A Budget Skeleton, But Is It One Worth Wearing?
Invicta’s reputation is as polarizing as it gets in the watch world. I make a point of not being interested in popular opinion when assessing a brand as I’d rather see their watches hands-on and form my own opinion. It was in that spirit that I plopped down $80 to purchase this specialty and give it a fair shake
This model of Specialty is found on Amazon for under $80, a price point that is crowded with similar entrants from no-name import brands, ODM resellers, and volume brands like Stuhrling Original, Lucien Piccard, and… Invicta.
Given its low price, many will find the Specialty attractive, and there’s no denying that the Skeleton dial is atypical compared to the usual $80 watch. After several mixed experiences with similar watches from other brands, I was genuinely curious to see how the ultra-affordable Specialty would be.
Invicta Specialty Technical Specifications
- Model Number: 23533
- MSRP: $695
- Case Diameter: 42mm
- Alternate Models: Plenty of options
- Movement: Mechanical, STBL-005B
- Complications: None
- Power Reserve: Approximately 40 hours
- Water Resistance: 30m / 99ft
- Crystal Material: “Flame fusion”
It’s a Hard Watch to Miss
A largeish 42mm case gives the skeleton dial plenty of room, and the skeleton is what dominates the look of the Specialty. Next to the skeleton, the Roman Numeral hour markers and dots encircling the outermost portion of the dial just complicate an already crowded dial. As a result, I think it’s too busy to look good.
But someone eying the Specialty isn’t concerned about how crowded the outer ring is; they’re looking at the exposed movement which, I have to say, does look pretty good. The movement isn’t the cleanest or most polished you’re going to find, but it’s clean enough that the eye has plenty to gawk at.
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Sadly, because of how loud the rest of the dial is, the black hands get lost in them. Telling time requires commitment since you’re forever having to verify the position of the hands. This is especially true for the hour hand, which lacks the length to clear the inner skeleton dial. At least the minute and seconds hands have tips that reach the outer ring. Using more reflective steel hands would have been a much better choice for visibility.
Thankfully, there are numerous other (and better) color schemes available. This one – white/black on brown leather – is one of the least attractive versions, so if you like the idea of a budget skeleton but echo my sentiments on the problems this color scheme has, you have plenty of choices.
It Hand-Winds, But It Doesn’t Hack
Invicta calls out the movement as the STBL-005B mechanical, but looking for information on that movement is a challenge. Chances are that it’s a variation of the Chinese Standard Movement, but I do not have confirmation on this yet (I’ll update this area if/when this changes).
If it is the Chinese Standard Movement, then it has some decent specs that match its price point: 40 hours of power reserve, 21,600 bph, and accuracy of +/- 30 seconds per day. I did not test the accuracy of the Specialty, but I did test its power reserve and have seen an average of 39 hours of reserve across the last 4 winds. It does not hack.
I’ve had mixed experiences with Chinese-manufactured movements, and at this point, I’ve reviewed my fair share (and have a few in my collection). I’ve noticed that it really is hit or miss in terms of how reliable the movement will be. The Stuhrling Original Delphi Acheron I purchased in 2013 died in 2016, while the Breytenbach I purchased in 2015 is still ticking along today.
How well a movement is finished, including how clean the case is (especially near areas that require lubrication), is a decent indicator of how well the movement will treat you. The Specialty’s looks pretty good, but it’s not the cleanest I’ve come across and while I suppose you could argue the price point, that doesn’t change much with respect to assessing ambiguous reliability.
But There’s Something “Off” About It…
As of right now, the Specialty’s MSRP on Invicta’s website is $695, a figure that is flat-out ridiculous but quite common in this end of the watch market. This tactic of high MSRP’s and “deeply discounted” street prices are something you’ll encounter often in the lower-end, and Invicta is notorious for it.
The fact is that there’s nothing worth $700 on or anywhere near this watch. Yes, it’s a skeleton and it’s novel that it uses a hand-wound movement, but it isn’t made of the right stuff or with the right care to justify a $700 MSRP.
To me, this misleading method of pricing the watch devalues both the watch and the brand. Pricing and marketing the Specialty as a $100 watch would be totally appropriate. In fact, it’s a pretty good $100 watch and would be more so if it was priced accordingly.
If you’re wanting a watch that has some of the “cool” factor, and you think the skeleton dial gives the Specialty a bit of it, then it’s not a bad purchase. However, if you’re wanting a watch that you can feel great about, and know with confidence it will last a long time, then you should probably look elsewhere.
1 thought on “Invicta Specialty Mechanical Hands-On Review”
I have purchased the speciality in rose gold colour through the Invicta Europe website. It has an MRSP of €259. I have paid €90 for it and that price includes shipping from the US and taxes, plus they have informed me that I will not be hit with any import fees as well. In my opinion that has to be the bargain of the year so far!