When we think about Switzerland, we often think of watches. Or chocolate.
Since I’m currently on a sugar-deprived diet and the website focuses strictly on timepieces, sticking with the first thought is probably a better idea.
Swiss watches are considered the role models of the whole watchmaking industry and with luxury, world-renowned brands such as Rolex or Longines originating from the Alps, it’s no wonder.
Swiss craftsmanship screams quality and style. But more often than not, it also comes at a huge cost. The good news is, believe it or not, affordable Swiss watch brands do exist.
You might be surprised that timepieces that have been enjoying a lot of attention in the last couple of decades – for mostly reasons only – are produced by a company historically responsible for supplying the Swiss Army with knives. Victorinox, because that’s the brand I will focus on today, produces sturdy timekeepers designed to stand the test of time that don’t necessarily break the bank.
In this Victorinox watches review, we will dive deep into the unique history of the company, as well as have a close look at all the factors contributing to the quality score of the brand. We will also have a look at some of the most popular Victorinox watches currently on offer.
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Victorinox Watches History
Victorinox as a company has been around for well over 130 years now.
It was founded by Karl Elsener back in 1884 in Schwyz, Switzerland. Since back then Switzerland was one of the poorest countries in Europe, Elsener’s additional goal was to tackle the issues of poverty and unemployment in the area. He largely succeeded, creating jobs and supporting the flow of immigration.
As already mentioned, for the most part of history, the company was all about producing knives for the Swiss Army soldiers.
In 1908, Victorinox along with Wenger (funnily enough, another knives-turned-watches company), shared the task of supplying the Swiss Armed Forces with knives. The split of distribution meant half of the knives were manufactured in Schwyz, the German-speaking part of the country; and the remaining half in Bern which spoke mainly French.
To differentiate between the brands and avoid a possible dispute, both companies marketed their products with slightly different slogans. Victorinox’s knives were branded as the “Original Swiss Army Knives”, whereas Wenger marketed its products as the “Genuine Swiss Army Knives”.
The competition between the two brands ended only in 2005 when Victorinox acquired Wenger, a move that allowed the company to further develop different lines of products – including watches.
The production of Swiss Army watches started in the United States in 1989. Considering other Swiss watch brands, that’s a relatively short lifespan – which makes the undeniable success of Victorinox timekeepers even more impressive.
Apart from watches and its core product, the Swiss Army knives, the brand offers household and professional knives, travel gear, and even fragrances.
Are Victorinox Watches Any Good? (Quality Review)
When reviewing the quality of a brand, many watch enthusiasts and experts often forget about the most important metric – the quality-price ratio.
How Victorinox watches fare against other brands in the same price category should be the biggest indicator of how good they really are. Hence, there’s no point in comparing a mid-budget brand like Victorinox with some of the luxury watchmakers originating from the country, ie. Omega or Breitling.
The cost of most Victorinox watches means we can still refer to it as an affordable brand but it would be ignorant to say they’re cheap. They’re not.
So, is Victorinox a good watch brand and does it merit the price tag? Let’s have a look at all the aspects contributing to the overall score of the brand.
There are two types of watch enthusiasts out there – those who prioritize precision over durability and those who do the opposite. I belong to the second group for a simple reason: even the most accurate watch will turn out to be a major failure if it won’t get past the first year of use without causing any bother.
It’s only fair to say that Victorinox watches pass the durability test with flying colors.
All, even the least expensive watch models, come with an anti-reflective and ultra scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass. No matter the environment we use the watch in, it’s hardly a secret that a dial is the most damage-prone part of any timepiece. Therefore, it’s essential it’s made of rugged material. And, in terms of ruggedness, nothing beats sapphire glass. The anti-reflective form of crystal is seen in all the top-end watch brands and it’s great to have it here.
Case material is also important. Victorinox watches come with either stainless steel or titanium cases. Unlike plastic-made equivalents, they’re extremely reliable and further boost overall longevity.
The brand offers a vast selection of watch bands:
- genuine leather – perfect for all the elegant aficionados
- stainless steel – a versatile choice that looks good in various settings
- titanium – the most durable (and expensive) option
- rubber – present in most sports
- paracord – a military-standard, extremely rugged strap which we will discuss in detail further down the article
Essentially, all Victorinox watches come with some level of water resistance.
Depending on the collection, the WR rating will range from 100m to 200m. If you’re a fan of water sports, ie. diving, you will embrace the fact that Victorinox has an ISO-certified line of professional divers that are the safest bet to take underwater. Furthermore, all models come with screw-in casebacks meaning the WR protection is ensured over a prolonged period of time.
Movement & Precision
Sure, a hard-to-beat exterior definitely contributes to the price tag of Victorinox timekeepers.
Nevertheless, what probably has an even bigger influence over the pricing of these watches, is the Swiss-made movements.
The fact that Swiss calibers, especially the mechanical type, are considered the role models of the whole industry is common knowledge. Whereas we can argue about whether Switzerland or Japan produces the best quartz movements, there’s little to zero doubt about where the best automatic calibers come from.
Victorinox offers both mechanical (automatic) and quartz (battery-powered) movements. All are Swiss-made and pass rigorous Swiss-quality tests prior to release.
Which movement type to go for, then?
If pinpoint precision is what you’re after, choose one of the quartz timepieces. These provide an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds/month.
If you appreciate the higher level of craftsmanship and skill that’s often put into automatic movements, pick one of the mechanical watches.
Whereas the 15 seconds/month accuracy is stable across all battery-powered collections, the precision of automatic watches will differ between models.
The two most popular calibers used in Victorinox automatic watches are Sellita SW200 and ETA2892.
The first one has a power reserve of 38 hours and provides an accuracy of +/- 12 seconds/day. The ETA caliber comes with a 42-hour power reserve and has an average accuracy of +/- 5 seconds/day. Both are excellent results.
Victorinox Watch Warranty
On top of impressive durability, Victorinox watches come with a lengthy warranty period.
Until January 2019, the duration of the warranty was three years. Since then, it’s been extended to five years. The 5-Year Limited Warranty covers all manufacturing and material defects that happen to arise during normal use.
Additionally, the brand offers a free battery replacement in the first 12 months of the purchase – if the one you bought the watch with has lost charge. Naturally, this applies to quartz watches only.
Here it’s important to note that the guarantee applies only to watches purchased on the brand’s official website or at one of the authorized Victorinox retailers. You can read the full T&Cs of the warranty by clicking here.
If you happen to have issues with your Victorinox watch outside of the 5-Year Limited Warranty period, the brand offers repair services at affordable price margins.
List of Victorinox Watch Collections
Granted – the number of watches on offer might not be as huge as in the case of other Swiss brands that have been around for much longer, like Bulova or Tissot. That doesn’t mean the ones that are available won’t make you want to reach for your wallet.
At the time of writing, there are 5 Victorinox watch collections you can pick from. All offer unique designs but very similar standards in terms of durability and precision. And by similar, I mean good.
The available collections are as follows:
All lines consist of tens of watch models, ranging in price and style. Below find a brief description of all collections, as well as some of the most popular timekeepers from each.
The Alliance collection is a great fit for people who love the minimalistic design of watches. As Victorinox itself describes the line, “it is strong, silent, it flies under the radar and it never makes a fuss“.
That doesn’t mean these watches don’t attract attention – it’s just that they’re not loaded with additional features present in other lines, such as chronograph timers or GMT dials. Nevertheless, “with a closer look, you’ll find details that reveal complete confidence beneath the surface“.
Although there are plenty of large models for men, the collection is also loaded with small-sized timekeepers for ladies. Some of Victorinox women’s best sellers belong to the Alliance collection.
Alliance watches are available from $200, and some of the more elaborate models will set you back $500. The line uses both mechanical and quartz movements.
The Maverick collection is a combo of elegance and functionality. The watches won’t look out of place either during sports activities, a day at the office, or a night out. Design-wise, they’re probably the most versatile line.
The most noticeable facet of the Maverick watches is the ever-present uni-directional bezel. Although it’s the standard feature of diving watches, none of these models come with a water-resistance rating exceeding 100m. Although impressive, such a rating probably doesn’t make them the best choice for diving enthusiasts. If you’re one, your best bet is probably the Professional Diver from the I.N.O.X collection which we will discuss soon.
All Maverick models use Swiss quartz movements. The line includes some small-sized (34mm) watches perfectly suitable for the slender wrists of females.
The prices of these watches range from $200 to $600.
If you’re a fan of Aviator-style watches, look no further.
The creation of the line was inspired by Air Boss, a countdown commander of an aircraft carrier. An Air Boss actually makes the finite decision regarding every take-off and landing time, a task requiring enormous accuracy. Victorinox likes to think that’s exactly what AirBoss models do. Considering their price, they should.
Unfortunately, the Airboss collection isn’t the cheapest and the pricing point starts at around $700. The most expensive models can set you back just north of $2,000.
Looking at the overall style and case sizes, the watches in the collection have been designed mostly with male wearers in mind. Each AirBoss model is mechanical. The most pricey watches are chronographs and use top-quality Swiss calibers such as ETA Valjoux 7750.
Watches in the I.N.O.X collection are probably the most sturdy type released to date. Designed to first and foremost stand the test of time even in extreme conditions, they are perfectly suitable for sports and outdoor activities.
According to Victorinox, all the models in the line can withstand drops of up to 10m and survive being driven over by an 8-ton truck.
The collection includes both mechanical (automatic) and quartz (battery-powered) movements, as well as sizes suitable for men and women.
I.N.O.X watches are grouped into five categories: Mechanical, Titanium, Professional Diver, Carbon, V.
As far as the pricing of this collection is concerned, you can grab some Mechanical models for as little as $250, whereas the most durable type, the Carbon, can cost you up to $1,000.
The facet that helps the I.N.O.X collection stand out from other lines is the paracord strap present in the large chunk of models. The strap was originally used for parachute suspension lines and, thanks to a breaking point of 250kg, complies with the rigorous standards of the US military. The nylon cord is made of an outer sheath and seven strands that you can unravel to use in an emergency or unexpected situation, ie. making a fishing net.
Although it’s not my favorite pick from the line, the Professional Diver is also worth a peek – especially if you’re looking for an affordable diving watch. All the watches in this group adapt fantastically well in saltwater and are ISO-certified. In other words, just like the name suggests, they’re professional diving timepieces. All come with a 200m water resistance.
If we were to point to one collection that pays the biggest homage to the Swiss Army Knife heritage of the company, it would be this one.
The line’s biggest characteristic is its great readability, ensured by massive numerals and watch hands, and supported by the patented Super-LumiNova luminescence technology.
The collection is grouped into three categories: Fieldforce, Fieldforce Sport and Fieldforce Classic. Each has its own characteristics, although all neatly blend the iconic Swiss Army design with gear-shifting display technology.
If you’re a fan of GMT watches, the standard Fieldforce collection has a few of them. It combines the classic design with some sporty touches here and there.
Fieldforce Sport is full of watches with unbeatable Swiss-made precision, designed to serve you well during outdoor activities. Created with physically active people in mind, it’s rich in chronograph and GMT models.
Finally, Fieldford Classic includes watches with great practical functionality amplified with luxury finishes. These watches are a great fit for different occasions ranging from a golf course to business meetings. Design-wise, it’s a combination of the previous two lines. All timekeepers in this line are chronographs.
The price range of this line is between $250 and $600.
Where Are Victorinox Watches Made?
So, are Victorinox watches Swiss-made?
Yes, they are. All watches, as well as other product lines offered by the brand, are manufactured in Switzerland and pass all the Swiss quality tests before being offered to the customers.
Shopping for Victorinox timepieces you can be sure about the highest durability standards and precision, qualities characteristic of most Swiss-originating watch brands and backed up by thousands of wristwatch enthusiasts online.
Where to Buy Victorinox Watches Online?
Victorinox is already quite a popular watch brand, considering its relatively short lifespan. Hence, finding these watches online won’t be hard.
When shopping on the web, it’s important to choose only trusted sources.
The first obvious destination is the Victorinox official website. Apart from the international site, it has region-oriented versions of many countries around the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. You can explore the full list of available countries by clicking the flag icon in the top right-hand corner of the website.
Shopping on the official site is definitely as safe as it gets although prices of watch models are oftentimes higher than in some of the authorized retailers, like Jomashop. Free shipping on all orders above $30 is definitely a bonus.
If you want to find the cheapest deals on Victorinox timekeepers, your best bet would be popular marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. If you decide to go with any of these, try to buy directly from the marketplace and not a third-party seller. If that’s not possible, pick sellers with the best ratings and make sure the watch comes with a warranty period.
In this day and age, offline shopping is becoming a bit of a myth. Nevertheless, it’s still the best way of making sure the watch fits your wrist. To find the nearest Victorinox watch retailers, use the Store Locator available on their website.
Is Victorinox a Luxury Watch?
Although the style and longevity of Victorinox watches shouldn’t be questioned, it would be unrealistic to suggest that the brand deserves the tag of a luxury watch company.
Sure, some watch models do possess attributes often seen in luxury brands, ie. extremely precise movements or ultra-durable sapphire crystal glass. Most Victorinox watches are also as comment-worthy as they come.
Nevertheless, many more factors contribute to any brand being categorized as a luxury – including the price tag. The fact that most Victorinox timekeepers can be purchased for less than $1,000 makes it a superb Entry-Level Swiss watch brand – but no more than that.
Victorinox vs Tissot – Which Is Better?
Another popular watch brand originating from the Alps is Tissot. Hence, many watch enthusiasts who consider getting their first Swiss timepiece want to compare the two brands.
The fact is: you couldn’t have picked two more different watchmakers for comparison.
Tissot is one of the oldest hands in the watchmaking industry and is considered a mid-priced luxury brand. It’s a company that has been focusing on timepieces from the very foundation, unlike Victorinox.
Since 1998, they’ve been part of the highly prestigious Swatch Group which also owns massive names such as Omega or Breguet. Tissot watches focus on outstanding precision and exquisite craftsmanship that’s on par with some of the best in the business. Most Tissot watches boast an extremely elegant look and only a small fraction of models are rich in sports features.
On the other hand, as good a value for money as Victorinox watches provide, they are an altogether different breed.
As already discussed in this Victorinox watches review, they are built to last – and that’s the main priority behind the line. In most cases, they will be able to take a hell of more of a beating than any Tissot model. Nevertheless, they can’t be put in the same standard category as one of the finest brands not only in Switzerland but across the globe.
Victorinox Watches Review Conclusion: Is it a Good Brand?
I have high hopes that my review of Victorinox watches has provided you with enough information on whether the brand is the right fit for your wrist.
So, is Victorinox a good watch brand? And, are Victorinox watches worth the money? All things considered, the answer to both questions is a resounding YES.
I think it’s fair to classify Victorinox as an excellent Entry-Level Swiss watch brand. Victorinox timepieces have gained a good reputation amongst watch enthusiasts worldwide – despite a considerably shorter history than some of its more reputable Swiss competitors.
Prior to offering watches, the company was mostly known for producing the best-in-the-business Swiss Army knives. The decision to enrich its line of products with timekeepers has proved to be a good one – but not without a reason.
Just like knives, all Victorinox watches have been designed to serve you well for years, if not decades. That’s all down to the excellent choice of durable materials they are assembled with, as well as Swiss-made movements.
Although Victorinox can’t be compared with some of the more reputable brands coming from Switzerland in terms of overall workmanship and reputation, they for sure hold an advantage over many when it comes to their durability.
The brand’s primary goal was, and still is, to offer near-unbreakable watches that you can wear in any environment. If you’re looking for a universal timekeeper that will look good in any setting and be able to take a beating, you are unlikely to be disappointed with Victorinox.