$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.)
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.
Grab something like a plastic ruler, and pry a bit.
With a bit of prying it pops off.
You can see the spring, and how it has small tabs in the case to keep it from rotating.
That’s a 2.5mm thick sapphire crystal. The bezel construction is simple and robust.
The bezels included are a black aluminum insert and an etched/engraved solid brass.
You simply snap them in place.
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.