REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite
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  1. #1
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    REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite


    DISCLAIMER : Yup, I'm a watch AD. When it comes to certain brands, I'm biased (ie. Omega, Hamilton, ArmourLite, etc.).

    MSRP:
    $500
    Movement: Rhonda 715 Li / Swiss Quartz – 10 year battery life
    Complications: Date
    Case material: Carbon reinforced poly resin
    Case size: 47 mm
    Case height: 13 mm
    Dial: Black
    Water resistance: 20 atm / 200 m / 600 feet
    Strap: NATO / Silicone-Rubber
    Crystal: Sapphire
    Options: NATO strap, rubber strap, bund leather band

    Purchased - 5/2012.

    With the proliferation of tritium illuminated watches over the past few
    years, it’s really hard to find something that stands out. Luminox,
    Traser and a handful of new brands seem to be carving chunks out of the
    “tactical tritium watch market” but there aren’t really a lot of
    differences between them. They tend to use poly cases, mineral crystals
    and basic tritium illumination. Luminox and Traser are the staples here
    but Smith & Wesson, UZI, TWATECH, and Caliber seem to be popping in
    at the bottom end of the market as well. So what’s so special about the
    ISOBrite?

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    First of all, for those unfamiliar with the ArmourLite brand, their
    primary claim to fame is that they’ve licensed a tougher, mil-spec
    version of Gorilla Glass which is commonly found high end PDAs and
    applied it to watches. Makes sense, the stuff is exceedingly durable
    and very scratch resistant. In fact, the flavor ArmourLite uses is
    claimed to be virtually shatterproof and almost impossible to scratch.

    For their first carbon / poly cased watch they went a bit more
    traditional. The ISOBrite seems to get it’s name from the T-100 tritium
    illumination. First thing I noticed about the watch is that holy crap,
    it’s so bright! I have a few of the standard T-25 tritium illuminated
    watches in my collection (once you go tritium, you’ll be spoiled for
    life) and couldn’t believe how much brighter the T-100 tritium vials
    are. Subjectively I’d say that we’re talking 2x – 4x as bright as the
    regular tritium watches.

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    Next up, they went with sapphire. I talked to Ashley, the owner, and he
    said that using the ArmourGlass requires a completely different case
    construction and they decided that for their first lightweight watch
    they would use a more traditional design. Since the sapphire crystal is
    often considered top grade in durability anyway this makes some sense.

    The ISOBrite is a serious looking piece of gear. The H3 tritium
    illumination system stays legible even in complete darkness without
    having to “charge” the illumination. With the T-100 variant the thing is
    bright enough to be seen from space. Alright, that might be a slight
    exaggeration but it’s pretty bright. By looking at the case construction
    you can see that this isn’t just a dainty desk diver, it’s meant to be
    to be worn and take a licking.

    General observations:

    I like big watches and this one doesn’t disappoint. With a diameter of
    47mm, there’s no denying the fact that it’s bigger than most normal
    sized sport watches. Still, the ultra-light case material also makes the
    watch feel smaller than the dimensions first suggest even though the
    face is quite large. It has a good feel to it.

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    The watch is comes in a nice black faux-carbon case with red stitching
    (very chick) with both a silicone-rubber strap and a high quality NATO
    strap. The straps are quite large and designed fit on the wrist directly
    or over a diving suit. With a 22mm lug width you can also slap on any
    standard strap you desire.

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    Features:

    Hours, minutes, seconds and date and uni-directional graduated divers’
    bezel. WR 200m with a double o-ring sealed crown. In addition, the watch
    uses the Rhonda 715 Li long-life movement which has a claimed 10 year
    battery life. I’ll probably lose or break the thing before I even need
    to change a battery. It’s a nice feature though as I don’t have to worry
    about corrupting the water tight o-ring when changing batteries every
    other year.

    Bands / Straps:

    Both the NATO or rubber strap are large 22mm pieces but very
    comfortable. On my not-so-massive 6.75” wrist I was actually using the
    third to last hole on the silicone-rubber strap. The strap has a nice
    soft feel but didn’t have a “rubbery” smell to it. The NATO strap was
    comfortable and really has a nice quality feel to it. It’s not just a
    flimsy piece of nylon, this is a really nice strap and I’m surprised
    that it’s just included in the package.

    Rating:

    NATO Strap – Good.

    Rubber Strap – Very good.

    Case:

    Though on the large side (at 47mm dia.), the uni-directional bezel has a
    nice look with clear and readable font. It actually has two tritium
    pips at both the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. It also seems very
    secure so I don’t think it’ll have the issues that some of the TWATECH
    watches I’ve read about which had issues with the bezel popping off.

    The carbon reinforced poly resin construction of the case makes it
    considerably lighter than if it was manufactured from steel or even
    titanium but there’s a little added weight due to the sapphire crystal
    so it’s a tiny bit heavier than a standard Luminox. Supposedly this
    material is stronger and more impact resistant than the fiberglass resin
    used in other watches but I haven’t tried putting it to the ArmourLite
    hammer test that they show on their steel cased watches. The case back
    is held on by four screws at the corners and seems very secure.

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    The case is fitted with a massive sapphire crystal. This is a big deal
    for me. I’ve had pretty good luck with mineral crystal watches but
    inevitably they all scratch at some point. On the other hand I’ve got 5
    year old sapphire crystal watches that still look like new.

    Rating - Very Good.

    Legibility:

    The tritium filled hands, hour markers & locator dot on bezel are
    easily read in low/no light situations, and underwater. The addition of
    military time in smaller white numbers on the outside of the larger
    numbers is a great addition. The T-100 tritium illumination is just
    amazing; the difference is just that big. Deep Blue has a T-100 watch
    and after seeing difference can see what the big deal is about.

    The date window is located between the 4 and 5 o’clock and is also functional.

    Rating – AWESOME!

    Movement:

    The ISOBrite uses the Rhonda 715 Li long-life movement which is supposed
    to have a 10 year battery life. I’ll probably lose or break the thing
    before I even need to change a battery. It’s a nice feature though as I
    don’t have to worry about corrupting the water tight o-ring when
    changing batteries every other year. Plus you’re going to save a few
    bucks by not having to get it serviced every few years.

    Rating - Excellent.

    Accuracy:

    This watch averaged a +1 seconds per week gain over a test period of one
    month, with regular weekly use. Being a Swiss Quartz movement, I
    wouldn’t expect much different. I do wonder if it stays this consistent
    over the full 10 years of the battery life but I imagine it’ll be a
    while before I find out.

    Rating - Excellent.

    Comfort:

    Even though the watch is large, the light weight make it an easy wear. I
    would prefer a different crown placement, possibly at the 4 o’clock or
    10 o’clock since I wear the watch on my left hand, but it’s not a
    bother. The crown doesn’t dig into your wrist and the low overall weight
    mean little “watch fatigue”, I never feel like having to take the watch
    off during the day to let my wrist breathe. The illumination is
    fantastic but was almost a little too bright when I went to the movie
    theatre to catch “Ted” this past weekend. Even my friends commented that
    they could read the watch for 4 seats down. It’s not blinding and
    you’re not going to use it instead of a flashlight, but it is bright.

    Rating – Very Good.

    Drawbacks:

    • Crown – rated to 200m means it solid but a screw down crown would have
    been nice although all the polycarbonate case watches (ie. Luminox,
    Traser) seem to use the push-down crown now.

    • Size – I like it but at 47mm it might be too big for some folks. The light weight helps a lot though.

    Value for money:

    At a MSRP of $500 this isn’t a cheap watch. Still, you can find it for a
    bit less and you really are getting a lot of watch for your money. The
    T-100 tritium illumination isn’t cheap and is very hard to find. If you
    like stellar illumination, the watch has it. The build quality and
    tolerances seem excellent and ArmourLite is known to make virtually
    bomb-proof watches. The 2 year warranty is excellent and they take it
    seriously

    You’re not going to run into many people with the same watch, which is a
    plus for me. The bright T-100 illumination and large size means that a
    lot of people will come up and ask about the watch. If you like subtle,
    this ain’t it.

    Rating - Excellent
    boeing767, thegorilla and whoa like this.
    Official ArmourLite AD at : http://www.tacticalwatchtechnology.com

  2. #2
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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    Thank you for the great in-depth review! I am trying to decide between this and the TAWATEC EODiver MKII, and I think the T100 is the deciding factor. Is it easy to read the ISOBrite when going from sun to darkness? I really want a tritium-illuminated watch, but it's hard to give up that first 10 minutes or so where the brightness of lume is matched with my eyes' acclimation to dark.

  3. #3
    Sponsor tacticalpen's Avatar
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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    In my opinion the T100 is the way to go. It's just so much brighter than the T25 that there's really no comparison. Ideally, I'd love to see a watch with both T100 and Superluminova but from what I hear that would be expensive.

    Right now, there's nothing better than T100 for non-fading tritium illumination.
    Official ArmourLite AD at : http://www.tacticalwatchtechnology.com

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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    OK, thanks!
    I completely agree! All of those white bits around the GTLS tubes, as well as the numbers and intermediate hash marks on the dial, and all printing on the bezel could be Superluminova! I work in an office and go play outdoors with my watch so it needs to be tough and visible, but I don't care really if it 'gives away my position' tactically, as long as I can read it. It would be easily be worth an extra $50 or so to me personally.


    I found a comparison over at: Tritium Divers - Isobrite T100 compared to Tawatec T25 and asked a similar question. I've realized that I like the TAWATEC better for everything except the illumination.

    As a dealer: Do you think the build quality and durability of both are equivalent? I've heard many good things about TAWATEC customer service, but not much about Armourlite, hopefully because not many people need to contact them :).

  5. #5
    Sponsor tacticalpen's Avatar
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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    Let me put it this way, I used to be the US distributor and AD for TWATECH and after a year we dropped them. The problem wasn't with the watches (except for the dreaded bezel popping off the case issue on the E.O. Diver), it was with the company and their lack of service, honesty and follow through. Their good customer service is from their ADs, not from them directly. Since I have nothing else nice to say, I just won't say any more.

    I've been dealing with ArmourLite for less than a year but so far they've been rock solid. They're pretty new but the guys running the show really seem to care about establishing to good reputation in the industry. I've only had one issue so far and they replaced the watch no questions asked and as an AD I can't really ask for more than that. They also seem open to feedback which to me is good sign.

    Really, time will tell but I think they're off to a good start.
    Last edited by tacticalpen; August 2nd, 2012 at 07:21.
    Official ArmourLite AD at : http://www.tacticalwatchtechnology.com

  6. #6
    Member cal..45's Avatar
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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    Interesting looking watch and fortunately one of the very few with a no-nonsense Lithium battery (anything else sucks). Not sure if I like the red crown, I guess I had to wear the watch for a while to decide. Absolutely sure that I don't like the date position - just terrible implented as with (almost) any other watch I have seen with date windows at 4:30. Why can't they make a watch with a classic 3 o'clock date position, better yet with date AND day. Other than that, I guess there is not much to dislike on this one. The 100T vials are certainly a plus as well but I have to see a T-100 watch yet in the flesh.


    cheers
    The big difference between an analog and a digital watch:

    - An analog watch is an interpreter (about 10-11 minutes to eleven)
    - A digital watch leaves no room for interpretation but only facts (10:58:50)

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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    Thanks for the insight into the companies. A 2-year warranty isn't worth much if the company won't honor is or it costs you more in time and hassle than a new watch.

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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    On another note - do you think it would add to the readibility to add som C3 lume to the numbers and hands?

    Since this would be my first >$100 watch, I'd like to wear it everywhere: Are there any 22mm bands that might look a little more formal, like steel/PVD or maybe a matte plastic? I've searched here, Amazon, and a couple other places, but mostly just found rubber/silicone or nylon web. Maybe even another brand's band?

    Sorry for all the questions, I'm trying to learn a lot!

  9. #9
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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    Over the years, I've had quite a few lightweight resin watches: Luminox, Traser, and Tawatec. Although not resin, I also owned an Armourlite briefly, mostly because I was intrigued by the crystal. It was a "catch and release" for me because I constantly had problems with the non-traditional screw-in lug bars... they kept coming loose, and all of a sudden my watch was on the floor... very disappointing.

    I have been enamored with this new Isobrite but for even at a discounted price of just under $400, that's WAY too much $$ to pay for, what is essentially a Tawatec with T100 tubes. And, like cal..45, I'd prefer a 3 o'clock date window... but would also prefer a 4 o'clock crown.
    Chris

    All Quartz: Arctos GPW Infantry; Luminox 8802;
    Deep Blue AP Chrono; G-Shock GD120CM-5CR;
    Momentum M1 Deep 6; Citizen CA0517-07E








  10. #10
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    Re: REVIEW : ISOBrite by ArmourLite

    Quote Originally Posted by thegorilla View Post
    Are there any 22mm bands that might look a little more formal
    Take a look at a buffalo grain bund leather strap. They look pretty sharp.
    Official ArmourLite AD at : http://www.tacticalwatchtechnology.com

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