1989 Swiss Army releases their first timepiece. It is called the Original. I have no idea if it was originally called the original. That would be ironic, sort of. It is certainly an icon though. Everyone has seen this watch. Either on someone’s wrist, in a store, or just online. This is the original Swiss Army watch design… OK, I need to stop saying “original.”

The great thing about the Original is that it is still made and sold today. Holy crap, is this the VW Beetle of timepieces? In a sense it sort of is. Today the original Original retails for about $195 (a bit cheaper online) and still keeps active types happy with its 37mm wide nylon fiber case and easy to read dial with iconic red bezel. Wow, I am suddenly nostalgic for the early 1990s.

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Now in 2011 the Victorinox Swiss Army Original watch is back. No, not exactly the same watch, but the new Original, that I think is technically still called the Original. What do we call the original Original? Swiss Army, why do you confuse us so? With the first Original still being sold, just call the new one… something else. OK?

The new Original is pretty nice actually being Swiss Army’s new entry level offering. It is a tool watch with some fashion sense and it is rather affordable being under $300. Up from the original’s 37mm wide case, the modern version is 40mm wide in a nylon fiber case with a colored aluminum bezel. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and finally has a properly sized crown. Pretty sure you get a mineral crystal at this level of Swiss army watch investment, but I could be wrong.

You’ll notice that Swiss Army matches the bezel color on the dial which is appealing. The dials are brushed metal and have stencil cut style hour markers that add a lot of visual interest. The hands are easy to see and the right size. In contrast to the first original the dial is more sporty and masculine, but feels a bit less “boyish.” It just wouldn’t be a Swiss Army watch without the inner ring of numerals for the 24 hour time scale.

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The new Original watch looks easy to wear and enjoy. Swiss Army is feeding off of the trend that classic camping and military watches are coming back into style – and they couldn’t have a better history to work off of. I think that the new watches will be just as adept as the first ones – even though they come across as valuing looks a bit more than function. There will be four colors available initially. Those will be khaki green (like forest green), black, beige, and navy gray (like the ships?).

Inside the Original watches will be Swiss quartz watches with the time and date. Attached to the watches will be matching color NATO style straps. Swiss Army is gonna sell a bunch of these and I think it is a nice piece. It doesn’t quite capture the timeless functionality and character of the original, but does indeed mirror the times we live in when a watch can’t really be taken seriously unless it proves itself as a tool and fashion accessory.

Look for the new Swiss Army Original watches sometime this fall at a price of $295.

Technical features from Swiss Army on the “New” Original:

– Swiss Made
– Quartz movement
– 40 mm case diameter
– Nylon fiber middle case with an aluminum bezel
– Protected crown
– Screw-in caseback
– Water resistant to 10 ATM (100 m / 330 feet)
– Luminescent hands
– Date calendar
– NATO style strap
– Four color combinations available: navy grey, commando black, desert beige or khaki green
– Availability: Fall 2011
– Price (without VAT): CHF 273.-

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