Victorinox is a household name in more ways than one. If you’re like me, your first encounter with them was actually in the form one of their many, iconic Swiss Army Knives. Somewhere in adolescence, every boy ends up with (at least) one of those little red handled folding knives with a scissor, file, blade, toothpick and tweezer. At a certain point, one usually acquires a larger version with saw, corkscrew, and more, that likely makes its home in your garage, kitchen, camping gear, etc. They are practical tools that are easy to find an application for.
Victorinox’s products hardly stop there, ranging from travel gear to, oddly enough, fragrances. But, if you’re reading worn&wound, you likely already know that their other iconic product is their line of watches. With classic, military inspired designs, the Victorinox watches are easy on the eyes and often on the wallet. With prices ranging from a couple hundred for a simple quartz to a couple of thousand for a mechanical chronograph, they have something for everyone. In the last 20-ish years, their line has grown and changed, but maintained at its core a conservative approach to design that, like their knives, emphasizes versatility.
A great example of this is their current Officer’s Day Date mechanical watch. Retailing for $725 on leather ($775 with an accompanying knife, $825 with bracelet) this Swiss made watch features a 3x AR coated sapphire crystal, display case back, ETA 2836-2 movement and a refined design that is clean, legible and masculine. It takes cues from classic field watch design, but modernizes them with a clever use of texture and finish for a monochromatic look that is as good at the office as your local bar. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this last month with the watch on my wrist and here are my thoughts.
Case: St Steel
Movement: ETA 2836-2
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 40 x 48mm
Thickness: 11 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 7 x 3 mm
Warranty: 3 years
The versatility of the Day Date starts with the modestly sized, but robust case design. Measuring 40 x 48 x 11mm it is small by today’s sport-watch standards, but does not look undersized. The case features broad lugs, a wide bezel, and thick crown guards that add mass and structure to the design. The shape itself is fairly simple and classic, with a round center and slab sides, though the integrated crown guards change things up a bit.
At 3 is a fairly large push-pull crown that measures a touch over 7 x 3mm, for a wide and graspable design. The design of the crown guards also makes the crown easy to pull out as well as turn in place, should you want to hand wind. Along the edge of the crown are deep grooves, also adding to grip. Since the watch is an automatic, a screw-down crown would have been nice, heightening the overall build quality and solid feel.
The watch also features a display case back, showing off the undecorated, save a logo on the rotor, ETA 2836-2. Around the window are various expected details about the watch. Though the movement is plain, it’s enjoyable to have it exposed. That said, I would have liked to have seen a bit more decoration.
The case features simple, but well executed finishing that adds a bit of refinement to the package. The case body has an even satin brushing on all surfaces, while the bezel and crown are polished. This little bit of mix and match goes a long way as the play in light adds a lot of character. The polished bezel also frames the monochromatic dial within.
At a glance, the dial of the Officer’s Day Date seems very familiar, with classic elements and layout. But, when closely looking at it, the cleverness and uniqueness of the design comes through. Many dials are simply printed (nothing wrong with that), but this one is built. The end result is something very textural, that utilizes light and finish to create contrast and legibility. The primary index consists of large numerals made of applied polish metal. The font is very strong, with prominent edges and geometric design that stand tall off of the brushed surface below. This immediately creates a contrast of finish as well as depth. Though both are steel, the markers are easy to distinguish, appearing brighter than the surface beneath.
Stepping in towards the center there is a lower level with an intense texture.The crosshatched/knurled pattern is taken from the handles of the steel versions of Victorinox’s knives, tying into their branding. That said, it also plays off of guilloché designs, giving the watch a classical nod. As a centerpiece of the design, it works very well. The pattern is elegant, but being knurled has an industrial and masculine quality that is unique. On the surface is the Victorinox logo and a partial 24 index in a thin black font. This I could have done without. The font is too thin to stand up against the texture behind it, so the numerals are hard to read. It’s hard to say what the watch would look like without them there, perhaps there would be too much open space, but they don’t really add anything. Luckily, it’s not too disruptive and is easy to look past.
From the center of the dial to 3 is an extension of the outer brushed ring, which bisects the dial. Within this area is the day/date, which is displayed as black text on a white disk. Because of the light color of the steel/metal around the window, the black on white works and is easy to read. To my eyes, the window itself gets a touch close to the 3 marker, but that is likely personal preference.
On the outer edge of the dial is an angled chapter ring with markers and lumed pips for the individual minutes. The pips are placed every 5 minutes with black lines between. I quite like the pip detail as it is 3-dimensional, has a subtle decorative/vintage look, and actually glow quite nicely. The ring itself is a matte steel color with concentric circular graining, giving it a different reflective quality than anything else on the dial. It also contrasts the polished bezel just outside the dial.
The hands of the Officer’s Day Date are simple, but finessed. The hour and minute are straight baton shapes in polished steel with lume filling of decent potency. The length of each is pretty different, making them easy to read on the fly. The second is a simple stick, but done in blue steel. As the only bit of color on the monochrome dial, the second hand adds a bit of style and flair. Blue steel is very subtle though, often appearing black, so it is still a very conservative for a touch of color. Like the guillioché-esque pattern in the center, the blue steel also is a bit of a classical nod.
The Officer’s Day Date is powered by the venerable ETA 2836-2 movement, which is a day/date version of the ETA 2824-2 we commonly see. The 2836-2 is a 25-jewel automatic with day, date, hand winding, hacking, 40hr power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 bph. Setting the watch is standard, pull the crown to first position and turn clockwise to set the date, counter-clockwise to set the day, which can be set in English or Spanish. Pull the crown to the second position to set the time.
As said before, the movement has little to no decoration, and is likely a base grade as there appears to be no plating. As such, the movement likely has not undergone more than ETA’s standard regulation. That said, the watch had no issues with accuracy or power reserve in the time I used it.
Straps and Wearability
The Officer’s Day Date comes mounted on a fitted 20mm black leather strap with deployment clasp. It’s a very simple and clean strap design, with no stitching and a fairly thin profile. Out of the box, it is pretty comfortable being flexible and having a soft nubuck lining. The fitted design (shaped to hug the case between the lugs exactly) gives the watch very streamlined, no-fuss look that works as both a formal and casual strap. The deployment clasp, which is of the two-sided variety, is a nice touch, making the watch take on and off. That all said, it’s a fairly conservative look that doesn’t add much personality to the design.
As an alternative, a leather strap in black or brown with some more rugged or vintage elements would be good as well as a NATO. I put the watch on a khaki/brown nylon NATO and really liked the affect. The design plays off of the military undertones of the watch design, and the color emphasized the all-metal design in interesting ways. Clearly a more aggressive and sporty option, but one that pushes the aesthetic of the watch a bit further than the stock strap. A blue or grey/blue strap would also make an interesting option.
On the wrist, the Officer wears beautifully. As someone who prefers smaller to modest sized watches, 40 x 48mm is really spot on in terms of comfort and proportion on my 7″ wrist. The sturdy case design prevents the watch from looking small, and the monochrome aesthetic adds to the masculinity of it. Additionally, the 11mm height makes the watch deceptively thin, so it will slip under a sleeve no problem.
The all steel case and dial make the watch look great. It is as if the whole thing was milled from a single piece of metal. The monochrome color way also works with a variety of clothing options, as it is essentially neutral. The personality of the watch really comes from the use of finish and texture throughout. I personally am a big fan of textured dials as they are dynamic, changing in the light, often creating somewhat unexpected reflections. The play between the case and dial on the Officer, when on the wrist, outside or in, is intriguing and stylish.
I would classify the Victorinox Officer’s Day Date as being a gentleman’s sport watch, as it is tasteful, yet strong. The field watch outline on which the designers built is very apparent, giving the watch a touch of aggression, but there is a veneer of dress elements over top. What you have in the end is to a watch what a coupe is to a car. It’s subtle, but can convert when the situation is correct. This amounts to something that is very versatile, which is the real strength of the design. You can safely put this watch on in the morning, not knowing where you’ll end up, but know it will fit in.
To play the Devil’s advocate, the only downside, if there is one, is that it is also very safe. By being so versatile, it perhaps lacks an extreme element, like am unexpected color that would give the watch a more distinct personality. In the end, what is better, something that is easy to wear or something that is more unique?
As far as value goes, the watch’s other great strength, versatility probably wins. This watch really adds up: Swiss made, Swiss automatic movement, good build, good finishing, decent strap and a well executed dial with interesting elements. At $725, that’s certainly a good deal, especially as Swiss made automatics breaking $1,000 more and more. Furthermore, considering Victorinox is also available at retail, being in the likes of Tourneau and having their own stores, the price is actually very surprising. So, if you’re looking for a good “go to” watch that you can put on in the AM and forget about, with a modest size, military undertones but an elegant demeanor, this is a great option.
by Zach Weiss
Review unit supplied by Victorinox