Whether it’s tents, boots, or pocket knives, it’s not uncommon for people born in the USA to gravitate to things built on their home shores. But until fairly recently, timepieces have fallen outside of the nation’s manufacturing lineup.
Among boutique outdoor gear, American-made items are generally held in high regard. Enter Island Watch and the ISL-75 Islander ($179). Powered by an aptly named “Ameriquartz” movement, this piece of wearable tech is one of the newest U.S.-made watches to become widely available.
The mechanism’s parent company, Fine Timepiece Solutions, bills itself as the “first major supplier manufacturing and assembling watch movements in the United States of America in the last four decades.”
Island Watch had been on my radar since I reviewed its excellent ISL-88. So, when I got wind of this new collaboration, I was eager to check it out. Island was quick to oblige, sending over the model shown here for testing. Here’s how it fared after several weeks of daily wear.
Island Watch: ISL-75 Ameriquartz Field Watch Review
The Islander ISL-75 is an amazingly unfussy tool. Its clean aesthetic is typical of field watches, which prioritize simplicity and legibility. My tester featured a white face beneath its antireflective sapphire crystal, but there are black-dialed models available as well. Both versions utilize large, stamped numerals with a small date window at the 4 o’clock position.
The numbers, hour hand, minute hand, and even the last half-inch of the second hand have been painted with glow-in-the-dark SuperLuminova, making this one of the easiest-reading nighttime watches you can find.
The case itself is composed of stainless steel, measuring 40 mm in diameter and 10 mm thick. The drilled lugs feel a little long (49 mm tip to tip), but they curve well around the wrist.
Water resistance is set at 100 m, which is more or less the standard for field watches. The metal is nicely brushed all around, with a polished ring on the sloped edge of the case back.
And check out the etching on the 75’s backside. Very nicely done.
But the hallmark of this piece (and the reason I was eager to get my hands on it) is the U.S.-made heart ticking away inside the watch. Per the company’s website, the ISL-75 “features a U.S. Ameriquartz 7121 all metal, one-jewel movement that is accurate to ± 20 sec/month. The movement’s battery has a lifespan of three to four years.”
These mechanisms are assembled at the FTS facility in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Over its 2 weeks with me, the Islander dropped only a second behind atomic time. Its smallest hand ticks away firmly and precisely, without any of the waver seen in cheaper quartz movements. It also lands directly on each hour and minute marker, which speaks to the quality control of its corporate parents.
This is a bigger deal than it may at first appear. While brands like Shinola have marketed their “American-made” luxury watches for a while now, there have been mixed reports as to their attention to detail. And this is the first time we’ve seen a domestic wristwatch available in the budget-minded sphere.
For well under $200, the ISL-75 is a well-designed, solidly built timepiece using high-grade materials.
Lonely Islander: What’s Missing
As mentioned above, the ISL-75 is the definition of unfussy. So much so that I wish there was a little more to it. Specifically, I’m referring to the watch’s face.
I like the numerals, the hands, and the railroad track-style minutes counter. It’s all so clean and legible, perfect for a field watch. But what it could use is just a little bit of branding.
A small, applied Islander logo or even a bit of text heralding the Ameriquartz movement really would make the dial pop. I appreciate the restraint, but if I put together a piece with these kinds of credentials, I’d want to crow about it just a little.
Other than that, there’s really nothing bad to say about this watch. Some different strap options would be cool, I suppose, but the elastic band is a nice departure from the traditional leather or NATO.
Conclusions: Island Watch’s ISL-75 Field Watch
Look — this could have been boring. Seeing this Islander online, with its plain face and lack of complications, could lull buyers into thinking that this is nothing more than a basic quartz wristwatch.
But don’t sleep on the ISL-75. It’s comfortable, attractive, and eminently legible. Add to this its functionality and the groundbreaking nature of its American-made pedigree, and you’re left with something truly special.
If this is just the first step for Island Watch and Ameriquartz, it’s definitely a good one. I hope to see more models from the pair in the future. But for now, the ISL-75 is a winner in its own right. And at just $179 for the price of admission, this is a hype train worth riding.