Monday, October 24, 2011

Review of Invicta Sub Aqua Noma IV Mid-Size Swiss Automatic

Model # 0522

Brand/Model:  Invicta Sub Aqua Noma IV Mid-Size
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  black IP stainless steel case, rubber and metal strap
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP (fantasy):  $2395 USD; Street price around $500 USD

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

Say what you will about Invicta and say what you will about their popular Sub Aqua Noma series of watches, these are serious pieces of metal that should come with a parental warning:  be careful while wearing and keep bezel away from face, you could take an eye out with this one!

I’ve always admired in a sort of guilty pleasures way the Sub Aqua series for their sheer audaciousness.  At 50mm without crown, the original Sub Aqua Nomas were just too damn big for me and even the “mid-size” Sub Aqua Noma reviewed here at 45mm is pushing the upper limits of size and taste for yours truly.  Any watch that is considered mid-size at 45mm should have its bezel examined!

After owning numerous (at least 20) different Invictas over the years, I will admit that this Sub Aqua Noma IV is the finest Invicta I have owned, in terms of quality (absolutely zero QC issues) and presence on the wrist.  The model #0522 (‘522’ from here on out) Sub Aqua Noma IV is an all-black IP coated stainless steel monster that is a super cool stealth watch that actually can be used to tell the time, unlike other impractical stealth watches that look great but are useless when it comes to telling what time it is.

The 522 begins with a curved polished black IP case that measures 45mm without the nifty but large crown guard.  Including the guard, the measurement is a substantial 51.5mm.  Case thickness from caseback to crystal is 18mm, include the rider tabs and you're looking at 20.4mm.  The rubber and metal strap is integrated into the case and the width of the case at the strap is 31.3mm.  This watch, even as it's considered a mid-size, is not shy in any respect.

The bezel is a unidirectional 120 clicker and has four large upright rider style tabs at each quarter hour and are designed to be ever so slight off-set.  The bezel is tight and exhibits no backlash.  The tabs, while they extend upright quite dramatically and can catch on things/bang into doors, windows, etc. while wearing, they do make rotating the bezel quite easy.  There are light grey painted triangles on the inside of each tab which add a bit of style, but it would be really cool if these triangles were luminous, but alas, they’re not.  There are raised numbers at each five minute mark between the tabs and a 20-minute track on the inside edge of the bezel from 12 to 4.

The screwdown caseback is polished stainless steel with a display back.  Various specs about the watch are engraved around the perimeter of the caseback.  The 522 is factory rated at 500 meters of water resistance.

The fold down crown guard is beautifully crafted and signed and done in matte black IP.  The guard flips down to expose the large knurled screwdown crown.  Even though the crown is larger than normal, I found it hard to unscrew and use to wind the watch, partly due to the crown guard that never really gets out of the way.  It really would be better if they did away with the crown guard and made the actual crown a bit larger and easier to grasp.

Inside the 522 is the well-regarded Sellita Swiss-made 26 jewel automatic that hacks and manually winds.  My 522 sports the latest SW200-1 version of this movement, with a slightly upgraded and more durable gear train.  I have the SW200 in a couple of other watches I own and have found them to be good timekeepers and a nice movement overall.  That said, this movement in the 522 runs about +20 per day, which is quite a bit higher than my other SW200s.  Nothing that a regulation wouldn’t cure, but I was a bit surprised.  Power reserve is a fine 49 hours on a full wind.  The 522 also sports a cool signed rotor displaying the yellow Sub Aqua Noma logo.

I think my favorite part of the 522 is the amazing dial and hands and the way they are presented.  The dial is a gunmetal grey to matte black in color and sports an actual perforated surface which is placed over a black background.  The perforations are Invicta’s cross or plus-sign logo.  Very tastefully done and not as busy as you would expect.  There are twelve round markers that are part of the chapter ring.  The markers are grey and are luminous.  The hands are gunmetal grey with inset lume and are styled as fat blade type or fat sword style hands.  The seconds hand has a luminous arrow tip.  Lume quality is average, it should be much better on a serious diver such as this.

Minimal dial printing is another plus, with a fairly subdued applied Invicta Sub Aqua logo, a tasteful ‘automatic’ logo and a ‘Limited Edition/500 Meters’ logo.

Despite being gunmetal grey and black, the dial is easy to read and Invicta should be applauded for making a stealth watch that the wearer can actually tell the time with at a glance.

Capping the dial is an anti-reflective coated flame-fusion crystal, which is Invicta's version of a sapphire sandwich type of crystal.  The AR coating imparts a bluish to purplish tint which is in keeping with the sinister look of this piece.  A quickset date window is at the three o’clock position and in keeping with the colors of this watch, the date wheel is white on black as it should be.

The rubber strap also impresses on the 522.  While I’m not a rubber strap fan by any means, this strap is a quality piece all the way through.  Measuring 31.3mm where it attaches to the case and tapering to about 23.5mm at the buckle, the strap features inset metal bracelet links near the case sides that add rigidity and style.  The links are brushed and polished black IP and have raised screwbar bumps between each link.  The tip of the strap is signed and the buckle is signed as well, a hefty black IP stainless steel affair.  There are two floating keepers.  The inside of the strap is also textured for a better fit/grip on the wrist.  Even though this strap is integrated into the case and you’re pretty much stuck with using it, it is built to last and looks very cool, it’s simply a quality rubber strap with a lot of details.

I have a wrist that measures between 6-3/4” and 7” and surprisingly, I can pull off wearing this watch without it looking clown-like on the wrist or me looking like a clown while wearing it!  The curvature of the case helps and the way the strap hugs the wrist helps as well.

Presentation is standard Invicta yellow box.  I expected a more special presentation given the limited edition nature of this watch, although it is not serialized, so I really don’t know how truly ‘limited’ the production is.  This one should come in one of Invicta's Pelican-style plastic carry cases.

Overall, the Sub Aqua Noma Mid-Size Swiss automatic is a serious dive tool watch that is stealthy in nature due to its color, but not subtle in any other way.  The quality is there and for the price these can be had for on the street, a relative bargain.  Overall, a superb effort from Invicta.

Pros:  sinister stealth looks that actually function for telling the time, Swiss automatic engine, 500 meter water resistance rating, amazing perforated dial, cool hands, quality rubber strap

Cons:  big, big, big and definitely too big for some, integrated rubber strap cannot be switched out with aftermarket straps, crown somewhat hard to use, lume should be brighter, rider tabs can be unwieldy at times

Verdict:  if you want a large and in-charge dive watch with bad-ass looks and a unique character, the Sub Aqua Noma IV Mid-Size is hard to top for the price.  It’s big and bold and that’s the point!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.




I sold this watch after about eight months.  I truly enjoyed wearing it, even though the rider tabs can hit things as you wear it.  I really hemmed and hawed about selling this one, but in the end, I had just acquired another super tool diver (more on that, stay tuned!) and this one had to go.

-MCV, 10-24-11

No comments:

Post a Comment