Victorinox I.N.O.X. Review

Victorinox I.N.O.X. money shot

According to Victorinox, their I.N.O.X. watch is “the only Swiss watch to withstand 130 extreme endurance tests.” Did they ask other Swiss watchmakers to attach their watch to a bobsleigh runner? “The testing process required 4 years of thinking, 3 years of extensive development, 6 months of harsh testing and 421 samples.” And what have you been doing for the last 7.5 years? For the last seven weeks, I’ve been wearing a Victoriniox I.N.O.X. . . .

My journey started away from the slopes with a simple question: what does I.N.O.X. stand for? I Never Owned a Xylophone? True, but incorrect. A truncated form of Victorinox? Kinda.

Victorinox is a combination of the first three letters of the founder’s mother’s first name (Victoria) and the French term for a type of metal: acier inoxydable. Inox for short. A formulation better known as “stainless steel.”

Victorinox I.N.O.X. in refrigerator

Building on CAPS LOCK LOVE and excessive punctuation, Victorinox set out to make I.N.O.X. stand for “stunt watch.” So they subjected the watch to 25 YouTube-friendly ordeals – in addition to the standard tests performed on their regular products.

I confronted a conundrum: what am I going to do test the I.N.O.X.’s metal/mettle?

I thought about renting a really tall ladder, strapping the I.N.O.X. to a balloon, attaching it to the ceiling of a Calvinist church, cranking up Giving All the Gold and shooting the balloon with an arrow – dropping the watch 32.81 feet onto a tile floor.

Victorinox beat me to it (Test #16) and they didn’t break a single window.

Not having a firetruck (Test #100) or flamethrower (Test #117/130), not wanting to interrupt my nap schedule, I thought screw it.

I’ll just accept the fact that I.N.O.X. is more or less indestructible and hope TTAW readers take Victorinox’s brick-shit-house-on-your-wrist marketing on faith. Then I remembered the I.N.O.X.’s “compass bumper,” not-so-curiously absent from their trial by fire.

I.N.O.X. bumper guard

Why do I.N.O.X. owners need to turn their Swiss stunt watch into a horological bumper car? Isn’t that a bit excessive, like slipping a pair of rubbers over hiking boots?

The answer was obvious: to prevent scratches and dings to the shiny acier inoxydable. The I.N.O.X. can withstand being run over by an earthmover on a sandy surface (Test #100) but needs to be protected against bumps and scrapes.

To be fair, “shiny” is as much I.N.O.X.’s calling card as Chip Skylark’s. The Swiss watch’s matte gloss stainless steel case has plenty of admirers. But if I wanted to make a quartz watch look like a $13k Sub-Zero refrigerator I don’t think I’d use an octagonal-bezel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak as a starting point. Just sayin’.

Race cars

Given the R&D time involved, choosing the I.N.O.X.’s final design must have been weighty decision.

It certainly yielded a weighty result; 4.7 ounces on a rubber strap. (For another $130, the 3.3 ounce titanium I.N.O.X. solves the avoir de poids problem.) So not only does the entry-level I.N.O.X. look heavy, it is heavy.

Victorinox on wrist

The I.N.O.X.’s lugs are shorter than a schnauzer’s attention span and straighter than a red dot laser. The watch perches atop its caseback; leaving a gap between the case and your wrist that does nothing to diminish the I.N.O.X.’s footprint, and much to enhance it.

My main problem with the form factor: the I.N.O.X.’s stainless steel case intimidates the dial. Cast your eyes away from the steel cage, ignore the twin-track deep-dish chapter rings – quarter seconds on a quartz watch? – and you’re left with a dial that’s roughly the same size as a 37.5mm Grand Seiko SBGW231.

Victorinox I.N.O.X.

The I.N.O.X.’s steel-framed indices – sheltering under a scratch-resistant, triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal – look like glow-in-the-dark toothpicks. The hands are sharp and perfectly legible but a bit delicate for a case designed to withstand a mortar attack (Test #138).

Victorinox bumper guard coffee

You can ameliorate the case/dial disharmony by snapping on the rubber case guard. The result is more balanced in a bad-ass G-SHOCK sort of way. And as subtle as the Sherman tank that fired the watch half a mile into a cinder block wall (Test #174).

Victorinox strap

The I.N.O.X.’s stiff rubber strap is the more important consideration. It isn’t as much of a torture device as the Seiko Diver Automatic Orange, but it’s nowhere near as comfortable as the band affixing the equally durable Citizen PROMASTER TOUGH.

I never once forgot I was wearing the I.N.O.X – and not in a good way. My skin’s not quite as sensitive as Winston Churchill’s privates, but unstrapping the I.N.O.X. at night was as almost as satisfying as removing Invisaligns.

Victorinox sells the I.N.O.X. on a leather strap ($85 upgrade) or a paracord NATO ($130 upgrade). Right answer. As long as you don’t take advantage of its 200m water resistance.

I.N.O.X. and angel

The I.N.O.X. is powered by the ubiquitous Swiss Ronda 715 quartz movement. Pulling out the stem from the massive crown guards stops the seconds hand (for accurate time setting) and lowers power consumption by 70 percent. Leaving the I.N.O.X. in semi-comatose mode extends the battery life beyond its six-year death sentence.

The Victorinox I.N.O.X. is ideal for someone who regularly risks their life doing stupid things in stupid places with stupid people. Someone who wants a Swiss timepiece that takes a licking and keeps on ticking, that tells the world its owner is one rugged mo’fo. It’s more than a bit brutal, but so is this review. Now where’s my hammer?

Model: Victorinox I.N.O.X.
Price: $495.00 (available for less)

SPECIFICATIONS:

Height: 0.5 in
Diameter: 43 mm
Net weight: 4.7 oz.
Movement: analog quartz
Bracelet: rubber
Crystal: scratch-resistant, triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire
Lug width: 0.8 in
Features: hours, minutes, seconds; date, end-of-life indicator, screw-down crown,
Water resistance: 20 ATM/200 M/660 FT

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * * * *
SUB-ZERO chic via the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Not my cup of tea but not without its admirers.

Legibility * * * *  
Not sure why there are two chapter rings, but the steel framed indices and hands against a black background make it at-a-glance-able. Star deducted for merely adequate lume.

Comfort *
Too heavy by half, another rubber band from Hell.

Overall * * *
A steel stunt watch that can double as a deadly weapon. Not my style but if it fits the remit you must acquit.

3 comments

  1. Can you deep fry it like they do in those Atomic Beam USA flashlight commercials? Pro tip: dunk it in for the split second it takes to get the shot and don’t let it actually sit there for the seals to be attacked.

    I do like the way they almost fully recessed the crown, and molding in 12/24 hr markers on the rubber bumper are a nice touch.

    But in Test No. 1, the old “people don’t know the difference between weight and pressure” big truck ride-over gag, it is explained why, as you properly put it , “the watch perches atop its caseback.” Screw comfort, they “had to raise the horns here a bit so that the pressure only remains between the bezel and the caseback” to pass the lay flat on ground for 8 psi truck tires to slowly roll over it test.

  2. The INOX diver is even larger, but its steel bracelet balances the weight somewhat. Swiss toughness: put a Ronda movement inside the largest steel case you can manufacture!

  3. I have a lady’s Victorinox watch now 15 years . I lost it in the sea when i was swimming , i found it at low tide 7 weeks later still working and the correct time . I was so amazed at how wonderful this watch is .
    Hetty

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