We have put off a review of a G. Gerlach watch for a very long time. All the time I assumed that we would first visit the largest Polish watch manufacturer, only to describe a specific model later. Times are, however, uninteresting, especially when it comes to personal meetings, and I came to the conclusion that there is no point in delaying any longer and it is high time to take a close look at some Gerlach watch.
I don’t want to extend the admission, so this time I will not describe the history of the brand. I hope that finally we will visit them and it will be an opportunity to familiarize readers with how the brand G. Gerlach was created and what vision it has.
Because the latest models will be available for sale in a month, I decided to choose something older, but those that I personally liked the design. If I can wear something without worrying about scratches or other signs of wear (after all, it’s not my watch, it’s the manufacturer itself, who, like who, but he can handle any damage), it’s great if I like the watch and wear it it with pleasure. I like many models of this manufacturer forever (i.e. since I am interested in watches at all) and there is probably no wonder in this, because I like the strict, simple and military style, and Gerlach has a lot of such watches on offer. Together with Krzysztof Zegarek (president of the G.Gerlach foundation, this is an interesting coincidence because “Zegarek” in Polish means “watch” ! ) , we came to the conclusion that the watch, whose review I will write this time, will be the model m.s. Piłsudski in a version with a chronograph. This watch doesn’t have a review yet and my text will be the first. Therefore, I invite you to jointly analyze the pros and cons of this watch.
A small, wooden, hexagonal box, lined in the middle with a very pleasant to the touch material with a cushion trimmed with the same gray material. The box closes with magnets and is made very solidly. On the bottom of the box is burned information about its producer, which is the Polish company Woodenbox.
The case can easily be classified as “large” … 43mm wide and 13mm high are not huge dimensions yet, but 52mm lug length 2 lug, especially with very massive lugs, causes that there is much to wear and the case can crush people with smaller wrists. Well, my 18cm wrist is OK, I still have some slack, but I’m sure that there would be a tragedy on a stiff leather strap and the watch would stick out strongly on one side of my wrist.
Interestingly, the watch is available in 3 versions (chronograph, small second and central second) and all versions have exactly the same case. From this point of view, the chronograph version seems to be the best choice for me, because while 13mm thick in a watch with a central or small second is nothing special, in the case of a mechanical watch with a chronograph function it is a very good result, especially when we consider water resistance, that this watch has – 100M. Water resistance for this model is very important, because even the manufacturer himself classifies this watch in the category of marine watches … it would be very poor if the marine watch was waterproof at such a level that I would fear to swim with it.
The case is completely polished, the cut is nice and even, there are no shortcomings that are always easily visible on such a surface (on a mirror surface every unevenness is immediately visible through the distortions in the reflected image). Its design is very simple, we basically have only a flat side wall (its shape visually increases the size of the watch) and a fluted bezel, which by the way was one of the reasons why I chose this watch; I just like it. As I mentioned earlier, the lugs are massive, long and quite bent. The lugs are pierced through, so that any changes to the strap will not be a problem.
On the right side of the case, at 3 o’clock, there is a large, ribbed crown with engraved logo that fits this watch perfectly, and 2 chronograph buttons. Due to the shape and size, the crown is very easy to handle, it is not screwed, and the movement doesn’t have a date stamp, so just pull it lightly and you can set the time. Crown is a very strong point of this watch, in my opinion it looks great, but what can I say a lot … judge for yourself.
The heart of the watch is the Seagull ST1902 movement. It’s a mechanical movement with manual winding, without a stop second. Few people know that this is a legal modification of the Venus 175 movement (most people think it is a Chinese copy, but the truth is that Seagull bought the rights and plans of the Venus movement, and then modified it for improvement). This movement, due to its thickness, beautiful appearance and price, is one of my favorite movement used in mass production, and certainly is my favorite movement with the function of a chronograph (in fact, when it comes to movements generally available to watch manufacturers, in my opinion there is no competition, because Swiss movements lose at the start with their thickness and price). I am very happy that this movement was used in this watch, I admit that I simply have a weakness for movements with manual winding.
The classic of the genre in the case of a marine watch is a white dial with large black indices in the form of black numbers + blue hands. G. Gerlach m.s. Piłsudski perfectly meets all these assumptions, without making any concessions or own modernizations. We have here a white dial with rail road-style minute indices bold every 5 minutes and large hourly indices in the form of black Arabic numerals; interestingly, these digits have an additional, thin, black envelope imposed with a minimum gap from the actual digit, which creates a very interesting effect.
At the top of the dial is the manufacturer’s logo, on the left and right are the subdials of the chronograph and the second hand. Sub-dials stylistics clearly refer to the maritime theme and navigation on the water. The only element of the dial in a color other than black is the inscription 1935 (date of construction of Piłsudski) in red, which is located inside the second sub-dial.
At the bottom of the dial there is information about the watch movement and water resistance class. And here we come to the element that I like the most in G. Gerlach watches – all these inscriptions are printed in Polish. This small detail is very important to me, because it gives the whole project even more meaning. We have a Polish watch created as a tribute to the Polish passenger ship, so the inscriptions on the dial are in Polish. Simple right?
The entire print of the dial is made flawlessly, without bumps or stains.
All hands are blue (blue, but not thermally colored) and this is basically the only element of this watch that I have reservations about. The hands are designed very interestingly – the hourly, which in about half the length has a bold in the shape of a leaf and the minute hand in the shape of a narrow sword are as if twisted, thanks to which they shimmer when changing the angle of incidence of light, but looking at them, I cann’t resist the impression that they look like cheap Chinese watches for about 50-70$ … i.e. they look as if they were made of blue aluminum foil. If the hands were thermally coloured, then in combination with their shape the effect would be staggering.
The large chronograph hand is narrow and long, its counterweight is shaped like the Gerlach logo. The sub-dials hands have a classic, simple shape.
The next points Gerlach collects from me, this time for the lid and the same for what he got points in the case of the shield. In the middle of the case back is the engraved hull of the Piłsudski ship, but this is not the most important thing. All information about the watch are engreved in Polish language! It’s really a detail, but very important to me, especially since there are a lot of subtitles. As I mentioned on the occasion of the dial, it’s a thing that works very positively on me, I think that foreign buyers also. Think for yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to buy a watch, e.g. from a French manufacturer, in which information about a given model would be written in French? It is basically a complement to the design itself and the idea for the watch, which, after all, is a tribute to the Polish ship.
I was convinced that the watch would come to me on a black leather strap – such a strap is standard with this model. However, this is a copy of the owner himself, so apparently he likes to wear watches on a milanease bracelet, because this is what the model sent for review is equipped with. You can buy a milanease bracelet on Gerlach’s website for PLN 109. Is it worth it ? If someone likes this type of bracelet, then I think it’s worth. The Gerlach bracelet is thick, heavy enough, proportionally to its size and has a very solid clasp. Such bracelets are adjusted just by means of a clasp (they are moved higher or lower) and it is a very convenient solution, allowing a perfect length adjustment.
I have never liked such bracelets, but I must admit that it is incredibly comfortable. Generally, the rule is that the smaller and finer the bracelet links are, the more convenient they are … and the milanease bracelets are really small, cut and twisted parts of steel wire. Such a bracelet literally wraps around our wrist in a very soft and pleasant way.
G. Gerlach Piłsudski is a watch very refined in terms of design, each element matches the others. Qualitatively, there is no “wow” effect, but there is also nothing to complain about and I think that the price you have to pay for the watch is simply adequate to what you get. If I had to buy it for myself or for someone as a gift, knowing what I would get, I would not be reluctant to spend PLN 1950 on it. I am now waiting for one of the new models of Gerlach pilots, which are to appear in about 2 weeks, and which we are also going to receive for testing.