PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 16 Apr, 2016.
The owners of http://www.seagullwatchstore.com/ have created their own watch brand, named “GT&FQ” after their initials. Within this brand is the “Rider” series (which actually looks like the brand name). This watch that we have here is the Rider M001 – a blatant homage to the stunning Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Réserve de Marche. This JLC isn’t really one of their most famous watches, which is probably why it’s a good choice to mimic.
Costing a mere $140 / £100, but with an RRP $300 / £210, is this a decent watch? Is it good enough to challenge JLC (let’s not get too excited), or is it just another Chinese ripoff which is poorly made? Read on to find out.
- Brand: GT&FQ
- Series: Rider
- Model: M001
- Movement: Sea-Gull Automatic ST1780
- Case: in 316L stainless steel with a silvered sunray-brushed dial
- Dimensions: 41mm (diameter) x 12mm (height) x 47mm (lug to lug)
- Crystal: Front (Sapphire) See-through case back (Mineral glass)
- Water Resistence: 5ATM (50M)
- Weight: 76g
- Strap: Genuine Leather
- Feature: Independent Second Hand, Date, Power Reserve Indicator
- Warranty: 1 Year
I’ll just go out and say it, the Rider M001 does exceed expectations and it is indeed an excellent timepiece for the price. The case is a perfect example of how it’s impressive and is worth being considered ahead of others in this bracket. It’s well machined, the finishing is excellent, and it also has a couple of surprising little details.
The bezel is completely polished, and is separate from the case body. The bottom of the case and the exhibition caseback are both also polished, so there’s a bit of a variety in finished. Usually when this happens, the joins where both finished meet aren’t the best – and are messy or not accurate. That’s not the case here; the lines are all straight and definite.
Another thing that really impressed me is something so minor that you wouldn’t even notice at a glance – and that’s the shoulder of the lugs. They have a tiny slither of polished finishing right on the corners, that advance the whole length of the lug. Again, it’s not something that is a major feature – but you can notice it and it makes a big difference to the appearance of the case.
The exhibition caseback shows off the movement in its entirety (which is pretty ugly, see more below), with details deeply engraved around the window. The push-pull crown has a “R” embossed on the end, and the grip is good enough to provide sufficient purchase to wind it up easily. The crystal on top is a domed sapphire, and is effective at stopping reflections and has great clarity.
There’s also a little pusher for the date advance located on the side of the case located at 2. It’s pretty small, is inset into the case, and is fashioned tidily.
On the whole, the case is so well made it’s mightily impressvie for a watch costing £100.
Moving onto the dial, it’s a familiar and beautiful design thanks to the hard work of the folks at JLC. Of course, Jaeger-LeCoultre are not going to make anything ugly, so any homage is also going to be beautiful.
So the design is great (although some are concerned about the name “Rider”, and how it’s a bit lame), but the execution of it is also of a decent level.
The main base of the dial features a silvered sun-ray finish to it, which subtly catches the light and attractively rotates around based on the viewing angle. The subdials (power reserve at 10, date at 2, and small seconds at 6) are all set in on a lower level, bringing a sense of depth to the dial. The date and small seconds subdials also have a very subtle concentric circular pattern texture.
This depth is also emphasised by the edging of the dial, which falls away nicely creating a “domed” effect that works well with the domed sapphire crystal.
The printing is all reasonably fine and accurate, providing good legibility despite being on top of the sun-burst finish.
The dauphine minute and hour hands are fully polished and are pitched, supplying a good amount of reflection. The hands of the subdials are blued, most likely chemically rather than heated, but they still have a nice visual presence.
The applied hour markers are all pitched triangles (interestingly the marker at 12 is about the only difference form the JLC), and are all very well made and applied.
Just like the case, the dial has been made to a level of finish and quality that is much better than the price would suggest.
The strap on the Rider M001 is another positive. Usually on a Chinese automatic watch for around £100, the strap is the first thing to be cut back on. But I’ve been pretty happy with the quality of this strap. I’ve been wearing it a lot, and it’s lasted well – it hasn’t showed much signs of wear non the underside, and the usual crimp where the buckle resides isn’t as bad as I was expecting too. I think the leather itself is higher quality than the competition and what I’ve come to expect, therefore is lasting a bit longer. It looks the part too, with a decent alligator print applied to it and a matt finish (which I much prefer to it being a shiny patent top).
The buckle is a straight forward tang style, which works well due to the angle on the pin which minimises wear on the strap holes. It has “Rider” deeply engraved on the top bar.
The movement powering the Rider M001 is the Sea-Gull ST 1780 – the same as can be found in the Perpetual PR-02 I reviewed here (notice how the dial arrangement is the same). It’s also known as the TY2714 and has mid-level specs, such as a beat rate of 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second, but looks surprisingly smooth thanks to the small seconds hand), 28 jewels and 42 hour power reserve. It’s pretty ugly, and also not finished very well – the bridges and rotor are surprisingly grubby. But, it works well and is accurate enough for the price of the watch, so I guess it can always be serviced.
The main direct competitor I can think of is the Perpetual PR-02 (read my review here), which I have mentioned already. It’s more or less exactly the same price, at $150, but it’s a nightmare to get hold of nowadays – Perpetual Watch are only a small company making a limited amount of watches, and the waiting lists are at least 6 months, so you’d be pretty lucky to get one. So whilst I think that there’s nothing in it in terms of quality of watch between the two, I think that the Rider M001 wins it on availability.
I’ve not been this impressed by a watch since I got my hands on my Perpetual Regulator and Power Reserve. At the current price of $140 or £100, simply put, this is a staggering timepiece.
Yes the movement looks terrible, but it performs well and offers a tremendous amount for the price, and that’s literally the only negative point I can find on this watch. Even the leather strap, which is so often the downfall of cheaper Chinese autos, is decent. The finishing of the case is above expectations, as is the dial, which features accurate applied elements and a variety of textures.
So while the Rider M001 is under £150, I’d highly recommend it. Get one before the price rises!