This week, Vermont-based Manchester Watch Works launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Armada, a new 200 meter dive watch. There is certainly no shortage of divers out there, and while I have not counted them, I'd wager they are the single most popular style among micro brands, but let me ask you this: how many of them are solar powered?
MWW took a different approach to the Armada, starting with a Seiko Epson VS37 solar quartz movement that will start running on just a few seconds of light, convert one minute of sunlight into an hour of power, and achieve a full charge in six hours. Just in case you find yourself in total darkness (or the watch finds its way the bottom of a drawer) it has a 6-month power reserve and low power indicator.
They mated this unit to a tweaked version of the 41mm stainless steel case originally designed for their first product, the Flagship LE. In my prototype review, I described it as solid and businesslike, quipping "If someone handed me the empty case and told me it was part of a Pratt & Whitney jet engine, I might believe them." I'd say a case like that is a good place to start, but MWW has refined it. The Armada's incarnation has a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. It has gained beveled lugs and rectangular recesses in the sides but has lost its crown guards and drilled lugs.
Timing bezels are gear toothed, unidirectional, and sport black or bright blue aluminum inserts. Like the MWW Tatoskok, both versions of the Armada feature a luminous triangle in a red box. The splash of color extends to the crown tube too, red for the black bezel, blue for the blue bezel. (Note that the production tube will not be as prominent as it is on the pictured prototypes, and the bezel markers will be properly aligned.) The crown itself is a substantial 7mm, roughly hexagonal, and signed. The Armada is currently set to come with a flat sapphire crystal, but the project makes its $50k stretch goal, it will be upgraded to a domed sapphire with an inner anti-reflective coating.
Two dials are offered: one with conventional circular markers, the other with rectangular markers in an uncommon horizontal arrangement. On both, the markers are applied to a raised ring over the photovoltaic surface below. A 3 o'clock date window and central crosshairs design fill the center along with the MWW mountaintop logo and red and white dial text. The hands are polished, diamond cut, and filled with BWG9 lume, as are the markers and lollipop tipped second hand. A 12 o'clock "diver down" marker finishes it off.
The Armada looks like a handsome watch with the right amount of unique detail to set it apart from the crowd. Pre-orders start at just $184 for an Armada on a textured, leather backed strap, and $204 on an H-link bracelet. For more information, check out the Kickstarter page here.
All photos courtesy of Manchester Watch Works