FIRST IMPRESSIONS When I was given the opportunity by CHARMEX to review another of their Swiss Military divers, I was very excited. It was only a matter of weeks after reviewing the CX 20'000 Feet before I relented and bought my second CX Swiss Military diver. The CX 12'000 Feet is another story, but the Argonaut 1000 TQ (the baby of three) is by no means any less capable a diver, and being a Quartz powered watch has already proved its worth just for its sheer convenience.
PRESENTATION The Argonaut 1000 TQ came presented in large glossy-black lacquered presentation box; its bright, life-raft-yellow lining hinting heavily at its nautical theme. Among the contents; a rubber divers strap with divers extension for wearing over a dry-suit, two tools for strap changes and a warranty card along with an assortment of paperwork.
The box is really beautiful, but for collector like myself, who has a reasonably large collection (50+ watches) its size was a little impractical. When it comes to dive watch presentation there are generally two schools of thought; the first being, the one that would say; the Argonaut TQ is a Swiss made luxury item, and as such should be presented in manner that is appropriate to the amount of money that was invested in it.
Then there's the camp that feels that all dive watches should come in no-nonsense, minimalist type packaging no matter what their cost. I fall into the latter, however if any one knows how to make a grand presentation of a watch, it's Charmex, but they might also consider a travel pouch or a pelican-type box as an accessory or option for people like myself.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The Argonaut 1000 TQ is named after the Argonauts of ancient Greece, who voyaged with Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece, battling against the ocean, the elements and the mythological creatures. The TQ probably won't spend much time fending off hordes of winged Harpies or the Hydra, but is well suited for professional scuba diving and is built to withstand the rigors of an active lifestyle.
As far as the Argonaut TQ is concerned words like; safe, dependable, rugged and reliable spring to mind more so than words like elegant or beautiful. Does beauty really come into the equation when a military watch maker is designing a professional divers watch, probably not, at least I would not imagine it to be a huge factor. And, is design really the correct terminology for such a watch, I'm not sure it is.
The Argonaut TQ, like most of the CX Swiss Military dive watches has more engineered than designed aesthetic. The watch certainly has a personality of its own. Its bulging case sides, a two piece / two tone rotational divers bezel and oversized lug horns, that you either love or hate create a distinctive and bold look. Undoubtedly charismatic and still refined enough not be mistaken for anything other than a high quality Swiss made dive watch. Is it good-looking, though? Yes, I think so and it looks the part on the wrist.
The Argonaut TQ has Ø 46.0mm x 17.0mm high grade titanium case, weighing a total of 188grams. It’s a fairly large watch. Bulging slightly at the sides and flaring out at the bottom; the left side of the case is somewhat reminiscent of the Oris TT1 Divers, but with the addition of lateral decompression valve or HEV (the birthright of pretty much all modern dive watches that boast a 1000m or higher water-resistance).
The lug horns on this watch are massive, when contrasted against the TQ's tapered bracelet they are an imposing force; on the supplied rubber divers strap they are a little overwhelming. If only the inner lug-horn width had been wider than its mere 18mm, the watch would have had more potential to work with third party strap options; as it is the, TQ is best on its bracelet.
CROWN A substantial titanium crown juts out from between its crown protector. The crown protector mimics the design of the lug-horns; I hadn’t spotted this before; it's a lovely and quite unexpected design detail that made me smile when I first noticed it, and one that happily contradicts my earlier comment on the engineered look of the watch. The crown is of a very good size and proportion and was easily manipulated even with a divers glove.
PUSHERS The TQ features lockable titanium pushers with safety markings, they are red when unscrewed.
BEZEL The TQ’s 60 click rotatable divers bezel is made from two-pieces of titanium and PVD coated titanium (DNA that eventually made its way into the record breaking CX 20'000 Feet). Its elapsed dive time scale has been marked out with Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova. I’m comparing the TQ’s bezel to the CX20’000 Feet’s now, so this is probably a little unfair, but its lower profile made gripping it a little harder than I would have liked. The bezel is rock solid though, with a lovely firm action.
CASEBACK Titanium, domed and of the screw-down kind; the case-back sports the same Swiss flag icon that sits on the dial and has been used to sign its crown. There’s also an accompanying engraving of its Limited Edition # of 200 pieces. Not too exciting, really. Would a cool Argonaut engraving on the back have been cheesy? Probably and it wouldn’t have been in keeping with who CX Swiss Military Watch are.
CRYSTAL The TQ has a flat sapphire crystal that has been AR-coated on the inside to avoid unwanted interferences from reflections.
A glossy black dial with 3 sub-dials and a white date window (4 o’clock). Professional hour markers have been used in favor Arabic numerals; the numerals themselves coated with Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova and then elegantly framed with polished silver rings.
The minute hand is easily distinguishable due to the dwarfing of the hour hand, a common practice used on dive watches. However I firmly believe an all round larger handset and more substantial hour markers (allowing for more lume) would have made the TQ’s dial a little more utilitarian and perhaps even more user-friendly than it is. As professional instrument it still does the job very well though. The dial is also available in silver, blue or yellow.
A lovely thick 3-link titanium bracelet fastens the TQ to its wearer’s wrist; it has a slight taper to it, but not enough that would make it immediately noticeable. The folding divers clasp is enormous, a good 2mm wider on either side than the bracelet itself; it’s slightly out of place and clumsy looking, but is in fact a simple, yet brilliantly engineered element (another strand of DNA that made its way into the CX 20’000 feet).
STRAP / BUCKLE The Argonaut TQ was supplied with a high-quality rubber strap with divers extension for fitting over a dry-suit. Both the strap and its extension strap are fitted brushed titanium buckles and double stoppers. The buckles have been signed with the CX Swiss Military logo.
Swiss made Ronda Cal. 5030 D Quartz Chronograph. Functions include hour, min, date, sub-seconds and chronograph / stopwatch. Quartz movements are highly accurate.
1000m or 100 ATM is very respectable rating for any watch let alone a chronograph.
Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova has been applied to the TQ’s hands, markers and bezel markers. The lume is bright and long lasting. I would rate at good to very good. My apologies for the lack of lume shot, I was unhappy with the one I took, but will get another up soon. ;)
FUNCTIONALITY / WEAR-ABILITY
The TQ features a Swiss Quartz Chronograph movement with; Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova, a 1000m WR, folding divers clasp and lumed unidirectional divers bezel. The Argonaut 1000 TQ sits well on the wrist and like all titanium divers is light and comfortable.
CX Swiss Military Watch make robust tool watches that are intended for active duty by the Swiss military. They are first and foremost work horses. The Argonaut TQ is made of high grade titanium of the type used in aerospace engineering; it’s an extremely durable, light, non-corrosive metal; that thanks to its oxidizing process is also self-healing, which means that light scratches and swirls will usually take care of themselves.
If I had reviewed the Argonaut TQ back in 2008 when it was first released with an MSRP of 1’398euros, I would have struggled slightly justifying its cost; there were too many other great dive watches available in its price range. Two years on my job is all the more easier. CHARMEX have considerably reduced the price of their Quartz diver. The TQ is now available for a far more reasonable 798euro, a fair price.
So what are you getting for your money? A beautifully built dive watch from relatively small, but highly dedicated Swiss military watchmaker, who have in a very short period of time made a name for themselves as arguably the most experienced watch company in the world of deep sea mechanicals and chronographs.
The Argonaut 1000 TQ is a limited edition of only 200 pieces, so don’t expect to see any work colleagues sporting one in the lunch queue (thank god for that). Please also remember that this is a true Swiss watch; when a CX Swiss Military Watch says ‘Swiss made’ on its dial it really means Swiss made.
YOU MIGHT ALSO CONSIDER the automatic version of the Argonaut with ETA 7750 (1'821euro) or the Victorinox DIVE MASTER 500 Black Ice Chrono (quartz ETA 251).
OVERALL IMPRESSION The Argonaut 1000 TQ is the CX 20’000 Feet’s little big-brother. It was released in 2008, two years prior to the CX 20’000 Feet. Much of the Argonaut’s DNA made its way into the final design of the 20’000 Feet. This says a lot to me. CX Swiss Military Watch must have been very pleased with the Argonaut to have implemented so many of its elements (both aesthetic and functional) into the 20'000 Feet.
If you liked the overall look of the CX 20’00 Feet, but found its proportions a little extreme, or it was a little outside of your budget the Argonaut 1000 TQ is the perfect compromise.