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June 19, 2012 Comments (0) Gear & Equipment, Reviews

Armourlite AL41 Watch Review

I’m the kind of guy who loves gear of all sorts.  Some people might call it an addiction; some others might even use less complimentary names.  Whatever they might label it as, I’m guilty.  Watches are no exception when it comes to loving gear.  I generally try to stay away from modern designs that follow the trend of thinking that larger and more complicated is better.  When I was given the opportunity not only just to evaluate an Armourlite watch, but also pick the model I’d like to test I jumped at the opportunity.

The model AL41 “Phantom” watch is part of the Profession Series made by Armourlite.  It has a case diameter of forty five millimeters and a case thickness of fourteen millimeters.  The weight overall with the band comes to three and eight tenths ounces, which is not a super heavy watch.  It does weigh more than watches made of polymer or carbon fiber type materials.  The case is made of 316L stainless steel and has a black semi gloss coating on it.  The rear of the case is screwed down and is laser etched with the Armourlite logo, “Shatterproof Glass”, “All Stainless Steel”, “mb-microtec H3”, and “Water Resistant to 10ATM”.   The adjustment knob on the side of the case is knurled for an exceptional grip.  When not being used to adjust the date or time it is threaded into the case body.  This enhances the waterproofing and ensures that there is no way to accidentally change the time or date settings.  The adjustment knob wears the same semi gloss black coating as the case.  I do not know what the coating is made out of, but it is incredibly tough.  It has endured being scraped against concrete, brick, and metal.  It has endured the watch being dropped onto or smacked into various surfaces.  In a number of different instances I’ve accidentally gotten overspray from spray paint onto the watch and wet or dry it simply wipes off.  I’ve also gotten various gun oils and cleaning solvents all over it.  I have yet to find any liquid, paste or grease that negatively affects the coating. 

 

The bezel of the AL41 covers the outer portion of the face.  It is engraved with tick marks to show sixty seconds or minutes, and it has the numbers ten through sixty in increments of ten.  It is ratcheted and spins only in a counter clockwise direction, with sixty clicks per rotation.  This feature comes in handy quite a bit when doing simple chores such as cooking or anything else that requires a simple timing method.  The outer portion of the bezel wears the same black coating as the case and adjustment knob.  Around the inner face of the bezel there is a raised ring that would be best referred to as a bumper.  The bumper seems to help prevent the face and bezel from taking too many direct impacts or scratches.  The rubber type material it is made of has not discolored, deformed, split, cracked, or cut in the time I’ve had the watch, and it is not for lack of things impacting or scraping the face and bezel. 

 

The crystal portion of the face is made of a proprietary material called ArmourGlass™.  It is called shatterproof, impact resistant, and scratch resistant.  Armourlite worked with a custom glass manufacturer to come up with the specialty crystal material. Their website states that while their watch crystals are incredibly tough and shatterproof, they are not designed to stop a bullet.  Short of shooting the crystal, I have managed to scrape and bang it into a number of different materials including glass, aluminum, steel, brick and concrete.  The crystal still shows the same clarity with no chips, scratches, or gouges that it had the day I received the watch.

 

The face of the AL41 is a very dark grey.  The numbers on the face are black, raised, and glossy.  The numbers one through twelve are the largest, and a secondary ring of smaller numbers shows thirteen through twenty four.  This allows for using the watch in either a twelve or twenty four hour manner.  Around the outside edge of the face between the numbers there are four tick marks to counts seconds or minutes as the watch hands sweep.  The number three missing from the watch face and it has been replaced with a small window showing the date.  The date function of this watch works in a basic day one to day thirty one manner, and it does need to be manually adjusted for months with fewer than thirty one days.  In my opinion the ten seconds the date takes to adjust when necessary does not detract from the overall simplicity and usefulness of the watch.   There are three hands on the face: one for hour, one for minute, and one for second. They are driven by a Swiss movement with a battery life of ten years.  In the two months that I have been testing the watch it has gained a total of four seconds.  An average of two seconds a month shows a well made and quite accurate movement. Aside from the numbers, the markings on the face of the AL41 show the Armourlite logo, “T25” and Swiss made.  According to my research, the “T25” marking means that the watch carries the maximum amount of tritium illumination allowed by law.

 

Tritium illumination is provided by a low level radioactive substance causing a phosphorescent coating on the inside of a glass tube to glow.  This is a common source of night time luminescence in watches, and is not inherently dangerous like Radium illuminated dials used to be.  The AL41 has fifteen total vials in it.  There are green tubes at the numbers one through eleven, and an orange tube at twelve.  The second, Minute, and hour hands all have green tubes as well.   The hour hand is shorter than the minute hand, and the second hand has a very small tube at the tip.  This plus the orange tube at twelve o’clock allows the watch to be read in complete darkness.  In my experience this system works very well.  I really enjoy being able to read my watch at night without needing to dig out a flashlight or hit an illumination button.  The Tritium in the watch is rated to glow for ten years before needing replacement.

 

The band of the watch is twenty two millimeters wide and five millimeters deep.  It is a rubber compound, and it is secured by a stainless steel buckle along with a pair of keeper loops to prevent excess band from hanging out and catching on things once it has been latched.   The face of the band has an attractive diamond textured pattern.  The feature that I like the most about the band is the concave shape of the rear.  This allows for only the edge of the band to ride directly against skin, and it allows for sweat, dirt, and grit to move freely so it does not end up causing irritation.

 

In the time that I have had to test and evaluate the Armourlite AL41, I have not found a single irritating or bothersome feature about it.  I have worn the watch shooting, climbing, swimming, running, doing office work, and every other activity I have been involved with for the past two months.  The watch has even survived through fighting a brush fire!  I had burns all over my arms, but neither the watch nor band had a single mark.  I have taken the watch from a hot car immediately into a cold swimming pool with no leakage or fogging.  Most watches fail that test.  Major online retailers carry the AL41 for just under $350.  For a watch that is not too big or small, not too heavy, classy, and built like a tank it is difficult to go wrong with an Armourlite.

  

 

www.armourlite.com/expanded_images/al41.html

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