Armourlite Watch Torture Test

Armorlite Isobrite 100 Series watch strapped to a Benelli M4 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Before my first divorce, I owned a collection of fine watches. After the divorce, two. Taking a Patek Phillipe or Blancpain to a gun range makes as much sense as taking a Ferrari F335B (also gone) off-roading. So I looked for something more durable. My newfound interest in self-defense added another requirement: a watch I could read in the dark. Without glasses. I shared my eventual choice with TTAG’s readers back in 2012: an Armourlite Captain Field Series AL307. When Armourlite introduced a line of new, larger-face models, I hit them up for a $325 Caliber Series AL613 (with industry-leading brightness). To test for shock resistance. On your behalf. As you can see from the picture above, I strapped it to a Benelli M4 . . .

Shotshell for Armolite Series 100 Isobrite watch (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Tyler Kee and I shot the gun with 100 shells as above. The Federal stuff: Power Shok 12-gauge 3″ 1.25 oz. rifled slugs. The brown paper shells: generic 12-gauge 00 buck. It would have been all slugs, but that’s the entire Austin-area supply available during the week in question.

Armorlite 100 Series Isobrite watch on a Benelli M4. KA-BOOM! (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Click here to see the photo gallery of images taken at Best of the West Shooting Sports in Liberty Hill, Texas. Here’s the video . . .

It has to be said: the Caliber took a licking and kept on ticking. And Tyler and I learned just how much fun shooting the you-know-what out of a Benelli M4 can be. Of course, there are those of you who’ll say this wasn’t much of a test. To these naysayers I say: 50-cal test to follow. Should the watch remain functional, we’ll have a contest and award it to some lucky reader. [NB: the International Dibs Accord of 1975 does not apply.] Watch this space.

[Edit: The article originally and erroneously identified the watch as the Isobrite ISO100, MSRP $499.00.]

comments

  1. I invoke the International Dibs Accord of 1975.

    1. avatar jay1987 says:

      That one doesn’t apply… however I invoke the International Dibs Accord of 2006 agreed to by C.co 2nd plt. 1st sqd. 1/149th INF. in regard to fine watches being up for grabs.

  2. avatar Pascal says:

    No thanks, $500 is way too expensive and I have Casio and Timex watches that do just fine for under $100

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      The $35 WaveCeptor on my left wrist says, “Thank you; I work just fine. And I promise to never make you look like an ostentatious creep!”

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    a watch I could read in the middle of the night. Without my glasses

    For me, that would be Big Ben.

    1. avatar Felix says:

      Ah, a man who listens to clocks. I understand; my Android phone has an app which plays ship’s bells.

    2. avatar lolinski says:

      You do know that the Big Ben isn’t a watch?

  4. avatar JoshinGA says:

    Suunto Core or Vector are my watches of choice. The Core is classy enough to be worn with dress clothes with its leather strap.

  5. avatar SigGuy says:

    Industry leading brightness is good. That way potential attackers can not only determine your location, they can also see the outline of your face shining in the dark. I’m mostly joking of course.

  6. avatar A-Rod says:

    As much as I want a Cartier Tank watch my Victorinox Original does just fine.

  7. avatar detroiter says:

    Citizens are my favorites at the moment, but I can’t yet afford to get to crazy.

    I love my Timex ironman for outdoors, watersports, and coaching, but I drool over some of the nice high dollar watches with altimeter, baro, temp, and GPS. SO MUCH CAPABILITY!

    1. avatar Fler says:

      I have a Citizen and a Movado.

  8. avatar Frankster says:

    I bought a Victorinox Dive Master 500 Meter watch and it has served me well. Its heavy enough to beat someone to death with and try as I might, I can’t scratch the crystal. I can ALWAYS read the time at night, even on a night dive.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Can you enlighten me? I would assume that the reason it’s called a 500 meter watch, is because it will stand depths of 500 meters. Correct me if I’m wrong. So what good would that do if you could never take it to that depth, assuming you don’t have gills?
      Just asking.

  9. avatar bigfinger76 says:

    Fascinating.

  10. avatar xaer says:

    RF, way to copy Colion Noir with the watch wrapped around the gun.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      ?

  11. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Send it up Robert. My .50 already broke a Swarovski and a Burris.
    Millet holding up just fine.
    I’ll run 50 rounds with it strapped on.

    My seiko dive watch gave up the ghost a couple months ago.

    1. avatar Tom from Georgia says:

      That’s a bummer. I’ve owned a Seiko Black Monster automatic since 1999, before it was even available stateside (I imported it from chronograph.com in Singapore) and it still keeps time, albeit a little fast now. I also had a SKX009J, purchased about the same time and it got stolen a few years ago in an apartment burglary, never recovered. To this day I think about it and still get a nosebleed. I’ve had a few over the years, nothing like what RF used to have tho.

      FWIW, I wear the Seiko virtually every day, whether it’s going to school, doing yard work, riding the motorcycle, going to the range, what have you.

      Sign me up, Robert? Please? Pretty pretty please? With sugar on top?

      Tom

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        I’m really bummed.
        That watch has been to Australia, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Africa, Alaska.
        I’m going to send it in to seiko with a power begging letter.
        Crossing my fingers.

    2. avatar bontai Joe says:

      I bought a Seiko 25 years ago with the idea that I would never have to buy another watch in my lifetime. It lasted 8 years. The Timex Ironman on my wrist right now is almost 20 years old and on it’s 3rd band. No way in this world am I ever going to spend $500 on a watch, not even $200, not even $100 as long as Timex makes the Ironman watch.

      1. avatar Tom from Georgia says:

        Most of the Seikos you see in jewelry stores at the mall are of the cheap disposable variety. Go with something from the JDM or at least overseas. Seiko makes many, many superb watches, both quartz and traditional movements from $50 (Seiko 5 Military) to $10,000 (Grand Seiko Spring Drive) and everywhere in between.

        In addition to the SKX009J that got nicked, I’d like to get a Blue or Orange Sumo (6R15 movement), any one of several varieties of Tuna Can, (just Google ’em) and who knows what all. I lost count.

        I admit it’s not as big a deal as it used to be. For a few years I was into watches, had an Omega Seamaster despite my very limited income (nice watch!), but with everything else, my interests waxed and waned considerably. I think that Seiko, Citizen, a few others in the $100-$500 range would serve most anyone’s interest without getting too rich for an average person’s blood.

        As for torture testing….well, I have a few watches but no shotgun. Could go with the M1A tho?

        Tom

  12. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    In Советская Россия, we clamp timepiece to Mosin.

    Seriously, though, in a defense situation I care about what time it is just slightly less than I care about the feelings of my attacker.

  13. avatar Steve says:

    That Armourlite is really nice. I love my G-Shock, it’s indestructible, but it’s nighttime legibility leaves alot to be desired. I also have two pretty nice automatic watches, but I’m usually wearing the G-Shock except on dressy occasions.

  14. avatar Malikknows says:

    Ah, another watch aficionado! Yes, can’t beat the beaters at a hundred or so bucks. But a fine mechanical watch is a beauty. For legitability and reliability, Mr. Farrago, how about a Ball? Keep up the good work!

    1. avatar Dan A says:

      For a good (mechanical), legible “beater” watch I think the pilot style watches from companies like Steinhart, Archimede, Stowa, etc would be decent choices too. By design they’re very legible and usually have generous application of luminant, have reliable and proven movements (usually ETA 2824), and aren’t too expensive so you wouldn’t feel bad about the occasional scratch. Any cosmetic damage would likely just add to the character anyway, and the steel isn’t polished so as to not be highly reflective.

      Of course, quartz is always going to be more reliable and it’s just tough to beat a G-shock or Eco-drive.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        I have had good luck with the older Seikos. Pretty cheap for the accuracy, though I am worried about durability since I don’t know much about watches. I am worried since it is an automatic movement (your wrist provides the energy to make it work) that recoil from firearms might damage it.

        Sadly I haven’t found out anything on the internet about that..

        1. avatar Tom from Georgia says:

          Me either, but this I do know – I’ve never had a problem shooting pistol, rifle, shotgun wearing any of my watches, nor any trouble while riding my motorcycle (an FZ-1, then a ZRX1100, the latter one fairly buzzy as bikes go). I even wiped out on my dad’s ’77 GL1000 while wearing the Black Monster. broke a bracelet pin but after getting a replacement it was none the worse for wear.

          I’m sure strapping any watch directly to a firearm, particularly a semi-auto, is a different prospect entirely. You go first.

          Tom

  15. avatar Sidedly whumpmiester says:

    Not surprising since it’s a quartz movement, but what I really want to know is how accurate it is/was before/after.

  16. avatar Craig says:

    Ferrari F335B? That’s a rare one! The F355B, a little more common.

  17. avatar VictorLouis says:

    No way in Hades I’m shelling out that kinda dough for a plastic watch case. That’s what G-Shocks are for! My fave is a Bathys Hawaii 100Fathoms in quartz, probably the same Ronda movement. Anti-reflective sapphire crystal, PVD coated stainless case, HUGE date window at 3, and super-luminova getting the visibility thing done quite well without the radiation and it’s eventual decay in power over time. (Haven’t most of us seen dead night-sights by now?)

  18. avatar Ardent says:

    I’d love to see the result of a sub mariner subjected to this abuse, though I’d cringe as well. You go on and test yours though, we’re not doing it to mine.

  19. avatar Russell (The Colorado Muscle) Garcia says:

    Should that watch survive your next test, I’d be happy to conduct some long-term studies on its durability out here in Colorado. I love that brand and I can’t wait to get my hands on an Armourlite.

    Thanks for the review.

    ~Russ

  20. avatar OODAloop says:

    Meh, I’d put my Luminox Atacama Chronograph 1845 up against that any day. Tritium, Sapphire crystal, metal case with a chronograph and an alarm to boot. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind winning one. You just can’t beat a tritium watchface. Nothing else is quite like it…

  21. avatar ggrimes2 says:

    Nice twist and great change from just firearms. I still think that $499 is a bit much for most folks and can think of lots of cheaper timepieces that would work as well. I have a Luminox Yellow Face which I find easy to read and just about indestructible. If you’re not into timepieces (which I am like yourself) I would look for a Casio G-Shock or any of the dive/sporting Timex items. Besides 50-100 bucks on a good electronic timepiece leaves you more money for ammo or the down payment of that new Sig!
    I have a small collection of mechanical timepieces from my travels (I bought a watch at different places when I traveled instead of shot glasses) Currently own a Fortis, Breitling, Omega and an IWC mechanical none of which I use when shooting at the range. I have several electronic watches as well besides the Luminox again a Breitling, Seiko, Benrus, Hamilton, ESQ and a Timex plus several no-name items I bought when on travel.
    I find a fine watch like a fine firearm a thing of beauty but: not always the best choice for the daily grind. I love my Python as well but don’t intend on using it for CCW. I don’t have anything that rivals yours but I can appreciate these items and hope you get a chance in the future for replacements.
    Cheers

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      Don’t forget the Seiko/Citizen or the Orient watches too. Can get an accurate automatic for 100-200 USD.

  22. File this under:

    The Truth About Watches

    1. avatar Tom from Georgia says:

      Watches, knives, guns, motorcycles, cars….is all perfectly normal red-blooded American male stuff. No worries. Don’t forget the beer and whiskey, too.

      Tom 🙂

    2. avatar Tom from Georgia says:

      No worries Paul. Is completely normal. Along with guns, knives and watches, you can add cars, motorcycles, beer, bourbon, etc to the list. In some ways we’re no different from the ladies when it comes to shopping and spending too much money. Nor should we deprive ourselves of the fun either 🙂

      Tom

      PS: sorry about that. My first reply was somehow invisible and I thought it had been vaporized until it popped up after I reposted. Funny how that works. Carry on folks.

  23. avatar Manny Gonzalez says:

    My Pistol Defense instructor was going through a “low light” house clearing drill against other instructors one night when he was shot (with Simunition) several times. When he asked how did the others managed to see him they said, “We saw your wrist watch”. Res ipsa loquitur. Or something like that.

  24. avatar Phil says:

    My phone has a clock. And interwebs.

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      Also it makes you look like an idiot when you need to pull it out just to see the time.

      I tried going the smartphone route, but it is just too stupid.

  25. avatar scoolbubba says:

    I’ve got an Omega X-33, a Fortis Chrono, a Citizen and a Victorinox.

    My all time favorite? Casio G-Shock.

    When you consider the sapphire crystals, tritium, and either citizen or ronda movement in their watches, 400-500 MSRP is a pretty damn good price for these Armourlites. Would like to see one on the wrist though, 46mm is a little bit large for most people, except for the most operator of operators.

  26. avatar lolinski says:

    Could you test an automatic watch too? I have an old (vintage) Seiko that I am worried about using when shooting.

    They aren’t that expensive either 100-200 dollars for an automatic watch that is pretty accurate.

  27. avatar Col. Angus says:

    Now I guess I need the watch to go with my M4. (Should I get an old Benrus to use with the Ithaca M37?)

    1. avatar cmeat says:

      ha! that’s what i have. dad’s old benrus self- winder with a little red pointer for setting the alarm that goes ‘buzz’. and an old featherweight dsps that i slapped a ‘folder’ on.
      don’t seem to need to know the exact time very often. don’t wear the wristwatch.
      haven’t been home invaded. never fired the ithaca.
      i like the omega meister de ville pocket watch i got at a pawn shop. i don’t carry that either.

  28. avatar Accur81 says:

    I’ve broken plenty of Seikos, Casios, Citizens’s, Swiss Army, and Luminox’s. My current duty watch is a Luminox 3954 UVP Dive watch. It’s been tough so far, and I can replace the band with the provided tool when I break it.

  29. avatar jay1987 says:

    I like my G-shock don’t get me wrong I won’t kick the Armourlite outta bed for eatin crackers, but my G-shock has survived IEDS, m4 mag dumps, & M2 50 cal belt fed recoil, surprisingly, it still runs.

  30. avatar mrpiggy fingers says:

    Momentum M50..made in Vancouver Canada with quality Japanese movements. Looks like a submariner with sapphire crystal, 500 metre depth, 10 yr. battery life, 5 yr. warranty. Around $400 & very popular with police and military in Canada.

  31. avatar Toby in KS says:

    Trying to resurrect this post…

    When is the .50 cal test? I’m looking for a good watch.

    1. avatar Toby in KS says:

      To be more specific, I’m looking for an *automatic* watch that has good shock resistance, water resistance, and tritium.

      I know, its asking a lot from an automatic. Dreamers can dream though, right? Any suggestions?

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