Gruppo Gamma Vanguard N-19
So bronze watches are a thing now, they have been for quite a while, but have never interested me. In fact I never really noticed them for the longest time. Perhaps I just innately didn’t think the colour would work against my pasty pale skin tone so my eyes would just skim past them. Who knows. However, there is no avoiding them, a lot of manufacturers are using them, from the big guys to the micro brands. Making them in many styles, from divers to pilot watches. I’ll hazard a bet that if you own a bronze watch, it wasn’t the first piece in your collection and most likely isn’t your only watch.
I didn’t seek out a bronze watch, I sought out the brand. I had been wanting a Gruppo Gamma for ages. In fact I wasn’t too picky about which model at all. I tried to find a stainless version of this watch through trade but couldn’t. This particular one presented itself, so I thought “What the hell…” figuring that at the very least I’d just flip it shortly anyways. Gruppo Gamma is a Micro brand that gets spoken very highly of, especially regarding the quality of their craftsmanship. The other thing that caught my eye is something I personally find alluring and have mentioned before. The brand owner is present and active in the online community. He’s another guy out there who’s quick to give a Like or post a comment. Doesn’t seem to be afraid to voice his opinion and is obviously proud of his product. Good, well done, that goes a long way in my book.
So this thing arrives at the post office, I take it home, and I open it up. Immediately it engages in a staring contest with me. If you’ve never had a staring contest with a well made, confident and slightly cocky brass watch let me tell you something. It’s hard. It’s sort of like trying to stare down Captain Jack Sparrow, or Captain Morgan while he has his leg propped up on a barrel of rum. It’s all roguish and charming with a piratical grin, and you’re telling yourself you don’t want to like them. But you do, and in the end I cracked a smile first. I really didn’t want to like the watch because I really was planning to flip the thing shortly, before it began to develop any patina even. Well I took it out and put it on. It’s heavy, and feels very solid. Everything that I had heard about the quality is true. The sandwich dial is a flawless matte black, the cutout Roman numerals are precise and clear and in the dark the BGW9 they’re coated in shines really brightly! The long and striking red second hand smoothly sweeps around the dial courtesy of the Miyota 90S5 high beat movement that’s beneath all that brass that will protect it down for a drink with Davy Jones at 200 meters deep. The bezel is smooth and very precise. The textured crown screws and unscrews flawlessly, and how about the fact that the dial, which doesn’t have a date window, uses a movement without a date wheel! So only one click out for hacking time adjustment! Bravo! It bugs me when you have a dateless dial but the movement beneath still has the date complication to click past. The thick brown genuine leather strap feels great, and also looks very fitting with the watch, and then the engraved large brass buckle ties it together nicely. Damn it. I like it.
Here’s the thing though, I was still convinced that I couldn’t pull it off. Then my wife comes home and immediately notices and compliments it! Woah! My wife is very tolerant (even supportive) of my watch “problem” as she lovingly calls it, but still tends to glaze over a bit when I talk about them. So if she not only noticed it but likes it too, that’s saying something. It didn’t end there either, my friends and even a neighbor also complimented me on it. Ok so it’s a head turner. As I’ve said before I’m one to root for an underdog or the little guy. In no way is Gruppo Gamma necessarily either of those things. But they are certainly not as mainstream as the things most of the population wears on their wrists. This watch made me realize that that’s not what I’m cheering for here, it’s my own individuality I’m applauding! I went out of my comfort zone and tried something I didn’t think was for me. So what is this watch for? Well for me, it’s a statement. It announces that I love well made watches. That I’m not afraid to express my inner pirate (we’ve all got one) and most importantly that I’m an individual, and that matters! The thing that I’m really enjoying is that the watch continues to grow and individualize itself the more you wear it. I love watching the patina form, noticing a new spot appear here, or a new shade start to develop there.
At this point in the write up I would usually talk about the places I’ve taken the watch and how it performed. And that’s usually somewhere in the back country. This isn’t a watch that I’m going to do that with. Not because it can’t handle it mind you, more because I don’t need it to. That’s not what this watch is about for me. It’s a watch to grow with you, keep your stories and remind you who you are. As that patina forms and grows it’s almost like the watch is tattooing itself to keep track of all the things it’s done with you. To remember the good times. Some people force a patina on these things, but I won’t. That’s not my style, I’m not going to tell my watch who I want it to be. I’ll let it decide. If you’ve got a brass watch, you know what I mean. If you don’t, well get one and try it out. You might be pleasantly surprised.