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
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.