November 17, 2021 4 min read
It was critical to Project Phalanx that the final Sierra Zero One watch, and their highly durable straps, should exhibit genuine military equipment capability. In other words, they had to be tough and fit for purpose.
In order to ensure this, Geckota took the decision to stress-test two randomly selected full production watches and one NATO strap to face a series of challenges, based on actual adverse condition tests used for the qualification of Special Operation small arms.
I have personally concluded these tests many times on firearms all over the world. They are widely accepted as industry standard, designed to prove that a rifle or pistol is capable of taking the harsh knocks and environmental exposure associated with use by Special Forces. They are very hard for a weapon to pass and deliberately set to push a mechanical object to its limits. Most military forces use these tests when they are conducting trail and evaluation exercises for new equipment.
To see our Geckota Phalanx stress test in full you can watch our video below.
Check out more watch tests and reviews over on our YouTube channel.
A black PVD Phalanx watch was first sunk into fine sand, one of the greatest enemies of military equipment. The bezel and crown were then operated immediately to check they still functioned and shed the sand. A supplementary element of this test also challenged the quality of the hostile environment PVD finish.
Resistance to water is a major factor in the qualification of all military and capable outdoor equipment. The same Phalanx was dropped into water from a height of 1m, then subjected to harsh water insertion. This tests how the seals cope with water impact.
NATO has its own specification for test mud so that all weapons, from multiple vendors, are judged evenly. The mud NATO use is thick and cloying and we did our best to recreate this for the Phalanx test. We repeatedly sank and buried the watch, testing the function of the crown and bezel. This was also an especially tough test for the latest issue of a Phalanx NATO strap.
Accelerated water from a high-pressure hose was used to further prove the seals, blasting the watch from multiple angles. The NATO strap’s fine weave managed to shed mud and dirt very effectively, returning to its original condition.
At this point in the procedure the tests were going well. Feeling confident we decided to test the inner gaskets, which are only exposed when the crown is unscrewed. The Phalanx crown was opened and the watch submerged slowly into dirty water. On surfacing, the watch was still functioning perfectly. We really want to stress that this is absolutely not a test to try at home and would certainly invalidate any warranty. Nevertheless it's great that in the unlikely event of crown thread failure, the watch’s inner seals offer rudimentary water resistance.
Throughout the torture test on the black PVD Phalanx a second watch was selected - an Intelligence Silver Satin Steel version, undergoing its own extremely tough test. If you are making a watch for the military and outdoor community, resistance to extreme temperatures is very important.
Low temperature is an especially tough test for metal mechanical machines. It’s far more likely that a piece of equipment will face debilitating low temperatures on Earth than high temperatures. Most well-made weapons and outdoor watches won't overly struggle with temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius (and it’s unlikely you will encounter higher temperatures). However, moving parts can easily freeze together making a weapon or watch inoperable.
We placed the Phalanx in a plastic tray and filled it halfway with ice cubes. We then topped the tray up with water to fully submerge the watch, then froze the tray in a freezer.
Three hours later, the block of ice with its Phalanx core was removed and slowly chipped away until the watch was revealed. This was a particularly exciting test as the office staff were split as to whether the watch would still be functioning. As the shape of the watch case became visible through the ice, the first thing Ben Adams saw (and expertly videoed) was the red spear point second hand still ticking. On full removal from the ice the watch had suffered no ill effects.
The final close-up shots in the video show off how well the watches and straps emerged from the tortuous tests.
The final test of the day was for the frozen Phalanx to be connected to a Timegrapher to check any loss or gain of time following its sub-zero exposure. The display showed a deviation of just 11 seconds. When you consider the ETA 2824-2 movement is certified by ETA at between +/-12 and 30 seconds this was an excellent result.
These tests were carried out by experienced personnel, under extremely controlled conditions and much thought was given prior to subjecting two £700 Phalanxes to a day from hell. It was enormously satisfying for the design team to see the watches and straps survive the tests. Whilst we can't advocate Phalanx owners to repeat these tests at home, current owners and potential new buyers can take much comfort knowing what this watch is capable of enduring.
Phalanx truly is a breed of watch worthy of its Special Operations connections.
Image credits Geckota.