Woods Monkey Associate Editor and writer Tim Stetzer called me during SHOT 2010. The conversation went something like this… Tim: ”Come down to the Truglo booth, there are some watches you should check out.” Me: “Truglo the sight company? They make watches?
I’ve long been a fan of watches. Anyone who gets into EDC (every day carry) gear, tactical gear, or outdoor survival gear will eventually search for a good timepiece. The clock built into a cell phone is somewhat lacking in comparison to a dedicated watch. I’ve always had war within me that tries to balance the function of a timepiece with the weight and size. I never wanted a basic watch, but multi function watches that make my geeky side happy are far too large and heavy to wear comfortably on my wrist. I’d actually given up on the idea of finding a watch and had settled on a rather mundane carabineer style clip on watch that I wore on my belt. After almost two years of that I was turned onto a watch from an unlikely source, Truglo. The Truglo sight company is marketing a new line of watches. I have the Switchback, which is the basic watch in the new lineup.
With so many different watches being made that serve the tactical and sports/hunting industries, it takes something special to grab a person’s attention. TruGlo is using Swiss movements which are T25 rated, meaning the watch is self illuminated using Tritium and holds up to 25 millicuries of radioactive Tritium gas. The amount of radiation emitted by the tritium is so low that it is stopped entirely by the watch case and crystal. The movement itself is Quartz based and multi jeweled. The watch and band together weigh a total of one and seven eighths ounces. The crystal face is sapphire with an anti reflection coating. The housing of the watch is impact resistant, being made of a lightweight carbon reinforced polymer. The band is NATO style and measures twenty-two millimeters wide, made of black nylon. The face of the watch measures forty two millimeters wide and ten millimeters thick. The watch controls are very simple. There is one dial located on the right hand edge of the face a three o’clock. Push the dial all the way in, and the watch is operating normally. Pull the dial out one click and the date is adjustable. Pull the dial to the second and final click and the time is adjustable, both forward and back.
The TruGlo Switchback is a wristwatch with many modern features, yet it sports a classy look. The face has large, easy to read numbers. There are three hands: hour, minute, and second. The hour and minute hands have green tritium vials in the center. The face of the watch has a tritium illuminator for each number, one through twelve. The numbers themselves are not illuminated. The tritium vials are mounted just to the outside of the numbers in the watch face. The twelve is orange which helps to provide easy indexing even in total darkness. When I first looked at the watch in the dark I thought it had a couple defective tritium vials before I realized that the three, six, and nine are illuminated in blue. They aren’t quite as bright as the rest of the numbers, most likely because of the color. The blue color is a thoughtful addition, as it helps me quickly tell time in the dark with less thought. Every other number is the typical green tritium color. The hands are significantly brighter than the rest of the face of the watch due to the tritium vials being significantly larger. This allows for easy low light reading without error. Other watches I’ve seen with standard glow paint or tritium can be difficult to read in low light without shining a light at the face. Not so with the Switchback. The illumination is bright enough that I’ve even had my cat attack my wrist at night! For anyone who is hunting or otherwise trying to be covert at night, I’d recommend a watchband that has a cover flap or merely pocketing the watch. I’d also recommend covering the crystal face during the daytime as it is rather reflective.
In the short amount of time that I have owned it, I have found that the Switchback easily stands up to the rigors and abuse of my daily life with nary a problem. I’ve banged and scraped the face of the watch against drywall, concrete block wall, trees, furniture, the inside latch of my dishwasher, and many other things. It has been subjected to the recoil of 9mm, .45ACP, 10mm, 5.56, and 12ga shotgun. I’ve worn it while chopping with small axes and large knives such as my Golok. I’ve worn the watch while sleeping, working out, and in the shower. I even submerged the watch in a bucket of water for a few hours to make sure it would stand up to a day at the beach or the lake. My informal submersion test showed that the watch stayed watertight with no leaking, fogging, or loss of function. The watch still looks brand new, with no scratching or cracking of the crystal. The coating on the housing is still pristine, having resisted scratching and denting. So far it has kept perfect time, but only a long-term test will determine the true accuracy of the watch. Since it is a Swiss made action I have no doubt it will impress me over time with exceptional accuracy.
The band provided with the Switchback is very strong and secure, as is to be expected from a woven band made of nylon. Over the course of the first two days that I wore the watch (which included showering and rain where the band got soaked) the band stretched out by the length of one hole. The adjustment hole itself didn’t stretch, it was the whole band. It hasn’t moved since. This is the first watch I’ve ever worn for any amount of time with a NATO style band. For those folks who are not familiar with the band I’d suggest you check one out. The way it is set up with the extra loop going under the watch eliminates breaking one of the pins and losing the watch. The extra tail of the band that sticks out is wound back around the metal loops, ensuring that it cannot come loose or allow the buckle to be accidentally knocked open. The band closes with enough security that I would trust it attached to a pack strap or belt. All cut edges and adjustment holes of the band have been sealed to resist fraying. The stitching throughout the band is doubled up. I must admit that I wasn’t necessarily sold on this style of band until I had worn the watch for a few days. Now I am a believer.
Anyone that is looking for a high quality, respectable, durable, simple, accurate and affordable wristwatch would do well to take a look at the TruGlo Switchback. The lightweight materials the watch and band are made of make it a dream to have on your wrist. It doesn’t chafe or feel like one arm is heavier than the other. The watch isn’t huge like so many men’s watches today, so it doesn’t constantly get in the way. The Swiss made tritium and movement are accurate and reliable. The watch has an MSRP of $179, and can be found in the price range of $130-$140. Very few watches with the quality and features of the Switchback can be found for such an excellent price. The TruGlo Switchback is a watch that I most heartily recommend.