In search of light
The autumn and winter periods make us aware of what broadly understood light means to us and how it is lacking in our latitude during these seasons. Therefore, when the first symptoms of autumn begin to appear, I subconsciously start looking for watches with tritium tubes. By an extraordinary coincidence, while browsing Instagram, I saw the new Aquatico model. The model is quite spectacular, but also arouses extreme emotions because its case is extremely square and has an unusual structure. It consists of several elements with an empty space between them. The whole thing looks quite industrial, which will attract some people to this model and others will not like it at all. But we won’t talk about tastes here, because I belong to the first group of people, and I have nice memories of the Aquatico company, when it comes to the price-quality ratio, I had no choice but to order the new Steel Man GMT Tritium model. Was it a good idea? You will find out from my review.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the case of the Aquatico Steel Man GMT watch is quite controversial and unusual. Although it is inspired by the Bell Ross BR03-92 model, its skeleton construction gives it an individual character and at the same time significantly reduces the weight of the watch (155 g). Although the construction of the case resembles an element of an airplane cockpit, this model is a real diving watch. The case is almost entirely brushed, with the exception of the polished, rounded edge on the front of the case.
Its water resistance is up to 1000M, and even if in reality this value was half as much, it’s still an excellent result. The watch is not small and I would definitely recommend it to people with large, flat wrists. Even though the case width is 43 millimeters, it’s optically a bit larger than the Panerai 112, which I wore some time ago. The thickness of the case with the bezel in Aquatico Steel Man is 15.5 mm, which is a considerable value and, I must admit, you can feel it most when wearing long-sleeved clothes. The length of the lugs coming out of the case does not exceed 5 millimeters, so the lug to lug size is “only” 50 mm. Their spacing is 24 millimeters, quite a popular size when it comes to straps. Therefore, there will be no major problem with purchasing a strap in a color other than the factory one.
Apart from the unusual design, the most eye-catching thing is the two-color bezel covered with sapphire glass. It has indices presenting a 24-hour scale. These indices were painted with Superluminova BG W9, which makes their glow very nice and long. The scale is divided into two colors – green from 6-18 symbolizes the day, while on a black background we will see values from 18-6. This division is not accidental and is often found in watches with a GMT complication. What surprised me was the unidirectional, 120-click bezel. I admit that this is the first time I have encountered such a combination in a watch with a GMT complication. Typically, in watches of this type, the bezel rotates in two directions. However, it doesn’t really matter to me. What matters to me is its work, which is at a decent level, and all the indices on the bezel match the indices on the dial perfectly.
What also attracts attention is the large crown. However, it’s mounted in such a way that it does not bother you when wearing it, and is even very comfortable when setting the time and date. The crown is screwed down and how! It takes 4 long movements from the zero position to full rotation. I must admit that I have never seen such a long thread on a watch.
The bottom of the case is closed by a screw-down, transparent case back, which contains basic information about the watch and its water resistance.
The Aquatico Steel Man GMT case is interesting and quite unusual. Its design means that dust may accumulate between its elements, but the 1000M water resistance allows the case to be washed regularly under high pressure.
I must admit that recently watches with a green dial have dominated my collection. A few weeks ago, I became the happy owner of a Rolex Datejust with a green dial, so I thought for a while whether another watch with a green dial was a good idea. In the photos, the green Aquatico Steelman GMT looked great and I hoped that this effect would be preserved in real life. It turned out that the photos and renderings are consistent with what we get in reality.
We look at the dial through a 3-mm sapphire glass, covered with an anti-reflective layer on the inside. What is missing in a Rolex costing over 40,000 PLN can be found in a watch that costs 2,000 PLN. The gradient dial changes from black to deep green. On the darker side, there is a printed minute scale and applied indices made of flat tubes containing T-100 tritium. All indices glow blue; the exception are the double tube index at 12 o’clock, which glow orange. The minute, hour and second hands also feature blue T-25 tritium tubes. In my opinion, you could have gone more crazy and played with colors by adding orange indices at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, then the glowing effect would have been much nicer and readability in dark would be better. In addition to tritium, there is a C3 luminescent mass on the tips of the hands, which quickly catches and emits light. I could compare the quality of the glow to the mass used in the Breitling Steelfish watch, where it seemed as if it never stopped shining. A nice eye-catching accent is the red GMT hand tip and the red seconds hand. They contrast nicely with the green of the dial and bezel. The hour and minute hands have been brushed, which corresponds very nicely with the structure of the case, giving the whole a raw feeling.
Aquatico Steel Man Tritium GMT has two dial versions in several colors – with and without a date window. For me, the date display is an important complication in a watch, I look at the watch surprisingly often to write down the current date in documents, and it often happens that someone asks me about the day of the month. In this model, the manufacturer cleverly placed it between the 4 and 5 o’clock indices, which seems to be a reasonable move.
The Steel Man GMT model uses the Seiko NH-34 movement. This is my first time using this movement, although I have seen watches with its similar NH-35 movement many times. Basically, they differ only in the GMT complication, which the NH-35 doesn’t have. Just like its more famous brother, the NH-34 is an example of a solid, simple construction that is designed to serve as long as possible. You can often read posts on forums about the accuracy of Seiko movement, and opinions are divided. Perhaps a lot depends on the adjustments at the level of folding the watch. As for Aquatico, I am once again positively surprised, because the daily deviation in this unit is -3 seconds. This is quite a good result, especially if you compare it with some movements from Swiss manufacturers. The appearance of the movement may not be sophisticated, but the manufacturer added its own accent to it in the form of a black rotor.
I received two straps in the set for the Aquatico Steel Man GMT watch. The first one is a nice, stylish rubber belt. The quality of the rubber itself is really very good. I have practically no objections to it.
The second strap is a leather strap. Even though the strap is 3.5 millimeters thick, it is soft and fits perfectly on the hand. The stitching with cream thread is a nice accent. The large, signed clasp is comfortable to use.
Thanks to the fact that I was – and probably will be – the owner of Panerai watches, the topic of straps is no longer foreign to me. Therefore, I can definitely say that the manufacturer really did their best and the set includes very good quality straps.
In my opinion, the refresh of the Aquatico Super Charger model really does the trick. For an amount not exceeding PLN 2,000, we get a nice, large watch with a water resistance of 1000M, tritium backlight, a very good luminous substance and a Japanese movement from Seiko.
The only thing that can discourage a potential customer from purchasing is the size of the watch. I think it will fit from a circumference of about 18 cm upwards; unless someone has an extremely flat wrist, then I would set the lower limit at 17 cm.
As I mentioned above, if I were designing the watch, I would probably choose more tritium colors, which would make the reception in the dark more “vivid”. I think that buying the Aquatico Steel Man GMT was a good idea, and this thought most often comes back to me when, before going to sleep, I put the watch on the bench and watch it shine from a distance. Because no matter how you look at it, light is one of the elements of our lives.