PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 20 Aug, 2016.
I’m a real fan of G. Gerlach. Based in Poland, they consistently release well designed, solidly built, affordable timepieces. This is my fourth watch of theirs to date (I’ve previously reviewed the Enigma, Orzel and Otago), and each one has impressed me for the price.
The Submarine will cost you 1499 PLN / £285, and the main selling point going for it is the full brass casing. Let’s take a closer look to see if it’s as good a deal as the rest of them.
- Dimensions: 43mm diameter x 14.5mm height (to top of domed crystal) x 49mm lug to lug
- Case material: brass, with steel caseback
- Weight: 125g
- Crystal: double domed sapphire with AR
- Lug width: 22mm
- Movement: Seiko / TMI NH35A
- Water resistance: 100m
The case is possibly the main talking point of the G. Gerlach Submarine. It’s made of solid brass, and develops a heavy patina swiftly. Due to this, it’s a surprisingly heavy 125g on the wrist – giving the feeling of heft and quality.
It’s also not small, measuring 43mm in diameter, with an oversized crown. It’s a distinct cushion shape – interestingly exactly the same shape as their Enigma. It has a completely brushed finish all over, allowing the rugged nature of the watch to take hold.
The screw-in crown is smooth and easy to use; it’s also nice to see the logo liking up with the case when fully screwed in – something you rarely see on affordables. It has the G. Gerlach logo lightly etched into the end – I would have preferred it to be properly engraved like it is on the buckle. A word of warning – the protective blue sticker on the crown is an absolute nightmare to get off. It was that hard I had to scratch it off with a blunt knife. Not ideal at all… But thankfully the brass and its patina has masked any markings nicely.
The bezel is relatively unobtrusive in terms of design. The brown insert is quite thin, containing minute markers every 5 minites. For the first 20 minites there’s also a dash at every minute. The grip is quite smooth and light, which means that it’s a little bit difficult to rotate as the bezel action itself is also reasonably stiff.
The screw-in case back is steel rather than brass – this is so they don’t get fused together. It features a detailed engraved submarine (funnily enough) image, and various watch specifics surrounding it.
Sitting on top of the case is a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the underside. To the eye, it looks quality but is a pain to photograph. The AR coating could be a little more effective at removing reflections but it provides a splendid blue flash when the light hits it.
The case is very good for the price of watch; the only thing I realistically would like to see improving is a better logo engraving on the crown.
The dial is has a base brown colour, which matches really well with the brass case and leather strap. The central disc of the dial is at a lower level and has a mottles texture to it. The other ring is flat, which houses the hour markers. We then have the very outside minute track which is lower and mottled to match the central disc. This alternating nature of the dial gives a sense of depth and keeps things interesting.
The dial features awesome brass-effect applied hour markers: thick and deep, straight, and look high quality. The font type used for the numbers is a great choice; classy yet bold.
The hands are part skeletonised and quite an interesting shape – like a thick sword but only the end half have a lumed centre. The seconds hand is a straight point with a delicate tear drop as a counterweight and a red arrow tip. These hands are made of the same material as the hour markers; they are what appear to be brass and have a gentle brushed finish.
The lume is primarily found on the minute and hour hands, but there’s also a small lumed block at every hour within the outer minute track. The lume is slightly above average; fairly bright but not excellent. But lume on watches around this price (that aren’t Seiko) never are.
At the base of the dial is “Made in Poland” printed inside the outer ring with the railroad style minute track. I love how they’re proud of where they’re from, and as I’ve got a number of Polish friends I find it fascinating and impressive that they’ve achieved so much.
I’m pretty happy with the dial: it’s nicely designed and well executed. There’s not really anything to say negatively about it, apart from maybe the omission of a date may put some off.
The leather strap on the G. Gerlach Submarine is 22mm wide for its entirety, which increases the chunky appearance of the watch.
The leather is plain and smooth with no mottling. It is comfortable and thick, providing a comfortable wear despite the size. The underside has quite a naked finish to it, with the G. Gerlach logo embossed on one end and Made in Poland on the other. This gentle texture is most likely the reason behind its wrist comfort.
We have an oversized square brass buckle, which is brushed to match the case perfectly. It has the G. Gerlach logo deeply engraved on one side to the top bar. Despite its size, it’s easy to use and the supple nature of the strap means it is easy to manipulate.
There’s just one thing to mention, and that’s that I’ve got a 7.25″ wrist and I’m on the smallest hole. So if you have a smaller wrist than me then you’ll probably find it’s too big with the supplies holes.
The movement within the G. Gerlach Submarine is the Seiko NH35A. This movement can also be found in watches such as the Melbourne Watch Co Parkville, G Gerlach’s Orzel, Invicta Pro Diver and the Gruppo Gamma A-41.
It’s based on the standard Seiko workhorse movement, but has a few upgrades. It’s gained a very good reputation of being highly accurate straight out the factory and is also super reliable.
Picture from my Gruppo Gamma A-41 review
It runs at 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second) and has 24 jewels. Other interesting features are the fact that it winds in both directions (rotor spinning clockwise and anti-clockwise), has hand wind capability and a hacking seconds hand.
There’s a few options out there, but I think the nearest competition in terms of price is the Armida A8. It also has a brass case with the exact same movement as the G. Gerlach Submarine, and costs a tiny bit less at $350 / £270. Personally I don’t think it looks as good though.
G. Gerlach have developed a very good reputation for top quality affordable watches. I’m pleased to say that the Submarine exemplifies that ethos. It’s a rugged, incredibly solid watch with very good specs – which looks the part too. The price is right too; at less than £300 it’s definitely worth it.