Watch Review: GPW Field Watch

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Company: GPW Arctos Elite

Website: http://arctoswatches.myshopify.com/collections/gpw-military/products/gpwfldbundbr

GPW Field Model Specifications:

2-Year Manufacturer Warranty
Titanium Case (62 grams without strap)
Sapphire Crystal
200M (600ft) water-resistant.
Automatic movement (24 Jewels) Seiko NH35
Non-Radioactive Military Luminous for readability in the dark
22mm lug width
42mm case width
48mm lug to lug
Screw-in locked crown
Screwed in case back

Sometimes a watch can have so many features that it’s true essence can get lost. Take for instance, the “smart” watches that have been coming out over the past few years. Some argue that they aren’t even watches, but whatever your thoughts on these watches I believe that something is lost with them. Today I will be looking at a watch that reconnected me to the simpler times. Forgetting about all the bells and whistles and technology, the GPW Field Watch allows me to reconnect to the more important and traditional things that made me fall in love with watches in the first place. If you get a chance, please follow this link and read this history behind Arctos Watches. http://arctoswatches.myshopify.com/pages/about-us

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The GPW Field Watch is a no nonsense watch,  that is based on watches that are made for use in the field by actual Infantryman of the German Crisis Reaction Forces. In other words, this watch is designed to take some abuse when it’s on your wrist. The solid titanium case comes in at 42mm width without the crown, 13mm thick, 22 mm lug width and can handle a WR depth of 660ft. The titanium gives the case a matte grey appearance that just adds to the tool/adventure watch feel. The case features a fixed sterile bezel that creates a simple, yet beautiful frame for the domed sapphire crystal. A good material for the crystal  since it has been proven to be reliably rugged.

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The unsigned screw down is so easy to grip and operate thanks to large cogs that wrap completely around the edges of the crown. The solid lugs are nice and short preventing any unnecessary wrist over hang. This watch wears pretty true to the 42mm case size. The screw down case back is simple, with nothing that is not needed, containing info on the watches specifications is all that you will find back here.

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The matte black dial is nothing short of awesome and classic. Going off of a purely functional approach, the dial is extremely easy to read. Thanks to the non radioactive lume, this dial is also easy to read in the dark as well. Charging this watch under a light source makes it glow like a flashlight and it lasts a good amount of time as well. The numbers, the indices, and the hands  all recieved the hot lume treatment. The FW has a date window located at the 3 o’clock position which does come in handy, but as purest will say, date windows disrupt the zen flow of a dial. Surely it doesn’t take away from how nice this dial looks, but the elimination of the number 3 does take something away from its appearance. I really like the contrast that is created by the color choices for the hands here. The hour and minute hand are polished black while the second is matte white. This looks really good in person.

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Ticking away inside the GPW Fieldwatch is the automatic beats of the Seiko NH35. This movement broken down as follows:

Jewels 24
Vibrations Per Hour: 21,600 bph
Shock System
Power Reserve: 41 hours
Winding Direction: Bi-directional, Hacking
Diameter: 27.40mm (outside) / 29.36mm (casing)
Height: 5.32mm
Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date calendar

Timing of the GPW Fieldwatch came in at gaining approximately 10 seconds per day.

wrist is 7 1/2″ for reference

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The FW comes on a simple yet comfortable brown bund strap. The bund strap completely changes the look of this watch. That’s the awesome thing about straps, just a simple strap change can breathe new life into a watch. Just so you know, the FW looks amazing on a NATO style strap as well. Because of the titanium case the watch is very comfortable and extremely light.

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It’s refreshing to see a watch that ditches all the “bells and whistles” to take us back to the basics. A watch that you can easily grab and go with. The FW went through some everyday chores with me and was the perfect companion. It held up chopping wood, moving dirt, sledge hammering some old concrete…… Then it went with me on my weekend activities, making a seemless transition. It’s that kind of watch.

You get some bang for your buck here. The solid titanium case is tough as nails that looks great too. The classic dial and lume treatment will keep you looking past the time. What I mean by looking past the time is that you will find yourself gazing at how nice the dial looks that you won’t even notice the time. The simplicity of this watch adds to its charm. I would have no problem recommending this watch to anyone looking for that “daily beater”. The GPW can surely handle that challenge and look great doing it. I really enjoyed being taken back to the basics with the GPW Field Watch.

I want to personally thank GPW for allowing me the honor of doing this review.

Thanks for reading.

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Watch Review: Gruppo Gamma Divemaster D-1

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Company: Gruppo Gamma

Model: Divemaster D-01N

Website: http://www.gruppogammawatches.com

Class
Mk I Divemaster, diver’s watch

Functions
Hours, minutes, seconds, elapsed time

Case
Stainless steel, brushed, with helium release valve on case side at 9 o’clock
Diameter 44 mm excluding crown and lugs, length 52 mm lug-to-lug, thickness 14 mm excluding 2 mm crystal height, lug width 24 mm
120-click unidirectional rotatable bezel, stainless steel, with sapphire insert and C3 luminescent markers
Sapphire crystal, double domed with underside anti-reflective coating
Screw-in crown and caseback, stainless steel

Movement
Seiko Instruments NH35A (4R35), 21600 bph, 24 jewels
Automatic bi-directional winding, hand-windable, timesetting with stop-second device
Accuracy between -25 to +35 s/ day, power reserve 40 hrs

Dial
Matte black, 2-layer with C3 luminescent markers

Hands
Matte silver color, with C3 luminescent markers

Weight
140 g with strap

Water Resistance
30 ATM/ 300 m/ 1000 ft

From the website on the Divemaster:

The 1950s was one of the most exciting periods in dive watch history – in 1953 Blancpain introduced the Fifty Fathoms which was issued to the US and French naval divers, Zodiac introduced the Sea Wolf, and in 1954 Rolex introduced the Submariner. Ironically, it was also in the 1950s that Panerai stopped producing dive watches for the Italian frogmen.

Retrospective but adventurous, the Divemaster draws inspiration from these legendary watches in much the same way that different watch designs in times past have influenced one another.

The Divemaster is equipped with tool watch capabilities for real world challenges. Robust automatic movement from Seiko SII, encased in surgical grade stainless steel case with double-domed sapphire crystal and engineered to a depth rating of 300 m/ 1100 ft. Unidirectional 120-click bezel to mark elapsed time, with sapphire inlay for scratch resistance and luminescent markers for visibility in the dark.

It seems like new watch companies pop up every day now.  Having an unique identity is something that is clearly missing in a large number of them. Getting lost in the sea of new companies is something that is easy to do. I believe it’s also hard to create an unique identity. It surely isn’t something that is done overnight either. Over the past few years Gruppo Gamma has been building their identity and it surely hasn’t gone unnoticed. Inspired by dive watches of yesteryear and building upon that great foundation, Gruppo Gamma is achieving something that is of their own unique destiny. A destiny that is becoming quite recognizable to the watch loving public. Gruppo Gamma is a special company that is surely shining out in the vast sea of microbrands.

Speaking of the vast sea, today we are looking at the final production version of the Divemaster. A few months ago I had the opportunity to look at the prototype version, though a few things have changed on the final production model, one thing has remained the same, it’s a great, solid tribute to dive watches of the past infused with Gruppo Gamma’s own unique identity.

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The packaging is different on the Divemaster than past GG offerings and I noticed that right away. It is still a travel style case, but a travel case on steroids. The travel case is much beefier and thicker than before. It’s not as wide as the old style case but you notice the thickness immediately. This gives you more insurance that your watch will definitely be well protected during shipment. Another difference that I noticed is that the skull logo is missing from the lid of the travel case. In it’s place is a stamped Gruppo Gamma, which matches the case back on the Divemaster. Continue reading to see what I mean.

Inside the travel case is the traditional set up, with the addition of a padded dividing wall that is in-between the pocket for extra straps and the watch itself. Just by the touching the inside of the case you can actually feel how well protected your watch is.

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The brushed stainless steel case is awesome. It’s evenly done from the case to the lugs, up to the bezel. I must admit that I was a little disappointed when the case was sized down from the initial 18mm thick plan to its current 14mm. Honestly, though after spending time with the Divemaster, it really is the perfect size. It’s so comfortable on the wrist and still has a great wrist presence. In my opinion watches in the 42mm and under tend to lose some wrist presence. You will notice that there are no crown guards on the Divemaster. The no crown guard look is something that has certainly grown on me, giving the Divemaster a classic look. The curved lugs are angled so that there is no overhang on the wrist. The lugs are drilled and feature screw-in strap bars. GG includes a screwdriver strap tool which is always helpful for changing the “shoes” on the Divemaster.

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As with the Gruppo Gamma watches that I have reviewed in the past, the cases are finished pretty amazingly, especially when you factor in the price. As I mentioned before, the Divemaster has a 14mm thickness from case bottom to the top, excluding the 2mm double domed sapphire crystal. A change that I am very excited about on this final production version is the elimination of the vintage dome that was on the prototype. It really distorted the dial from certain angles and it was actually a challenge to photograph without having glare, reflection and too much distortion. The new double domed sapphire crystal is gorgeous.

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That beautiful glisten you see eminating from the bezel on the Divemaster is sapphire crystal and it is in fact lumed. I posted a picture of the lume below so you can check it out. The bezel rotates extremely smooth with nice clicking action. As with most dive watches, the Divemaster has the customary screw down crown that operates flawlessly. Winding the Divemaster manually is so smooth.  The crown is signed GAMMA 1 with raised letters. This little detail looks fantastic, and always marks this as a stand alone watch from the MK series.

click on images to enlarge

The non crown side of the case features a helium release valve. For those of you that don’t know the valve is necessary when commercial diving inside of a diving bell for a duration of time. During this time helium may build up inside of the case and to keep the case from breaking apart the valve is there to release that gas pressure.

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The screw down case back is also stainless steel just like the rest of the case. It features raised Gruppo Gamma. All of the Gruppo Gamma watches that I have featured here have had the skull logo.  Gruppo Gamma continued the theme of this watch onto the case back with the raised name logo. Keeping true to the Blancpain, Panerai vintage inspirations of the dive watches of the 1950’s etc… The Divemaster is not a copy of any watch. What the Divemaster is though, is an inspired piece built upon the foundation from dive watches of the past infused with Gruppo Gamma’s DNA which gives way to their own unique interpretation of dive watch history.  This watch is nothing short of awesome.

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There are two dial variations available on the Divemaster, a sandwiched style dial as I have here and a printed dial. The sandwich style dial is nothing short of awesome. The numerals are crisp and are very easy to read. You can’t go wrong with the matte black and white combination.  This model has a silver second hand, which is also found on the D-02 but for the D-01R and the D-01N the second hand is red. What I like that GG improved on this final production model,  is the second hand has a larger lumed triangle which makes it much easier to see at night or low lit environments. The white text printed on the dial is Gruppo Gamma and 300m water resistance.

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I really like the seconds/minutes track on the Divemaster. Why? Because this addition of the border track really adds a complete finished detail to the dial versus just having hash marks for the seconds/minutes. This dial features a good amount of lume that can be found on all 3 hands, hour markers and extends out to the bezel as well. Of course the lume is evenly coated and has an excellent, bright glow that lasts hours.

The movement inside of this final production features is the Seiko NH35 movement which was chosen for a number of reasons over the Miyota movement. Those reasons are price, availability, which means that if GG went with the Miyota movement the Divemaster would have been more money and not available until next year. I timed the Divemaster and its running at -8 seconds over a week peroid.

Wrist Shots 7 1/2″ wrist for reference

click on images to enlarge

The kit includes:

Leather strap, ochre brown, length 125x75mm, width 24x22mm with Type V buckle 22mm.
Rubber strap, black, length 130x75mm, width 24x24mm with Pre-V buckle 24mm
Screwdriver for strap changes

Travel pouch.

Closing:

The Divemaster is Gruppo Gamma’s best offering to date in my opinion. The quality is top notch. It rivals watches well above this price point and if you look at how much watch & extras that you are getting, how could you not snatch one of these up? Especially if you are a dive watch fan you owe it to yourself to experience a great watch built upon the foundations of pioneer dive watches. The vintage inspirations that are seen throughout the Divemaster are absolutely beautiful and teamed with the modern flare of Gruppo Gamma’s style for creating awesome watches is a truly winning combination.

The Divemaster falls nicely into that dive/tool watch category which makes it a reliable and rugged piece. A piece that can handle your adventures without fail. But what is nice about the Divemaster that it can be dressed up or down depending on your choice for straps or bracelets. I personally love the Divemaster on a black Zulu strap.

The Divemaster is an instant classic. There isn’t one thing that I would change about it. Naoki has really stepped it up this time. Even more so this time than usual, which is saying a lot because he always delivers quality pieces. I’m certain that you will love this latest offering from Gruppo Gamma. Once you hold it and strap it onto your wrist it’s instant magic that I can’t explain. The appearence of the Divemaster changes depending on the lighting, natural vs. artificial and it also changes on the amount of light that is in the environment. It’s beautiful in all, but it’s so cool to see the change.

It’s very addicting to rotate the smooth bezel that has no play whatsoever in it. Everything on the bezel lines up perfectly with the dial. Major points earned in my book for those alone.

I want to personally thank Naoki for this honor and opportunity of allowing me to review the Divemaster.

 

Thanks for reading.

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