Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical Watch Review

Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical Watch Review

Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Swiss Army Victorinox watches are very important to the watch industry in my opinion. For many people not familiar with the greater breadth of offerings from the watch industry, these Swiss timepieces are a creamy options when wanting a piece that combines good design, sporty styling, and solid value. As a kid I grew up knowing about Swiss Army watches, and not so secretly wanted one. I recall in college an friend of mine who had received one as a gift wearing it around (as I admired it). He wasn't at all a watch person, but liked its chunky substantial feel, and dead-easy to read dial. Swiss Army for many people represent a good choice for a nice watch, and the brands hold's this reputation well.

It all starts with the logo. The little Swiss flag made into a strong looking shield. It is a slight modification of the logo of the actual Swiss Military. A not so subtle reminder of the value of the Swiss watch industry, and the strength of the brand. In my opinion, this is one of the most clever logos in the watch industry. Being attractive, while at the same time communicating the values of the brand and the Swiss timepiece industry. This even persists despite the ironic nature of the Swiss army itself - which is more or less a peace keeping force. So you have a brand built around the idea of a durable high-activity timepieces, but with the name of a lack-luster military power. Switzerland is a well-known neutral country and has a small armed forces unit that never makes the news. When was the last time you actually heard of the Swiss army? Google "Swiss Army" and the watch brand holds the first few positions. If anything, the best thing that happened to the Swiss military was Swiss Army watches. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, the Swiss army has mandatory services for males when they reach age 19. Though no one has ever mentioned this to me while I was in Switzerland.

The vision of the Swiss army has been over taken by watches, and we can thank Swiss Army for that. They add the Victorinox name in there because no brand can sustain a trademark with a name like "Swiss Army." The success of the brand has yielded many competitors who have similar names and symbols. These include Wenger and Swiss Military Watches. But I digress.

A few years ago Swiss Army Victorinox decided to ramp up (substantially) its presence in the mechanical watch market. The idea was to take the core look and values of the brand, and produce higher-end pieces. As such, the brand would retain its core market of quartz based timepieces, and supplement it with mechanical watches that has the same feeling, but with upgraded cases, components, and of course movements. The positive association with the brand would make it easy for a generation of Swiss Army watch lovers to "graduate" to mechanical watches from their quartz timepieces. Staying in the same brand would be of course good for Swiss Army.

Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

So you started to see mechanical watches. Often in limited editions models, Swiss Army has now offers full (non-limited) collections of Mechanical watches that are quite impressive. Many of them feel like more polished and better conceived versions of the military-esque mechanical watches that Hamilton has been offering for years. Hamilton just sometimes offers totally weird stuff that I don't understand. I appreciate the experimentation, but Swiss Army seems to retain a more conservative quality to their mechanical watches that I appreciate.

A few years ago the Swiss Army Dive Master collection of watches came out to my delight. From the first time I saw them I loved the quartz based dive watches that came in cool gunmetal gray cases. As I pointed out above, Swiss Army released a limited edition mechanical version of the Dive Master, and eventually a full line of mechanical diver watches called the Dive Master 500 Mecha (or Mechanical) collection.

Dial design differed from the quartz models. It is a matter of taste which you prefer. The dials for the Mecha models are a bit more intricate, but there is a bold simplicity to the quartz ones that I like.  New for 2010 is this blue colored version of the Dive Master 500, and it is a 'bute. There is actually a new quartz model for 2010 as well. The dark gray gunmetal tone is applied via PVD to the 43mm wide steel case is done very nicely. While most of the case has a brushed finish to it, segments of the rotating diver's bezel are polished - helping to make for a more attractive look. Swiss Army understand that any functional design must also be visually pleasing.

Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The case is quite substantial in weight, but not super large in size. It has a very good feel on the wrist even though it is weighty. Swiss Army certainly crafts a comfortable watch in my opinion. Even though the case construction is a relatively simple 3 piece design, Swiss Army does a good job of adding visual interest to it. The large crown guard is purposeful and helps make the piece look quite rugged. Actually the case is quite rugged being water resistant to 500 meters.

Swiss Army places a healthy amount of lume on the bezel. It does not go the entire way around the bezel, but it is richly applied where you do find it. Swiss Army opts for a solid 60 click bezel that feels good to turn. You'll appreciate the refinement to this aspect of the watch. Makes you wonder how some more expensive watches do worse with bezels when a brand like Swiss Army can do it so correctly.

Dial design is great. It is set deep into the case, and interestingly is preceded by the flat gunmetal wall of the bezel and then a sloped flange ring. You almost never see both on a watch. Each of the hour markers are applied, and contain immense amounts of SuperLumiNova. The night viewing on this watch is excellent if the dial is properly charged with light. As is the custom with Swiss Army watches - you'll see a smaller ring of number for military time . I love the use of the brand logo for the 12 o'clock hour indicator, as well as the unique style of the date window. Might have been neat to have the date dial in blue with a white font. Large claymore sword style hands are easy to see and read. Though I do also like the hands on the quartz models.

Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Swiss Army uses an AR coated sapphire crystal over the dial as well as a mineral crystal over the caseback of the watch. It isn't too common to see timepieces with exhibition casebacks that are water resistant to 500 meters. Inside the watch is a movement that I totally would not have guess Swiss Army to use. Logic would indicate that with a watch like this, at this price range, they would use a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic. However, Swiss Army ups the ante using a higher-grade ETA 2892-2 automatic. Why the use of the higher-grade movement? Not sure. It is more nicely decorated "out of the box" from ETA, and it features buttery smooth hand-winding (when you want to hand-wind the watch). The 2892 is also a thinner movement, but that doesn't seem to be an issue here as the Dive Master 500 is not exactly a thin watch. This is one of the least expensive watches around with a 2892 in it.

Attached to the watch is a thick, high-grade rubber strap - which Swiss Army likes to point out was actually make in Switzerland. The blue strap matches the blue of the dial, and is very comfortable. It is one of the best quality rubber straps I have had the pleasure of wearing. It is rubbery, but not sticky, in the sense that your hand moves smoothly over it, and the strap fits easily in the loops when putting the watch on. Trust me, you'll like the strap in comparison with other rubber ones out there on watches in this range. Speaking of which, the Swiss Army Victorinox Dive Master 500 Mechanical retails for $1,095. Blue is the newest color as of the writing of this review, but the watch can be had in several different colors (such as black, orange, red, etc...). If you like the look of the piece and have a positive association (as you should) with Swiss Army watches, this is a very solid and well made watch with a lot of desirable features for a price that isn't at all unreasonable.

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  • Chuck P

    I have a Gunmetal grey black dial and full steel bracelet variant. It is my favorite go to watch for everything except suits. It’s tough, it looks fantastic, and the color is so unique that even my friends who have Breitlings and Montblancs want this watch! A supremely well made and high quality watch. Victorinox is THE best value in watches.

    • Anthony

      I am very interested in getting the same watch you have i.e. if th eone you have is the PVD coated bracelet. I’ve went to numerous stores but none could answer the following question….would the coating flake off, if it gets scratched from regular wear such as resting on tables, surfaces etc does the coating flake off or show silver underneath. I would really appreciate your imput as I would really like to get the watch. If possible could you send me pics of your watch, with emphasis on the clasp where most day to day wear happens

  • Kris C.

    Not bad – I’d like to see it in the orange colour. I love the gunmetal PVD vs. black – very nice and give it a unique kick. I also find the date window interesting, but what’s with the lume arrows that point to the date? The actual date display is not lumed, so in the dark you just get an arrow pointing to… dark.

    Regardless, well done.

  • Bjorn Keizers

    Excellent review as always. I’ve looked at these before. They have a bit of a Breitling Super Ocean feel to them (the old model) The bezel tabs, dial layout, overall size… it really has a Breitling feel at a more-value-for-money pricepoint.

    Still, at this price… I can’t help but shake the feel of it being ‘made by that pocket knife company’. I’d still prefer a similar Breitling or the older Omega Seamaster to this when it comes to brand ‘feel’.

    • Honestly, the quality is there. Any what is wrong with Swiss Army pocket knives? I have been using the same one for over 15 years, and it is still a perfect tool.

  • swissfreek

    Cool watch. Need to do your homework on the company, though. Victorinox as a brand is much older than Swiss Army. The Swiss Army name is the American brand, since most Americans would recognize the term “Swiss Army knife,” but wouldn’t know the names Victorinox or Wenger (which is actually owned by Victorinox now), much less how to tell the difference between the two companies’ knives (both of which are or were used by the Swiss Army). So in reality the smart move on their part was capitalizing on name recognition by setting up the Swiss Army brand, not the other way around.

    • Thanks for the additional information. Good to know.

    • mtbric

      True, but …Victorinox brought Wenger in 2005, but has kept the companies separate. You can still buy Wenger watches. Also Victorinox purchased the Swiss Army Brand. Not that long ago. If you look it up, Swiss Army Brands Inc. (formally the U.S. company Forschner) is a subsidiary of Victorinox. One of the reasons you see “Victorinox Swiss Army” instead of just “Swiss Army” on the watches like you had in the 80s-90s. Personally I like the name “Swiss Army” on the face, much simpler and clean.

  • Ivan Y

    I’m really digging Airboss Mach 8 Special Edition model. Need to find a store that has it in stock so I can see it for myself, but photos make it look really good.

  • Artagain

    I purchased the red automatic yesterday (red face/red band). My first automatic! Thanks for this review. It was a big help. I had narrowed my choices down to a Lum Tec Bull45, a Sportura, a Tag F1 (on sale for $695 at a local jeweler) and this one. I bought an extra band in black as well. I’ll wear the red in the summer by the pool 😉 It is a tough watch. I’ve already accidently dropped it onto the tile in my foyer and not a scratch. The case is not usually widel but it is much thicker than the F1. It was nice to see they stepped up on the movement.

    One question. Do you know what the length of time the power reserve is for this watch?

  • james

    Great review.
    Is this better watch than the oris BC3 Sportsman??
    I am hesitating between these two. What do you think?

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  • David K

    Several years ago, I had decided to buy only one watch for a do-everything-timepiece. I’ve since changed my mind. But back then, I tried two different Victorinox watches. One was a basic Field model that cost $200. It was defective. Not even remotely water-resistant. Took it back. Decided that perhaps spending more would get me a better watch. I forget the name of the next one, but it was a $450 Victorinox. The case was cut lopsided. Resulting in part of the crown digging into my wrist and actually cutting off circulation if worn for longer than 2 hours. That one went back as well.

    I now know more about watches. But two bad incidents soured me to the brand. This 500M might just be the one that changes that though.

    • Nathan

      Alternatively, it could simply be that you’re too much of a little school girl to wear a watch that doesn’t have crystals on the face and a size under 20mm.

      The water resistance issue I could buy, and in fact in the past Swiss Army watches were sometimes rated a little too high for WR than they should have been in my opinion. But the case was lopsided and cut off circulation? The words “physically impossible” come to mind. Don’t wear a watch and stick to using your phone. Your dainty hands will thank you.

  • Luciano

    I have been wearing the red version of this watch for a month now and it is an excellent timepiece. The red strap is definitely the most solid and most comfortable I have ever worn (and I am not a fan of rubber straps). That said, I am unsure about buying a victorinox black strap with it and am wondering whether a gun metal strap or chunky leather strap would be better for the winter.

    Anyone have a photo of a red Dive master mecha with a black rubber strap, metal or leather strap that works well?

    B.T.W the gunmetal has a slight browny tint and the lum is cream.

    I can post a few photos iof the watch if it would help with suggestions.

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  • Ariel. I wanted to thank you personally for educating and shaping my views in this incredible hobby of ours. Because of you, I decided to hunt this old watch model down and buy a used one. It is in the mail. It is probably the best color combo of the automatic dive master 500s for me. I’ll probably change out the matching band for a tan suede leather to slightly customize it. Thanks for providing such fair and informative reviews. They make a big difference in the real world… Even 4 years later.

  • masqueman My pleasure!

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  • angewatch

    Hi Ariel
    Can you give me any information
    about what percentage of the Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Men’s Automatic
    Watch is actually swiss made? I have learnt that although watches can use the term
    “swiss made” it doesn’t mean that the watch is 100% swiss made, hope that makes sense
    thanks for any ifor

  • Mare

    My customized Dive Master 500 with Maverick rubber strap, i think Victorinox should consider it…

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