Watch Review: Gruppo Gamma Divemaster Prototype
Posted by Stephen MazingerJuly 6, 2016
Company: Gruppo Gamma
Model: Divemaster D-01N
From the website on the Divemaster:I have here the new Gruppo Gamma Divemaster prototype with the DLC finish case. As this is a prototype piece, there will be several changes from this to the finished product that will be out late Fall of this year. Right now the preorder is up on Gruppo Gamma’s website and you can get the stainless steel Divemaster for $399. When the preorder comes to a close the price will be $499. I know that the title says watch review here, I am approaching this like a watch review, but I am not going to make any suggestions or critiques because the production version will be different. Once the production model is out, I will be releasing a “true review” of the Divemaster. I will explain to you all the differences you will see between this prototype and with the actual production model.
The 1950s was one of the most exciting periods in dive watch history – in 1953 Blancpain introduced the Fifty Fathoms which was issued to the US and French naval divers, Zodiac introduced the Sea Wolf, and in 1954 Rolex introduced the Submariner. Ironically, it was also in the 1950s that Panerai stopped producing dive watches for the Italian frogmen.
Retrospective but adventurous, the Divemaster draws inspiration from these legendary watches in much the same way that different watch designs in times past have influenced one another.
The Divemaster is equipped with tool watch capabilities for real world challenges. Robust automatic movement from Seiko SII, encased in surgical grade stainless steel case with double-domed sapphire crystal and engineered to a depth rating of 300 m/ 1100 ft. Unidirectional 120-click bezel to mark elapsed time, with sapphire inlay for scratch resistance and luminescent markers for visibility in the dark.
The packaging is different on the Divemaster and I noticed it right away. It is still a travel style case, but on steroids. The travel case is much beefier and thicker than before. It’s not as wide as the old style case but you notice the thickness immediately. This gives you more insurance that your watch will definitely be well protected during shipment. Another difference that I noticed is that the skull logo is missing from the lid of the travel case. In it’s place is a stamped Gruppo Gamma. I really like this new style case.
Inside the case is the traditional set up with the addition of a padded dividing wall that is in-between the pocket for extra straps and the watch itself. Just by the touching the inside of the case you can actually feel how well protected your watch is.
From the first glance, you can see that the case has a very nice DLC finish to it. As with the Gruppo Gamma watches that I have reviewed in the past, the cases are finished pretty amazingly, especially when you factor in the price. Everything is evenly coated from the bezel, the crown, the lugs and case and yes, even the screw heads of the strap bars match. This case on the prototype is 18mm thick from case bottom to top of the vintage dome sapphire crystal. Now on the actual production model it will be 16mm from case bottom to the top of the double domed sapphire crystal. Yes, the crystal on the production version will be a double domed sapphire crystal. A change that I am very excited about. The vintage dome really distorts the dial from certain angles and it was actually a challenge to photograph without having glare, reflection and too much distortion.
That beautiful glisten you see eminating from the bezel on the Divemaster is sapphire crystal and it is in fact lumed. I posted a picture of the lume below so you can check it out. The bezel rotates extremely smooth with nice clicking action. As with most dive watches, the Divemaster has the customary screw down crown that operates flawlessly. The non crown side of the case features a helium release valve. For those of you that don’t know the valve is necessary when commercial diving inside of a diving bell for a duration of time. During this time helium may build up inside of the case and to keep the case from breaking apart the valve is there to release that gas pressure.
The one thing you will notice on this case is that there are no crown guards, the crown screws into the case directly. The case has an awesome appearance without the crown guards.
The prototype’s crown is signed with Gamma IIII, the production model will be marked with a I because it is the MK I Divemaster.
The case back is stainless steel and features an engraved Gruppo Gamma. All of the Gruppo Gamma watches that I have featured here have had the skull logo. What I like about what Gruppo Gamma has done here is they have given this case back a vintage feel that surely matches the rest of the look of this watch. Keeping true to the Blancpain, Panerai vintage inspirations of the dive watches of the 1950’s etc… The Divemaster is not a copy of any watch, what it is that Gruppo Gamma drew in inspiration from these watches of the past to give way to their own unique interpretation. This watch is nothing short of awesome.
There will be two dial variations on the Divemaster, a sandwiched style dial as I have here on the prototype and a printed dial. On the finished production models you will see a silver second hand on the D-01 and the D-02 but for the D-01R and the D-01N the second hand will remain red. The other difference that the second hand will have on the actual production model the lumped triangle will be larger. Printed on the dial is Gruppo Gamma and 500m water resistance, on the production model will say 300m.
I really like the seconds/minutes track on the Divemaster. The addition of the circle border really adds a nice finished detail to the dial versus just having hash marks to mark the seconds/minutes.
The hour and minute hand along with the hour markers are coated with lume. The lume is evenly coated and has a good glow to it.
The movement inside of the final production will feature a Seiko NH35 movement which was chosen for a number of reasons over the Miyota movement. Those reasons are price, availability, which means that if GG went with the Miyota movement the Divemaster would have been more money and not available until next year. Keep in mind you are getting a lot of watch for the money here. GG case designs are solid and quality. You will not be disappointed with the finished product.
Wrist 7 1/2″ for reference
The strap on the prototype here will not be what the finished production version will have. GG is currently developing a new style strap for the Divemaster. I can honestly say that all the GG watches that I have reviewed are very comfortable on the wrist and the Divemaster follows suit. Now the final production version will have 2mm shaved off the height, which will slightly change the overall weight of the Divemaster, but it won’t sit quite so high on the wrist. I know some of you prefer a thinner style watch so the final version will appease those of you.
What I really like of the Divemaster watch is………well everything to tell you the truth. The bronze vanguard is my personal favorite GG watch. The Divemaster comes pretty damn close, I will reserve my pick once I review the final production model. Having said that, I am blown away already by the prototype. A prototype I say! I can only imagine what the final production version will be like.
The Divemaster is a well thought out and planned nod to the dive watches of yesteryear, but with a modern touch that Gruppo Gamma has executed brilliantly. Honestly you do get a ton of watch for your money here and if you are interested in preordering the Divemaster saves yourself a $100 clams, you can head over to their website to preorder it http://www.gruppogammawatches.com
I want to personally that Noaki and Gruppo Gamma for the honor of taking an early look at the Divemaster watch. I also want to thank you all for reading, without you my words would be empty.
Class: Mk I Divemaster, Diver
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, elapsed time
Diameter: 44 mm excluding crown and lugs
Lug-to-lug Distance: 52 mm
Thickness: 14 mm excluding domed sapphire, 16 mm including
Lug Width: 24 mm
Weight: 140 g with strap
Water Resistance: 30 ATM
Other Features: Helium release valve
Case: DLC $419 USD
Movement: Seiko SII NH35A (4R35), automatic, 21600 bph
Crystal: Sapphire, double domed with underside anti-reflective coating
Bezel: Stainless steel, with sapphire insert and C3 luminescent markers
Dial: Black, 2-layer with C3 luminescent markers
Hands: Silver color, with C3 luminescent markers
Crown: Stainless steel, screw-in
Caseback: Stainless steel, screw-in
The he main changes between this model and the final production model are as follows:
1. Case will be about 2mm slimmer.
2. Double dome sapphire crystal used, instead of vintage dome. Curvature is similar.
3. On D-01 and D-02 the seconds hand will be stainless steel silver color. On D-01R and D-01N the seconds hand will be red. All hands (H, M, S) will be matte finish.
4. WR will be 300m instead of 500m and there will not be a soft iron inner case (hence case not as thick).
5. The rubber strap (Isofrane style) will be standard issue. Leather strap will be Ghibli II Tan, minimal stitch, 24x22mm.Picture Gallery: