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Company: Gruppo Gamma

website: http://www.gruppogammawatches.com

About Gruppo Gamma from their website:

In the world of watches, the word ‘homage’ has unfortunately been taken to mean a watch that looks like another, more expensive watch from a well-known brand with pedigree and heritage to boot.

Pedigree and heritage are assets, but sometimes a company can exploit these to justify prices that don’t make sense, and its preoccupation with going upmarket can cause it to desert its roots.

We believe that everyone is eligible to own a piece of history without having to pay exorbitant prices. We pay homage not to the watches’ shape and form but their style and character – they were instruments built for people living in tough times who had to make tough decisions.

Sometimes, the past successes of an established company can hinder it from leaving its comfort zone to try something different, and it ends up doing more of the same.

We believe that good design can and should evolve over time. We don’t have pedigree or heritage, but so do all new brands. We believe we can make up for the lack of these with our passion, creativity and ability to execute.

Watch Model: Bronze Vangaurd MKIII

Specifications:

Class: Mk III Vanguard, Diver
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, elapsed time
Diameter: 44 mm excluding crown and lugs
Lug-to-lug Distance: 54 mm
Thickness: 16 mm
Lug Width: 24 mm
Weight: 170 g with strap
Water resistance: 20 ATM

Case: Phosphor bronze, brushed
Movement: Miyota 90S5, automatic, 28800 bph
Crystal: Sapphire, double domed with underside anti-reflective coating
Dial: 2-layer with luminescent markers in C3 (teal & green dials) or BGW9 (black & blue dials)
Hands: Gold color with C3 or BGW9 luminescent markers (H, M), red (S)
Crown: Phosphor bronze, screw-in
Caseback: Stainless steel, secured by screws

Accessories:

Buttero strap, brown, length 125x80mm with Type V buckle
Militare strap, greyish-green or blue (blue dials only), length 125x75mm with Type V buckle
Screwdriver

 

Price:
Buy Online: US$ 579  shipped
Cash & Carry (S’pore only): S$ 725

The Packaging:

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The packaging with the Vanguard is simple, but oh so cool and unique. I absolutely love the white skull logo on the all black case, the white really pops. It adds a total badassery feel to the impact resistant travel case packaging. The travel case is closed by two zippers and opens up like a book when unzipped. Inside there is soft grey foam padding and mesh netting that helps protect the contents and keeps them secure in place. Immediatlely you get a look at the Bronze beauty, also inside are the straps and the warranty card. All of the contents are wrapped in plastic protection. The packaging is extremely practical and it can be used as a carry travel case for other items not just your watch. I like packaging like this that is simple, yet uniuque and complete utilitarian. Much love the this style packaging.

The Case:

imageimageimageThe Vanguard stands out immediatley due to its large bronze case. That is what first grabbed my eye when opening the package, it is really finished nicely and I absolutely love the color. The cool thing about bronze is that it’s always changing so the look of your watch can constantly change its overall appearence keeping it fresh and unique. The bronze case just seems to glow. This glow can be kept by small upkeep or you can allow patina to form naturally or force it. The angles of the case and lugs allow the watch to wear very comfortably even at 44mm, though the case is heavy after being on your wrist for a bit you don’t even know it is on. The square case is beautifully shaped with nice angled 24mm spaced lugs. The lugs also have holes in them where the screw in style pins fit for the straps. This makes changing the straps very easy, plus the included screwdriver also makes things a bit easier. The case has that 20,000 leagues under the sea feel to it, like a vintage deepsea divers helmet. Very, very cool. I’m obsessed with the sea and everything that encompasses the vast underwater world.

The crown and crown guards are absolutey awesome on the Bronzo. What I like about them is the hex head screws that are perfect accent pieces on each crown guard. The crown guards are nice and large but not intruding in the functionality of the crown it self. The edges of the crown guards are very smooth, no sharp edges. The crown edges are detailed like a gear with cogs and it gives the crown a very mechanical look. This is an awesome detail adds to the overall design of the watch giving it a tool/no nonsense feel. The crown screws in & out very smooth. The crown is also signed with Gamma III.

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This is the first Gruppo Gamma Watch that I have reviewed that has had an actual bezel that wasn’t fixed. The bezel is a unilateral ratcheting bezel that features circle cut outs at all the even hour markers when the lume faux pearl is lined up at the 12 o’clock position. The bezel is flawless, as it rotates smoothly, it fits tight against the case and it has very little play in it. At the  2, 6, and 10 o’clock positions on the side of the bezel are small set screws that add a nice detailing to the overal plain bezel, also at these key locations the bezel has small rectangular protruding outsets that act as grasping points when rotating the bezel. The bezel is definitely an added bonus to this version of the Vangaurd.

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The caseback is super cool on the Vanguard, featuring an engraved skull logo that matches the travel case. The engraving is very nice, simple and well done, a detail about this watch that I love. The back is held in place by 6 screws. The caseback also features the words, SAPPHIRE, AUTOMATIC, GRUPPO GAMMA, 200m and 384051. The caseback is made of stainless steel not bronze because when bronze sits against the skin the salt in your sweat can cause natural green patina which will stain your skin incase you wonder why bronze watches have stainless steel casebacks.

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The Dial:

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The dial can be described as simple beauty. I love the simplistic raw beauty of the Vanguard’s dial. The dial is matte black though the bronze Vangaurd comes in a variety of dial color variations.  The sandwiched style 2 layer dial features hours marked by 12, 3, 6, 9 and line markers at the other corresponding hour positions. Under the 12 marker is printed in white GRUPPO GAMMA.

imageThe hands are the same color as the case which is a detail that is very impressive, and even more impressive at the price point of this watch. This small, yet impressive detail is one of my favorite gems of the Vanguard. The Vanguard features an hour and minute hand, and a red seconds hand that is a sharp arrow head tipped hand. The red color of the seconds hand is a nice touch of detail, that really adds a great deal of depth and character to the dial. The hands are nicely shaped and are cut smooth & sharp edges. The minute and hour hands also feature a coating of lume that matches the lume coating of the hour markers. The lume is evenly applied on all aspects of the Vanguard and glows a nice bluish tint when charged by a light source. The glow lasts through the night when given a good charge from a bright light. I used my eagletac mini flashlight at a charge of 5 minutes which lasted throughout my nights sleep and was still glowing when I woke up.

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The dial is easily viewed from all angles thanks in part to the double domed AR treated sapphire crystal. At certain angles the crystal is so transparent it looks like there is no crystal at all. I love domed crystals, it just gives an edge to the overal look and design of a dive watch. It’s little details like this that make the Vangaurd such a unique and stylistic piece.

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The Straps:

 

The Vanguard comes with 2 leather straps, Buttero strap, brown, length 125x80mm with Type V buckle
Militare strap, greyish-green or blue (blue dials only), length 125x75mm with Type V buckle. Both have their own buckles signed with GRUPPO GAMMA. The straps feel quality like a custom made leather strap, and are very soft from the get go.

The cream stitching is a great touch which adds a degree of a vintage feel to the straps. Each stitch on both straps is even and percise. The every day wear and tear adds so much depth to the strap that’s the great think about leather straps. Bracelets age and get scratched up but look used and abused, but leather as it ages just looks better and better. Just like the bronze case as it ages.

The straps are held in place by the one sided screw bars which makes changing the strap a breeze, especially because the Vangaurd comes with its own screwdriver. The other cool thing is that the set pins are bronze which match the case perfectly. I’m a huge strap fan and these straps do not disappoint my love of custom straps. The wrist side of the brown lesther strap is stamped with GRUPPO GAMMA and GENUINE LEATHER. A detail I still would love to see is the skull logo stamped on the strap, maybe even on the top side of the strap near the case.

The Movement:

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The Vanguard has the Miyota 90S5, automatic, 28800 bp, ticking away inside of it. It’s a reliable movement and a great alternative to the ETA movements. The Miyota movement is just as much as a workhorse like those of ETA. It has a power reserve of 42 hours, it’s hacking and is automatically wound by the weighted rotar or can be wound manually. The rotar is relatively quite when it spins as it winds the watch.

Wrist Shot:

7 1/2″ wrists (NATO strap not included)

 

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Overall impressions and conclusion:

The Bronze Vanguard is my personal favorite variation offered from GRUPPO GAMMA. I love every detail of this watch. It’s well made from the classic case design, to the bronze, to the leather straps, every detail has been clearly thought out here. There is nothing that I have found on the Vanguard that I can complain about. At $579 USD you get a lot of watch for you dollar. You get 2 straps, a impact resistant travel case, an automatic movement watch with amazing lume and a great bronze case which is always changing due to natural elements and patina.

I would love to see a strap that is stamped with the skull logo on the dial side of the strap and on the strap near the lugs, this would be an awesome detail. Or the skull logo on the crown. These are just recommendations as there is nothing that I can nit pick about on this watch.

I would highly recommend GRUPPO GAMMA to someone looking for a quality watch on a budget.

A very special thank you to Naoki and to GRUPPO GAMMA for the opportunity to review this awesome watch, it was a great watch to review. The customer service at GG is top notch and is always an absolute pleasure to deal with.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 

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