Posted on June 22 2022
As much as I love watches and messing about with them, I understand that others just want a simple watch. They don't want a timepiece that needs care or attention. They certainly don't want a watch that needs wound or serviced. They want something reliable and easy.
That's the word that sprung to mind when I first got my hands on Momentum's Steelix Eclipse. Everything about this watch feels easy. And it's very affordable too.
If you have a busy life and want a practical and reliable watch the Steelix is a real contender.
Momentum Steelix Eclipse Solar
Momentum Steelix Eclipse Watch Review
Not all field watches have a military aesthetic. The Steelix Eclipse from Canadian brand Momentum is a great example of this.
It looks like a pleasing mix of a rugged tool watch and a sporty diver.
Your first impression may have been to pigeonhole it as a diver. I did that after a quick glance. But take a closer look. Yes, it's definitely a sporty watch. But on closer inspection, it becomes obvious that it's not designed solely for watersports.
Momentum describes the Steelix Eclipse as their next generation of affordable field watches. That sums up the model. It's large, rugged and highly legible. Aside from those crucial elements, there are also some smaller touches and specs that might not be immediately apparent.
If you're familiar with the brand's most popular model, the Steelix, then you'll recognise this is an upgrade.
Let's start with the basics.
Momentum has a clearly defined field watch collection, with the Steelix model being their most sporty variation. They also have the Wayfinder models with a recognisable field watch style (reviewed here) and the militaristic Atlas. Each of these has a well-defined look and a primary function.
The Steelix Eclipse strikes me as a watch that excels at the basics and offers a little more than you're likely to need. As I put it in the introduction, everything is easy with this watch. It's very easy to read, comfortable to wear, and of course, has the most manageable movement - it's solar-powered. No winding and no battery changes.
Even the strap is easy. It's a simple canvas Nato strap that can be replaced without any tools.
So what is my first impression of the Momentum Steelix Eclipse?
It's a rugged field watch that does the basics very well. The case is large but comfortable, and it has an ergonomic design that is very practical in challenging environments. It has the specs that a tough outdoors watch needs. In fact, it probably has more than you'll need. There's 200M of water resistance, a well-protected screw-down crown and a movement that is charged by the sun. The dial is easy to read and the whole package is very affordable.
Let's have a closer look at the details because that's what makes this watch a success.
The Momentum Steelix Eclipse Watch in Detail
Before we move on to the details, it's worth reminding you of one point. The Steelix Eclipse is a very affordable watch. It retails for less than £150. That's for a functional watch with a unique design - manufactured by a niche Canadian company.
For tough watches, everything starts with the case. And that's the best place to start with the Steelix.
The case is 44mm wide. It's the largest case size I can wear comfortably and the same as my own Northwind watch. The distinctive case is recognisable as Momentum's house-style and they've used some nice design points to keep the larger size comfortable and versatile. It's well-balanced and well-proportioned and wears smaller than I would have thought would.
Both the case and the plain bezel have a low-key brushed finish. It gives the watch a toned-down and understated look that softens some of the more sporty features. As a practical consideration, it's also useful. A case that minimizes reflections has clear benefits for outdoors use.
The bezel itself is inset from the edge of the case and along with the gently curved lugs, it gives the watch a compact appearance. This is reinforced by the modest height of 11mm. There's no overhang on my slim wrists and the chunky stainless steel case hits a sweet spot. It feels reassuringly substantial but isn't overly weighty.
I'm a fan of crowns at 4 o'clock - see more here. This is a distinguishing feature of most Momentum watches. It's a real selling point. With this model, it allows you to get the benefits of a large case - the ability to house a larger dial and the heavy-duty build - but without a crown digging into the back of your hand. I value that and it sets Momentum apart from its competitors.
The crown is protected by smooth crown guards, screws down and is signed with the Momentum logo.
Aesthetically, I'd describe the Steelix case as handsome. The lines are clean, the curves are smooth and the unobtrusive crown compliments the design. Importantly, it's a real contrast to the smaller titanium case of the Momentum Wayfinder that I wore recently. It demonstrates the different ways that the brand can build watches with similar functions.
The Wayfinder is a slim, lightweight watch with a fully-lumed dial. The Steelix is larger, heavier and uses bold numerals for legibility.
At the risk of repeating myself, this watch is very legible and easy to read. And as I noted, the larger case has created space for a larger dial. And on that large dial, Momentum has opted for large numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 (A slight variation on the standard Steelix model).
The bold, well-lumed numbers and markers sit on an outer ring. This is raised from the semi-transparent dial that covers the watch's solar panel. The white numbers and the large aviation-style hands contrast well against the darker elements of the dial.
There's a neat date window tucked away at 4 o'clock with a handy yellow arrow pointing out its position. In a nice touch, the second hand is also yellow. This provides another useful contrast and compliments the yellow arrow and the yellow text of the chapter ring.
As a legible dial, I can't fault the Steelix.
The layered dial and solar panel are both protected by a sapphire crystal. It lies flush with the simple, brushed bezel.
As a field watch, the Steelix deals with some of the typical challenges in an old-school manner. You'd like the time to be easy to read? Ok, here's a big dial with big numbers. Simple.
But to make the watch also simple to use they've opted for solar power - technology at the cutting edge of watchmaking. It's a successful blend of old and new.
Turning the watch over, there's a utilitarian case back. It screws down and has text detailing the specs.
As mentioned, unlike the original Steelix model, the Eclipse is powered by a Solar movement. The movement is a reliable Japanese calibre from Seiko/Epson. The VS37A movement can run for an amazing six months from one charge. Again, a real-world benefit.
And that's another reason why I've been so impressed with the Momentum Steelix Eclipse. There's a lot of watch here for the money. It compares well against other inexpensive solar watches. I'd suggest that it's an obvious choice if you're in the market for either a budget field watch or an eco-friendly model.
The strap is typical for the Steelix and feels in keeping with the watch's ethos. Canvas Nato and Zulu straps are simple and functional. So if you do decide to take the watch into water - remember it has 200M of water resistance and a screw-down crown - then it's easy enough to swap the strap for something more suitable.
As you'd expect, the packaging is restrained and functional. A simple black box with the watch and documentation inside.
Who Are Momentum Watches?
Like most young watch brands, the Momentum story is fairly straightforward.
Momentum is a brand owned by Vancouver based St. Moritz Watch Corp. They originally began producing watches in the 1980s. As well as their own designs, they also created watches for their clients. It’s a very similar story to Szanto watches in California and Iron Annie watches in Germany.
The St Moritz company gradually moved away from producing watches for third parties. Instead, they focused on their own brand, now called Momentum. From the outset, Momentum focused on tough and reliable sports watches. As they put it on their website - "As life becomes more active and a more casual style becomes the norm, our straightforward designs, with outstanding waterproof performance and no-BS pricing, resonate more and more with active people everywhere".
By aiming at this particular niche they were able to expand and gained a reputation for selling watches designed for watersports and diving. They are now stocked by Canadian and European dealers and have service centres in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.
The Momentum Steelix Eclipse is an upgraded version of the brand's best-seller. It's marketed as a budget field watch - but without the military aesthetic often used in this niche. Unsurprisingly, it has good specs. It is water-resistant to 200M and has a screw-down crown and sapphire crystal.
The heavy-duty brushed stainless steel case is compact and ergonomically designed for maximum comfort. And the crown is repositioned at 4 o'clock as is often the case with Momentum watches.
All of this in a watch that retails for less than £150.
There's a lot of watch for the money. And as a bonus, the design is distinctive. Despite being built to perform in difficult conditions, it has a sporty, almost light-hearted appearance. Importantly, it is powered by a solar panel built into the dial. This watch is self-charging.
Taken together, the specs and the design make the Steelix Eclipse a very affordable no-nonsense tool watch. A watch that is easy to read and easy to charge, but well-prepared for when things get difficult.