The truly special thing about watches is that there is a watch for every wrist and each individual has slightly different tastes, needs, and expectations when it comes to what they expect to get from their watch. Some buyers, myself included, prefer to wear a dive watch regardless of the fact that it will likely never see more than twenty feet of water. Others prefer something more elegant and simple, a jewel of engineering to strap to their person and appreciate its craftsmanship, value and and lineage. In the past, many buyers who wanted features like alarms, lapping chronographs, world time, or countdown timers would need to relegate themselves to a digital multifunction that generally crams its multitude of features into a dizzying array of buttons. Luckily, manufactures like Tissot, Breitling and even Victorinox have come to the rescue by offering more intuitive user interfaces and less complicated styling. We previewed the Victorinox Chrono Classic XLS MT back in 2008 and even three years later we were thrilled when Victorinox said they would send us one to play with.
- 45.5 x 11.5 mm
- 55mm lug to lug
- 23 mm lugs
- Black ice PVD finish
- Sapphire crystal with AR
- Dual LCD display
- Stainless steel bracelet with SEL
- Alarm, chronograph, dual timezone, countdown timer, and day-date
- 100m WR
- ETA 988.333 quartz movement
The XLS MT attempts to be a jack of all trades in semi-formal attire. A multifunction that does away with slide rules, tachymeter bezels, and complicated displays. Instead, the XLS MT is a seemingly simple two hander that has dual lcd screens and has managed to integrate all of its features into a single crown based interface. Theoretically, none of the features on the XLS MT should be any harder to manipulate than setting the time and date on a regular 3-hander.
The most instantly noticeable design element of the XLS MT is its slightly recessed reverse lcd screens. The top display indicates what feature you are using and the lower display shows the reading for each respective feature. Switching between features is as easy as spinning the crown. With one quick twist you can cycle between date number, seconds, digital time (synced with the analog hands), countdown timer, dual timezone, chronograph, and alarm. The interface is exceedingly simple. Any of the features can be activated, cancelled or reset by pushing the crown in and if the feature is programmable (such as the duration of the countdown timer) the crown simply has to be pulled out one click and then turned in either direction to raise or lower the value (please see the included video). The XLS MT also have the option to disable the displays and for all intents and purposes the XLS MT is now in camouflage mode, blending in with all the other watches that only tell time.
The displays are crisp when interacting with direct light but due to their reverse style (gold/white text on a black background) you need a fair amount of light to read the displays. Viewing cannot be done with the ambient light from a television and it is a struggle to read the display via the light of a cellphone screen. The XLS has an excellent flat sapphire crystal which is coasted to reduce reflections and often disappears from view altogether. The dial on the XLS MT is very legible and is fitted with inlaid arabic numerals. The outer circle carries a matt finish like bright aluminum and the middle bridge between the two displays is an matte white almost like thick paper.
The case is large and rather flat, the visual size is not limited to the 45.5 mm width but is most dramatic in the 55 mm lug to lug measurement (end of one lug to the end of the one it faces on the the side of the case). The finish is excellent with smooth brushing and semi polished accents on the lugs that add a welcome touch of sophistication. The case and bracelet are nicely finished in what Victorinox calls “black ice pvd” but would more commonly be understood as gunmetal. The large size of the case was somewhat exaggerated as I could not achieve a close fit from the bracelet which features a butterfly clasp and no micro-adjustments. The bracelet has full and half links and due to the somewhat loose fit I came across an issue with the back of my hand hitting the crown and messing with the features. For example, if I were running the chronograph and went to reach for something with my left hand, the back of my hand hit the crown and paused the chronograph, rendering it quite ineffective. This is remedied by wearing the XLS MT a little higher up my wrist but could have been fixed if the XLS MT was fitted to a fold over deployment clasp with micro adjustments or if you have a differently sized wrist than mine.
In the past we the compared this model with the Breitling Aerospace and I will admit that they are very similar watches. They feature similar movements and the same screen position but share little else as far as design. The XLS MT is a much more modestly priced timepiece from a well trusted sports watch manufacturer. Personally, I do not care for the Breitling rider tabs but I would also like to see the XLS MT in either stainless steel or black PVD. There is not a lot of competition in this range and the XLS MT offers its many features in a user friendly and rather elegant package. The Chrono Classic XLS MT carries a list of $1195 which places it in competition with a small group including the higher end Tissot T-Touch Expert and some of the Citizen Attesa and Promaster models. I think the decision comes down to styling, the T-Touch is a bit more sporty and the Citizens are very busy and visually complicated. The Victorinox XLS MT gives you a great feature set wrapped in a more reserved aesthetic and accessible via a more streamlined and user-friendly interface which should make it an easier watch to wear while actually using all the features you paid for.