Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

When Victorinox Swiss Army released the new INOX watch, they decided that their marketing messaging would entirely revolve around the timepiece's durability. For the 130th anniversary of the brand (Victorinox) the company announced that the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX watch was subjected to 130 "strength tests." Swiss Army even did an event in New York where Victorinox Swiss Army INOX watches were boiled, beaten, scraped, and tumble dried in order to emphasize just how much torture the watch can withstand.

So let's talk about durability for a bit. At the time Victorinox Swiss Army first released the INOX, I was very curious what special features and materials they were using as part of this new durability mission for the watch. After some investigation, I didn't find anything out of the ordinary. The 43mm wide case is in steel, the crystal is sapphire, the case is water resistant to 200 meters, and inside the watch is a pretty standard Swiss Ronda quartz movement. So where was all this new found durability coming from?

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

While the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX watch is indeed a durable timepiece, I think the reality is that there is nothing inherently unique about how durable it is. While not all steel quartz sport watches are created equally, there are in fact a lot of really wonderfully durable Swiss watches out there, and it seems like Victorinox Swiss Army simply made some special efforts to communicate those facts about the INOX. It may even be that there are more durable watches in the brand's line up - that is hard to tell. I don't say all of this as a negative about the watch because Swiss Army does live up to its promises. However, I feel that I should make a larger point about sport watch durability in general.

While we snob around loving our mechanical watches (which I certainly do), it is easy to forget just how tough a quartz movement-based watch can be. Perhaps the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX's steel case is extra thick and there is some special buffering around the movement, but in reality, a quartz movement is going to be a lot more durable than a mechanical one. The weakest part of this watch is that it has moving hands. If you put a digital screen and removed all the moving parts you'd be in G-Shock territory. But we can't do that. We need to draw some lines. This is a Swiss watch, after all, and Victorinox Swiss Army has a reputation to uphold. That being of a durable sports watch maker that nevertheless injects a sense of slick European style and design into their watches. While the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX is not universally loved, I do find the clean dial and hexagonal bezel to be attractive.

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

This is one sharp looking beater watch, if you ask me. Victorinox Swiss Army sells themselves by matching a matte black dial with polished hands and applied hour markers that give just the slightest amount of visual bling without sacrificing legibility. That hint of red gives it some flair, so that it doesn't become another monochromatic bore. While sales people like to ensure that watches have a date complication (because apparently still so many consumers are interested in that), think of how nice the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX watch face would look without the date window.

INOX is actually a French term for stainless steel ("inoxydable"), which is charmingly fitting for a watch produced in a thick steel case. However, Victorinox Swiss Army has an even better meaning for the name, if you dare wish to repeat it to a friend. Try explaining to them that "INOX" really stands for "Impact Neutralizing Object for the X-tremes." I am not even going to offer a comment in regard to that statement. Let's just stick with the French term for now, OK?

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On the wrist, the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX watch is rather comfortable. It isn't the thinnest watch in the world, but it isn't the thickest either. The polished and brushed steel case is attractive and the "triple anti-reflective coated" sapphire crystal offers a great and clean view to the dial. I've heard some people criticize the modern-looking case design, but I rather like it. While taste is always open to interpretation, comfort - like I said - isn't an issue with the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX. With 200 meters of water resistance, this isn't a professional diver, but the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX will withstand the abuse most people subject it to.

Speaking of abuse, the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX watch comes with plastic case guard that attaches over the bezel and matches the color of the dial and strap. For 2014, Victorinox Swiss Army offers the INOX with a black, blue, or khaki green dial. Each gets its own matching "protective bumper," which I don't fully understand. Think about it, if you are communicating just how durable the watch is, why do you need to include an extra piece of plastic to protect it further. In a sense, this is a retro throwback item in homage of the 1980s, when plastic guards sometimes came on watches. It attaches and detaches easily enough from the case, but aside from a momentary novelty, it doesn't really serve a huge purpose unless you just happen to like the look of it - which is OK, I guess. I suppose it opens up a new area of accessories... the "watch mask."

Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

What do you think?
  • I want it! (15)
  • I love it! (7)
  • Thumbs up (5)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Classy (0)
  • Jimxxx

    Durable, not scratch proof. Hence the rubber bumper.

  • SantiagoT

    Jimxxx is right, that’s exactly the reason. Also it is a well thought out protective thingie: it is easy to clasp in and it won’t move (you can see it on my video from 3:30). So since they are selling the watch for those working in a tough enviroment -it was presented together with a Fire Brigade- it may come in handy, giving extra protection and looking far better than a G-Shock.

  • MikeinFrankfurt

    As you mention, it’s a good looking beater watch with a lot of marketing behind it about its toughness.  I’d like it better at $350-400…

    Since Victorinox does actually produce the military issue knife for the Swiss Army, I wonder why they can’t work with the military to produce a true military issue watch?  Maybe the INOX would or could be the basis? Or…is there already an issued watch that I am overlooking?

  • I spend so little time these days being roughed up in a dryer or driven over by a truck (I’m just getting too old) that the basis of this watch is lost on me. Ultimately, it just looks homely and a little boring, wholly unrefined with that heavy case and lumpy features. Then they supply the ‘mask’ so that you can pretend that you’re actually wearing a GSHOCK.
    But, I have a GSHOCK collection already. Just in case I want to relic my glory days and get boiled.

  • Ariel, I would like to comment on the usefulness of the plastic guard/bumper. As someone who does a lot of backpacking, hiking and camping that often involves climbing small rock outcrops, having an available protective cover for the watch would allow me to get some real use out of the piece in the kind of setting it was intended for. As tough as the watch may be, it only takes one quick scrap (inevitable really) to damage the bezel beyond repair. That is why I wear cheap plastic watches on my outings, I always need up smashing them into something.

  • ryan_o

    I can see this watch making an appearance in the next X-Men movie!

  • LapYoda

    Very handsome watch in a Genta-esque sort of way.  I really want to like it but the Ronda movement just kills it for me, especially in some of the examples I’ve seen in person where the seconds hand doesn’t quite line up with the markers.  It’s a pity that an automatic movement would defeat the purpose of a “tough watch” like this, and there does not seem to be a direct Swiss competitor to the Bulova Precisionist quartz movement with a sweep seconds hand.  That combination would probably tick all the boxes for me.

  • Ulysses31

    Sorry, I just find it terribly boring.  There’s nothing special about it at all.  The durability of this watch isn’t due to any clever engineering or a new innovation; it’s an inherent property of a quality quartz movement.  The cheap-looking clip-on rubber bumper is almost an admission that this watch has no special durability, as well as making it look like a wannabe G-Shock.  Couldn’t they at least have applied some sort of hardening treatment to the case?

  • dahcd

    If one wanted a beater watch at $525 swiss made, then one would be better off looking at
    Squale, Steinhart and getting a 2824 mov’t, ss case and bracelet and sapphire crystal, or
    even Deep Blue with a 9015 mov’t. This watch should be selling at $175-$250 range, unless
    you just like the name.

  • Fraser Petrick

    Handsome watch. Being quartz is a major plus.  If there were a local Victorinox retailer I’d buy one – I’m not comfortable buying a watch on-line insofar as the watch and I have to be “properly introduced” by a chaperone in a respectable brick and mortar establishment; ie., no mail order brides for me.

  • NBMTX

    I like it quite a bit. The bezel looks like it provides a good but comfortable amount of heft and has the right amount of Genta influence without being a blatant imitation. It looks like the clip on guard is designed to protect the polished bits in those damage prone circumstances you know you’re going to be in. Hopefully I can see one of these in person sometime soon as I’d really consider picking one up (at least at a bit of a discount)

  • Jimxxx

    Attractive watch. Too bad it’s not solar a la G-Shock. Quartz is ok for this type of watch as long as there are no batteries to change, Curious indeed to see the metal bracelet that will be introduced for this model.

  • The case is a total mismatch for the dial and hands…it looks quite classy and with the right face (and a bracelet or stingray strap) could offer a very interesting Genta-esque alternative, as someone pointed out.

  • Jus_ad_bellum

    I think it looks great (without that silly clip on bumper) but I would never pay that for a Quartz and in fact wouldn’t buy it because it’s a Quartz.

  • DavidFlorez

    Certainly a handsome watch, but once you strip away the marketing hyperbole, not all that special.  Chatter on the watch forums has also hinted that the lug width is somewhere between 21 and 22mm, but not a true 22mm.  That can be a deal killer for those of us who like to mod straps.

  • Horologicalwhore

    The watch kind of reminds me of the Swiss quartz version on the Seiko dive watch even down to the rubber strap and the simple indeces for hour markers

  • Tommer45

    I like this watch but my one gripe, which isn’t touched on in the review, is how the strap is attached.  Is it just a springbar?  I wouldn’t call springbars terribly reliable.  My Panerai is the only watch I trust not to ever fall off my wrist.  I’ve had Omegas, Rolexes, Luminox, etc pop off my wrist during sporting activities because the springbars failed (unfortunately my Rolex is still at the bottom of a lake!).  Gimme some screws to hold on the strap and I might buy into this watch.

  • Frauss

    Penfold1 On the other hand, clip-on guards attract grit and dirt underneath and do just as good a job of scratching the watch as without. No real protection there.

  • Intredo

    Love this watch, have it myself and i posted a live video on it: http://youtu.be/2Ezy-6AZy40

  • One thing that I’ve noticed is how much the brushed stainless steel on the bezel will show scratches. That is a general statement, not necessarily about the INOX. Because of the circular pattern, it is pretty difficult to buff out. I wonder if this. Thing got scratched to hell when they were shooting it through walls and similar abuses.

  • Jef_in

    IMO – It’s a Casio/Seiko Swiss replacement. You get the toughness of a Casio,  the accuracy and stainless housing like a Seiko Quartz,  and you still get a SWISS pedigreed watch.  So it is for those folks who admires the Japanese brands but does not really want to be seen wearing one.

  • X2Eliah

    dahcd Having an auto movement would utterly ruin the ‘durability’ aspect, though. Especially on impacts.

  • Rogozinski

    “So where was all this new found durability coming from?”
    I did a bit of reading about INOX and found out that hour markers are actually not applied but stamped. Victorinox says the dial is the first thing to fail when subjected to stress tests. The dial and hour markers are one metal piece so they can’t break off. Also Victorinox says that they strengthened the way they mount hands.

  • Rogozinski Hands coming off is a far greater concern than applied hour markers coming adrift. Cheers.

  • SuperStrapper Yeah, I’m only good for gentle cycle in the dryer these days.

  • Rogozinski

    MarkCarson Rogozinski You may be right. I’ve never had a chance to knock off neither hands nor hour markers. Still it seems they were working on strengthening both of them. That’s a shame there is not much information what they actually did.

  • RogSmith

    I think the design is absolutely beautiful -(http://www.ablogtowatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Victorinox-Swiss-Army-INOX-12.jpg) which is rare for a “durable/touch” watch.
    The design is very “gerald genta” nautilus inspired in its crown
    shape and polished beveled edges. Great attention to detail. Lovely
    curves throughout. The dial has a bowl look to it (http://www.ablogtowatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Victorinox-Swiss-Army-INOX-3.jpg
    ) … and the indices are stamped so they wont ever fall out.. I
    really like that it doesn’t have a “day” feature and only a date. The
    day bugged me about the Monster. The movement is a dolled up Ronda
    HQ715G with markings SWISS EOL R9 markings. Which makes sense as the
    watch is a functional one. Im glad that i wouldnt need a winder here.
    Anti-Glare Sapphire crystal (inlet also) is a nice tough. Theres also
    the option to “uglify” the thing with a bumper that can be worn when
    you are expecting impact. Think Gym… All for about $300 used. Im
    freaking loving it.

  • RogSmith

    Tommer45 Ive had failures, and it was due to screws coming loose. Shrug. Get insurance if that matters to you.

  • RogSmith

    dahcd ve been looking for a beater-gym-grocery run-laundry watch. Eventually got a Seiko Monster. The automatic is a terrible design choice for such a watch. I mean I used watch winders and such but still every now and then they would stop. And it freaking sucked losing not only time but day AND dates. Quartz fits the design here, and makes it the perfect “grab and go” watch. Meaning, one will never, ever have to worry about the watch dying or having the wrong time.  Im looking for this watch to replace both my Seiko Monster AND G-Shock Maharishi edition.  As for Steinhart’s/Squale, I’d rather not support a brand that makes a living off of ripping/stealing well known designs. I’d include invicta as well. I find them downright disgusting.

  • RogSmith

    SuperStrapper Boring? are you…15 years old?

  • Just so I’m clear, you assume my adolescence based purely on the fact that I find the watch boring?

  • Never, ever? What happens when the battery dies?

  • Tommer45

    RogSmith Tommer45 I just don’t understand how they could make a watch super tough and reliable and not reinforce how the strap is attached. I really like the watch but I’d like to see something other than springbars. Really great looking watch though.

  • Charlesknight

    I picked this up on sale for $271 (Well £183) – it’s a great watch at that price.

  • Hey, I like it, but the bumper is dumb. Can you imagine being on any kind of an outing and some pansy says, “Hold on a second, guys, got to get my watch bumper guard goin’ on here: (locate, orient, push, pull, slide, adjust, etc.), okay, juuust about got it. There. Now where were we?” I hope a bear eats that guy – and his wristwatch! If you really want a rugged beater watch, get that Casio Duro 200 quartz dive watch. Full retail is only about $55, and with a screw back, screw crown, 120-click bezel, absolutely beautifully finished stainless steel case and Rolex Sea Dweller looks, it smokes anything out there, dollar for dollar. Sysop will delete this post for heresy (“a fifty-dollar quartz watch, indeed!”).

  • wehavetoogoback

    I have this watch and really like it. I bought it from Macy’s with a 25% off coupon so it put it closer to the 415 range versus 525 . There are two things that I don’t like about the watch one is that the second hand does not line up with the minute markers all the way around on my watch. Maybe I just got a dud as I’m not sure they’re all like this but it just bothers me especially for $525 price point. The second thing is the lume is horrible. It looks pretty cool when charged up but doesn’t last at all compared to my Seiko monster it’s a joke. Other than that I think it’s pretty cool also the plastic guard that attaches to it just gives you away to dress it down a little which I like.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    I now have one of these and mostly agree with the review.
    Some points of info:
    The lume is not very good. Minuscule applications and it seems to vanish quickly. Pretty much non-existant on the second hand.
    The 24hr markings are useless. Almost impossible to read. Luckily I have those memorized.
    I do notice a very small bit of non-alignment with the second hand.
    Overall though, I like the watch. Nice looking, easy to wear, legible and durable.
    I would like a steel bracelet;but the supplied rubber one is very well made.
    Time will tell how it ages.

  • RapMaster CRP

    I have an original INOX, love it, but it is heavy, unbalanced on rubber strap, and the metal bezel scratched immediately, and keeps getting scratched, any time I do not use the hideous black plastic case condom. And this is from commuting on an underground train to an office cubicle. I guess the 100 tests did not include desk diving…

    • Javier Guzman

      For some reasons it seems the bumper does a lot of the scratching

  • kong

    Service costs for mechanical movement are high, at $100 to $150 every 2 to 3 years for common ETA based movements. Not worth for a watch at this price range.

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