Monday, July 17, 2006

Uzi Protector Tritium Watch Review

The original band

On the Nato band

The case back

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that of all the watches I own, none of them really qualified as something I would deliberately wear while doing heavy work or during one sporting activity or another. I'm not saying that I don't have some examples that can stand up to heavy abuse (Vostoks in particular are known for their robustness), but I wouldn't ordinarily choose to wear one if I was reasonably sure it was going to be banged around. Now it is true I could have filled this gap with a Casio G-Shock or a Timex Ironman (and a G-Shock is still very much on my "one of these days" list), but I stumbled on to the Uzi Protector and it looked like it would foot the bill nicely.

The Uzi Protector is one of two watch models sold by Uzi Gear, the other model being the more upscale Defender. Uzi Gear itself appears to be either affiliated with or a subsidiary of Campco who’s url appears on the back of the watch. In addition to watches, Uzi Gear sells a number of products that appeal to law enforcement including handcuffs, pepper spray and stun guns. The brand itself is named after Uziel Gal, inventor of the Uzi sub-machine gun, and the Uzi Gear website has a short bio of him online.

On to the watch now. The Uzi Protector is a nylon cased quartz watch with a unidirectional rotating bezel and a mineral glass crystal. The watch measures 42mm in width (not including the crown, 15mm in thickness, 44mm lug to lug and has a 22mm band lug width. The case back is made of stainless steel and the crown screws down. Water resistance is rated at 200 meters and the stated battery life is 36 months. The second hand can be hacked if that is important to you and the watch has a date function. The Protector is advertised as having a movement that includes Swiss components and the case back indicates that the movement was assembled in Thailand. While I haven't opened the case to check (I don't want to risk spoiling the water resistance), these specifications are consistent with a Ronda Powertech 585 movement. As an aside Ronda is a Swiss movement company with a large factory in Thailand in addition to its Swiss facilities.

By now you have probably realized that there is nothing really remarkable about the basic specs of the Uzi. There are, however, two characteristics to this watch that make it a keeper. The first is the tritium tube lume. Like the earlier reviewed Marathon watch, the Uzi has small vials of gaseous tritium on its hands and face. This is, in my opinion, the very best night visibility system for a watch. A watch with tritium tubes will glow continuously for many years without first being exposed to light. The glow isn't intense like freshly charged conventional watch lume (e.g. superluminova) but is instead a cool consistent glow that does not fade away in a few minutes or hours. If nighttime visibility matters to you, this system is the way to go. The tritium vials on this model are positioned on the hour and minute hands and at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock positions on the face (two orange tubes are used to mark 12:00). There are also conventional superluminova paint markers at the other numbers on the dial and on the second hand.

The second noteworthy aspect of the Uzi is its price. Until I encountered this brand, the least costly tritium lume watch around was Marathon's field watch, which cost about $100. The Uzi, however, retails for $89.95 through the company's website. While that's only a $10 difference, the Uzi has a much higher water resistance rating, 200 meters vs the Marathon's 30 meters, and the Uzi is physically much larger, 42mm compared to the Marathon's 36mm. In addition, while the retail price for this model is really quite low, even better deals can be found if you are persistent. Mine was, new in the box, for about half the retail price on ebay. This model is available with either a nylon/Velcro strap or a rubber diver’s band. I got the nylon band and while it is comfortable and good looking, I swapped it for a nato style band. I think it gives the watch a stealthy/military look but that is just a matter of personal preference. There is nothing wrong with the stock band.

In all other respects the Uzi Protector is a typical quartz watch. Its accuracy has been excellent so far (remarkable really-I hacked this watch to atomic time five days ago and so far it is spot on). It appears to be quite rugged and would make a good beater/sports watch. If you have been considering a tritium vial watch but are put off by the prices of other brands with this feature (Luminox, Traser, Ball, etc.) the Uzi Protector is a great way to go.

As an aside, I apologize for not posting a lume shot. My nice old Fuji F700 camera died (the one I photographed the Marathon's lume with) and the Olympus FE-130 cheapie that I replaced it with just can't get it done. One of these days I'll have to spring for a good camera again.
free web counters