Archimede Outdoor Protect Review:
Case and Dial Perfection
By: Mark Signorelli
There – the title says it all. I could almost stop my Archimede Outdoor Protect review here and just say that this watch is perfect and no criticisms apply. How is that even possible? Have you ever received a job performance review and been told, “Wiggins, you absolutely nailed it this year, there’s nothing to talk about, here’s a wheelbarrow full of cash.”? Aside from the likelihood that none of you are named Wiggins, I bet the answer is no. The Archimede Outdoor Protect will not cost you a wheelbarrow full of cash and, while it’s not cheap ($890. on bracelet, $850. on rubber strap), it does offer surprising value. That’s especially true when held against its case-hardened, Teutonic peers at Sinn and Damasko. And yes, the Archimede Outdoor Protect’s case and dial are perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. Let’s find out why.
Archimede is a relatively young brand established in the early 2000s; it’s owned by Ickler GmbH, Pforzheim, Germany. Ickler has been manufacturing watch cases since 1924 and is responsible for the design & manufacturing of Archimede cases as well as assembly and quality control. While many people associate Archimede with pilot watches, their collection includes sporty dress watches, dive watches, marine watches and this specific watch that I find most compelling, the Archimede Outdoor Protect.
Case, Dial, and Crown
Honestly, this is one of the most versatile watches that I have come across. With its hardened 38.5mm barrel case, 43.5mm length and 11.5mm thickness, the Outdoor Protect could comfortably reside on a variety of wrists. The lug-less design gives it a very clean appearance (but does present some challenges for strap zealots) and size-wise it’s quite practical for smaller wrists. However, the Archimede Outdoor Protect’s case also works for the large-wristed due to generous dial proportions and sharp fonts that make it a pleasure to read the time with a quick glance.
The dial markings are quite precise and line up exactly with the numeric seconds markers on the chapter ring. The front and sides of the Outdoor Protect’s case are brushed in a longitudinal direction and, although nothing is polished, there is a pleasant sheen that reflects light in a nicely muted way. The dial numerals and hour markings (as well as all three hands) are nicely lumed and were quite visible in a dark movie theater hours after being charged.
The screw down crown is generously sized and very easy to use with positive thread engagement. I get a curious pleasure from the shape of the Outdoor Protect’s crown guards. They are wonderfully machined into the case and seem to want to gobble the crown, Pac-Man style. For such a practical, no-nonsense watch, it’s a playful aesthetic that I appreciate….even if unintended.
Tool watch, Field watch, Sport watch, yes! Dress watch??
To loosely paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, I can’t define the term “sport watch” but I know it when I see it. By golly, the Archimede Outdoor Protect is a sport watch….which also moonlights as a field watch….that might be viewed as a tool watch. 200 meters of water resistance, hardened case, “diver” extension, screw down crown, matte black dial, super legible dial markings, very good lume….all hallmarks of a no-nonsense design for everyday recreational and work activities.
During the past year, I banged the Archimede Outdoor Protect around in every way that I could, from numerous hiking trips to swimming to working underneath cars to cutting down trees. The case cleans up quite nicely and still looks new. Three separate timing runs of +5.6, +5.7 and +6.3 spd demonstrated remarkably consistent timekeeping from the Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement. While no one would mistake the Outdoor Protect for a dress watch, its relatively compact dimensions allow for comfortable wearing under a dress shirt.
Strap Perfection? Not so much
Notice how I said case and dial perfection at the beginning of this review. The bracelet and strap options don’t deserve such superlatives. It’s not for lack of variety. Archimede offers two different bracelets and three strap designs. The standard stainless steel bracelet is functional, decently secure and otherwise unremarkable when compared to the exceptional Outdoor Protect watch case. It does offer a diver extension that might come in handy if you choose to wear the Outdoor Protect over your coat sleeve (Archimede did offer a hardened steel bracelet at one time but withdrew this item from their catalog as it was prone to rusting.) Archimede also has an expandable “Fixoflex” bracelet that harkens back to the days of the Speidel Twist-O-Flex (which is apparently still available). Personally, I find this type of bracelet to be a bit cheesy and unappealing.
Admittedly, I haven’t seen the Fixoflex in person and I understand the practicality, but it’s just not for me. I did sample the silicone strap and, at first, it seemed to be an ideal pairing for this watch. It’s well made but, like most silicone straps, attracts lint and is so fat that, when you loop it through the two sliding keepers (which never seem to stop sliding around), it adds unnecessary bulk to your wrist. At this point, my go-to band is an olive green canvas strap that looks good, works well and is quite comfortable. There is also an available leather strap. As I mentioned earlier, the lug-less design limits strap choices but you might be able to do some experimenting and find non-oem straps with contours that fit this case.
Two other German watch makers, Sinn and Damasko, also offer wonderful watches that are attractive, tough and practical. Sinn’s designs tend to be more visually appealing while Damasko prefers a tool watch aesthetic. In terms of value, Damasko’s least expensive, hardened case retails for approximately $1,000. and goes up from there depending on the model and strap. Sinn’s least expensive, hardened case is almost $2,000. With that in mind, the value of the Archimede Outdoor Protect becomes apparent, especially in light of its versatility. With this watch you won’t find vibrant colors or needless flourishes, just an exceptional dial and brilliant, hardened case.
Editor’s Note: Right now you can buy the Archimede Outdoor Protect directly from Archimede – also be sure to check out all the dial and strap options. They offer a lot of varieties!
Mark retired in 2018 after 37 years in the financial services industry. He “Discovered” watches in 2015 after seeing a photo of a Steinhart OVM1 in a car forum. Ever since then he’s filled two watch boxes (and is trying to decide between buying a third one or thinning the herd). His additional pastimes include hiking, working on cars, exploring and photographing abandoned military bases.