This is the Armida A2, and I like it quite a lot. Let me explain why I think this is one watch that is worthy of your consideration.
This becomes very obvious once you see the Armida packaging:
That's the same bulletproof plastic cylinder as Helson with foam interior. Since the sourcing was so apparent, I decided to discuss it here a bit. Fullswing makes good stuff, and their prices are excellent. I actually like that the founders are up front about who makes their watches; there's too much secrecy and disinformation in this industry. Bravo!
Moving on to the watch itself:
- Automatic dive watch, ETA 2824 ($649) or Miyota 8215 ($499). Also available in PVD finish for $699 and $549.
- Water resistant to 500m
- Includes Oyster-style bracelet and Isofrane-style rubber strap
- Bracelet has screwed links, solid end links, fixed-length diver's extension, four micro adjustments and snap clasp with flip lock. Brushed finish throughout, 22mm tapering to 18 at the clasp, 4mm thick
- Sapphire crystal
- Stainless steel case, signed screwdown crown and caseback
- Lumed bezel (C3 SuperLuminova, very bright) and hands. Not sure what material the bezel is.
- 42mm case, 43mm at the bezel, 13mm thick, 22mm lugs and 51mm lug to lug
- 90g for the watch, 110g with strap and 175g with bracelet
Armida has a range of dive watch designs, with their no-nonsense formula right on their home page:
Our watches are tough and reliable, clean and easy to read, top quality, Tool diver watches and are very reasonably priced.
The A2 certainly qualifies. The design is known as a 'milsub,' or 'military submariner,' based on two Ministry of Defense contracts in the 1960s and 70s. The Omega Seamaster 300 and Rolex 5517, both quite similar in design due to the contract terms, are the parents of the genre. The result is one of my all-time favorite functional designs: 60-minute bezel, sword hands, dive bezel of course, as much lume as possible and a clean, legible dial. No cyclops, 15-minute bezel or excessive branding. The Armida adds some subtle refinements to the design: A steeper-sloped rehaut (more room for dial), a bit larger case at 42mm, and a low-key date window sans rim at 4:30. Of course, the modern improvements as well: robust 500m case, sapphire crystal, shock-protected ETA or Miyota movements, better lume and the new lumed bezel.
The milsub look is perhaps the only significant downside of this watch, in that it might be mistaken for the Rolex. However, very few people have seen a Rolex milsub, as their low production numbers command prices around $100,000 and without the Mercedes hands, cyclops and branding it doesn't look much like a modern model.
Personally, I care not at all. As I've said before, the military are pragmatic first and foremost, and their needs produced a superbly functional and versatile design. Lacking the polished shiny bits and bling, it can and does go from beach to jeans to suit with no effort at all. At 42mm it's the right medium sized watch, not too large and still able to slide under shirt cuffs at 13mm.
Fit and finish are excellent. The bezel, initially stiff, loosened up after a couple of days and is a nice, precise 120 clicks. The lume on it and the dial is excellent, as good as any I've seen. Lights up quickly, legible after a solid ten hours:
Armida regulates their watches before they ship, and the results are good. This one keeps time better than any watch I've seen, running under 1/2 second per day slow! Personally, unless you really want a beater, I'd recommend the ETA over the Miyota as the 8215 is less accurate and doesn't hack. The Miyota is, however, built to survive very rough treatment and years of no service.
The bezel has teeth cut at a 45 degree angle with just a bit of lip, making for good purchase from the side and above. A good design that doesn't need to be as tall as one with vertical teeth.
The case back is part of why it's comfortable to wear, with a smooth bowl shape and laser-engraved details. Notice also the drilled lugs and that the solid end links have small flanges to assist in changes. Laser-engraved signed crown, 7.1mm.
The sides of the case and the interior of the teeth are the only mirror-polished portions. A nicely made case. Drilled lugs speed strap and bracelet changes.
With the extension closed, also shows the beveled interior edges on the clasp that keep it from digging into your wrist. I should note that the bracelet also includes two half-links, so sizing it just right is easy to do.
Now that, I submit, is a classic look.
(Pardon the partial shadow)
Not too tall, not too heavy, stays put nicely. I wore it for swimming, cycling, a bit of volleyball and the like and it was just fine, never bumping the bone on my wrist. A good size.
The included rubber strap. Same as Helson, scented Isofrane-style. Big vents are good for super hot or humid weather.
I hope that I've managed to convey how much I like this one. It's not a watch that will garner attention or praise, but if you're looking for an affordable, well-made, versatile watch that you can wear for decades, the A2 is a winner. It's hard to explain, but after a month of wearing it I'm seriously debating selling my IWC and just keeping the A2. It really is that great a watch!