With its 2010 Infantry Vintage Chrono series of chronographs, Victorinox Swiss Army again targets a new group of customers and makes one more step into completely unknown territory. And here there be dragons.
Usually targeting “casual” watch lovers within $300-$600 range, the maker of Swiss knives has just introduced an update to its Infantry Vintage Chrono series that is now about five times more expensive than the original watches first made available three years ago under the same name and three to six times pricier than their core market segment.
Well, to be frank, the price increase is not completely unjustified: the updated watches are now powered not by cheap quartz movements, but by much more refined ETA Valjoux 7750 natural-born chronograph ebauche.
However, Victorinox’s management has probably forgotten that there is a great number of other products equipped with the same movement but sold within a price range of $500-$1000, those including Hamilton Khaki Below Zero; Revue Thommen Chronograph 1701; Tissot T-Race Automatic; and Glycine Stratoforte.
Of course, some of these brands are not as established on the North American market as Victorinox Swiss Army, but, entering the sub-$2000 segment, you have a much wider choice of brands and products, including Louis Errard 1931 Classique model, Baume & Mercier Riviera 8708, Ball Fireman Ionosphere Chronograph, and even Oris TT3 Chronograph!
To compete with such serious players, Victorinox Swiss Army Infantry Vintage Chrono has to offer something truly outstanding. Does it? See for yourself.
The most interesting in the new line-up is the Infantry Vintage Chrono Mechanical PVD model.
As the name implies, the watch is offered in a rather large 44 mm 316L stainless steel case with Black Ice PVD coating. The same coating also covers the dial, bracelet, and a deployant clasp. Unlike the fairly recently introduced DLC (Diamond-like Carbon) treatment, the coating is prone to scratches and, if you are not careful enough, the case soon looses its “expensive” look.
At the same time, the use of black color on the dial together with large Arabic numerals( with generous volumes of SuperLuminova luminescent substance applied to them) greatly increases the legibility both at night and during the daytime. Also, its front sapphire crystal has undergone anti-glare treatment, so the dial ensures good reading even under direct sunlight. The transparent case back is covered with standard mineral glass, but that’s rather normal for this price segment.
Partially thanks to its screw-down crown, the watch is rated for water resistance of up to 100 meters. However, it is not recommended to use chronograph functions underwater, since you will most likely ruin the movement.
Victorinox Swiss Army Infantry Vintage Chrono Mechanical PVD offers a standard set of functions (a chronograph with 1/4th of a second precision timing, a central 60-second counter, a 30-minute, and 12-hour totalizers at 12 and 6 o’clock respectively, a simple calendar window at 6 o’clock, and a small seconds display at 9 o’clock.) The traditional tachymeter scale is replaced with a less common telemeter scale, with the latter as useless as the former.
You see, the telemeter scale is used to measure the distance of a phenomenon which is both visible and audible.
Say, you see a thunderbolt. You start a chronograph (almost) immediately and wait for the shock wave to reach your eardrums. When it does, say, in ten seconds, you stop the counter and see that the thunderbolt struck around 340 meters from your position. Frankly, I cannot imagine a person who is not capable of measuring such a small period in his or her head and then just multiplying the result by 340.
Photos: Victorinox Swiss Army
Victorinox Swiss Army Infantry Vintage Chrono specification:
Price range: $1895 (Retail)
Movement: Caliber ETA Valjoux 7750, automatic, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, 30 mm diameter, 7.9 mm height, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 28,800 vph
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, date, telemeter
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case: Stainless steel, black PVD coated
Size: 44 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Strap: Black PVD coated stainless steel bracelet
Back: Mineral glass