Most people know the brand Swarovski, they make crystals, pretty perhaps but useless. Less widely known, the same Swarovski also manufacture high quality optics. My first decent pair of binoculars were Swarovski SLC 8×30 WBs. They are brilliant binoculars but I I’ve grown tired of sending them back to Austria for repair. The warranty is 30 years but so what if your binoculars fail in the field?
I bought my Swarovski SLC 8×30 WBs in 1999. Everything about them speaks of quality. They are sharp with vivid colours, the twist-out eye-cups are reliable, protective caps work well and the strap is comfortable. No one needs better optics than this and Swarovski SLCs are cheaper than comparable Leicas.
The Swafogski saga
My Swarovskis first failed in March 2005, the plastic diopter adjustment dial cracked and broke off. I sent them to Swarovski for repair and they came back better than new. The focus wheel was always binding and they fixed that too.
All was well and then, one day in February 2007 I went for a walk and discovered my my Swarovskis had fogged. A second time, I sent my Swarovskis off to Austria for repair. I was happy to get them back, perfect again.
Unexpectedly, in October 2008 my Swarovskis fogged again. This failure is really puzzling. On the mountains in Vietnam, at Bach Ma and at Sapa, they fogged. I could see the condensation inside. After that, they didn’t fog in the Philippines and not in Nepal. When I got home, I put my Swarovskis in the refrigerator and they did not fog. My father took them to Stewart Island, New Zealand, and they did not fog.
Are my Swarovskis OK now? It seems so, but how can I trust them? It’s no fun birding with foggy optics and now I leave my Swarovskis at home. Perhaps I will give them away.
I’m sure most people have no problems with Swarovski optics, maybe I was just unlucky. I expect good binoculars to last about 10 years of regular use, my Swarovskis are almost that age now and I have moved on. Now I’m using Minox, the optics are OK and my dad’s Minox have lasted well.