ArmourLite/IsoBright 401 Watch

May 29, 2014
'ArmourLite, is so brite, easier than stars to see at night...." OK, I'm no poet. But you've probably guessed I liked ArmourLite's -whatever-it-is they make, right? ArmourLite is the manufacturer of the Isobrite line of watches. That's a new series of polycarbonate watches that boast having some of the brightest and easiest to read watch faces-ever. The company attributes that quality to their proprietary tritium and phosphorescent markings. I'm always willing to try out a watch. Especially one making a claim like "our watch is four-times brighter than any other watch using tritium for illumination." That brightness claim is exactly the one ArmourLite makes about their IsoBright watches. It's the reason I decided to give one a test run when it was offered. And I don't call my wearing a watch a "test" because unlike John Cameron Swayze, the longtime pitch/test man for Timex watches who made the expression "takes a licking, keeps on ticking" famous, I've never intentionally fastened a watch to a boat's propeller, driven over it with a tractor-trailer or blown one up to see if it survived.
How bright is bright? This (above) is an untouched photo taken in a blacked-out bedroom. The watch can be downright distracting if you really don't want to know you're wide-awake and it's only 3:10a.m. When you're working in daylight (below) the iso401 was easy to read, operate and attracted a lot of attention.

Before getting into specifics, let me give my response to their brightness claim: I have never seen a watch not illuminated by a power source nearly as bright. The iso401 I had really did seem brighter than any watch I seen or compared it to. But the watch I've been wearing isn't just a bright wristwatch, it's a full-blown chronometer, blessed with dials that measure time down to the tenth of a second- provided I have my reading glasses on. I was wearing it during last week's Bianchi Cup and using it to check and see if the Moving Target really did move 60-feet in six seconds. It was absolutely spot-on, time-wise. So, too, were all the other moving targets, plate racks and buzzers in the event. That spoke well of the targets and the watch, although it convinced me I have a good bit of work to do if I want to perform better at the Cup. The big watch drew more than a little bit of attention. Competition shooters are always curious about everyone's gear, and watches -although they have little to do with how you shoot- are part of a shooter's overall equipment list. The IsoBright is very much qualified for wear during almost any sort of competition: it's robust, with easy-to-read dials, logically placed controls and a case construction of polycarbonate with an anti-reflective scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is not only tough, it's easy to read in air or water. It is represented as being water resistant to 20ATM (660 feet). I'm only water resistant slightly less than six feet, so I took that claim at face value. It passed one of my most important tests with flying colors: the buckle and band system.The iso 401's band and keeper are robust enough to take hard use during competition. Other watches I've worn during training or competition have had keepers fail. FYI, a keeper is the small band-on-a-band that holds excess watch band close to the rest of the band. Keepers are necessary because not all of us have 9 3/4 inch wrists- the maximum size for the 401. Should your keeper fail, the excess watch band flops around and hangs on almost everything associated with movement: shirt sleeves, pack straps, and jackets. Seems it will catch on a pack strap 100% of the time if you're in a rush. It's a small irritant, but one of my other watches sits unused because its keeper failed shortly after I purchased it. When I called the company, they told me it wasn't unusual and they'd be "glad to sell me a replacement keeper for only $20 plus shipping." That watch, broken keeper and all, now sits unused. Paying several hundred bucks for a watch and then being gigged when a failure-prone component isn't replaced for free doesn't sit well with me. Neither does hacking off the excess band, so it sits unused, waiting for the opportune time to be traded for something I'll use. The 401 ships with a pair of straps (NBR rubber and nylon) and both have healthy keepers and fastening systems. In fact, the nylon band features a pair of metal keepers. The iso401 is part of their chronograph series and carries an MSRP of $550 on the company website (www.armourlite.com), with free shipping. I've seen it on other sites (watchco.com, opticsplanet.com, ebay.com and others) for $495 plus shipping. While I was lusting over the prize table at last week's Bianchi Cup, I saw one of the Isobrite watches there. I visited the prize table shortly after prizes were being awarded, and noticed the watch was already among the early departures. Seems I'm not the only shooter who appreciates a good watch. --Jim Shepherd Isobrite 401 Specifications: Manufacturer: ArmourLite Movement: Swiss Ronda 5040.D Quartz Battery: 54-months Crystal: Anti-reflective scratch resistant sapphire crystal Case Construction: polycarbonate Case Diameter: 47mm Case Thickness: 11mm Crown: 4mm water-resistant push-down Bezel: Unidirectional ratcheting with two tritium markers Band Material: Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) Nylon (second band included) Band Width: 24mm Band Clasp: Buckle with logo Maximum Wrist Circumference: 9.75 inches Water Resistance: 200 meters (20ATM/660 feet) Warranty: 24 months Extras: Zippered travel case MSRP: $550 (Available from manufacturer with free shipping)