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Avi-8 Bell X-1 ‘Glamorous Glennis’ Automatic Limited Edition Watch Review

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

Who is the most famous pilot of all time? Is it Santos Dumont, the legendary aviator who Cartier created the first pilot’s watch for? Or perhaps Amelia Earhart, the first female pioneer to solo fly across the Atlantic? Both of those would be good answers but for myself, having grown up watching the 1983 film The Right Stuff (it was always on between episodes of Top Gear on Dave), Chuck Yeager has always been the coolest – the first man to break the sound barrier.

Why is this relevant? Well, Avi-8 have launched the new Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis” Automatic Limited Edition, a pilot’s watch inspired by the plane that Chuck flew on that famous sound barrier breaking flight.

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

I also happen to have the watch on my wrist right now. Or to be more precise I have the Ref. AV-4106-33 Jet Black edition, which is the 41mm stainless steel version with gloss black coating. It’s also available in plain steel with either a blue or orange dial as well as a bronze-coloured edition with green dial. However, let’s focus on the watch that is quite literally at hand.

The case is pretty striking, based on the Hawker Hunter, the shape is tricky to describe because it’s so heavily facetted. It’s technically an irregular dodecagon with 12 sides of varying length, which results in something like a stylised form of cushion case, a facetted, angular interpretation of designs like the Farer Mansfield. Normally I’d find 41mm on the larger side, but the design leaves the lugs fairly short and point down sharply so it doesn’t feel as large on the wrist.

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

A half-hidden detail to discover on the case is that there’s an orange ring below the sloping bezel, giving it flashes of colour when viewed from specific angles. Orange is a very important colour for the Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis” Automatic Limited Edition. It’s used for the watch’s three hands, date, peripheral minute track, bar indexes, Arabic numerals, dial inscriptions and bi-material leather/rubber strap.

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

The reason for this is that the Bell X-1 aircraft that the watch is dedicated to was itself orange. In fact, the limited edition comes with a small model of the plane that can be displayed on a special stand (it caused quite the stir in the office) with a decorative base commemorating the achievement of the Bell Aircraft Company – the stand also doubles as a watch holder. On top of that, the watch is actually built in collaboration with Bell as well.

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

I’ve made no secret of the fact that orange is my favourite colour so there’s no surprises that I quite like the dial display. The contrast between the black, grain textured inner dial, smooth outer ring and bright orange accents is very satisfying. Although I will hold my hands up and admit bias in that regard and understand that others may find it too bold. I can also admit that the fact the seconds hand is plane shaped is perhaps a bit kitsch and risks the watch being regarded as toy-like.

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

Taking the watch off and turning it over reveals the exhibition caseback, through which you can see the movement housed inside. It’s the Seiko TMI-NH35, a trusted movement used widely across the industry. It has a 41-hour power reserve and beats at 21,600 vph – I could probably recite those specs in my sleep. What makes it more interesting to look at is the custom rotor which has been designed to look like the X-1’s jet engines.

Avi-8 Bell X-1 Limited Edition Glamorous Glennis Jet Black

The Avi-8 Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis” Automatic Limited Edition is available from today, October 14th 2023, in homage to the fact that Chuck Yaeger’s historic flight took place on October 14th 1947. The plane’s nickname (and as such the watch’s nickname) “Glamorous Glennis” comes from Yaeger himself, who named it after his wife.

In terms of price and availability, the watch is limited to 150 pieces in each colourway at a price of $435 for the plain steel version or $455 for the Jet Black and Army Green (approx. £350/£370). Ultimately, this is a watch where the horology of the piece is less important than the heavy theming around the titular plane. As such, I think it’s a solid collectors’ item for the right buyer.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: Avi-8 Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis Automatic
  • Ref: AV-4106
  • Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 13mm thickness, stainless steel case with black PVD coating, multi-layered black dial with orange accents
  • Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
  • Movement: Seiko calibre M-SII-NH35-D3BKO, automatic, 24 jewels
  • Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 41h
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with additional rubber or leather strap
  • Price/availability: $455 (approx. £370)

1 Comment

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  • Hi, what can I say except that I completely agree with what you wrote? AVI-8 did very well with this model: the homage, the concept, the color (orange also being my favorite color, I am completely in line with your comments – the association with black is killer), the packaging, etc., everything is perfect. Even the price, which remains entirely reasonable for an automatic watch (see the longevity and precision of the mechanism over time). I am the happy owner of the 011/150 and I am very proud to have been able to benefit from this limited edition! Thank you for your comment, very useful. Kind regards, Olivier.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.