Phalanx Declassified: An official test by a Police Special Operations Unit
Written by Richard Brown
From day one the mission with the Geckota Phalanx Sierra Zero One watch was to create a functional piece of equipment worthy of Special Operations use. It was never going to be a gimmick. From the first brainstorm sketches with Ben Adams, through testing of prototypes, the plan was to deliver a watch that could be worn as a high-end field watch by outdoor enthusiasts - and with luck be selected by an operational unit. To reinforce the build quality of the Phalanx, we undertook a series of stress tests on two randomly selected production watches from batch 1.
These were controlled tests, based on genuine NATO small arms trial and evaluation exercises, designed to ascertain the effectiveness of new weapons for service. However, as anyone who has used specialist equipment in the field knows, there is no substitute for real life punishment. I have seen equipment which appeared to be perfect on paper yet lasted only weeks when exposed to tough environments. Therefore, despite successful lab-condition stress tests, what we really needed to prove Phalanx to the next level, was real operational time with a Special Operations unit.
Prior to retirement in 2017, I was actively involved in a training and technical capacity with an overseas elite Law Enforcement Special Operations unit and am still lucky to consider the Commanding Officer a close friend. My professional respect for him is significant, but it was as a friend that I asked a favour. Thankfully he agreed to take a Phalanx, strap it on his wrist, and go operational with it as part of his EDC (Every Day Carry) kit. I made it quite clear that we wanted a real test and Geckota did not want the watch treated with undue care. Any resulting scratches and gouges would be worn with honour.
Me conducting firearms training for female Police Special Operators in 2017
There is not actually much that I can openly write about “the Unit” without breaching operational security. But what I can say, is that this elite collection of men and women are at the forefront of a fight that affects us all and are considered globally to be amongst the best at what they do.
Phalanx goes operational
A few months have gone by since the Unit took delivery of the watch. So this week I caught up with the Commander for a planned Phalanx update and we had several long chats about the watch, which I was delighted to hear is still ticking.
The test watch had been operational on several occasions and no technical issues had been found. It had been issued to more than one operative, both male and female, and the consensus was that the Phalanx was very comfortable on the supplied Phalanx NATO and Tropical Rubber straps. The Unit had requested a silver Satin model as this was less overtly “tactical” and would look more civilian when deployed undercover.
The watch was noted for its excellent legibility in all light levels and the offset crown was praised for its location - operators noting that it did not dig into the top of the left hand. The watch was subjected to the intense vibrations of semi-automatic and fully automatic weapon fire when used by the Commander during small arms training and weapons testing sessions.
While operating in plain clothes, the watch was valued due to its subdued signature and the fact that it did not look too ostentatious. Nevertheless, the high-quality feel was there which gave the users equipment reassurance. This was probably the observation which resonated most with me, as it was very much an intention back in the early design stages.
I am delighted to add that the test watch is staying with the Unit, and we hope that it continues to serve for years to come. Geckota is enormously grateful to this Special Operations force for testing the Phalanx and allowing us to tell the story.
As with all specialist pieces of equipment, the proof of effectiveness is in real life use, not in a lab. Thankfully Phalanx has passed this toughest of tests.
Image Credits - Richard Brown and Geckota