Unlimited “No Fault” Lifetime Warranty??

There’s been a recent trend in the binocular industry to offer a “lifetime warranty” or “no-fault” warranty. Let’s think about that. What other products do you buy that come with that kind of warranty- cars, computers, televisions, cell phones, home appliances? Of course none of these come with lifetime warranties, it would be ridiculous to expect that! Why should binoculars be any different? Depending on how well you take care of them, they might last a couple years, or the rest of your life- that’s up to you. The implied message of the lifetime warranty is “our binoculars are so well made that they’ll last forever”. That’s nonsense of course. Speaking as somebody that’s been repairing binoculars for 24 years- no matter how well a binocular is made, it’s a precision instrument, and owners will find ways to break them. The question is, do you want to pay extra up front to cover the cost of an insurance plan, or would you rather pay the lowest-possible price for your binocular, take good care of it, and if you do happen to break it at some point- just pay the cost to repair it, or possibly replace it depending on how old it is, and perhaps upgrade to a new and improved model?

The first step in analyzing a warranty is to read the fine-print and know what’s covered and what’s not covered. Some manufacturers offer a ridiculously-long warranty period- 10 years, 20 years, even “lifetime”- but then exclude anything that’s not a “manufacturer’s defect”. The truth is “manufacturer’s defects” will usually be obvious on day one, and will certainly show up within the first year of usage. So it doesn’t matter how long the warranty period is, if it’s only covering manufacturer’s defects, it’s not likely to cover anything after the first year. After the first year, there are only a few things that can go wrong-

  1. The number one answer- the binocular was damaged from a hard drop
  2. The binocular was left outdoors 24/7 and now there’s internal fogging or water intrusion
  3. The dog chewed-up the rubber parts

If the warranty does not exclude accidents or abuse of product, then you have to ask- who’s really paying for that cost? Is the manufacturer eating it, just because they love their customers? Or did you pay for an insurance policy in the price of the binocular when you bought it? If you’re a manufacturer, and your cost to build a binocular is 30% of the selling price, you could probably afford to replace a binocular for any reason- and still be profitable. If your cost to build is more than 50%, replacing a binocular will make that sale a loss. Oberwerk’s cost to manufacture averages well above 50% selling cost, with higher-end products above 60%. With our thin margins, Oberwerk products can only only sold direct, and not through resellers. We do love our customers- so we offer to them great products at lowest-possible prices. Because of that, we simply can’t afford to replace binoculars that don’t have manufacturer’s defects. What we do is thoroughly inspect each and every binocular, to be sure it doesn’t ship with a defect, and to be sure the alignment is as perfect as possible. We then offer a 15-day satisfaction guarantee, where we’ll replace or exchange for any reason, and completely at our cost- or we’ll simply accept a return. We include a 2-year or 3-year warranty (depending on product) to cover any possible defects that don’t show up right away, which is probably more generous than the warranties on most other products that you buy. Beyond that, if something goes wrong- sorry, you broke it. We’ll take care of it, but we’ll charge a reasonable price to do so. We could change our warranty to a “lifetime limited warranty”- but that would just be a marketing gimmick as there will be no manufacturer’s defects discovered years after the purchase. You’d still pay for breaking it. Alternatively, we could mark up binoculars by an extra 30-50%, and then cover accidents like some manufacturers do- but do you really want to pay a higher price to cover the costs for customers that don’t take care of their things? Or would you rather pay a lower price, knowing that if you break it, you’ll need to cover that cost? If you’re the type of person that buys extended warranties, then perhaps a “no-fault unlimited warranty” is for you- because you’re paying for an extended warranty in the price of the binocular. If you appreciate a good value, and you take care of your possessions, then you might want to avoid paying up-front for “unlimited no-fault warranties”.

Neil English Reviews the new Oberwerk 8×32 SE (Special Edition)

Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. His new book, Choosing and Using Binoculars: A Guide for Stargazers, Birders and Outdoor Enthusiasts will be published later this year. When Neil heard the announcement of the Oberwerk SE Series, he asked to be placed on the pre-order list for an 8×32 SE so he could do a product review, and we obliged. It didn’t take long for him to form an opinion, and here’s the link to the full review on his website. It’s not a quick read, so if you’re in a hurry, (spoiler alert) here’s the summary- “It goes without saying that this product gets my highest possible recommendation.

Astronomy Magazine Names Oberwerk BT-127XL-SD a 2022 Star Product

Astronomy Magazine Oct. 2022
Astronomy Magazine has awarded the Oberwerk BT-127XL-SD as a “2022 Star Product”. “Welcome to the 12th annual Star Products awards. This year, as in the past, we scoured the market in search of the 35 best new and unique astro products. Our winners this year, presented in no particular order, offer a mix for newbie and veteran hobbyists alike. #19. Oberwerk recently introduced the BT-127XL-SD, the largest member of its binocular telescope family. The glossy white binoscope pairs two identical 127mm apochromatic refractors. Each has a fully-coated three element objective lens made of FCD100 and FK-61 glass to eliminate false color. Despite the size of the large objective lenses and prism assemblies, the BT-127XL-SD weighs only 24.5 lbs (11 kg). It comes with two 14mm eyepieces and a heavy-duty case with wheels for easy transport. A mount is sold separately.”
Astronomy Magazine 2022 Star Product

Introducing ROAMER (Ridiculously-Over-engineered Accurate Measure of Eye Relief)

If you don’t wear glasses, eyepiece eye relief is usually not a concern. Even if you do need corrective lenses for farsightedness or nearsightedness, our binoculars usually have enough range in their focusers to compensate for your correction, allowing you to observe with glasses off. But if your glasses are correcting for astigmatism, you’ll probably get sharper views by keeping your glasses on- in which case eye relief will be an important specification. If it’s too short, you won’t be able to see the entire field of view when wearing glasses. There’s always been a difference between binocular manufacturer’s eye relief specification and actual usable eye relief. Whether it’s space taken up by whatever style eyecup is utilized, or a recess from the top of the eyepiece to the actual lens, manufacturer’s eye relief specifications have always been exaggerated to some degree- until now. Introducing ROAMER (Ridiculously Over-engineered Accurate Measure of Eye Relief), which Oberwerk will now use to provide precise usable eye relief specifications for every Oberwerk binocular. Note that these new specifications will make Oberwerk binoculars appear to have less eye relief than binoculars from other brands. But that’s not the case- our eyepieces are no worse than others in this regard, and they’re often better- but at least you’ll have accurate information from now on.


BT-127XL-SD In-Depth Review

The binocular aficionados at Binomania.it have published the most comprehensive review to date for our flagship BT-127XL-SD binocular telescope. You can read the written review here. It’s in Italian, but most browsers will translate to English. There is also a 15-minute YouTube review. It’s also in Italian, but has English subtitles. As always, the video quality is excellent, and the scenery is breath-taking. This review very clearly shows the remarkable absence of CA (Chromatic Aberration) due to the BT-127XL-SD’s apochromatic triplet objectives. If you’re considering a larger-than-100mm binocular telescope, this video review is well-worth your time.

Supply Chain Woes / Christmas 2021

Oberwerk has experienced tremendous growth over the last two years. During this time, we’ve been able to to manage our supply chain and overseas shipping to keep our warehouse well-stocked most of the time. The cost of sending cargo by air has increased greatly, but we’ve been able to absorb that for now because 1) shipping cost for our larger/heavier binoculars is still a small percentage of their cost and 2) less-expensive models are relatively-lightweight, so shipping cost is still a manageable percentage of their cost. So even though many of our most popular binocular models keep running out of stock, we’re bringing in air shipments as often as possible to prevent long back-orders. Customers that placed out-of-stock binocular orders in November should receive those orders before Christmas. For orders placed in December for out-of-stock products- we’ll do our best, but we can’t guarantee delivery by Christmas.

The situation is different with our popular Model 5000 aluminum tripods. The cost of air freight is prohibitive because these items are rather heavy, yet sell for a relatively-low price. In fact the current cost of air freight, plus the cost of the tripod, exceeds the selling price of the tripod! So we’ve had to put our most recent order of 5000 tripods on a sea shipment. We’re hoping to have these sometime in late-Feb./early-March. We know the 5000 is a popular choice for several of our binoculars, so what to do if you can’t wait until then? For binoculars up to 10 lbs., our Model 4000 (which uses the 5000 head), will work almost as well as the 5000- and is $70 less. If you were considering the 5000 for one of our XL Binocular Telescopes, we highly recommend the TR3 hardwood tripod instead. While the cost is over $300 higher, the TR3 is much steadier and is the best choice for binoculars that are capable of such high magnifications.

Please contact us by phone or email if you have any questions about availability, as well as best mounting choices for our various binocular models.

Oberwerk PM2 Awarded a “2021 Star Product” by Astronomy Magazine

We’re pleased to announce that Astronomy Magazine just named our PM2 Parallelogram Mount a “Star Product” in their October 2021 issue. A parallelogram mount is the best way (only way?) to view the night sky comfortably with a straight-through view binocular, especially when combined with a reclining chair. They’re also great for astronomy outreach, as the 28″ vertical range easily accommodates most adults and children.

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