Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Product Link
Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph - Product Link
This was one of those purchases where I was a little leery. This watch was on a pre-black Friday deal for $59 and it had the little clock ticking down, telling me the time was running out for the deal. I figured it would be on sale again (which turned out to be true) but I thought it was a good deal regardless. The main issue I had was that there were no reviews for the watch and some reviewers of lower end models like this were complaining about the lower end Invicta models. I have a couple budget Seiko Automatic and Citizen Eco Drive watches I'm really happy with, so I figured this one was worth a try.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon during some lightning deal they had for the holidays, and I paid $59 for it. Amazon claims the price is normally $395 but those numbers don't mean anything. This is a lower end Invicta they are probably happy to sell for the 100 dollar range, so I thought $59 was a good deal for it.

Product Description


This is a typical diver's chronograph style watch with a beefy polyurethane (rubber) band. It's sports a very large case. Heck, just the band is 22 mm. It's waterproof to 50 meters which isn't much for a diver's watch. But if you are a diver, this probably wouldn't be your first choice for a diver's watch, so like me, you're buying this watch because it looks kind of--for lack of a better word-- badass. It has a synthetic sapphire crystal which should be much more rugged than a typical mineral crystal found on most lower end watches.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - In Box 1

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - In Box 2

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - With Tag Front

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - With Tag Back

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - With Tag Band

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Just Tag

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Bezel

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Crown 1

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Crown 2

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Crown 3

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Crown 4

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Bezel 2

Official Specs (From Amazon)



Watch Information
Brand, Seller, or Collection NameInvicta
Model number15200
Part Number15200
Item ShapeRound
Dial window material typeSynthetic sapphire
Display TypeAnalog
ClaspBuckle
Case materialStainless steel
Case diameter45 millimeters
Case Thickness12.5 millimeters
Band MaterialPolyurethane
Band lengthMen's Standard
Band width22 millimeters
Band ColorBlue
Dial colorBlue
Bezel materialStainless steel
Bezel functionStationary
CalendarDate
MovementSwiss quartz
Water resistant depth165 Feet
Warranty typeContact seller of record

First Impressions


It came in an awful yellow box that had some scuff marks on it. But I didn't buy it for the box. Opening the box, I caught my first glimpse of the 15200, and it's big! Big is an understatement--this thing is a monster. I knew intellectually that 45 mm is a large case, but I wasn't prepared for how big it really is. For a second, I even thought about returning it. But my eyes aren't that great, and the large dial is easy to read. Plus, I'm already a little eccentric, so I don't think anyone will blink seeing me wear this "arm clock" as the wife now calls it.

Other than the size, it has the same classy look in person as it did over the Internet. It doesn't give me the impression it is cheap at all.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - On Wrist Side View 1

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - On Wrist Side View 2


Case 


The 15200 has a beefy looking stainless steel case. It's a large case, and thick, too. The case is usually where a budget watch shows its stripes, and I was pleasantly surprised at the build quality, machining and finish of the case. The case gives this watch an upscale feel to it.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Case 1

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Case 2

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Case 3
Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Case 4

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Case 5

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Case 6


Crystal


Yeah, baby, synthetic sapphire. The crystal on this watch should be impervious to scratches, just like an expensive watch. It's also the main reason why I couldn't resist this model. Obviously you are not going to get a real sapphire crystal on a 60 dollar watch, but it's impressive at this price point to even get synthetic sapphire. I tend to be hard on my watches, and after a couple years anything with a mineral case has to pretty much be retired if it sees daily use. Not getting scratched up is my favorite thing about some of my more expensive watches, except at a price point where the watch is expendable--it's best of both worlds.

Water Resistant


The watch passed my simple submersion test, and I specifically wore it when I knew it would get wet like doing the dishes. So, it was submersed for a few minutes and routinely splashed with normal use.

Dial 


The dial has an appealing style to me, and the oversize hands make the watch easier to read. And it's slathered in decent quality luminescent coating. The large dial with the good coating is a great combination for reading it in the dark.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Glow In The Dark


Band


The blue band is a good quality, polyurethane rubber-ish material. Again, I'm surprised at the quality for this price point. We will see how it stands up to the test of time, but for now I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. One thing about the band: At 22 mm it's also huge. But it's fairly comfortable, too.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 1

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 2

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 3
Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 4

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 5

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 6

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Closeup Of Band 7

Usability


When I saw the size of this thing, my first thought was that this wasn't going to be something I wore every day. But it's more comfortable than it looks. And it's more upscale looking than I was expecting. This is probably going to be one of those jack of all trade watches for me--something I could wear as a dress watch or wear when I'm swimming in a lake. One thing I did notice wearing it is that my hand will sometimes hit the start/stop chronograph button. Every once in a while I will notice that the chronograph is running.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Arm Clock
"Arm Clock"


Conclusions


Once I got over the shock of how big this thing is, it dawned me how easy it is to read. While I don't believe this is a 400 dollar watch, I do believe it is a very well made 60 dollar watch, and I am very satisfied with my purchase. It's a worthy addition to my under $100 collection. It's well built and classy. Looking at it in the photos it holds its own next to the Tag Heuer and Movado.

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - With Tag Heuer and Movado
Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - With Seiko And Citizen
Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - On Scale

Invicta Men's 15200 Specialty Chronograph Watch - Next To Ruler

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: Elk Ridge Er-196 [Fixed Blade Knife]

Elk Ridge Er-196 Product Link
Someone on the budget light forums suggested Elk Ridge knives to me as a good budget brand of fixed blade knives. I'm still looking for that perfect camping knife which gives me the durability and functionality I am looking for, but doesn't look too aggressive or tactical. I guess you could say I'm looking for an 'old man' knife. So, I want a classic looking hunting knife that's high quality and also cheap. It's a small playing field with these criteria.


My review sample was purchased from Amazon for about 21 bucks with Prime, and it arrived in the usual 2 days just like expected. I also see that it has come down a few bucks since I purchased mine--even better.

Product Description

Price: About $20 Online

This model is a classic looking fixed blade, full tang hunting knife with the typical hollow ground, drop point blade and leather sheath. It also features wood handles with brass rivets and a brass lanyard hole.

Official Specs (From Amazon)

  • 8.75-Inch Overall
  • 440 Stainless Steel 4" Blade with Etched Elk
  • Black Wood Handle
  • Includes Leather Sheath
Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Next To Sheath
Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Split View Out Of Sheath
Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Split View In Sheath
Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Logo

First Impressions


It looked clean and classy looking in the Internet, so I was pleased to see that unboxing it produced pretty much the same knife I was hoping for. It's on the heavy side, but when they say full tang, they mean it. There's no skimping on steel here. The handles look beautiful but really scrutinizing them I noticed that they aren't even close to being cut even. But again, it's something I really had to look hard to notice. The sheath is also beautiful but also a little rough around the edges. Other than that, my first impression is that this may turn out to be a gem since so far I have not found anything that would affect the functionality.

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Uneven Scales
Here you can see the uneven scales. They look great--they're just uneven

Blade


The blade is made of budget Chinese 440 steel with a full tang construction. The Chinese are getting better at heat treating their steel, but buying a knife like this is still playing the lottery. My sample didn't come with a very good edge, but other than that, I have a good feeling about this knife because the blade shows a lot of attention to detail. The grind looks really good and it's polished better than any cheap knife I own.

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 1

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 2

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 3

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 4

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 5


Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 6

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Blade 7


Handle


Are the scales real wood? Beats me. They could be, but I'm a little skeptical at this price point. Whatever it is, it looks nice and has a really polished, classy finish. The polished brass rivets and lanyard insert are a nice touch. With a polished handle over a polished blade attached by polished rivets, this knife is not going to give you the same amount of grip as more exotic materials like G10 or Micarta. Other than that, the grip is very ergonomic and fits well in my hand.

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 1

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 2

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 3

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 4

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 5

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 6

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Handle 7

Sheath


It's leather, and seems decently well constructed. It has a few small fit and finish flaws, but nothing major. The sewing seems solid and so does the snap and belt loop rivets. It has an Elk Ridge logo etched onto the sheath but it looks a little cheap. At this price point, you're lucky to have the leather sheath to begin with, so all things considered I am pleased with the sheath. It's very low profile and fits the knife nice and snug.

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 1
Fairly good sewing job on sheath

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 2
Seems sturdy but the finish looks a little cheap

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 3

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 4
The rivets look good


Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 6
The snap is solid and holds the knife snug in the sheath

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 7

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 8
The etching isn't that great. They almost should've just left it off--the sheath would look better

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Closeup Of Sheath 9
Like I said, it does seem sturdy

Usability


We are out of season, so I haven't had a chance to use it in the field. But I'm definitely familiar with this type of knife, and I expect it to excel as a camp knife. This type of grind and blade shape do well at basic food prep, slicing chores like ropes and lines, and a rugged, full tang model like this one should be able to fill in for most other tasks you would need a knife for. The belt loop does look a little dicey, but the rivets look strong and the snap seems to hold the knife securely. It's very compact for how much knife it is, though again, it's a little on the heavy side at 7 ounces with sheath.

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - Next To Ruler
Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - On Scale In Sheath

Elk Ridge Er-196 Fixed Blade Knife - On Scale Out Of Sheath


Conclusions


This is now the main contender to be strapped to my waist the next camping trip I go on. The fit and finish on pretty much everything has small issues, but I have enough confidence that the blade is well constructed to take it out into the field with me. I really like the look and style of this knife, and if it works as good as it looks, it'll be a great beater that will serve me for years. And if the heat treat fails and the knife snaps like a brittle stick, you can be certain I will have a backup, usually my Ka-Bar BK 14, Mora or both. I think that for 20 bucks, it's definitely worth taking a chance on.

I am definitely open to purchasing another Elk Ridge knife, and probably will. If it wasn't for the little fit and finish issues, this would almost look like a $100 knife. But for what it cost, it is already exceeding my expectations. Also, I haven't done any modding yet but I'm looking for something to try, and I think this knife may be a good candidate for a custom sheath or paracord wrap for the handle. We'll see how it goes.

From Top: Buck 480, Elk Ridge 196, Gerber Freeman, Hultafors GK, Ka-Bar Becker BK14
From Top: Buck 480, Elk Ridge 196, Gerber Freeman, Hultafors GK, Ka-Bar Becker BK14 

From top: Elk Ridge 196, Spyderco Native, Sunwayman D40A
From top: Elk Ridge 196, Spyderco Native, Sunwayman D40A

From Top: Sunwayman M20C, Elk Ridge 196, SanRenMu GB-763
From Top: Sunwayman M20C, Elk Ridge 196, SanRenMu GB-763