What does one do when they find themselves in need to dive down to a depth of 20'000 feet? That is deep and there are not a lot of choices. Several years ago Montres Charmex decided that this was a task that needed to be done and I for one am glad. Though I'm quite sure I won't find myself diving with this watch, or really diving at all, I thought...I have to have it. I'm very glad I did.
To start I have to offer a bit of background on me. I'm 6'6" tall and 350 lbs. A "big" watch to me...is big for everyone. Conversation starter? The only thing I think would be more compelling is the Devon Tread 1...which I own and is always going to bring some looks. This is nearly equal to that from a "statement" perspective. I've owned Breitling (probably 10 different models, including the Emergency), Omega, Zenith, and probably 50 other brands. Very few watches make it into my "permanent" collection. This one is very likely to do just that.
Box Opening and Presentation
First I can say that without a doubt that the presentation was the best of any watch I've seen. The box was double boxed and inside you will find: 2- Watch tools 1- Standard Rubber Strap 1- Extended Rubber Strap COSC certificate, timing certificate, warranty certificate, a literal host of booklets and certificates for the dive rating, instructions, chronometer cert, plus the watch. The display case is amazing and well decorated. It took me nearly 10 minutes to go through all of the details and content and nearly as long to remove the protective covering on the watch. It was well protected and covered with a CX Swiss Military polishing cloth.
The spec list was taken from their US website (www.swiss-military.net):
Chronometer-certified automatic chronograph ETA cal. 7750 Valjoux COSC
Power reserve 48h
Etachron regulator system
Glucydur balance bridge
Antichoc with Incabloc shock-absorber
Hour; minute; small second at 9h
Chronograph with 30 minute counter at 12h, 12 hour counter at 6h, central second counter
Date at 3h
Solid titanium case/bracelet, Ø 46.0mm, thickness 28.5mm, weight 265gr total
Water-resistant to 7'500 meters (25'000 feet; 6'000 meters or 20'000 FEET & 25% safety margin according to ISO norm 6425)
X-large crown with side-guards, allowing for diving with thick gloves
Screw-down crown and pushers
Red safety marking on pushers (visible when unscrewed)
Domed, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, thickness 10mm
Unidirectional rotating bezel, 60 minute graduation, Superluminova™ indices
Solid titanium bracelet, lug-ends and links screwed
Solid titanium folding clasp with safety catch and micro-adjustment
Separate genuine rubber strap & rubber extension strap for dry-suit diving (wrist circumference up to 35cm)
Screw-down caseback, Limited Edition engraving
Helium relief valve
anti-magnetic ISO 764
Silver, black carbon fiber, blue, or yellow
Counters sunburst decorated
Oversized minute hand
All chronograph hands in red
The bracelet itself is of very high quality. The clasp is thick and solid, with very deep engraving of the logo and name. The bracelet opens with a safety clasp and pressure closure. I've never seen one quite so thick as this one. It features three micro adjustment holes that have to be adjusted through the removal of the pin with the watch tool. Very simple, very quick. The bracelet will fit, out of the box, over an 8.6 inch wrist. I suspect nearly 9. I had to remove a link to make it fit and I have a giant wrist. The look is satin-brushed titanium with a very soft and smooth feel. The clasp is crisp and snaps into place. The links themselves are graduated just a bit and you can see in one picture that the link I removed was just smaller than the one above it. I only realized this after trying to reconnect after moving a link out when the pin that I tried to use first was too long. The bracelet fits very nicely into the curve of the watch itself. Very smooth, well milled, and tight fit. The bracelet attaches to the watch in the same pin/screw fashion. There are no tension pins in this watch at all (thank goodness).
Big. Well, really "thick" is probably the better description. The watch itself is not that big (46MM) but the thickness is 28.5. You can see in one of the pictures that I compared the watch size to a dollar coin, as well as to my Seiko PADI watch. It stands high on the wrist. I've never had anything this thick; maybe the Devon. The thickness is the whole reason I bought it.
The bezel has the typical ratchet sound and is uni-directional. The outer bezel is black PVD plated solid titanium with nice side guards. The chronograph buttons can be screwed out for diving and you can see a red line in the buttons so that you know when the chronograph is "open". This would help to avoid any "mistakes" when putting it in water. The back of the case is the same smooth satin titanium with nice engraving. The back of the case and the bezel themselves are a major part of the thickness. It has holes for removing the screw down case and I would say is almost as half as thick as a dime. The crystal itself is thick and has a "bubble, magnify" style. It causes a bit of a distorted view of the dial because of the bubble nature but looks good from all angles and you can clearly see the time etc. no matter which angle you choose. The date wheel is pretty large so you can clearly see the date. An unusual feature of the dial has the minute hand with a much larger arrow point than the hour. The hour points and hands all have very good Super-Luminova and the brightness is pretty amazing.
Chronograph dials are milled circularly though this feature is somewhat hard to notice on the blue version that I have. Placement of dials and the CX Swiss Military logo are standard for such a watch.
I've only had the watch for about 12 hours and I've tested the timing on the watch during that time. From what I can tell it has lost or gained no time during the 12 hours that I've had it. I'll be testing it over a 24 hour period to see if that continues.
The crown is screw-down (of course) and you can almost "feel" the tension of the gaskets that must be inside. Everything is chunky but very usable. You'll find the helium valve just on the other side center watch just across from the crown location.
The chronograph buttons give you a very rewarding "click" when in use, which is typical for any Valjoux movement. The power reserve is set for 48 hours...but I won't be able to test that for a while as it will require me to have to take the watch off and I won't do that any time soon. Inside the watch you will find an antishock with incabloc shock absorber. This is also comforting as the weight itself could potentially cause problems with movement or jarring.
FIT AND FEEL
I'm very surprised at the feel of the watch. The titanium case and bracelet do a very good job in balancing the size vs. weight. It doesn't "feel" like a giant watch. Yes, it does feel heavy, but nowhere near what it would be should the watch have been made out of stainless steel. I have it sized to be nearly snug but still have a bit of movement. If you don't size it close I would assume that it will move around on the wrist and then the weight would be felt more. Right now I love the fit. I wore it all night last night and all day today and don't notice it. When I used to wear my Breitling Emergency sometimes my fingers would fall asleep due to the weight. This watch doesn't do that. The watch allows for you to view the time from about 45 degrees all the way around. Once you get past that angle it gets a bit blurry again because of the bubble crystal. You do need to be careful walking through doors etc, as the nearly inch high watch could take a shot if you are not too careful. Most won't have that problem but my size causes me to pause a bit. I've used it at my desk and typing, used it while I was working in the yard a bit and the only issue I found was a bit of pull on the hair on my arm when I started to sweat. With the satin titanium that can be expected but otherwise it has felt really good on my wrist and I'm happy it is living there now;)
Thick, tall, very well engineered, very well presented, performance, beauty, bulk, manliness. Those words just about do it for me. I will add that I bought my watch directly from Montres Charmex and had the pleasure of both chatting with Frank, one of the family members, and hearing a bit about their story. This is a very unique situation and I didn't have to go through hold music or leave a message, I called and he answered the phone. He was very helpful, very encouraging, and I had my watch from Switzerland in less than four days in all its beauty and bulkiness. I have no doubt that the team at Montres Charmex takes pride in what they have done and I don't think they have gotten the credit they deserve. Well done Charmex team. This thing is a beauty!
It is available for sale at the official US website of Charmex North America: www.swiss-military.net/navy