Common wisdom says that you can either have a well-crafted timepiece, or you can have a cheap one, but never both. The creation of a finely tuned watch requires extensive labor and precision, a costly process. Therefore, if you want the best craftsmanship on the market, expect to open your wallet wide.
Invicta is a watchmaking company who has literally made it their mission statement to upend that common wisdom. It is their belief that everyone should be able to own a timepiece of the highest quality without having to sacrifice food and shelter.
The question is, are they really succeeding at their mission? For watch collectors, Invicta can be a name that stirs up strong emotions, not all of them positive. Let’s take a quick look at the history and modern workings of this watchmaker.
The history of Invicta
Invicta (Latin for “invincible”) began its story in 1837 when a Swiss watchmaker started the company. That watchmaker was Raphael Picard (no relation to Jean-Luc, presumably) and the Picard family would continue to operate the company well into the latter half of the 20th century.
For almost a century and a half, Invicta was one of the numerous Swiss watchmakers creating high-quality mechanical watches. They produced both manual and automatic-winding watches and, though they didn’t gain the recognition of fellow Swiss watchmakers such as Omega and Rolex, they built a respectable reputation worldwide.
As well-established as Invicta was, they could not withstand the shockwave that shook the entire watch industry in the 1970s: the quartz crisis. The so-called crisis is also known as a revolution, and that’s because it was equally both.
On the one hand, quartz timekeeping made watchmaking a much cheaper operation, which in turn created new markets for wristwatches. At the same time, the Swiss watchmaking industry, built on precision mechanical watches, suddenly found itself in freefall.
It would take roughly a decade before Swiss watchmaking adapted and rebounded to reclaim its status as makers of the finest watches on earth. Invicta’s fortunes fell precipitously in this period, until 1991 when U.S.-based investors took over the company. These new owners had a mission: continue making high quality watches but make them affordable for all people.
Invicta in the present day
This mission has led Invicta to producing some of the most affordable – critics might use the term “cheapest” – Swiss watches on the market. You can find most of their watches for under $100 and they make a wide range of styles and sizes for practically anyone’s tastes. Their standard warranty is three years, so these aren’t just throwaway timepieces.
Their most popular line of watches is the Pro Diver series (click to check out Pro Diver collection on Amazon).
The Pro Divers come in all variety of colors, sizes, and styles. What all of the watches in the line have in common is Invicta’s commitment to craftsmanship and durability. As the name implies, these watches can be submerged into depths of 300 meters.
These are self-winding mechanical watches, so they either have classic Swiss movement or 21-jewel automatic movement (if you don’t know what that means, just know that the higher the jewel the higher the accuracy, and 21-jewel is high).
With the Pro Diver series, Invicta offers classic mechanical design for quartz prices.
Are Invicta watches really Swiss?
Although Invicta prides itself on its Swiss heritage, not all of their watches are Swiss inside. In fact, while a substantial portion of their manufacturing still occurs in Switzerland, many of their watches originate in Asia. Likewise, many of their watches, like the stainless steal Aviator, trade Swiss timekeeping for Japanese quartz.
Swiss watchmaking has a very specific definition (opens PDF) a definition that demands an extraordinary level of fastidiousness. A person who is in the market for a Swiss watch knows that the care and craftsmanship that goes into the internal construction of the watch is more important than timekeeping accuracy or style.
It is this craftsmanship that Invicta presumably strives for with their mission statement. To that end, they do have a line specifically deemed Swiss Made. Many of the Pro Diver watches fall into this collection, but not all. And that, as they say, is the rub, because while it is true you can get an Invicta Pro Diver watch for under $100, one from their Swiss Made collection, such as the Pro Diver Collection Coin-Edge Swiss Automatic Watch will set you back more.
Does Invicta make good watches?
Now we come to the million-dollar question: Does Invicta deliver on both parts of their mission statement? In terms of value, they certainly produce some of the most affordable watches on the market in styles that, at least at a superficial glance, wouldn’t look out of place next to an Omega or Rolex.
The question of quality is a bit murkier. As discussed above, while Invicta promotes itself as a Swiss watchmaker working in the Swiss tradition, not every watch in their stable has Swiss timekeeping. That doesn’t necessarily represent a loss in quality. In fact, quartz timekeeping is more accurate than traditional Swiss mechanical timekeeping.
Also, in terms of price range, getting a Swiss-made watch for $300 is a pretty good deal. An Omega or Rolex watch will rarely be found for less than four figures. If you’ve been looking to own a Swiss watch, or just a high-quality quartz, but you’ve been afraid of the damage it would do to your wallet, Invicta should quell those fears.
Do watch collectors like Invicta?
Here is where I throw a little cold water on the conversation.
It is true that Invicta makes good watches for the price, but if you go to the forums where the serious collectors talk, you’ll find that the brand has a lot of critics. The most common complaint is that the watches essentially plateau at the $200-$250 range, which means that paying much more than that for an Invicta isn’t getting you any higher quality. While plenty defend Invicta, that defense is mostly along the lines of, “Their watches are fine for the price.”
Some commentators have said they believe the list prices for Invicta’s are always higher than their worth, which is while you’ll often find them on sale or with slashed prices in stores or online retailers. Whether that’s intentional or just a reflection of market reality, you’re probably wise to keep an eye out for sales if purchasing an Invicta.
Should I buy an Invicta watch?
It depends on what you want. Invicta is not a status-symbol type of watch, so if you’re the type of person that likes a brand to communicate something about yourself, they probably aren’t for you.
For anyone looking for an affordable, quality timepiece that will provide a few years of consistent wear and will always look good, Invicta is worth your consideration.
If you are looking for a watch brand that will hold its value or even increase over time, you may want to read more here.
If you’re still interested in hearing more about Invicta and whether or not you should buy one of their watches you might find this interesting look at the question by The Urban Gentry, highly followed watch expert on Youtube:
Either way, I hope this insight into Invicta gave you some helpful information to make the decision easier.