I’ve been a watch guy for as long as I can remember, probably even longer than I’ve had an interest in photography. This is thanks mainly to the hours I’ve spent assisting my aunt who worked in the horology industry during my youth and admiring countless timepieces, changing watch straps, and tinkering with watch movements. To this day, I seldom leave home without first fitting a timepiece around my wrist. Call it a habit or old fashioned behavior, but despite having a smartphone with me at all times that not only tells time along with being able to perform a myriad of other functions, being able to tell time at the flick of a wrist will always be faster than having to pull my phone out of my pocket. When Tokyo based boutique watchmaker TACS reached out to us to see if we’d be interested in checking out the new Rustic Brown Edition of their AVL II timepieces, the watch nerd and the photographer in me were more than happy to oblige. TACS is an acronym for Taste, Attractive, Creative, and Sense, and the AVL II Rustic Brown Edition surely checks all of those boxes.
Part of the Japanese watchmaker’s Lens series of timepieces, the AVL II, short for Automatic Vintage Lens II, is a stylish skeleton watch that comes ensconced within an engraved wooden box featuring metal accents. Upon sliding open the top cover of the box, you will find the AVL II further protected with a leather cover that fits over the timepiece’s front sapphire crystal.
“The dial, or the face of the watch where one would typically find the minute markings, is a minimalist affair on the AVL II, featuring only number markings for 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28, and 50; undoubtedly a nod to some of the more popular focal lengths used by many photographers.”
Once you take the AVL II out of the wooden box and remove the protective leather cover, you’re greeted by a handsome looking timepiece with a design reminiscent of a surprise vintage camera lens. It features many carefully styled elements that will surely attract anyone with an interest in photography. The bezel, or the metal ring around the front sapphire crystal of the AVL II, features precision machined knurling and rotates smoothly while giving a nice amount of resistance, just like one would expect from the aperture ring on a vintage lens. The bezel also features a 47mm engraving, the size of the TACS AVL II’s stainless steel case, designed to mimic the filter thread markings on a lens. The dial, or the face of the watch where one would typically find the minute markings, is a minimalist affair on the AVL II featuring only number markings for 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28, and 50; undoubtedly a nod to some of the more popular focal lengths used by many photographers. The 8mm screw down crown features similar knurling as the rotating bezel and can be unscrewed to adjust the time on the AVL II.
The scratch-resistant, convex sapphire crystal on the front of the timepiece is Anti-Reflective coated and features a layered fisheye design to emulate the effect of looking through the front of a camera lens. Being a skeleton watch, the heart of the TACS AVL II, an automatic Miyota 82S0 movement made by Citizen and used by many luxury watchmakers around the world, is visible through the front sapphire crystal. I’ve always been a fan of skeleton watches because you can see all of the intricate mechanical parts working in tandem to keep the timepiece running. Being an automatic timepiece, you don’t have to worry about having to replace batteries in the AVL II because the movement converts the kinetic energy generated from the watch being worn to keep the timepiece running. If you happen to own several different automatic watches, you may want to store the TACS AVL II in an automatic watch winder if you don’t plan on wearing it for an extended period.
Looking at the back of the timepiece, you will find more of the inner workings of the Miyota movement on show through the rear sapphire crystal on the back of the case; a feature that’s a hallmark of skeleton watches. The straps of the TACS AVL II are 24mm in width and are some of the most comfortable ones I’ve ever worn, which isn’t all that surprising considering they are made from calf leather sourced from the renowned Chicago based tannery Horween Leather Company. The straps also feature integrated quick releases as well, making it super easy to swap watch straps if you happen to prefer using other custom straps to color coordinate with the rest of your wardrobe. For the adventurous photographers out there, you’ll be glad to know that the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens II is water resistant up to 10ATM (100 meters/333 feet). We’d suggest that you swap out the Horween leather straps for a more aqua friendly strap if you plan on taking the watch for a swim.
For the photographers out there who also happen to appreciate precision-crafted timepieces, the Rustic Brown Edition of the TACS Automatic Vintage Lens II will be a worthy addition to any watch collection. Are there more beautifully designed watches out there at the same price point? Possibly, but that’s a matter of personal preference. I personally find the AVL II to be one of the most gorgeously designed timepieces at this price point. The TACS Automatic Vintage Lens II Rustic Brown Edition is available now at an introductory price of US $440. The TACS AVL II is also available with lighter colored Vintage Brown straps for the same price.