The all new Axios Ironclad is a sister brand of the famed ZELOS microbrand. It certainly features those great elements of quality and precision, but with simpler DNA. This watch will go live on Kickstarter August 19TH of this year, and I think it will do pretty good. The case itself is solid 316L stainless steel featuring a 3 Micron thick protective coating for hardness and durability. This is quite innovative and I believe the first microbrand to do so. In terms of dimensions, they are very wearable and modern at 40MM x 46MM x 13MM. The short lug to lug really helps it wear with ease on my 6.5” wrist - which I do appreciate. Now, the case is rated to 500M which is certainly suitable for diving and any water activity you will be doing whilst wearing your Ironclad. Getting to the finishing, it is decent with polished flanks and brushed tops/bracelet. The finishing is good enough for this pricepoint and definitely does not contain any sharp edges nor blemishes.
The blue sunburst dial on this “Horizon” example is quite striking at first glance due to its’ shine and luster in the sunlight. We also get large applied white markers filled with leaps and bounds of X1 C3 SuperLuminova...which is REALLY bright. Our hands are in orange to match the sweeping seconds hand as well as the ceramic bezel insert colors. The A logo for Axios is applied in polished silver, and quite small Id say. In terms of bezel action - the 120 Click Lumed Ceramic bezel is stiff, but not too stiff. It feels very tool like and has absolute zero backplay. It definitely adds some shine to the blue dial and plays nicely with it. Hovering the dial is a double domed sapphire crystal with inner anti reflective coating, so legibility in high light conditions will not be an issue. A small detail I did notice is the matching date wheel to the dial - kudos to Axios for doing that. Its the small things that count!
Powering the Ironclad is the standard Swiss Made automatic Selitta SW200 movement. It is quite a common one and is essentially the equivalent of an ETA 2824-2. It feature hacking-hand wind- and a smooth sweeping seconds hand which beats at 28,800 BPH. You can expect around +2-6 seconds on these Ironclads and around a 38 hour power reserve when fully wound. Overall, for the price I think this is the highest end movement one can source.
The oyster style bracelet is 20MM and tapers down to 18MM and is comprised of solid steel. It does feature screw links, so adjusting the links takes only a few minutes and you will be on your way. It also features a custom buckle and proper milled clasp which so many of us are accustomed to now in higher end microbrands. There are not any dive extensions but there are certainly enough micro adjustments to fit anyones wrist just fine. It is comfortable, doesn’t pull my hair, and has a nice smooth brushed finish just as the case. I do not have an issue with this bracelet, and you shouldn’t either.
In conclusion, when searching for a watch in the $400 price range, especially a diver) there are key elements I look for such as Sapphire-Swiss Movement-Bracelet-Lume- Bezel Action. This watch definitely ticks all those boxes for me and I believe the Pre Order price is where you should jump in on this one. I am actually sad I have to send this review unit back - because I genuinely had a really fun time test driving it. Thanks once again for taking the time to read.
Each Vintro watch comes equipped with a leatherette case , card holder, warranty card, and extra band
The Vintage Inspired Le Mans 1952 Chronograph features a solid stainless steel case with a IP Yellow Gold plating in my example. In tetms of some dimensions we get a 40MM x 15MM x 48MM case ( 20MM Lugs ). These dimensions certainly are proportioned nicely for todays times, and I do not really have an issue with the size of the watch. A nice thing that Vintro did was add 100 Meters of water resistance, allowing the user to actually take this chronograph swimming if they really wanted or needed to. The highly polished case features no rough edges nor blemishes, which is always nice to see at this price ( $536 USD Pre-Order ). Another nice detail is the sapphire exhibition caseback which displays the Column Wheel chronograph movement at large, which I always enjoy on my timepieces. Overall, it is a nice well rounded and useful watch in terms of specification.
The cream off white dial certainly reminds me of older Vintage chronographs from the 50’s and they did a pretty good job at replicating that. From the Tachymeter to the Telemetre , its all mint - crisp - and completely legible. The gold dauphine hands are always aesthetically pleasing, especially on a watch of this style. If I did not mention, Vintros watches are assembled in Germany, and marked Made in Germany at the 6:00 position - which is a nice escape from the normally seen Swiss Made. Our subdial at 3:00 counts the 30 minute chronograph whilst the adjacent subdial is for our running seconds. A small detail which really pops is the blued chronograph hand - which really shows over the cream off white dial. Lastly, to top it off is a nice domed sapphire crystal with inner AR coating - which honestly is visible in the sun, and pretty much any other condition I have encountered.
I actually really do like the movement they chose for this watch for a few reasons. First of all, it is one I am very familiar with and have had great experiences with in other brands large and small. The Seagull ST1940 is actually a Column wheel chronograph - just as the Omega calibre in the Speedmasters are. The movement beats at 21,600 BPH and has a 36 hour power reserve along with a 30 Minute chronograph timer. The lever actuation is extremely smooth and rapid with these movements and feels much more high end than it actually is. Vintro also went ahead and added a custom rotor stating “Designed in Germany”. Small details that catch my eye include the perlage work and blue screws utilized ln the ST1940. It is indeed a great little package and quite a punch for the money.
Leather Band or Nato?
Now, the watch can be purchased with a variety of straps - but I chose the light brown Genuine leather vintage styled band along with a tan Nato style strap. The leather band is quite supple and soft out of the box and comes equipped with quick-release pins for easy swapability ( if that is even a word ). Overall, it is certainly comfortable and fits the vintage aesthetic the case contains. It all flows together very nice and for the yellow gold IP plated case - I would definitely go with this colorway. The second NATO strap is a pretty typical band, nothing extraordinary - but it is of decent quality and has the gold hardware to match the case. It is a nice accessory to have, incase you want to get the watch wet as well.
Furthermore, I think the Le Mans 1952 is a great first offering from a new smaller brand based out of Germany. I like that they executed each subtle detail with preciseness and 1:1 detail of watches from that era. It is certainly not the cheapest watch you will find with a Seagull ST1940 Automatic movement , but there certainly isn’t another watch which resembles those vintage watches we love so much with so much detail, and thought that went into producing each component. I think it is well worth the money, and suggest you take a look at them if you enjoy the look and feel of an older watch - but do not want to deal with the troubles an older watch can bring.
The all new limited edition Spectre Phantom II is designed with a genta-ish case comprised of solid 316L stainless steel with a diameter of 39MM and a height of 48MM. In terms of case thickness, it is most definitely comfortable at 11.5MM. The dimensions are just right and sit right at home on my 6.5” wrist comfortably. A smooth brushed finish covers the entire case without any sharp edges or roughness. To the skin, the steel feels very smooth and brushed with care. One of my favorite aspects of the PH II is the 100M of water resistance we get, thanks to the screw down crown and caseback. Getting to the caseback, we get a nice sapphire display of the swiss automatic caliber and its’ perlage work. Lastly, as expected at this price a flat genuine AR coated sapphire covers the front of the watch as well.
The dial is actually black, but can appear as a deep grey due to the sunburst effect this model has. Other than that the dial is rather simple, symmetric, and down to the point. The applied markers are filled with superluminova as well as the S logo below 12:00. A neat detail is the black date wheel which does match the dial quite well, if you did not notice. The bezel is neat, brushed, and fixed with perfectly circular aligned screws just as a Hublot or Audemars Piguet RO would be.
To be 100% honest, I have never experienced a Fossil group STP1-11 Automatic movement prior to receiving the Phantom. It did quite surprise me with its’ neat perlage work and blued screws. It is basically the equivalent of an ETA 2824-2 and has precise accuracy as well. My model is running at +3-5 seconds per day and is very consistent. This movement contains 26 jewels, beats at 4 HZ, and contains a hacking and winding feature as well. A nice little touch is the custom spectre logo on the actual rotor.
Bracelet or Leather?
Considering this is a integrated case design, your strap options are going to be cut short. However, the stock bracelet is definitely a very nice and well finished one. It also is extremely fluid and comfortable, and does not pull a single hair off my arm. Small subtle polished edges allow for some visual flair while the extemely fine brushing sits comfortable on the wrist. The bracelet was a breeze to adjust with screw links and a screwdriver which came inside the box itself. Comparing this bracelet to their first ever release “Phantom I” - there is a huge increase in overall quality on this model. The butterfly clasp is tight, secure, and even is signed when you completely fold it over. The good thing about this type of clasp is the seemless and clean look it has
once fitted correctly. If the bracelet doesn’t suit you, a second end fitted genuine leather band comes in the kit as well. The strap is of okay quality and definitely wearable, but I do much prefer the bracelet.
Furthermore, the spectre phantom II does
not dissapoint, and I was actually quite surprised at the actual quality and feel
of this piece when I first received it. It is indeed a well made watch and well worth the asking price in my
opinion. The Phantom II is also a very versatile
watch as it can be worn dressed up or down, and even while swimming. Im glad I had the chance to experience this watch and it is evident they truly have stepped their game up in terms
of movement and overall case/bracelet quality.
Today , we are taking a look at the all new release from famed micro producer Richard LeGrand or ( RLG ) now. Their newest release is definitely a vintage inspired watch with a super compressor design. The solid 316L brushed steel case comes in at 42MM x 13MM x 48MM. These dimensions fit quite nice and much smaller than 42MM on my wrist considering the short lugs and small tip to tip length. This one kind of just sinks into the wrist weighing only 80 grams on the supplied strap. The finishing is decent, and definitely suitable for the $220 price this watch is currently being offered for from RLG. Now, we get two crowns, which is quite typical of a super compressor watch. The first crown allows us to rotate the inner bezel for a 60 minute dive timer which can also be useful in day to day situations. The second crown is screwed down for that 200M of water resistance and used for timeset. Heading to the caseback, a nice and rather refreshing new design of a ship which is raised and polished is displayed proudly.
Now, there are four different dial options - but my example is the navy / deep blue colour. It really suits the whole vintage compressor aesthetic, as well as the applied lumed “Blancpain” style markers. A nice detail is the chromed out borders surrounding them. The 12-3-6-9 markers are rectangular - matching the long rectangular lumed hands as well. It is a rather simple and symmetric dial meant for a tool like purpose. If you did not notice, RLG is printed below 12:00 instead of the Richard LeGrand we are so used to seeing. This was done for obvious reasons as “Dick” is short for Richard - and enthusiasts were basically making the joke of “The grand dick” in translation..Anyway, the lume is BGW9 and quite potent with a good bright blue shine. Overall, I think it looks clean, crisp, and to the point.
Well...NH35! Yes, I feel like I am repeating myself in almost every review. The famed Seiko NH35 automatic movement is used in this model, for good reason. It certainly helps keep the price down and is probably the most reliable and accurate movement in this sector of watches. It features 24 jewels, hand-winding, hacking, and is relatively accurate at around 5-10 seconds a day while beating at 3 HZ.
Genuine Leather / Sailcloth Band
Now, the band is probably one of my least favorite parts of the watch itself. I mean, the quality is decent...but the backside is genuine leather while the front is a faux sailcloth material that can get wet. I really think a nice rubber end fitted band would of suited this watches purpose much better as a dive watch. However, I am seeing more and more microbrand divers being offered on leather bands which is quite odd. Personally, I threw mine on a Bartons rubber band and it looked stellar. The band is 22MM and does feature a signed steel clasp.
Furthermore, I think RLG is offering quite a good design and specification for the coin. It has the great NH35 movement, a beautifully domed crystal, and is certainly better looking and a bit more sporty than its’ arch enemy - the Dan henry. If I honestly had to pick between this or the DH which I reviewed a few years ago..I would choose this. It fits much slimmer and comfortable on the wrist, and is much more “Minimalistic” shall I say. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read.
The all new Field Force by Victorinox is definitely a nice and refreshing addition to their lineup of swiss made timepieces. The actual was is definitely an everyday field/office type of piece and is comprised of solid 316L stainless steel. In terms of dimensions we get a very wearable 42MM x 9.5MM x 49MM. I also do like the versatility of this piece as it does have a 100M water resistance rating which allows the user to take it in the pool or ocean with them whenever they please. But do not be fooled - this most definitely is also a watch that can be worn with a suit or around the office. In terms of finishing the entire case is completely brushed besides the signed pull/push crown. Overall, for the $395 price on bracelet pictured above, it offers a decent value from a very traditional independent swiss watch brand.
The navy blue dial contains applied lumed numerals which are quite bold and large, allowing for great legibility and time reading. Some
other nice details include the solid red seconds hand reaching all the way out to the chapter ring which is a big thing for me. I say this because I find when companies have a short second hand it just makes the watch appear a bit cheaper with corners cut. Large sword style field hands filled with swiss SuperLuminova - again adding to that legibility factor. The neat thing I like about Victorinox is the applied shield below 12:00 which is actually fully lumed and looks pretty neat at night. To top this off, a nice genuine Sapphire crystal with three layers of Anti-Reflective coating is applied to make sure there is no glare hitting your crystal. Everything about this layout is about everyday function including the day and date cutouts located at 3:00 with a reference lumed triangle for orientation.
The ever so trusty Swiss Made Quartz Ronda movement is used in this piece and many other Victorinox Quartz watches. This movement is fairly accurate within a couple seconds a month and has a long lasting battery life with an EOL Indicator. I never have had a problem so far with all the watches I have owned that contained this movement and find it fairly efficient, trusty, and robust. It is also another reason they can achieve such a slim case.
I was actually really surprised by the oyster style link bracelet that this watch came with. The links themselves are very articulate and conform nicely
to the wrist without pinching hair. The bracelet
contains solid end links, polished center
links, and a neat quick-release system which allows you to remove the entire bracelet within seconds. Overall, it certainly also gives the watch a more luxurious and polished look. The signed clasp is a butterfly
clasp with two release buttons and a safety fold
over for a seamless look once on wrist.
In conclusion, the all new Field Force by victorinox is definitely a contendor when looking for a new everyday, reliable, and useable field watch. It is also a very versatile one that can be used in many situations whether smart or casual. All of these features add up to a decent value for a swiss made timepiece at a reasonable price.
The Zelos Swordfish case is comprised of solid CUSN8 Bronze and features very wearable/proportional dimensions of 42MM x 48MM x 13MM. This is most definitely a true dive watch with a water resistance rating of 300M along with a screw down crown and caseback. You should have no issues shallow diving, swimming, boating, with this timepiece. In terms of finishing, the 360 brushed finish is definitely refined and smooth - without mistakes or blemishes. Please do keep in mind that this watch will grow a nice Patina over time, allowing the end user a truly personal watch and experience. I also really like the fact that this case design and cut is unique and does not resemble any other popular big name swiss brand timepieces. It is truly a work of Elshan and his team in Singapore. On my 6.75” wrist the watch fits just about perfectly across as expected, and reveals a bold yet tool like look.
The cobalt blue sandwich sunburst dial is quite stunning when the light hits it as you can see from the photo above. It is most definitely symmetric with a date aperture at 6:00 and an applied bronze color Zelos logo below 12:00. Some nice details include the enlarged hour markers at 12-3-6-9. Getting to the handset - they are quite bold and in tune with the proportion of the markers - which some companies fail to do. Now, the C3 Superluminova applied on the hands - markers - and brushed ceramic bezel is really some of the best I have ever seen. It is extremely reactive and lasts a bit longer than Seiko Lumibrite from my tests. To top it all of, a nice genuine AR coated sapphire crystal is included on the front AND the back. Taking a look at the back of the screw down stainless steel caseback, there is a great
view of the swiss automatic ETA 2892 movement with customization by Zelos. Lastly, the 120 Click Bronze bezel is definitely precise, tooly, and a bit stiff in my
opinion. However, it is not so stiff you cannot use it. I believe it needs a couple weeks to be properly broken in. In terms of alignment, it hits 12 perfectly with zero backplay.
The ETA 2892 is used in this model...However if you do not have the funds for this model - there is an option with a solid caseback and Seiko NH35 automatic calibre. Anyway, this ETA movement is indeed a good one and I happen to like it a bit better than the standard 2824 movements. It contains 24 jewels, 44 hours of power reserve, hand winding, and hacking. If we take a look at the rotor, there is a custom Zelos branded cut out which really struck me upon initial inspection. It is indeed in a bronze tone to match the case and bezel.
Leather Band or Rubber?
The reissue of the Swordfish comes equipped with a beautiful genuine rubber 22MM band, as well as a Genuine Horween Quick-Release strap. The quality is very good on the rubber band as well as the nice addition of the bronze Zelos custom buckle. I do prefer it on the rubber strap, because I will be getting this watch wet this summer....However, if your one that does not take their watches in the water then the beautiful and soft horween leather band can pair just fine with the Swordfish. Horween is one of the top leather materials used in high quality luxury leather bands, so it is really nice that they added this in to top it off.
Furthermore, the Swordfish is definitely a winner all around. The complete package packs a lot of punch for the money ( $599.99 Pre Order - $699.99 Retail ). I like all the extra goodies the watch comes with such as the wooden box, leather roll, and extra leather band. The watch itself is a rather simple tooly btonze dive watch with some decent specifications for the coin. Please do keep in mind Bronze watches are generally priced higher than steel as the material is a bit more expensive. But if you can compare this to something such as a Bronze Oris 65 - I think you are getting quite a good deal.