When I was growing up, carrying a knife was normal. It was nothing sinister, because a boy needed a knife for important tasks like whittling sticks, rather than threatening people who strayed onto your turf – there were no signs of gang culture on the leafy streets of Surrey. As a knife was a tool, rather than a weapon, the blade of choice was the multi-function Swiss Army Knife. Victorinox has been supplying knives to the Swiss army since the late 19th century and, therefore, benefits from excellent brand recognition, albeit for clever knives rather than watches.
But this century, Victorinox has been greatly expanding the number of watches it makes, and five years ago made a big splash with the first INOX. Depending who you ask, the name INOX is either snipped from acier inoxydable (French for stainless steel) or else is a rather unlikely acronym that stands for “Impact Neutralising Object for the X-tremes”.
Neutralising impact was certainly one of the core themes of the original INOX. It was subjected to 130 stress tests, and Victorinox released videos which showed the watch being placed on concrete and run over by a giant digger, frozen into a block of ice then melted free with blowtorches, and being shaken about on the front of a speeding bobsled.
The watch was certainly tough, and looked good, too. But one issue – at least for people afflicted with a deep, not entirely explicable affection for all things mechanical – is that the original INOX was only available with a quartz movement. Victorinox has now put that right and released a new version of the watch equipped with the ever-reliable ETA 2824-2 automatic movement.
Visually the watch is similar to the quartz version, with the addition of a guilloché dial in the style of a Swiss officer’s watch, and an open caseback so you can show off the movement within. Even with the workhorse ETA movement, a mechanical movement is inherently more fragile than a quartz one, so whilst the watch is still tough, you might want to minimise the number of diggers you throw it under.
A nice additional feature is that it is available with a “unique, first of its kind” wooden strap. Whilst the watch looks great on the stainless-steel bracelet, the wooden strap is a nice option – especially for those who have fond memories of whittling sticks.
ETA 2824-2 automatic
43mm stainless steel with anti-scratch bezel; water-resistant to 200m
Brushed and polished stainless-steel bracelet or genuine wood strap