wrist presence than it should and 2) it doesn’t reflect light as any proper tool watch should. You know the expression “There’s more than meets the eye?” Well, the Gavox AviDiver II is definitely a watch the saying applies to. 

The Heart of the Matter

At the heart of the matter is the fact that Gavox had (what I would describe as being) the nerve to create a type of tool watch we don’t actually need but which many of us, including professionals and members of the military, would prefer to have when doing stuff. (Me too.) As I mentioned in the introduction, I don’t need a watch but I prefer to have one to keep track of time. (That’s just one of the many reasons why I wear a watch everyday.) But I also prefer to strap an analog tool watch to my wrist whilst going on adventures, traveling, diving, hiking, and even walking my dogs in the wild suburban forest of Paris—instead of a digital/smart watch. That’s the way I roll. And I’m sure Mike Happé could very easily explain the numerous reasons why professionals would wear an AviDiver II over a digital counterpart. 

But at the end of the day, tool watches are great for mere mortals like myself and you, and what’s even better is when they are reasonably-priced. Indeed, the Gavox AviDiver II will set you back roughly $650 USD on the rubber and $705 USD on the bracelet. This arguably makes the AviDiver II a very good value-proportion in the market today. If you don’t like black dials, know that this model also comes in Lightning Blue and British Green. And one can choose from several color rubber straps or the bracelet. (I recommend getting both as the latter is solid and also comes with a diver’s extension, you know, for those who actually dive with such tool watches.) 

In other words, given its robustness and ingenious design, Mike could have very easily doubled the price tag of the AviDiver II. But he didn’t because to him a good tool watch doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. He’s definitely my type of watch brand owner. 


There are many options for solid tool watches below the $1,000 price tag, both from established Swiss and Japanese brands as well as from the myriad of micro and independent ones that exist today. As someone who’s obsessed with tool watches, I’ll tell you this: the Gavox AviDiver II is one hell of a watch and you can be sure that every penny spent on it makes for a very good investment. Both a financial investment but also an horological one that is, as long as you prefer (just like me) to wear analog tool watches instead of digital ones. I sincerely believe that wearing a watch is a choice and no longer a necessity, so we might as well get something that makes us smile each time we look at it. (And one that can survive fictional and real adventures.) 

You can learn more about Gavox and its expansive catalog of tool watches on the brand’s website, and about the AviDiver II here

Thanks for reading.


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