Review of Victorinox Chrono Classic XLS MT Analog/Digital

P9060148.jpg
Model # 241300

At a Glance:

Brand/Model:  Victorinox Chrono Classic XLS MT
Movement:  Swiss quartz analog/digital
Material:  Gunmetal PVD stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  analog/digital readout; digital functions include 1/100th seconds chronograph timing up to 48 hours with add or split mode, second timezone, day and date display, seconds display, alarm and countdown timer
Price:  MSRP:  $1195 USD

Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I believe that any serious watch collection needs one or two quartz watches and along these lines, at least one quality analog/digital combo watch.  Most will think of the iconic Breitling Aerospace watch, which is pretty much the defacto best analog/digital watch in production today.  This Victorinox Chrono Classic XLS MT (for Multi Task) is considered the ‘poor man’s’ Aerospace, since it uses basically the same Swiss quartz movement at some Aerospace models (at least in the beginning) and costs one-half to one-third the price of an Aerospace.  If you can live with probably 80-percent of the performance of an Aerospace, you’ll probably really like this watch.  It has a lot going for it and with the money you can save, it makes the XLS MT a very attractive proposition but not without some significant shortcomings.
One note up front; this watch was very hard to photograph due to its grey color and the dimness of the LCD readouts, so please bear that in mind when viewing the photos.

The XLS MT starts with a rather large 44.7mm all stainless steel case without crown; 49.6mm with crown finished in what Victorinox calls gunmetal PVD (also ‘black ice’ in their parlance).  This is more of a semi-transparent PVD that really doesn’t look like the coating a traditional black finish PVD is associated with.  Simply put, it’s a cool look.  Lug width is an odd 23mm, case thickness is 11.6mm.  The caseback screws down and is brushed stainless steel.  The XLS MT is factory rated for 100 meters water resistance.

Inside the XLS MT is an ETA Caliber 988.333 Swiss quartz movement.  All movement functions are controlled, selected and set through the crown.  This can be easy and frustrating at the same time. 

Start/stop or certain selection functions are accomplished by pushing the crown in.  Other one-time setting functions are accomplished by clicking the crown out one position, setting, then pushing it back to its ‘home’ position.  The modes are selected by rotating the crown rapidly either clockwise or counter clockwise.  This is not very easy to do while actually wearing the watch and sometimes, it takes an abnormally large amount of crown twirling to get the mode to finally display and change.

The Caliber 988.333 movement has seven jewels and provides the following functions:

-analog display of hours and minutes
-digital display of hours, minutes, seconds
-digital seconds, date, perpetual calendar day in English, French, Spanish or German
-digital countdown timer in hours, minutes, seconds
-digital second timezone in hours, minutes and seconds
-digital chronograph in hours, minutes, seconds, 1/100th seconds, Add and Split functions
-digital hour and minute alarm
-End of Life battery indicator by blinking of digital display (battery is a #370)
-digital alpha readout of mode (CHR, T2, AL, etc)

Since the LCD readout is a negative type (gold numbers on a dark background), while this looks cool, it is well known that negative type displays are harder to read.  The fineness of the readout is great, but it is difficult to see.  Since there is no backlighting of any kind on the digital displays or any kind of contrast adjustment, the ultimate utility of the digital displays is reduced in some circumstances.  Demerits here from me.

Actual setting and using of the various functions is fairly straightforward but for some reason, the sound of the alarm is so faint, you can barely hear it if at all.  I changed the battery and with a fresh power cell, the alarm chime is still so faint as to be non-existent.  Since I have not sampled another example of this model, I don’t know if all the alarms on the XLS MT are so soft, but it really is so quiet you cannot rely on it to alarm you of anything.  Bummer!

One nice feature of this movement is that the analog minute hand is computer controlled and is always in synch with the digital seconds readout (or is relatively easy to reset to regain synchronization).

It’s also interesting to note that this movement is square in shape, which helps explain the large round case size of the XLS MT.  See photo.

Accuracy of this movement is not as great as I would have expected, running about +20 seconds since setting about two months ago.  ETA does make a thermo compensated version of this movement and I believe this is the version that Breitling currently uses in the Aerospace to achieve COSC accuracy.

The dial is a nice brushed grey with simple and legible analog hands, with the ‘mode’ display window at the top of the dial and the functions readout at the bottom of the dial.  Large applied arabics grace the dial with the 12 and 6 almost clownishly large.  A fixed 60 minute timing bezel decorates the case.  Demerits here again for a fixed, non-functional bezel.

An anti-reflective sapphire crystal protects the dial.

The bracelet is a solid link gunmetal PVD stainless steel design with solid end links and a hidden butterfly style clasp.  I’m not sure why this dressy sort of clasp was chosen for what I consider to be a sporty watch.  Half links are included to help achieve a better fit on the wrist, but of course, a butterfly dual deployant clasp has no microadjustments, so an exact fit will be a crap shoot.  The deployant is machined and the clasp has a pushbutton release with a foldover safety lock, which is signed, so they really didn’t skimp on anything here.  Adjustment was easy with standard split pins, but for some reason, the pins on this bracelet seem awfully loose.

The bracelet measures 23mm at the lugs and tapers to 20mm at the butterfly deployant.

A thorough reading of the Instruction Manual is highly recommended so you can understand and properly utilize and set all the functions of this watch.  It is nice to have such an array of functions in a design that does look pretty darn cool.

Overall, the Victorinox Chrono Classic XLS MT is not for everybody.  It does have several significant shortcomings that can annoy if worn on a regular basis, which tilts the scale towards the more refined (and more expensive) Breitling Aerospace.  If you can tolerate some design flaws, this watch works fine, looks good and when bought at the right price (less than $500 USD), you’ve done well.
 
Pros:  cool single crown control of digital functions, good looks, Swiss quality

Cons:  needs a backlight or at least a contrast control for the digital displays, alarm so soft you cannot hear it, hard to use crown to select functions while actually wearing the watch

Verdict:  if you want an analog/digital watch that is a step above other more common ana/digis without spending Aerospace money, the Victorinox Chrono Classic XLS MT may be a good choice

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics!

Excelsior!

-Marc

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