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Victorinox Swiss Watches Overview - Are they a Good Brand?

Posted on October 13 2020

Is Victorinox a Good Watch Brand?


Victorinox is a Swiss brand who make a variety of watches - both mechanical and quartz. Their watch collections are focused on military and sports watches, although they do also have some dressier models. They’re Swiss-made and tend to use ETA movements.

I’d suggest that Victorinox are in the same space as the likes of Tissot or maybe Rotary. They’re entry-level Swiss watches mostly priced around £300-£1000. I’d like to give you a little background on the brand and highlight a selection of the best watches in their range.

Let’s take a look at the company’s back story first - it’s not typical for a Swiss watch company.

The History of Victorinox Watches.


One of the first things that you’ll notice when you go to the brand’s website is that they have a section for cutlery. Victorinox was founded as, and remains, a company that produces knives. Most famously, the Swiss Army Penknife.

Established in Switzerland in the late Victorian era, founder Karl Elsener first supplied knives to the Swiss military in the 1890s. His vision had been to unite the individual Swiss knife makers into a union that could work together to compete against the larger German manufacturers.

The Victorinox name he chose is a simple amalgamation of Victoria, his mother’s name, and Inox - meaning steel in French. The knife production side of the business would become world-renowned and everyone from the Scouts to NASA have used their knives. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that they began to release their Swiss Army watches, followed by travel gear, clothing and perfumes.



Where are Victorinox Watches Made?


The watches are now produced in Switzerland and sport the ‘Swiss Made’ text at the foot of the dial. From 2002 they have had their own watchmaking facility. As you’ll see from the watches below, they don’t have their own in-house movements. Instead, they use Swiss-made movements supplied by ETA. As you’ll no doubt be aware, ETA supply movements to Omega, Longines, Tissot and many other brands.

However, although Victorinox produces Swiss-made watches, with movements the same or similar to luxury watch brands, I’d not class them as a luxury brand. Like I discuss here with Tissot, I’d position them as an entry-level Swiss watch brand.

Where do Victorinox stand on Ethical and Environmental issues?


As I highlighted here, many watch brands have been rethinking the environmental impact of their business and the ethical side of their companies. Victorinox has structured the business so that 90% is family-owned and the remaining 10% is held by a not for profit foundation that supports charitable projects.

The company has won a series of awards for its green attitude. It has made an effort to lower the resources it consumes as well as using heat recovery and water reduction to minimize their environmental impact. They also pride themselves on the fair treatment of staff - their website notes that they have a low percentage of employee days lost due to workplace accidents and lower than average sick days.

On a personal note, there are some Victorinox watches that I really like and I was, therefore, keen to dig a little deeper. The price is a bit of a stumbling block for me, as a couple of my real favourites are pushing the limits of what I’d class as affordable. But this list should give you a really good overview of what the brand produces.

 

Victorinox I.N.O.X Mechanical 241836 Watch

 

I’m going to jump straight in with my favourite Victorinox watch. After three years of development, the company launched the quartz version of the watch at Baselword 2014. There were immediate calls for the brand to create a mechanical version.

The automatic version maintains the heavy-duty angular case but has a slightly altered dial that immediately differentiates the two models.

The nearest comparison watch is probably the Hamilton Khaki. The Inox has the same field watch aesthetic that I really enjoy. It clearly looks like a tool watch, designed to be functional. But it’s also precise, with clean lines and an uncluttered dial.

It has an exhibition back through which you can see the ETA automatic movement, the rotor decorated with the Victorinox logo. It’s a great looking watch that validates the company’s choice to design and assemble their own watches.

The strap is the final piece worth mentioning. It's made from wood and therefore each strap is slightly different. A nice touch.

Victorinox I.N.O.X Mechanical 241836

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • ETA 2824-2 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 
Victorinox Alliance Sport Chrono 241817 Watch

 

This model is a direct contrast and I’ve chosen it specifically to demonstrate the variety of watches produced by the brand, While the watches are focused more on their functionality, there is still enough differing styles to cover most tastes.

I’ve mentioned here and here that I’m a big fan of chronographs - specifically those with a vintage feel. This sports chrono ticks those boxes.

As you’d expect of an affordable chronograph, it is powered by a quartz movement. And despite the slight vintage look, it’s 44m in diameter, so very much sized to modern tastes.

The pale blue colouring gives the watch an almost worn-in look, with the red accents keeping things interesting. It’s all quite busy, but works well and doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming.

Victorinox Alliance Sport Chrono 241817

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


 

Victorinox Airboss Mechanical 241888 Watch

 

I’m including this slightly more expensive model in part due to the fact that you can often pick it up for less than its suggested RRP.

The name, Airboss, tells you that this is an aviator watch. The distinctive hands and bezel reinforce this. It’s marketed as a homage to pilots watches of the past and that’s a pretty fair comparison.

It’s a mid-sized watch, with a chunky stainless steel bracelet. Again, the movement is visible through the case back, but this time it is a Swiss-made Sellita Caliber SW200 rather than an ETA. It’s another busy dial, but as with most pilots watches, there’s an attempt to recreate the plane’s instrument panel and therefore it should be busy.

The numbers are bold and there's the addition of a 24hr ring. The date is neatly tucked away at 6 o'clock and the dial is protected by a sapphire crystal.

I like it. I’m just not sure whether I’d pay full RRP.

Victorinox Airboss Mechanical 241888

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Victorinox Alliance 241804 Watch

 

This is the second piece from the Alliance collection and is very different from the Sports Chrono. It’s a slim, simple and refined dress watch. As with other Victorinox models, there’s an inner embossed ring on the dial, accentuated by the different colours. It works well.

At 40mm it’s mid-sized, but the 9mm depth means that it is noticeably slim. It’s a feature that I value on a dress watch, achieved here through the use of a quartz movement (have a look at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control which achieves this with an automatic movement).

It’s the type of watch that relies on the strap choice to dictate the style. A stainless steel bracelet brings out the formal side and a leather strap softens it somewhat. It’s available with a couple of strap and colour options.

Victorinox Alliance 241804

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 9mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


 

Victorinox Maverick 241863 Watch

 

This model from the Maverick line is a recognisable divers watch. It has the Submariner style case with crown guards and the rotating bezel. I’d normally like to have more than 100M water resistance, but that’s more for theoretical rather than actual use.

The dial is where this watch wins. It has that now recognisable structure of the Victorinox range, and the date once again at the 6 o’clock position. There are the 24hr inner numerals that we’ve seen on a few of the watches and the additional chapter ring.

There are a number of variations on this theme, with bi-metal and black PVD case options. There is also a chronograph version. I find this one the most appealing - it has good use of colour and the strap gives a vintage hint to the piece. Overall it makes a for an interesting diver that has just enough original design to stand out.

Victorinox Maverick 241863

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


 

Conclusion

 

I asked at the start of this post whether Victorinox is a good watch brand. Based on the company’s history and that it has its own centre for excellence where they design and assemble their watches, then I’m confident that the answer is yes.

The watches are Swiss-made with Swiss, often mechanical, movements. They feature the specifications that I’d expect at each price-point. However, like Tissot and Rotary, their higher-priced watches, that start merging with the lower end of the true luxury brands, can be a hard sell. This isn’t through a lack of quality - they’ll often be using the same ETA movements - but because of brand recognition and resale value.

Once again, I suggest that you dig a little deeper yourself and add any thoughts below.

 

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