As I pack away what's left of a 21 year insurance career, old pal, fellow infantryman and adult entertainment star, Jake Rhodes (his porn name) volunteers to review the TSOVET SVT-AT76 -- Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Tinseth asked me to review a watch by a manufacturer that I'm not familiar with - "TSOVET." I google and discover a southern California watch brand (wait, sorry - it's a "Timing Gauges" brand) which smacks of in-your-face machismo. Words like "industrial" and "utilitarian" are heavily used in their marketing copy. Black and white images of vintage aircraft cockpits, combat watercraft equipped with .50cal machine guns fade in and out. Are you eyeballing me boy! Show me your War Face!
I'm getting pumped! My BDU camo boonie hat left over from days humping an M16A2 around Central America is around here somewhere. Ah, there we go, a little snug...Taking a look at the black box Tinseth handed over it says "Designed in America, Built in Switzerland". This is just getting better and better. Some of the great American design classics run through my mind - the 1940 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, the P-51 Mustang, the '69 Camaro. However, as I pull out the TSOVET model SVT-AT76 I'm sadly reminded that we're the same shmucks that came up with the Pontiac Aztek, the Snuggie, and Hair in a Can. The size of this watch is RIDICULOUS!
This is an enormous hunk of gunmetal brushed matte 316L stainless steel, the same steel type utilized by many of the finest swiss watches (although Rolex switched from 316L in the late 80's to more expensive 904L) but simply way too much of it. Tsovet states a case diameter of 48mm and a thickness of 14.55mm. Just to give you an idea for comparison purposes, my Rolex Sea-Dweller has a case diameter of 40mm. Now, I can appreciate that watch designs through the last 75 years have been getting larger and "the youth" of America prefer a super-sized watch, but where does the insanity end? Right here with the SVT-AT76 - knock it off kids, this thing weighs an exhausting 5.8 ounces.
The design of this watch is an homage to the aviation models of the great Swiss Bell & Ross brand and presents the square-ish aircraft instrument-like shape B&R made famous. Given it's massive heft Tsovet wisely chose switch the knurled crown from the traditional right side of the case over to the left in an effort to eliminate it digging painfully into the back of your hand. The crown and case back are a screw down type providing ample protection and a 100 meter water resistance rating should you attempt a challenging one armed butterfly stroke. There are four exposed screw heads on the front and back of this model further providing an industrial look to this "timing instrument". Opposite the crown the 14.55mm thick sided case has a small plate containing a faint engraving of the model number set flush into the body of the watch held in place by two small screws, a neat feature.
The dial is clutter free in matte dark gray (which I like quite a bit) displaying bold luminescent 2-4-6-8-0-12 numbers. (Did you catch that? Where the number "10" is supposed to be there is a "0" instead, you would think that given the goliath proportions of the dial they could somehow slip in an extra number). There is a small date window near the 4 o'clock marker and large sword-shaped hands with a great deal of yellow/green lume providing excellent low light visibility. An interesting note, the Tsovet name written small under the 12 o'clock marker although written white instead of yellow/green also contains luminescent material and glows well in the dark (another cool nerdy feature I haven't seen before). All this is covered with a hardened mineral crystal without an anti-glare coating, both of which is most likely a cost savings measure when compared to a more expensive and more scratch resistant sapphire.
The movement is quartz... whatever. This particular model comes with a soft thick 22mm tan leather strap with contrasting white stitching and a large stainless steel tang buckle laser engraved with the brand name. The strap appears to be held in place within the case lugs by two very, very small screws. If they are actually functioning parts rather than simply cosmetic I strongly advise that you don't take this to the mall jeweler to change out the strap as their size and positioning no doubt invite deep scratches and hurt feelings.
In review, the box itself gave me a hint as to the dichotomy of the Tsovet brand - a watch "Designed in (a bloated) America, Built (quite well) in Switzerland". Would I wear this watch, let's just say I'm not a member of its intended target market... real men.