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Armida A1 Review

As even a casual reader of Watch Report, you likely know that we have reviewed quite a few of the options and brands in the very popular independent dive watch scene. While we always strive to bring you interesting and original watches many of the offerings in the indie dive watch market are heavily derivative of other brands or they are simply too boring to write about. This is exactly what I thought when I first saw a photo of the Armida A1 diver, it looked like a straightforward pseudo-clone of the Marathon SAR series and, in all honesty, I wrote it off as looking bland and unimaginative. In the weeks preceding that snap judgement I saw more photos and read the opinions of the first few owners, all of whom seemed to be in love with this chunky, military inspired dive watch with is almost laughably domed crystal. Armida was kind enough to put a loaner A1 in the mail and after about ten minutes with it on wrist, I understood why owners were so happy to have one for themselves. While the styling may be derivative, the effect and wrist presence of the Armida A1 is anything but.

  •  45 x 19mm
  • 50mm L2L
  • 24mm Lugs
  • ETA 2824-2 Automatic movement
  • Double domed sapphire crystal with AR
  • 120 click lumed bezel
  • Auto HEV
  • 1000m/3300ft WR

The A1 is a beast, with it’s case measuring 45mm across and, when including its domed crystal, 19mm tall. Its lug to lug measurement of 50mm makes it a wearable size for many wrists but it definitely stood out on my 7.5 inch wrist. You will need to wear a t-shirt or roll up your sleeves as the height and weight of the A1 are very much noticeable. What isn’t noticeable are some of the short comings generally felt when wearing a large heavy dive watch on a smaller wrist. The case edges do not dig into your wrist, or the back of your hands thanks to a very intelligent case design that has the lower edges cut away. The Armida A1 is surprisingly comfortable for a watch of its size and the included rubber strap is easy to wear and makes this 1000m diver much more practical for those wanting to make it their daily wearer.

When it comes to the bezel and dial design, “oversized” does not accurately describe the Armida design ethic. The A1 is like a Marathon SAR on steroids, anything that is meant to be read could easily be done so from across the room. The bezel is a 120 click design but features excellent grip and a click-positive feel that makes operation easy and accuracy assured. The A1 is powered by a swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement that is manipulated by the oversized crown at four o’clock. The loaner from Armida has been steadily running at a range of -7 to +2 seconds a day which is well within the operating range of the A1’s movement. The small date aperture, which is adjacent to four o’clock, features white text on a black background which is preferred for date features that don’t take the place of a dial marker.

The case is a relatively simple design with straight edges, short lugs, an integrated helium escape valve, lug holes, and a solid caseback. The sapphire crystal is 3.8mm thick and, as seen in the photos, is massively domed. The crystal is going to be a polarizing feature, even with AR coating it picks up reflections from any light source. Thanks to the size of the hands and markers the watch is still completely legible even with reflections from the crystal. Generally speaking, I do not like domed crystals but this one is so dramatic that it is fun to look at and adds character to the A1. The hidden secret with the A1, as it is not at all advertised on their site, is its lume. The hands, markers and bezel glow like no other watch I have ever reviewed. The initial brightness is intense and the longevity is outstanding, quite possibly the best luminosity we have ever encountered (see photos and video).

The Armida A1 comes packaged in a plastic screw-top tube, much like a boating safety kit. Inside is a fitted foam insert that holds the watch, the rubber strap and an included nylon nato style strap for a more military feel. The rubber strap is an isofrane style that is quite comfortable and really suits the A1 thanks to its low profile and high level of flexibility.

The Armida A1 sells directly from Armida’s website for $699 which is basically the market price for an ETA 2824-2 powered indie dive watch. The $699 price tag puts the Armida in direct competition with OCEAN7, Halios, Helson, and Deep Blue, all of whom offer dive capable watches with ETA movements for a similar asking price. We think that the A1 stands up to this competition very well and Armida even offer a Miyota 8215 powered version with a flat crystal for $499 which is a great option if you don’t want the domed sapphire crystal or simply want to save a couple of hundred dollars. There is even a very cool looking pvd option for an additional $30 if you want something more stealthy. The A1 is a treat to wear, it’s large size is not cumbersome or uncomfortable as much as it is fun and boisterous. It’s excellent bezel, fun crystal and outstanding lume contribute to making the A1 an excellent option for those looking for a large and capable dive watch.

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23 comments

  1. [..YouTube..] Nice review, I like this domed crystal, looks like a bulb :)Thanks for video, I really like your job :)

  2. [..YouTube..] Good review, I really enjoyed it.

  3. [..YouTube..] really great looking watch … hate this HUGE watch fad though … wish this was a 42 or 40 mm

  4. [..YouTube..] Thank you for mentioning the GSAR

  5. [..YouTube..] Hey guys … have another question here: The US military issue Marathon watches what are radioactive and have H3 on the front and need to be disposed of as radioactive waste. Is there any danger to buying once of these … why are they radioactive? Is it the loom?

  6. [..YouTube..] @MastroCicio They have tritium tubes on the hands and hour markers. Tritium is a radioactive gas which glows constantly for several decades before going dim. It is perfectly safe to wear on your wrist, just don’t swallow it! That is why it shouldn’t be disposed of in landfill – although one person doing it isn’t going to do any harm, if everyone dumped tritium in the ground it could get into the water table where it could cause harm.

  7. [..YouTube..] What is a bevvle?

  8. [..YouTube..] do ppl still wear this piece of metal to go diving anymore, wouldnt a suunto do a better job

  9. [..YouTube..] @die101 For people who have to ask that question: yes, the suunto would be better. Most “watch guys” or collectors want a good Swiss automatic. These movements need maintenance, they dont tell perfect time, and they generally cost a hell of a lot more. Its the principle though. A Swiss automatic watch is a functional piece of art that you wear on your wrist. Is the price justified? …thats up to you.

  10. [..YouTube..] Love my JSAR.

  11. [..YouTube..] @cjrizzle93 dont get me wrong i own a Ball divers and a Maurice Lacroix pontos, but relying these underwater, i would rather get a cheaper suunto with price justified

  12. [..YouTube..] @die101 Everyone’s different, my friend. Your point is a valid one, none the less.

  13. [..YouTube..] i liked the domed crystal. very cool. wow that sucker does light up. thats a huge ass watch case. damn!!! i like the size of this watch. and two straps included is good stuff.

  14. That’s a serious chunk of a watch. Nice review, James. Your photos do a great job of capturing the domed crystal.

  15. I have a 6.5 wrist, is this watch a little too big for me?

  16. That watch is amazing and it looks comfortable enough to wear everyday. I agree with you A1 really is a beast!! 

  17. Great review and excellent photos too. I love monster tool watches like this so I decided to take the plunge. I submitted a fun picture here of the Armida next my Marathon GSAR. The Armida is certainly bigger and you can see the similarities, but each has it’s own unique and subtle character. Awesome!

  18. that domed crystal is …….gorgeous!

  19. The Armida A1 Diver with domed crystal is an amazing watch.
    The watch has a presence that comes from its size.  Having worn a midsize TAG continuously for 20 years, it took a couple of hours to get used to this watch.  This watch looks big on my 8-inch wrist.
    James Stacy’s review is right on the money: the c-3 lume is phenomenal; the ETA movement is highly accurate; the dome crystal is spectacular.
    There three things I would’ve preferred.  There was no owner’s manual; but, I’m not certain that it needs one.  Given the larger size, I would’ve liked a larger date display.  Since I’m partial to metal bands, a metal band option would’ve been nice.
    Having worn the Armida A1 Diver for the last two weeks, I’m in complete agreement with James Stacy’s eloquent review with one exception…it’s a stunningly handsome watch.

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