Armida A8 Brass Watch Review

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review
Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8 brass, with dive strap

$349 USD. Wear without care.

That's my TL;DR (too long; didn't read) review. Interested?

There's been a real surge in bronze and brass watches ever since Panerai helped kicked it off a few years ago. Part novelty, part pretty gold-colored metal, partly the interesting patination both metals undergo. I've been interested, but haven't wanted to spend a lot of money on a watch that was designed to rust. Coming in at under $350, the Armida A8 was priced so low I had to buy one.

The first thing you need to know about the A8 (and it's cushion-cased sibling A7) is that you have choices to make right away. It comes in two dial colors (green or black), with or without date window, green (C3) or orange/yellow lume, diver or cushion case. That's sixteen options right off the bat. (This one is orange lume, black dial, A8 (classic) case, with date. I have plenty of divers with green lume and wanted to try the orange stuff.)

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, with factory and personal accessories

The second thing you need to know is that the choices continue after you get the watch. It comes with an Isofrane-style strap, a brass-buckle NATO strap, spare spring bars and two different bezels. If you add that, that's 64 possible looks, before you try your own straps.

Let's start with the spare bezel, because that's super rare to see. Looking at the profile, there's a lip on the bezel.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, side view of case and bezel

Grab something like a plastic ruler, and pry a bit.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, prying the bezel off

With a bit of prying it pops off.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, bezel removed

You can see the spring, and how it has small tabs in the case to keep it from rotating.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, sans bezel, side view

That's a 2.5mm thick sapphire crystal. The bezel construction is simple and robust.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8 bezel, underside

The bezels included are a black aluminum insert and an etched/engraved solid brass.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, both bezels

You simply snap them in place.

Armida A8 Brass Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews
Armida A8, brass bezel

Looks quite a bit different, doesn't it? That's a third party strap, a 22mm green leather band I bought from Bas and Loakes.

The watch is brass, not bronze, though personally I don't much care; both metals will patina as you own them with a variety of color and pattern. What you see here is the result of about six weeks of wear; no attempt to force-age or polish it. It's dulled a bit, not a lot. I do find that owning a watch that is guaranteed to rust changes my view of it: Might as well go adventuring, because even if you leave it on a shelf it'll age, so why not go wear it hard? "Wear without care," as an Australian blogger memorably put it.

I think of the A8 as an adventure watch like the Seiko Monster: Bulletproof, affordable, tough as nails and having a distinctive tool-watch style.

It's a pretty nice size, 42mm wide by 13.5mm thick, 52.1mm lug to lug and 43mm across the bezel. Weight is a solid 130g on a strap; it feels chunky and you need a robust strap to keep it in place and comfortable. Dial is about 32mm across, and the steel screw-down crown is 7.9mm.

Things I dislike: The date wheel would be much better if it were white on black. The crown is long enough to sometimes dig into my hand a bit. And I really don't like the buckle on the Isofrane strap; it's way too big and catches on everything.

34 comments
gwhysow
gwhysow

A wonderful watch. One of my favorites. After this review, who knows how long they'll last. Though the movement is a little on the noisy side, you quickly forget. As for changing the bezel, if it doesn't come off with ease, don't try and pry...you'll only mar the watch. Get a thin knife (case knife is too think), and shim it. Trust me on this. Thankfully I want the rustic look on this one, so a few marks would hurt my heart...too much.

mrchan84
mrchan84

It is beautiful in a simplistic manner for me, and I do like the colour a lot. I would buy this if it stays the same colour and does not rust.

spiceballs
spiceballs

A fair review of an unassuming brass dive watch with a solid movement at a reasonable price.  Winner IMO, and black bezel with black Nato looks great.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Good review of a good solid watch.

RandyTorres
RandyTorres

Well I can see why they use brass instead of bronze since brass is 1/4 of the price of bronze per weight.  Very  cool watch in my opinion and the value just comes out and punches you in the face.  Hard to believe all you get for $350.  Hell, the Seiko LE Snow Monster, which functionally is just like any other  $300 Monster  had a MSRP of $700 (granted it uses Seiko's 7S36 v. the Armida's SII version of the older 4R35 but at least as functions go, i.e. hacking, auto and handwiding the movements are similar).

One thing I find surprising though, are people asking if replacing the bezel will affect water resistance, or if the bezel rotates (OK I can understand wondering whether it's unidirectional v. bidirectional)? Really? This being a dedicated watch blog, I would think  readers are a little more savvy. 

sdufort
sdufort

You're wearing the Nato strap wrong, that's why you think it is thick under the wrist. You need to slide the strap until the hardware is as close as possible to the 12hr side of the watch. This leaves you with no buckle on the underside of the wrist, one of my favourite features of nato straps. 

arzileiro
arzileiro

The crown it's on steel !?  why  on a brass or other yellow metal? i dont understand.


Looks nice with that leather strap.

CG
CG

Nice personal honest review... in full brass bezel it sure looks like a late 40's early 50's dive compass at first glance. Great look with the leather suede(?) stitched strap. Thick leather straps get a great patina in sea water even though they don't last long. Brass turns this from a dive WATCH to a dive INSTRUMENT in an old school way kinda like using double hose regulators again! Very cool at that price point too.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

It's a decent price for a watch in a novelty material.  I associate brass with plumbing, and that stuff tarnishes to an ugly dull finish very rapidly.  Maybe if you like patina that's OK but to me it just looks like grime or dirt.  The colour of the lume makes it look like that aged dirty looking lume you find on vintage watches where water has got in.  The generic sub-clone look doesn't appeal at all.  If you want your watch to look thirty years old out of the box, this is the one for you.

BIGCHRONO
BIGCHRONO

The bezel does not rotate? Yet it can reach almost 1,000 feet. Illogical dive watch, Will Robinson.

DangerussArt
DangerussArt

So does one's wrist turn green with wear?

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

This 'wear hard' watch having springbars instead of screwpins is a mismatch in my books, but otherwise it's quite nice. I prefer the brass bezel to the black one, and while I would also pick the yellow/orange lume, I would have gone green dial. I'd bin that isofrane-alike, and recycle the buckle on something with more personality. I'm sure I have a hole punch to accommodate that tang, but yeesh, what a fatty. What has kept me away from the4 bronze/brass fad is the look of steel crowns and casebacks. I can get over the caseback, but the steel crown just doesn;t match. I know why they did it that way, but they should develop a stem/threads/crown system where the crown part is then plated (in brass or bronze,) to match the case. Wouldn't really create any manufacturing nightmares, but would very much complete the look.  


I do find it interesting that bronze/brass watches were too expensive for you to explore, although you bought a $50 strap from B&L for probably $120+. 

marbstiu
marbstiu

"Things I dislike: The date wheel would be much better if it were white on black."  <--- true that


maybe i should open a company that manufactures black date discs? a lot of watch makers dont seem to have a good supply of black LOL

Patrick Kansa
Patrick Kansa

@DangerussArt  In my experience with reviewing bronze watches, they definitely will turn the skin green if you're sweating.  Brass, I'm not as certain, though I've had brass instruments stain my hand, so it's likely the same thing.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@marbstiu I have to pay extra for movements with black date wheels. In effect, I pay for the date wheels and my movement distributor swaps them in before he ships to me. Seems wrong on lots of levels, but there it is. Be wary of buying no name date wheels (like on eBay) and they are usually crap. Blacks are not black and the white numbers are faint, fuzzy and off-white. Usually they only come in black on white, white on black and in some cases black on gold. Orientations are at 3 and at 6 (rotated numbers) and you can't just rotate the date wheels to any position you like. So doing a date at precisely at 4 on the dial requires a custom printed date wheel. This is why you often the date before or after the 4 on some watches.

BIGCHRONO
BIGCHRONO

@antipunk @BIGCHRONO 

Yet, when Paul described bezel removal/replacement, he mentioned the spring & tabs designed to keep it from rotating. I missed the seminar on bezelology.

marbstiu
marbstiu

@MarkCarson @marbstiu  hi, isnt the 4oclock date window disc using the same as the 3oclock disk orientation? cos the digit is slanted to be properly seen while u are in the driving position, assuming the watch is on the left arm.


While others use the 6'oclock oreinted disk on a 4oclock date window, in which the digit is slanted in the wrong direction. an example would be  this Chanel j12 (The WHITE version)


http://ce053ee06b98536a2dc3-a6fed8c1b4fb343f790cc1a783af6690.r40.cf3.rackcdn.com/product_images/8799911084062/17790555_1_640.png


told u the design/AutoCAD team has no idea wat calibre the engineering dept uses!

bizarre

stefanv
stefanv

@BIGCHRONO @phubbard @antipunk  The bezel assembly is completely outside of the watch case. The watch is waterproof even without the bezel in place.


It's like changing a tire on your car doesn't compromise the passenger compartment's rain resistance, and the cabin remains dry in a rainstorm even while you have the tire off.

BIGCHRONO
BIGCHRONO

@phubbard @BIGCHRONO@antipunk 

I can"fathom" this concept, but doesn't bezel removal compromise water/pressure security? Any unknown gaps, slits, etc. could undermine overall stability. Maybe it's best to use in non-diving venues. All of these exotic metals in watches today suggest more innovations @ low/high price points.

phubbard
phubbard

@BIGCHRONO @antipunk  The ratchet has to be fixed to the case; that's what stops it from going the wrong direction. 

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

@phubbard Understandable... I'm pretty sure I had dinner last night... of some sort. 


And for the record, I know it's a nice strap. As a seasoned strap maker that stocks some of the finest leathers available, pricing policies like that of Bas and Lokes make me shake my head. 

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@marbstiu If you plan to sell a gazillion copies of a watch, you can have almost anything custom made for a reasonable per unit price. But for a smaller brand to custom order differently printed date wheels (just one example) means higher unit costs and perhaps more importantly for low volume watches, minimum order quantity (MOQ) in the hundreds of parts per order. So you have to either sell a lot of watches with a given custom part or you have to price your lower volume watches higher to cover the costs. Plus there are tooling/setup fees when you want something done special (assuming you can find a supplier who will make/print what you want). All a hassle for smaller brands.

Cheers

marbstiu
marbstiu

@MarkCarson @marbstiu thanks for the info, man. I have much to learn about the mechanisms.

We should still expect that the watch companies know more than we do...but why do i feel that they often make lazy aesthetic decisions (bring slaves to whatever date wheel their procurement ordered) thinking WE will not notice?

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@marbstiu A date at 4 o'clock often uses the same orientation as one for 3 o'clock. And the Chanel you linked to uses the same orientation (vertical) as a 6 o'clock date. But using an ETA 2824 or 289x movements as an example, the date wheel itself has to be printed with a different rotation of the numbers relative to the gear/teeth that the date changing mechanism engages. 

There are 31 teeth so you don't get an even 4 o'clock positioning by just punching out your dial at 4 using a standard 3 o'clock date wheel. I have seen some true 4 o'clock date wheels where the numbers are at a 45 degree angle but those are rare bears.

I mention all of this only so that when you see a date located between 3 and 6 but not precisely at either 4 or 4:30, this is means they are probably using standard date ring with a specific angle dial hole location. 

Or if you see one where its really is at 4 or 4:30, then the date ring was printed precisely for that angle/position. 

If you see a dive watch, for example, with the crown at 4 and the date at 4, then it's a standard date wheel and the entire movement is just rotated in the case (so just a movement ring change). 

You would think you could just rotate the date wheel, etc. but the teeth/gears don't allow for that.  Just a bit of internal watch geeky stuff I guess. Cheers.