For the first time, Victorinox Swiss Army offers a chronograph version of their popular I.N.O.X. timepiece collection. The specific I.N.O.X. chronograph watch I go hands-on with today is the Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Chrono reference 241989.1. This version of the I.N.O.X. Chrono comes in an all-black carbon case with a matching black woven parachord strap. Victorinox Swiss Army has released other versions of the I.N.O.X. Chrono, including a few models with steel cases and more colorful dials as well as a version of the I.N.O.X. Chrono with a titanium middle case and the same carbon bezel as the version pictured. Note as well that we will soon stop using the full “Victorinox Swiss Army” name and the company will soon transition to merely be “Victorinox.”
The entire point of the Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. is to be a handsome yet very durable wristwatch. Different versions of the I.N.O.X. have undergone batteries of stress testing, but for the most part, products like chronographs have traditionally been too fragile to measure up. That’s at least why there has never been a mechanical I.N.O.X. Chronograph. It took years for Victorinox Swiss Army to manage a three-hand mechanical version. The upside is that these ISO-certified shock, magnetism, temperature, and other environmental-resistant watches are more than just sporty-looking luxury watches but authentically durable tools as well.
The Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. retains the winning case and bezel design from the original model some years back but has changed in a lot of ways too. This more recent I.N.O.X. Chrono adopts some of the brand’s newer design language that includes the particular style of hour and minute hands as well as the text style on the dial and the case. Not everyone is a fan of this new design language, but it works perhaps best in a timepiece like this with its matte face and instrument-style dial thanks to the presence of the chronograph complication. The hands, in particular, look much better in matte black with the lume-painted middle sections than they do in a more polished finish that you can find on some other Victorinox Swiss Army watches, including the Journey 1884.
The I.N.O.X. Chrono, compared to the three-hand models, has a lot more going on the bezel and the dial. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it busy given how many elements are black on black, but some things feel more for show than for function. First are all the little bits of text and markers over the case and bezel. The bezel has a 24-hour ring as well as a tachymeter scale — but they are next to useless if you actually want to read that data at a glance. It is impressive how much detail you can engrave into carbon. Another downside is that the bezel does not rotate. Not that it per se needs to rotate for a chronograph watch, but it appears designed to rotate given the large lume dot at the 12 o’clock marker (thus not being able to rotate it causes some cognitive dissonance). The small yellow arrow next to the crown doesn’t serve a functional purpose — unless you can’t find the crown. I would have at least liked there to be an additional yellow arrow on the 9 o’clock position on the bezel. That, in combination with the yellow date window at the 6 o’clock position would have promoted more visual symmetry. With just one side of the bezel applied with the yellow arrow, it feels (to me) like it is missing something. If you look very closely at the side of the bezel, it will inform you about the case’s 200 meters of water resistance. On the other side of the watch — in text so small (and again in black-on-black) that it might as well be an easter egg — is written “carbon composite” and a series of letters and numbers the meaning of which I can’t recognize.
Titanium and carbon are different materials that are going to offer similar wearing experiences as both are lightweight and durable. As I mentioned above, this all-carbon version of the I.N.O.X. Chrono has two sister models with titanium cases and the same carbon bezel. Those models have the same dial as this pictured I.N.O.X. Chrono, but they come with different strap options including rubber or an interesting strap that is partially made out of wood. Between those models, I found this all-black carbon version of the I.N.O.X. Chrono on the parachord strap to be the most fashionable. The matte black with white and yellow accents is a nice color palette, and the overall shapes and wearing proportions feel good.
Size-wise the I.N.O.X. Chrono is a similar size as other models being 43mm wide, 13mm thick, and having a roughly 50mm lug-to-lug distance. It does however have an odd-sized 21mm lug spacing, which means that if you don’t want to use an official Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. strap, you will have limited options as 21mm wide straps are considered a slightly odd size. More good news in the strap department is that Victorinox Swiss Army is now fitting them with quick-release spring bars. A small pusher under the strap allows you to quickly and easily remove it, which is a great upgrade to the overall Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. watch collection. Over the dial of the watch is a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal. The screw-down caseback of the 200-meter water-resistant case appears to be in titanium and applied on it is a new brand decoration motif that recalls the company’s popular Swiss Army knife products.
Inside the Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Chrono watches are Swiss Made Ronda caliber 5040.E quartz movements. These movements feature the time, day, date, and a 10-hour chronograph, which measures down to 1/10 of a second when measuring shorter intervals. It would have been cool to have a mechanical chronograph in an I.N.O.X., but I don’t think that would have allowed for the I.N.O.X. to be durable enough and it would have probably further increased the case thickness.
Victorinox Swiss Army put a lot of personality and impressive detailing into the new I.N.O.X. Chrono collection. The watches aren’t perfect when it comes to some of the legibility or small information detail choices, but they remain fun, comfortable, and useful. At least this all-black with white and yellow accents version of the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Chrono also happens to be quite handsome in my opinion and wins on looks alone. Pricewise we see a still reasonable but more ambitious cost for a quartz chronograph in the competitive landscape. Victorinox Swiss Army has always been a company that delivers good value for money, and that still feels true given that the Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.X.O. Chrono in steel (“Inox” happens to be a name for stainless steel) costs $800. The price goes up a bit for this carbon version, which more or less costs the same as the titanium/carbon models. The Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Chrono reference 241989.1 has a retail price of $1,100 USD. Learn more at the Victorinox website.