Monday, August 15, 2016

MEET THE WATCH: Victorinox Swiss Army Night Vision Flashlight Watch Series

If James Bond did not prefer to wear an Omega, Rolex or even the ticker tape Seiko below, he might like using a Swiss Army Night Vision for the sheer gadgetry of it. "Q" would approve of its design.

This spy gadget from Moonraker watch had a built-in labeler. Nifty!
The Night Vision series of watches combined the usefulness of a flashlight with the availability of a watch, meaning that you could light up the dark corners of your life at a moment's notice. These watches are a cat burglar's dream.

Swiss Army Night Vision Flashlight watches. Version 1 and Version 2.
I suppose that I should put this product in historical context. Back in the ancient days of the 1990s before widespread smartphone proliferation, people actually used different tools to accomplish different tasks. A hammer was a hammer and a screwdriver was a screwdriver. Imagine that! Combining a watch with a flashlight must have seemed like a novel idea.

Fast forward to the modern day where almost everyone has a gadget-rich smart phone that has a flashlight built in. A light seems to be standard operating equipment today and probably we have all used it to look in a dark cabinet or held them up instead of a lighter during rock concerts.

Phone flashlights at concert. Photo: Shutterstock
Swiss Army's Night Vision watches are a bit of a novelty design seemingly made for spies, superheroes and crime solving detectives on TV. The flashlight snoot is very prominent drawing attention to the capability this watch had.

Promotional images of Night Vision 1 by Victorinox Swiss Army
The first model (24070) seems inspired by Battlestar Galactic with its swooping lines and glowing eye. It is easy to imagine this watch as standard issue wrist wear for a robotic Centurion.

The Night Vision V1 seems similar to this robot. Photo by Revell
The streamlined watch pod is encapsulated in a one-piece rubber watch band. Think of it as a single strip of rubber with a hole where the case is inserted.

The unique 1-peice Night Vision 1 watch band
There is a single multifucntion button at 8 o'clock that controls a UV-rich purple light to illuminate the dial and a powerful white LED light that was used as a flash light. The way that the wearer hit the button determined which light would activate. A short push turned on the dial light, and a double tap activated the flash light.

The UV dial light illuminates the dial and charges the lume on the hands and hour markers
The coolest thing about using UV light for the dial is that it also charges the lume indices. Ultraviolet light is what makes luminescent paint glow, not necessarily white light. I do not know of any other watch that uses this clever dual purpose UV dial light. There is also a pulsing red LED strobe at 6 o'clock that blinks every 10 seconds. One could always find the watch, even in the darkest cave with this feature. I always thought it looked like a distant plane's strobe in a night sky.

The watch has two batteries. It uses a 1.5v battery to power the watch movement and a separate 3v battery to power the lights. This is great because the watch will still keep time even if you fall asleep reading Game of Thrones by "watchlight".

The top 3V battery for the lights
The 2nd hidden 1.5V battery for the watch movement
The second generation of the Night Vision (241131) below, stepped away from the quirky design language of the first model. Instead, Swiss Army designers chose alternative styling that included a slab sided case with a thick black bezel and a 2-piece watch band inserted into flush lugs. It is a simple and well proportioned with 12 and 224-hour time scales.

The 2nd gen Night Vision is a great looking watch,
The flashlight was made stealthier and the button functions were reversed from the first generation watch. The dial is clean and readable in any lighting situation... even when there is no light at all.

The purple UV dial light was changed to a blue light. I don't think the lume is charged buy this as much.
Later models refined the design language even more, practically hiding the fact that a flashlight was in the watch. They became more of a daily sports watch that just happened to have a light built in. The Night Vision watches by Victorinox Swiss Army continue to evolve and are still the ultimate gadget watch.

Latest versions of Swiss Army Night Vision watches. Photo: Victorinox Swiss Army
The flash light and strobe light are seen here. Photo: Victorinox Swiss Army