This watch is the 800 pound Gorilla in any room – and it isn’t even the largest model that newer California-based watch brand SISU makes. Welcome the SISU Guardian timepiece. At almost 1 pound in weight, this steel beast is a hell of a watch and wrist statement. Half of you are gonna love it and the other half are undoubtedly going to complain in some manner about the size. The first half loves hearing that from the second half.
The original SISU concept was to produce watches for athletes and other larger active guys. They have this interesting picture where a burly guy is wearing a Rolex on one hand and a SISU on the other – just for size comparison. Clearly the larger SISU matches his large wrists better as the Rolex seems petite by contrast. There is a certain fun to wearing big watches – but the enjoyment is all about the design. A big watch only makes sense when it is comfortable.
The first time I put on the SISU Guardian (version A2 as reviewed) I was actually amazed at how well the large case wrapped around my not-very-large wrists. The 54mm wide case has stubby lugs and a bracelet that does not really jut out. Don’t get me wrong – the watch is big, but not to the point where it is actually oversized. The largest watch SISU makes is the Bravado. That model is 55mm wide and does weigh a full pound. It has a different style case and bracelet that I will say are only best for people who have larger wrists. I wouldn’t even consider the Bravado model unless your wrists are 8 inches or more. The Guardian on the other hand is much better suited to small and medium wrists – along with larger ones of course.
The Guardian case is made from an inner body with attached lugs and a cap style bezel that goes over the entire body. The construction is very solid and the case is water resistant to 100 meters. For ergonomic purposes the crown is located at 10 o’clock. An interesting aspect of these watches is the crystal. Most people don’t think about it, but sapphire crystals are rather expensive compared to mineral crystals. Due to the diameter of the case, SISU watches utilize some of the largest sapphire crystals around. I believe that SISU needed to special order these and it is a compliment to the brand that they stuck with sapphire despite the high expense of these large crystals. The crystal is of course AR coated.
The Guardian dial design is modern and clearly inspired by the aviator look popularized by Bell & Ross. The outer dial is visually enlarged by having the flange ring literally overlap it. The ring does have a full set of hour and minute markers, and the inner dial presents a new space that does not make the dial feel empty or too vast. You’ll notice the cut slits revealing parts of the automatic movement – just a nice hint of skeletonization for those who like it and not obtrusive for those who don’t. The placement of the date disc needs to be located closer to the center of the dial due to the actual size of the movement. SISU appropriately does not leave the date window floating in the dial and puts it alongside the inner ring.
The lume-filled hands are large and easy to see. They are clearly aviator inspired, but not direct analogs of what you see all the time. It is true that they could be a bit longer, but there are weight issues that SISU needed to contend with given the size of the dial. There is a sporty hint of red as part of the second hand’s counterweight. The overall proportions of the dial feel good and the design is unique, but at the same time very approachable. SISU offers a few dial variants for the Guardian. In addition to the silvered dial, there is a black dial, and one with a floating double indicator layer called the Eclipse (A3 model).
Inside the Guardian automatic models are Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movements. SISU opens up the back of the case with an exhibition window. There is no hiding that the case is much larger than the movement. It is a solid Swiss work-horse automatic, and nothing particularly more fancy is needed here. SISU also offers Swiss quartz movement-based versions of their Bravado and Guardian watches. Some large watches try to pretend they aren’t so big, but SISU pieces are large and proud of it. It is their theme and the brand plays it well. They make large watches for guys who like large things.
The bracelet is quite comfortable with a push-button deployant clasp. While the links are large, there is a half-link to help size it properly. In addition to metal bracelets, SISU offers quite nice rubber straps. Those can help if you don’t get a good fit with the bracelet, and obviously make the watch lighter. Larger watches can often benefit from having a rubber strap because the friction-based fit will help the case from moving around.
I’ve always mentioned how I don’t understand the “debate” about watches being too large or too small. You like what you like – that is it. Further, you don’t need to only wear large or small watches. People who like smaller watches seem to get almost get offended (personally) when they see watches that violate how big they think a watch should be. They get angry. I should know, I see exactly what they say. On the other hand, a guy who wants a larger watch usually calmly laments an otherwise nice piece that simply isn’t made in the diameter they prefer. “Too bad it isn’t XXmm in size or I would get one”. Weight can be an issue depending on the person. SISU watches are heavy, but you get used to it – at least I do. Wear the piece for an hour or two and you don’t really even feel the weight. Worst case scenario, you are getting a bit of exercise.
In the end the Guardian is a fun watch. It takes itself seriously enough and is comfortable to wear. People who like the idea will surely find it and enjoy it. For the rest of you it will be a good talking point. “54mm?!!!” Each of these has a limited production run, and as an automatic the SISU Guardian is $1,495 ($695 for the similar Swiss quartz movement version).