This is my first post here, and my first review. Iíd like this comparative review of the Ginault Ocean Rover 181175LSILN, with pictures, to be helpful and informative, so before I start properly, Iím going to sum up what I wouldíve wanted to know if Iíd begin reading this as a sort of back-story.
- The Price: I did get a discount. The Christmas sale had just ended, but I asked John for a 20% discount, and got it. I paid $1,248.20, including shipping to the UK. Thatís a lot of money - about £950. Iíve been offered a further $50 rebate for a review, or a $75 rebate for a comparison review, upon receiving the link to what Iíve written. Thatís why Iím writing this and posting online. I will be comparing the watch with my 2018 Rolex Explorer 214170, my 2018 Longines Hydroconquest, and my 2018 Steinhart Ocean One Vintage Red (New).
- My Opinion: I like the watch a lot and would make the same purchase again. Knowing what I do and having lived with the piece for exactly one month as of writing this, Iím happy with my purchase, and wonít be looking to sell. The watch IS good value. Itís very well put-together, looks amazing, feels wonderful, and what I currently have on my wrist can only be described as a luxury time-piece. It punches above its weight.
- Customer Service: Customer service is good. Itís not luxurious, though. It feels like Iím dealing with an online micro-brand, which I am. Iíve had a reasonable buying experience, for the most part, but did experience some difficulties. You most certainly would not get this from a luxury brand, or any high-street retailer or AD. I feel that production levels are higher than quality control can really keep up with, at least as far as the bracelet and clasps are concerned. More on this later, but there have been aspects of the buying process that a major brand such as Longines or Rolex would not tolerate. Bending over backwards to meet my expectations by giving me a glass or champagne or coffee, calling me sir, and making me feel ďspecialĒ, or even making the watch seem like a rarity, or highly sought after and exclusive piece, was not part of the buying experience. You pay some money and get your watch - eventually.
- Brand Honesty: This has come into question a lot on this forum. The site explains that, before creating its own pieces, the brand wants to test and prove itself by producing a super-homage through replicating the work of the masters (Rolex). I think it succeeds in this mission-statement. Ginault is not Rolex, and it knows that, but itís also a brand that is confident that it can deliver a similar on-the-wrist experience at a fraction of the cost. It does that, too. I also had my expectations of delivery very well-managed. It took a few weeks before I had the watch in my hands, but they said it would, and thatís fine.
Right, letís get into this then. Everyone here knows about the Ocean Rover due to Ginaultís marketing; getting reviewers to publicise the watch, and flooding the watch-community with activity (not to mention controversy, which drives intrigue). Itís a super-homage watch blending, in both John McMurtyís and my view, the best (and least offensive) features of the Rolex Submariner watches into a single, luxury time-piece. A few cosmetic enhancements (in my opinion) have been made, such as adding a flash of red in the form of the seconds hand against the exquisitely-finished black-gloss enamel dial.
Dial: The indices are very well done, being polished inside and out providing that classic Rolex-style finishing you wonít see on many sub-£1,000 watches that I can think of apart from Longines. The lume is great. The previously-mentioned enamel dial and red seconds hand also look fantastic (see the pictures), at least to my eye, and are features that again, youíll find rare in this price-bracket. The printing on the dial (ignoring the polarising number of lines of text/content) is excellently done in a beautifully-clear and crisp raised paint. Itís lovely. Itís as good as the Longines (but different, the Longines has a wonderful radial sun-burst), and as good as the Rolex (!), and significantly out-classes the Steinhart with its (intentionally retro) painted indices and matte finish. I donít like the fact that there are no seconds markers where the controversial ďHAND BUILT IN AMERICAĒ text is found under the 6 Ďoí clock indices, but itís by no means a deal-breaker, and frankly, the rest of the watch more than makes up for this incredibly nit-picky issue that anyone in their right mind should not be bothered by. Except weíre watch enthusiasts, so detail REALLY matters...
Crystal: Itís flat sapphire with no AR coating. It looks great. I prefer it to the blue-hue effect of the Steinhart by an absolute mile, but the Longines suits the AR. The Longines has a very busy dial, so you donít want pretty lighting bouncing around inside the watch in addition to whatís already there - itíd be too much. The crystal looks exactly like what I have on my Rolex. I like it, and it suits the watch well. Is it as good quality as the Rolex? I have no idea, and Iím not about to test it on the floor to find out... It has a cyclops that works. None of my other watches do, but itís as good (identical to) as subs Iíve tried in ADs. It looks good on this watch, and I fancied having a watch with a cyclops this time!
Bezel: Aluminium, black, and classic. I like the retro touch of a slight hint of brass around the lume-pip, and it looks great. I love aluminium bezels. I find Steinhartís current attempt at ceramic bezels utterly abhorrent, and Iím sure having platinum inlayed into a ceramic bezel would probably put the price up a fair bit, so Iím happy with it. Iím also confident itíll dent and not crack if I knock it, which I like; aluminium bezels can pick up ďcharacterĒ and ďcharmĒ, ceramic bezels crack, fall out, and need replacing. Itís about as good as the Longinesí bezel. The 120 clicks are lovely and affirmative, without being stiff (like the Steinhart), and itís aligned well. The finishing is also a LOT better than Steinhartís attempt, which frankly, has differently-sized gnurls... The Steinyís not great, really. The action of the Ginaultís bezel feels like Rolex Submariners Iíve tried on in ADs. Itís a good bezel, and I canít fault it.
Case: Itís absolutely perfect. Genuinely. Itís superbly-polished, and the brushingís lovely, and intentionally-done. Itís a great case. The shapeís great, and the lugs are great - not the (in my opinion) unnecessarily wide offering of the new(ish) sub, the ridiculously long offering on the Hydroconquest, or the hideously flat offering from Steinhart (which I actually hate...HATE). Bar my Explorer, this is the best case Iíve had the pleasure of seeing. Seriously. Itís not as good as the Explorer in my opinion, but itís a matter of taste. I prefer the Explorer to the Submariner; I always have. Thatís why I own an Explorer, and not a Submariner.
Crown: Itís cast beautifully, and looks fantastic. It also feels great, and winds nicely. It appears to have trip-lock style seals (as advertised), and threads wonderfully. No grittiness there at all, and the gnurling feels excellent. Not too sharp, but with a bit of bite. The crown-guards are also great. Donít get me started on the offering from Longines that look like someone just welded a massive chunk of metal on the side, or the again, unfortunately excessive offering on the new sub from Rolex.
Bracelet: It looks and feels (at least at first glance) like someone stole a Rolex glide-lock bracelet, and popped the crown emblem off the clasp. I say, ďat first glanceĒ, as this is where I ran into quality-control issues (more on this in a bit). What I have nor on the watch is exquisite. It works wonderfully, and looks and feels great. It wasnít like this out-of-the-box, though...
Bracelet issues... The clasp arrived dented and scratched. You donít expect that on a luxury time-piece. Full stop. It wrecked the buying experience, and planted a massive seed of doubt in my mind about the quality of whatís going on inside the watch, which is where I know Ginault have cut corners. One of the links was also stiff. It literally got stuck at a right-angle. Thatís not OK, and shouldnít have passed QC. I got in touch with John, and he sent a replacement clasp out immediately. That was great, and it only took days. There was a customs charge (£16) to import the thing, and Iíve asked him for a refund, but the email hasnít been replied to in two weeks. I thought I should mention that despite the excellent service experiences elsewhere - you deserve the full picture. I canít be bought, Iím afraid. John also got slightly defensive when I sent him a preview of this review. So would I, but thatís besides the point - the customerís always right. Always. Thatís part of buying a luxury watch.
When the new clasp arrived, it looked perfect, and Iíd removed the stiff link anyway (I usually take two or three out to size to my 7.25Ē wrists). I got my spring bar tool out, and tried to swap it on. It didnít fit; the spring-bar holes were a different height. Seriously. I had to Drexel about 1/8th of a millimetre off the inside of the clasp to get the catch to suit low-enough in the new clasp to get the spring bar to engage. I also had to push the collar or the spring bar into the hole to seat it properly. Thatís 100% not OK. I expect it to a degree on a £20 Casio, but itís rare even then. So QC is worse on the clasps than youíd experience buying a £20 Casio. Itís now an excellent bracelet (the second best I own - best it Rolex), but I shouldnít have had to send a piece back and then actually tamper with the thing myself to get it to fit. Thatís awful. It just is. Itís certainly not luxurious... he hasnít even sent me bunch of flowers to make up for it.
Movement: Itís a shifty little copy of an ETA-2824. When it breaks or I hit the service interval, I intend to get an independent watch-maker (not Swatch - theyíd smash my watch on purpose as a fake) to swap in the movement of my Steinhart. Having said that, it has been excellently regulated. It runs at about +2 spd for the 16 hours or so I probably wear it in a day, but has then lost them again from sitting 12-up on the watch-stand over night. In the morning, the timeís bang on again. That makes it 0spd. Thatís brilliant.
Conclusion: To conclude, I absolutely love the watch. Itís great! What I actually have on my wrist once allís said and done, amazingly, DOES compare favourably to Steinhart (I wonít buy another Steinhart -sorry, Steinhart). As a collector, however, I canít recommend a watch and talk about its value without talking about the brand and its history. Ginault doesnít have any history. Itís a copy of something that does have history. Longines is the oldest brand on the planet. Thatís cool, and it adds value to the watch, in my opinion. If I had two watches exactly the same, at the same price, and one said Ginault, but the other said Longines, Iíd buy the Longines. I wouldnít buy the Steinhart as that doesnít have any meaningful history in my opinion either. When allís said and done, I truly believe that my Longines Hydroconquest is better value than my Ginault. I donít care whether you canít find an enamel dial on any other watch this price because the Longines has a really pretty radial sunburst, and is a Longines. The movementís better. The Longines is a cheaper watch with more history, and is something that collectors around the world will value as part of the timeline of horology. Would I pay double to have a the Ginault with Longines on the dial, and an elaborated ETA-2824? Yes, probably... Can you actually get such a thing? No, because Longines produces original watches. Is the watch nearly as good as the Rolex Explorer? Talking purely about the object on my wrist as a chunk of metal that ticks and tells the time, then yes, itís nearly as good as the Rolex Explorer. But itís not a Rolex. It wasnít marketed as the first watch to reach the summit of Everest, and you donít see ďGinaultĒ on the display boards at Wimbledon. Having said all that, is that history really worth 8 times the price? If you can afford it, maybe. Thatís the appeal of Rolex - exclusivity.
Ginault is making itís mark on horology, no doubt. Itís truly a super-homage, and the brandís doing itís best to compete; itís doing really well! Iíve got a lovely watch that looks like all the best bits from all the Rolex Submariners through time, and thatís really cool in itself. As Iíve already said, Iíd buy it again. I hope Iíve bought into the early story of the brand as it grows, and I wish it with John McMurty at the helm all the best. I have a Rolex, so that thirst had been quenched, and I have no question that I didnít want to spend £7,000 and wait two years for another one. I also have a Longines. This IS the best alternative if you want a really nice submariner super-homage, and you donít care about brand-history. Itís probably the best watch for the money, too. I do feel like, to use a car metaphor, that Iíve bought a Toyota MR2 and put a Ferrari body on the thing, though. It looks and drives, for the most part, like a Ferrari around the local town; it even sounds like one. But it isnít a Ferrari, and I know that. If someone asks me about it, theyíll know that, too. Take it to a race track where everyone else has a Ferrari and put it through its paces, and youíll be left wanting. Youíre not really part of the Ferrari owners club, you see - youíve snuck in through the back door, you cheeky thing! That is, of course, unless youíre just having a laugh, and youíve got a Ferrari at home in the garage... Then you can thrash the heck out of your wannabe and have a great time doing so! If you want one, get one. If you donít donít. You know your reasons for wanting one, and are the only person who can decide for yourself whether the watch is right for you. Iím enjoying mine. ĎNuff said.