Years ago I had picked up a Citizen BM8180-03E. I wanted an inexpensive military style watch. I hadn't had this style and wanted to see how I liked it without spending a ton of money. I considered the Seiko 5 SNK series but ultimately went with the set it and forget it ease of Eco-Drive. The honeymoon phase with the Citizen was great, but it slowly lost wrist time to others in the collection. I still have it today and it sits atop a dresser soaking up light.
2016 came, divers and watches with rotating bezels dominated my growing collection. MKII introduced the Hawkinge as the first piece in the Ready-to-Wear (RTW) collection. The Hawkinge to me improved upon the only thing I found lacking in the Quad 10, which was the size and proportions. It quickly became a staple in the rotation and accompanied me during swims, hikes, workouts, etc.
Fast forward again to today, there hasn't been much chatter about the HALO X MKII collaboration. I stumbled across an Instagram post from Thousand Yard Style (TYS) where Robert Spangle, a Recon Marine Veteran, introduced this collaboration watch. Robert in an open to the public Q&A, described the Airborne as a passion project of his. The Airborne is the result of a collective design effort between Newline Halo, Bill Yao of MKII, and himself (of TYS). In his Q&A he mentioned he has been testing his Airborne prototype for the last year. I won't attempt to tell his story, but I will you tell that his watch has been through quite the journey.
The Airborne is limited to 50 pieces. It goes through the same assembly and quality control process as all MKII RTW pieces. The warranty is backed by MKII and future servicing can go through them as well. It comes in MKII's signature pelican style 3-slot case accompanied by two NATOS, extra spring bars (both flanged and shoulder-less), spring bar tool, certificate of guarantee card and the watch model information card.
It shares the same case as the Hawkinge, which measures 37.80mm in width (excludes crown), 48.50mm in length, 12.75mm thick with 18mm lugs. Housed in there is a SII NE15 movement. Movement and rotor noise are minimal in a quiet room. The case is stout, sturdy and I find it a pleasure to wear on the wrist. For me it easily fits under a shirt cuff for those corporate settings, and also does not get caught up in jacket sleeves, bag straps or bag pockets. I'm glad MKII gifted it with a screw down crown and 100m water resistance, making it suitable for most water activities. The caseback bears the markings of some key features e.g. 316L stainless steel, sapphire, plus a few others.
(the serial number is also on the caseback but I’ve removed it from the photo)
The white markings printed on the matte black dial, give it a clean and legible look. The outer ring of markings indicate the minutes and seconds. The inner ring has the 12-3-6-9 hours labeled with hashes for the rest. No date is the only option, I don't see how a date could be added without cluttering up the dial. The avionics inspired hands are a joy to watch, but more importantly are easily distinguishable both in light and dark situations. The second hand is tastefully tipped in yellow with a lume plot towards the tip. It's a nice pop of color, which makes it noticeable when needed, but otherwise would not clash for those of us who like to coordinate our clothes and watch straps to match our watches. Minimal branding from both HALO and MKII are present.
The Airborne is listed as having SuperLumiNova BGW9, but mine has something different which I love. I believe mine shares the same lume as the MKII Cruxible. The lume is as white as BGW9 in daylight, but glows green like C3 in the dark. It glows well through the night and into the morning. With adjusted sight in the dark it was still legible after 8+ hours. I'm guessing all 50 pieces would have the same lume, probably an oversight in the specs listing.
From my time with the Hawkinge, I can tell the Airborne will be what us enthusiasts call a "Strap Monster". Anything from NATOs, leather, canvas, rubber and with some hunting, bracelets would all pair well. I currently have mine on a brown Mil-NATO by Maratac. Some may disagree, but 18mm lug width is perfect for this watch. 20mm would be too wide for the case and dial, and would throw proportions out of whack. If 18mm straps is something you can not live with, I'd recommend the Cruxible which is similar in case size but has 20mm lugs.
All in all, the Airborne is another fantastic watch. I don't think we'd expect anything less from the companies involved in its design. It's fitting of many things I had wanted years ago when I picked up the BM8180-03E. The Citizen was and still is a great entry watch for that style. It led me to the Hawkinge, which has led to the Airborne. I can picture the Airborne becoming a competitive staple in my collection. (EDIT)Although MKII helped in it’s design and backs the warranty, it’s not listed on their E-Boutique site. From what I understand it’s only available for purchase, online from either TYS's observercollection.com here in the states, or Newline Halo's site based in Denmark.
I hope you all enjoy the write up. I'm sure there are things I've missed, or shots you may want to see. I'll do my best to accommodate.
(If you're reading this as soon as it's posted, I'm going back through to add the pics via mobile as the ones uploaded via desktop were way too big.)