Heitis Watch Company Aviator in Black PVD Review
By: Kaz Mirza
If you’re active in the #watchfam on Instagram, then you’ve most likely heard about Heitis Watch Company, a fresh microbrand putting out timepieces from Buffalo, New York. Spearheaded by DJ Heider, Heitis Watch Company’s first run of offerings featured a catalog of three extremely solid pieces: (1) The Heitis Classic, a bar-indiced, clean and timeless dress piece; (2) The Heitis Chronograph, a quartz, racing inspired chrono with a very balanced dial; and (3) the Heitis Aviator, the focus of this review. Coming in at 44mm in diameter and coated in black PVD with a 20mm lug width, the Heitis Aviator brings a touch of fun, modern refinement to a classic dial configuration. But is the Heitis Aviator for everyone?
Overall I like the case design – it’s classic and quite visually pleasing, and with the edition of the PVD coating it also has a really fun modern tool watch twist. The PVD coating has a smooth matte-like texture against the fingertips with just the right amount of tactile friction. This is actually the first PVD coated watch I’ve ever owned, and I get the sense that not a lot of watches could pull off this type of black coating. But with this watch I think it totally works. Aesthetically, the black PVD coating against the black dial really promotes the legibility of the white numerals and the chapter ring.
In terms of the shape, the case pays solid tribute to flight watches of the past. There isn’t too much of a gap between the dial in the case edge, which really helps make the dial feel like the forefront of the watch (a really integral component of any good flight watch). What you might also notice is that at 44mm the watch is quite large – at least on paper. What we see here is an effect similar to that in my Seiko sumo. The case diameter is large, but the lug width is small in relation. With the lugs at 20 mm, the watch case has a very center- and forward-facing wrist presence (which, again, is really ideal for a flight watch in order to keep the dial legible).
The other purpose that 20mm lugs serve is that the watch physically does not feel like it takes up a lot of space on your wrist. I just used my calipers and lug to lug the watch comes in at 52 mm, which is quite large. But since the lug width is only 20mm in relation to the 44mm diameter and 52 mm lug to lug measurement, the watch doesn’t actually take up that much real estate on your wrist. So even if it has big numbers on paper, it’s actually quite comfortable on the rest. This, to me, shows a really thoughtful design perspective behind the watch. It’s the idea that you’re not just designing the watch to look good for the Kickstarter or to look good on your website, you’re designing it to look good and actually wear very well. These are the types of things I love seeing from good microbrands.
The crown of the watch is signed with the Heitis “H,” and my calipers measure the crown at around 7mm. This to me is actually a really good size – the crown feels good to manipulate, to pullout, to change the time with. I also honestly just find myself fiddling with it every now and then because it just feels that good on the fingers. The case back is a screw-down type and also features the Heitis logo and accompanying text highlighting specific features of the watch (i.e. sapphire crystal, Swiss Movement, 316L Stainless Steel, and 5 ATM Water Resistance).
As I was saying earlier, the dial is the focus of the the Heitis watch since it is inspired by and modeled after flight pieces. As such, the dial actually balances very well all the common features you might find on a classic flight watch face. The dial is visually composed of four different elements that are arranged in concentric circles. The outermost circle is slightly raised and features the minute and seconds ticks. Then next circle features a readout of 0 to 60 minutes, which is a very classic field and flight watch feature. After that the watch features the 12 hour scale, but then the very last circle is the 24 hour scale. Plus, in addition to all of this, the dial has a three-date window highlighting the middle number, which designates the current day. So what we have here are a lot of really important elements to the flight watch dial design, but they’re all very balanced. The dial doesn’t feel too crowded or busy to me. But what I find a really fun is that with the addition of the raised second ticks and the red, black, and white color palette, the watch has a slight modern twist to it. Plus the dial is lumed pretty well. The seconds ticks, 0 to 60 readout, and hands feature green luminescent paint, which pops quite nicely after being charged in sunlight (or an LED Panel if you’re lazy like me).
The Heitis Aviator comes with a choice of two leather (black or brown) quick change straps, both featuring Heitis signed deployant quick-release buckles. I opted for the brown strap because I felt the brown against the black PVD case added a really nice and fun contrast while still honoring the purpose-built design of past aviation timepieces. Speaking of which, the leather straps feature two rivets just below the spring bars. This is a classic aviator timepiece visual trope. But while the rivets are classic, the quick release butterfly deployant strap is a welcomed modern addition, which allows for the easy release of the watch simply by pressing the two buttons on the buckle. White stitching also adds a pleasing visual contrast to the outer perimeter of the strap. Probably my favorite element of the leather strap is that the material wears very nicely against the skin because it’s quite thick, which will also allow it to break in and weather very nicely.
Just a quick note here, if you’re like me and wear your watch way too tight (like basically in a way where you’re trying to punish your hand because it owes you money), I would suggest wearing this watch a little looser than normal. This is because I had difficulty finding a comfortable place for the butterfly clasp to rest when the watch was on my wrist. But after speaking with DJ (the owner) he helped me troubleshoot the situation and now the watch sits comfortably on my wrist – plus the more and more I wore the watch, the more the leather brakes in, increasing the overall comfort.
What ultimately drew to the Heitis aviator is that I was always looking for flight watch. But I didn’t necessarily feel attracted to the classic minimal and stark dials of flieger-style and other pilot watch designs. What the Heitis Aviator offers is a flight watch that’s really for people looking for something a little bit different and for an extremely reasonable price. The only reason I might see someone not necessarily enjoying this piece is if they have some sort of aversion to PVD coating (which shouldn’t be an issue since Heitis Watcher Company also has a non-coated version). I can also see flight watch purists maybe looking for more classic features like a clean dial and possibly an onion-type crown. But for those like me who want a great everyday quartz timepiece inspired by classic aviation watches with a subtle twist, the Heitis Aviator is where it’s at. Plus you have the added bonus of buying from a microbrand that really stands behind its product. As I mentioned before, when I needed to reach out to DJ (the owner) about the strap on my watch, he was super responsive, very attentive, and really wanted to make sure I was happy with the product he put out at the end of the day. So in my opinion the Heitis Aviator (and the brand as a whole) are a win.
The Heitis Watch Company Aviator is currently available for $189 directly from the brand.
Kaz has been collecting watches since 2015, but he’s been fascinated by product design, the Collector’s psychology, and brand marketing his whole life. While sharing the same strong fondness for all things horologically-affordable as Mike (his TBWS partner in crime), Kaz’s collection niche is also focused on vintage Soviet watches as well as watches that feature a unique, but well-designed quirk or visual hook.