Greetings, all! I’m back at it with a review of the Victorinox Maverick, a watch marketed as “The perfect blend of elegance and function.” This timepiece has both thrilled and frustrated me, often to a comic degree. So much so, in fact, that I was forced to invent a new word to capture the experience. Read on to see how my awkward style holds up to a watch claiming to be “effortlessly elegant in every situation. Just like those who wear it.”
While I’m definitely glad to be back, the timing of this review was personally disappointing. A little backstory – Do you know about the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh? Every year, thousands of aviators, enthusiasts, and active military members descend on this Wisconsin college town. It’s the largest air show in the nation, and this watch arrived two days after I was able to attend.
Do you realize how perfect it would have been to wear a watch called the “Maverick” to a military-themed air show? Sure, I burned through all of my Top Gun jokes in the Steel Will Resident review, but I wasn’t actually standing in front of active F-22’s and brand new F-35’s with the blade in my pocket.
All kidding aside, I’d like to thank Victorinox for loaning me this watch. I appreciate their willingness to let me adjust the bracelet and wear it around a construction site, even if I we missed one heck of a photo opportunity. On to the review!
I’m just going to come out and say this: Despite its edgy name and hard-use aesthetic, the Maverick isn’t what I’d consider a “tool watch.” Why? Well, it’s lacking a few of the hallmarks (200m water resist, strong lume) of a function-first machine. Instead, its 100-meter/10 atmosphere rating and hand-only lume put it more in the realm of jewelry. Maybe we need a different noun to describe what we have here. “Jool?” “Joolery?”
“Toolery.” That’s it. We’ll go with that. Here are the stats:
Case Size: 43mm
Case Thickness: 10.9mm
Band Width: 20mm
As you can see from the photos, my medium-sized wrist is just barely large enough to support the Maverick. If you’re used to sporting smaller timepieces, this Victorinox will wear like a tuna can. It’s not quite as tall as the 14mm INOX, but at nearly two ounces heavier (6.6 vs. 4.7oz) it’s still got a hell of a wrist presence.
Speaking of my INOX, I’ve always been bothered by its lack of a bezel. Yes, I know they sell bezeled models for $100 or so more, but their look always strikes me somewhere between monstrous and hideous. The Maverick, on the other hand, boasts a singularly attractive version of this tool-watch favorite. The silver-on-navy PVD surface curves ever so slightly onto its knurled steel circumference, and its inner numerals catch the light in interesting ways.
Within the bezel lies a flat, sapphire crystal. This is a welcome inclusion, especially at the Maverick’s $250-ish price point. Victorinox’s sapphire is known for its excellent scratch resistance, and I’ve encountered no problems on this model and, more tellingly, on my INOX.
Let’s talk about the watch face, starting from the perimeter. There are three layers here – An angled outer ring showing the second markers, a slightly elevated ring housing the hours and signature shield, and an inner circle containing the 24-hour marks and “Victorinox/Swiss Army” text. The numerals of the inner and outer layers are painted white over a matte blue, while the central ring features applied, polished indices over a subtle starburst. This, along with the matching silver hands, creates an interesting visual dynamic that standard product photos fail to capture.
There are a few miscellaneous charms here, as well. Take the date window, for instance, with the matching polish of its lining. It’s also interesting to note that they’ve included the “SWISS MADE” message on the most visually interesting of the three rings. I see what you did there, Victorinox.
Despite all this talk of rings, the Maverick’s designers weren’t quite able to grab the brass one. There are a few noticeable shortcomings here, most notably in the lume, bracelet, and crown.
We’ll start with the lume. Take a look at the photo below, with the INOX and Citizen ProMaster for comparison:
Yeah, that’s pretty much unacceptable. I’m glad they included it, but I suspect it’s less of a “Let’s put some lume on this thing” situation and more of a “Hey, let’s just use the same hands as the INOX” call.
Then there’s the bracelet. Once it’s secured on your wrist, this 20mm monster is actually pretty tame. The ride is comfortable, and I appreciate the included half-links and quick-adjust holes. Unfortunately, the designers opted for a simple snap-in mechanism on the clasp. This brought back some nasty memories of the Invicta Pro Diver and the havoc it wreaked on my fingernails. A button-press mechanism (such as that on the Mako 2) would be a much better choice. There’s also a diver’s extension, which is perplexing given the watch’s 100 meter water rating.
This leads me to my last gripe – Why no screw-down crown? Just look at it: Huge, bracketed by substantial guards, and very nicely branded. And yet, we’re left with a standard push-pull system.
Though I’m utterly baffled by these design decisions, I can kind of understand the progression. If the watch has next-to-no lume, then it certainly won’t be used for diving. And if it won’t see service underwater, then there’s no point in a screw-down crown. But then why do we have a diver’s extension? It’s like we have two design teams cramming different visions into the same timepiece. “Toolery,” indeed.
Even with these gripes, I found it difficult to keep the Maverick off my wrist. The beauty of its curved bezel and layered dial really save the overall package, despite my nagging qualms.
3.5 stars out of 5
Now that I’ve typed some 600 words on the watch’s looks, let’s delve beneath the surface. At the heart of this perplexing piece beats the Ronda 715 quartz movement. Know what it’s famous for? That’s right – it’s the same module employed in the INOX, able to survive “a ten meter drop, being driven over by a 64-ton tank, a dive down to 200 meters below sea level and two hours in a washing machine at 90 degrees.” But this particular Ronda 715 does something my INOX’s can’t:
See that? The second hand actually hits the indices! Celebration and smiley-face GIF’s for everyone!
Now, before you get too excited, I’m not saying that the Maverick can stand up to the same punishment as its rugged cousin. For instance, one of the first tests I performed on my INOX involved freezing it in a block of ice. I wouldn’t dream of doing the same with this watch. Remember, we’re dealing with toolery here. The INOX’s case and crown are far stronger than the Maverick’s, so don’t go backing over it with your bulldozer just to see if it still ticks.
We’ve already discussed the look of the bezel, so let’s take a few moments to cover the feel. Of all the divers I’ve handled, this may have one of the best actions. Listen to this flawless 120-click symphony:
So, it ticks and clicks like a champ. But how’s the accuracy? Over the course of its two-week stay, the Maverick jetted just two seconds ahead of atomic time. Its setting mechanism also managed to be less jittery than that of the INOX, lacking the slight minute-hand jump I’ve encountered when pressing the crown back into place.
Outside of the lume issues covered in the first section, I have no issue the Maverick’s function. Longtime readers know that, in my mind, this is the most important category of the review. For all their stumbles in design, Victorinox nailed it here.
4.5 stars out of 5
Victorinox’s website states that “watches purchased from authorized retailers are eligible for the manufacturer’s three-year limited warranty. This includes manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship.” So, if you’re eyeing up Amazon, be sure your seller is authorized if you want help from the maker.
Warranty aside, there are two primary influences here. First is the 100m water resistance which, as discussed above, I’m not impressed with. Then there’s the sapphire crystal, an excellent inclusion at this price point. Here’s where I come down on this – If I had to pick just one of these features for daily use, I’d go sapphire, every time. Think about it – How often is your watch going to be exposed to pressures greater than those in the shower or swimming pool? But how many times a day do you smack your wrist against a doorframe, desk, or filing cabinet? Those dings accumulate, my friends. Look no further than the mineral crystal on my beloved Orient Mako 2 for demonstration. Mineral crystal, while nicer than plastic or acrylic, remains a scratch magnet. Sapphire is clearly the way to go.
As well as its crystal may wear, the Maverick’s case is a different story. The stainless steel chassis (and bracelet, especially) will begin earning a unique patina almost immediately. I don’t consider this to be an issue on a function-first watch like the INOX, but it’s something to keep in mind with its slightly fancier cousin.
4 stars out of 5
I’ve been critical of Swiss pricing in the past, especially with makers like Longines and Victorinox. Far too often, it feels as though the simple “SWISS MADE” text on the dial translates into a price hike of twenty to thirty percent. But this, believe it or not, feels like a $250 watch. More so even than the INOX, despite its technical superiority. The fit and finish of the bezel, dial, and bracelet (despite its antiquated closure) are on par with similarly priced alternatives. There’s also the sapphire crystal, which can be hard to find on watches beneath the $300 threshold.
So, the score – I’m going to ding it a half point each for the lack of lume, average water resistance, and frustrating clasp. But if it were my money (and it very well could have been), I’d still walk away from the jeweler with a smile on my face.
3.5 stars out of 5
Thus ends my brief foray into the world of “toolery.” Wait… Have I been using slang from Urban Dictionary this whole time? And no one told me? Oh.
Well, there may be more foolishness in my future, just as there was during the Maverick’s design process. The inexplicable absence lume and missing screw-down crown are major missteps. But, folks, it’s hard to argue with a $250 sapphire crystal surrounded by this level of fit and finish. If you’re looking for a reliable, well-polished piece of jewelry cut from the cloth of a hard-work aesthetic, the Maverick may be the watch for you.
So, thanks to Victorinox for letting me try this one out. I’m sad to see it go, despite my critiques. If you guys come up with a model rated for darkness and 20 atmospheres, you know where to find me!