In 2016, Victorinox Swiss Army debuted the INOX Professional Diver (hands-on here), and for 2017 they added a matching bracelet option to go with the collection of slightly larger dive-themed INOX watches. This review looks at both the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX Professional Diver on the rubber diving-style strap, as well as on the steel bracelet. To appreciate these watches, you first need to understand their functional theme as well as the design. From there, you then need to appreciate how they are priced in a competitive market, and how to choose these INOX timepieces over the many others offered by Victorinox Swiss Army.
I’ve written at length about the INOX watch collection from Victorinox Swiss Army and reviewed the original INOX model back in 2014. What is important to say about this family of timepieces is that it combines a lot of welcome durability with a good looking style. More so, there simply aren’t too many other watches around that combine these elements in the right way. Victorinox Swiss Army designed all INOX collection models to survive a battery of durability tests ranging from being able to survive shock and vibration to extreme heat or cold. The INOX is meant to be the G-Shock for a different generation, looking for a more simple analog product that shares more in common with traditional European watch design than a high-tech looking Japanese watch. Among European watches – especially at these prices – I can’t think of too much that would be a direct competitor of the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX.
One of the main reasons that the collection uses Swiss quartz versus mechanical movements is because of the durability requirements of the design. Mechanical movements are simply more fragile and thus wouldn’t survive all the situations the INOX is meant to endure. These days, timepiece durability is rarely something which is directly marketed, but historically it has been a cornerstone of timepiece product innovation. Thus, I think that having a really nice looking watch that can also put up with a lot of abuse should be something that a lot of people want/need in their lives.
I sometimes casually refer to INOX timepieces as the sexiest of the beater watches. “Beater watches” are ones which people wear during activities where the watch could get dirty, damaged, or at least “cosmetically” affected. Usually, people wear inexpensive divers and other models for these purposes. No one ever said your beater watch didn’t need to look slick, which is where the Victorinox Swiss Army INOX comes in, as well as many other watches out there.
It is difficult to suggest that the INOX Professional Diver is very different from the standard INOX watch collection. They do for sure have differences, but I wouldn’t suggest that one is better than the other. One of the biggest technical aspects preventing the watches from being easily distinguishable from one another is the water resistance rating. Again, in reality this will matter very little for the majority of wearers, but it is important to note that the 200m of water resistance in the INOX Diver is the same as the 200m of water resistance in the standard INOX. Therefore, when it comes to water resistance, they are equal.
Speaking some time ago to Victorinox Swiss Army on this matter, they simply explained that according to their analysis, the cost increase of making the INOX Professional Diver water resistant to say 300m, versus 200m would have required the watch to be thicker and have a higher production cost. That would in turn translate into about $100 more that they would need to add to the retail price, and they felt the extra water resistance would not help justify the higher cost. I tend to agree with them, especially since 200 or 300 meters of water resistance is more or less the exact same thing for the vast majority of recreational diving activity out there.
There are three principle differences between the INOX Professional Diver and the standard INOX. The first difference is the case size. Whereas the standard INOX is 43mm wide, the INOX Diver is 45mm wide – offered in a finely made stainless steel case (which is exactly what “INOX” actually means). The second difference is the presence of a uni-directional rotating diver’s-style timing bezel on the INOX Professional Diver. The non-diver model doesn’t have a rotating bezel, and the use of this feature is the most important in giving the Diver its dive watch personality from a visual perspective. These features together helped the INOX Diver receive an ISO 6425 certification as a dive watch.
The third difference is the dial design. Victorinox Swiss Army skillfully translated the diving watch dial style most associated with the Rolex Submariner for the INOX collection in a slick and refined way. Victorinox Swiss Army’s watch design department is extremely adept when it comes to both visuals and materials. Without having such a focus on design and making the best looking watch possible, I don’t think that Victorinox Swiss Army watches would be nearly as competitive in their appeal. With that said, the brand is usually great at making sexy sport watches, and for that alone it is a brand worth coming back to time and time again.