I haven’t been a fan of Swiss Army watches since I paid $100 for an original Swiss Army watch back in high school, wore it on the construction site where I was working, and had it quit on me after filling up with sawdust after only a week. It’s been a long time since I earned beer money as a laborer, however, and John over at The Wrist Watch Review has recently posted twice about Swiss Army watches being good values, so I’ve decided to give them another look. They have some interesting chronographs and divers which I’m now intrigued by, but what really caught my eye was the Night Vision line. The Swiss Army Night Vision watches are simple, inexpensive, decent looking quartz pieces with date windows and built-in LED flashlights above the 12 o’clock position. The flashlight is powered by a second battery, and activated by a button on the left side of the case, between the 8 and 9 o’clock positions. There is also an LED dial light to illuminate the dial in the dark, and just in case the flashlight’s battery is dead, luminous hands, as well.
Flashlights built into watches are surprisingly useful. I wrote about the MTM Special Ops Watch some time ago which has LEDs so bright that you are warned not to look directly into them (they are meant to be used for reading maps at night). I also often use the two LEDs in the dial of my Casio G-Shock GW-1310 (my all time favorite G-Shock) to navigate my bedroom late at night after getting up with one of my kids. In fact, I’ve been known to trip over laundry baskets on nights when I’ve been wearing digital watches with electroluminescent backlights, or mechanical watches with nothing but a little luminescent paint. Of course, LEDs bright enough to light your path through your bedroom in the dark are a little overkill for illuminating your watch dial, so squinting into them while half asleep can be a rude awakening if you are not prepared. Consider yourself warned.