It’s a shame that the bullshit money making trend is shifting to smaller case watches and if that wasn’t bad enough the overflow of the constant rehashing of the same “sub mariner” looking watches is making a rather boring sea of watches. Being inspired by a design is completely different than a soulless rehash. That’s why I have such a high respect for the people behind the company of today’s watch for this review. Marching to the beat of their own drum, taking a chance and going against the grain is highly admirable and extremely refreshing.
Raw, badass, industrial, large, simplicity all can be used to describe the watch that we will be exploring here together. Completely the opposite of what the industry is brainwashing people to believe is the current trend. When watch design becomes more about making money than bringing out a inspired piece, there is no horological magic. “Tribute to Gondar was an Adua-class submarine built for the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina) during the 1930s provided support to SLC units Siluro a lenta Corsa of the Flottiglia XMAS.” When I held the Gondar for the first time, I almost felt that special magic emanating from the watch itself. The case itself was “carved” from a single block of bronze is absolutely magnificent yet so simplistic. This is hands down the exact situation for the definition of when less is more. I took a great deal of time examining this case when I first opened it up from the box.
The bronze that is used for this case and crown isn’t just your standard run of the mill bronze either, it is Naval Grade Bronze (CuAl5) which definitely adds to the badassery of this piece. The crown immediately stole my heart. It has everything that I personally look for in a crown design, oversized, easy to grip edges, signed, functionality in all weather situations. I also like that the crown in solid and not hollowed out some some crowns are which makes them look & feel cheap. This crown almost has it all, I have to knock off a point on the crown because when it’s fully opened the crown has a little wobble play to it. Fondale is aware of this and they have assured me that they are working on improving this. The crown guards nicely protect this crown and I love how the guards flow from the side of the case.
The Gondar has a fixed bezel which is the perfect choice in my opinion because it holds true to the simplistic essence of the vision and design of what this watch was to be. I like how the bezel curves up to the single domed sapphire crystal and borders it quite beautifully. Total badassery can be used to describe these lugs, thick, drilled lugs which feature solid screw bars. I love the extra security that a screw bar offers over that of a standard spring bar. A slight curve that ends with a raw, rugged squared edge on the lugs, adds a real toughness to the appearance of this watch. This is a true example of a no nonsense watch.
The Gondar’s 34mm diameter dial definitely holds true to the design vision in regards to that simplistic magic. It’s a real three hand beauty of a dial. There isn’t anything unnecessary bullshit crowding this dial or distracting from it’s flow. This dial has a nice texture to it which is created by the grained Enamel. As you can see it’s a California style dial which works well with this watch. I have never been overly fond of California dials, but it truly works here and I don’t think I would like any other style on the Gondar as much as I like this dial. The markers have a nice legibility to them both in day and at night because they are printed with Swiss Super Luminova C3 lume. The green dial is kind of magical in the way it plays with the light in terms of how the color comes across, from appearing black to seeing the true green pop on the dial itself.
It was great to see the hands choice that Fonderia Navale went with for the Gondar. The hour and minute hand contain functionality and aesthetics. In terms of functionality the hands are the ideal length and width for this dial. The reach to their intended destination without stopping short like Frank Costanza. A splash of color was worked into this dial thanks to the red seconds hand with it’s stylish arrow head tip. As I mentioned earlier this dial doesn’t have any unnecessary BS on it that would take away from the simplistic beauty of this watch. You have Fonderia Navale, Gondar, 200 metri, automatico, nothing else. I am glad that Fonderia Navale decided against a date window, this dial doesn’t need one.
The crisp white hour markers look great against the green dial, which are extremely legible. One thing that I would like to mention about the green dial is that the shade of green is spot on. It’s nicely changes color with the lighting and angles in which you view it in. It changes from green to almost black, which in my opinion is how a different color dial should be.(unless it’s yellow, orange or white). Take a look at the picture above and you can see what I mean.
I was really surprised by how well this watch kept time. During this whole review process, I kept it timed against a Rolex DSSD and the Gondar kept pace with the DSSD. I honestly didn’t expect this kind of precision and it really is an added bonus especially for the Seiko NH35 automatic which I have had quite a bit of experience with.
Another nice surprise here is the 145 x 83 by 4mm thick leather strap. It is custom made quality that any watch/strap enthusiast will immediately recognize and appreciate once you run your fingers across it and especially when you strap it to your wrist for the first time. I was really surprised on how well the Gondar feels on the wrist. For the size, weight and dimensions it wears extremely comfortable but also allows you to appreciate it’s solid build. Don’t let the BS dictate what size watch you have to wear because you will miss out on some extraordinary pieces such as this. How do you complement a nice, custom strap? Well take a look at the pic below and you can see how Fonderia Navale did exactly that.(reminds me of King Neptunes trident)
Included Bronze Buckle
The Fonderia Navale Gondar is a work of art that is inspiration driven. As a watch enthusiast and as a watch reviewer, there are pieces that come along that really make me fall in love again with horological art. They rekindle that passion within me and reconfirm why I started reviewing watches in the first place. The Gondar is without a doubt one of those watches. Fonderia Navale has delivered a very special watch here in their Gondar. It makes me sad that deep down I have a feeling that watches like this are going to become rarer to come across in the industry that is becoming overrun by uninspired, lack of creative vision watches.
The bronze case is such a strong highlight of this watch, I spent a great deal of time just admiring the single block of bronze that was carved into this case and then given a brushed finish to complete the look of this piece. The textured enamel green dial just adds so much to this watch yet retains that simplistic magic. I have had the honor and opportunity to review quite a few bronze watches which were all nice, quality pieces, but the Gondar is one of the nicest I have experienced. The passion behind this watch is so evident, designed by someone who has a strong love for watches that found it more important to share that passion, that love instead of following crowd just to make a buck. If you are looking for a bronze piece, I highly recommend that you start looking here first. You get a lot of watch for your money here.
Thank you all for reading and as always your comments and questions are welcome below.
A very special thanks to Fonderia Navale for this opportunity and honor to explore this inspiring piece.
More pics below. Field test and pics will be added this week.
Production 100 units (50 blue dial/50 green dial)
Case diameter: 44 mm excluding the crown – lug to lug 56 mm
Movement: Seiko NH35 automatic
Case material: Naval Grade Bronze (CuAl5) for heavy-duty applications
Crown: Naval Grade Bronze (CuAl5) screw down crown 10mm
Crystal: Sapphire single Domed
Dial: 34mm diameter grained Enamel with printed Swiss Super Luminova C3 lume .
Water-resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 ATM
Case back: Stainless Steel
Strap: 24mm brown leather 4 mm thick.
CUSTOM BUCKLE FROM STRAPS MONSTER