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Geckota W-02 Vintage Military Chronograph

My Week With the Geckota W-02 Vintage Military Chronograph

Reviewing the Geckota W-02 Vintage Military Chronograph after a week on the wrist.

July 10, 2020
By: Logan Hannen

Many of you will know the Geckota name as the watch and strap “brand” of the company Watch Gecko. They’ve become a bit of a fixture in the affordable strap world, and, in my experience, offer value in the $50 and under range. Their watches are nothing to scoff at either, with everything in their arsenal from an automatic dive watch, to a beautiful 36mm sport watch I’ve discussed previously, to some dressier options as well (including this Jumping Hour watch). Their designs are, while perhaps directly inspired by classic watches, not beholden to their aesthetics the way most homages tend to be. These watches are more like spiritual successors, in many ways, to the watches they pay tribute to, and the Geckota W-02 Vintage Military Chronograph is certainly no exception.


Source: Geckota
The Specs
Case Diameter: 37mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Crystal: Double Domed Acrylic
Water Resistance: 30 Meters
Strap/Bracelet: Handmade Brown Leather
Lug Width: 18mm
Movement: Sea-Gull ST19 Hand-Wound Mechanical Chronograph

Source: Geckota

The Specs
Case Diameter: 37mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Crystal: Double Domed Acrylic
Water Resistance: 30 Meters
Strap/Bracelet: Handmade Brown Leather
Lug Width: 18mm
Movement: Sea-Gull ST19 Hand-Wound Mechanical Chronograph

The diameter is one of the most impressive dimensions for this watch. At just 37mm across, the watch is small by modern standards, but incredibly classic in its proportions. Though a bit chunky at 15mm thick (including the crystal), the watch itself (sans crystal) is only 10mm thick, so it still wears pretty well all things considered. That crystal, of course, is domed to capitalize on the vintage feel, and is made of acrylic, just like a vintage watch crystal would be. This does make it more prone to scratches than mineral or sapphire, but acrylic crystal scratches are also easily buffed out with a bit of Polywatch, so it isn’t a huge deal as long as you’re somewhat cognizant of what you’re doing.

Source: Theo & Harris

As is often the case, it’s the dial of the watch that is the real show-stopper. Here, we have a bicompax military style chronograph layout with Arabic numerals and, in my case, white subdials, though one in all black is also on offer. The 12, 6, hands, and lume plots outboard of the numerals are all treated with a sort of milk chocolate colored lume that doesn’t feel like faux patina as much as it does an intentional color choice to play a bit on the aged, tropical brown color dials can sometimes turn in vintage watches. The hands at center are all painted white to help them stand out, and on the version I wore, the subdial hands are black to contrast against their white background.

Source: Geckota

Through the transparent caseback we can see the beautiful (and incredibly difficult to photograph) Sea-Gull ST19 chronograph movement. A mechanical chronograph movement is always a sight to behold, and this one, made in China by Sea-Gull, is absolutely mesmerizing in the metal. It’s a column wheel flyback chronograph (“flyback” meaning that, if you hit the reset pusher without first stopping it, it will snap back to 0 and start counting again immediately), featuring a roughly 42 hour power reserve. Being manual winding, there’s no automatic winding rotor, so you are directly responsible for giving the watch it’s life.

Source: Geckota

The watch comes on a beautifully made and incredibly supple brown leather strap that really compliments the vintage aesthetic nicely without trying too hard to be vintage.

Source: Theo & Harris

The Damage
The Geckota W-02 Military Chronograph retails for $369 direct from Geckota.

 

The Take
Wearing this watch was an absolute pleasure. Its compact size and sloping lugs make it hug the wrist with a kind of ease I haven’t experienced since I got my similarly-sized Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic two years ago. The manual winding was a joy, as it really does help you connect with the watch as you wear it, and operating the chronograph was generally a very substantial feeling (though the reset pusher sometimes felt a bit soft, but that might just be the movement).

The biggest con to me is the crystal, and for no other reason than I’m a total klutz. I’m the guy that, despite loving the idea of the Hesalite crystal version of the Speedmaster, would need the Sapphire Sandwich version strictly for the increase in durability. Like I said, though, I acknowledge how true to vintage military chronographs the acrylic is, which leads me, I think, to where this watch fits in the market, and in a collection.

Source: Theo & Harris

The Geckota W-02 Military Chronograph is perhaps the perfect gateway into vintage watches for the new collector who loves the idea of vintage, but isn’t quite ready to take the dive into the potentially murky waters of buying vintage, especially vintage military watches. Their designs are time tested, no doubt, which is a large part of their appeal, and their military connections make them the ultimate tool watches. But the risk of a redial, or a frankenwatch, or something being very wrong with the watch due to age can be seriously intimidating for new collectors. The W-02 helps to kind of bridge that gap a bit.

Sure, it isn’t a true vintage watch, but in many ways, it’s as good as new-old-stock in terms of its features, design, and size, at least for the young collector. And for those who have been around the block a few times, it still offers some serious value, and the ability to feel like you’re wearing a vintage watch without necessarily having to worry about things like servicing a movement that there are no longer parts for. If you don’t feel like taking your $5,000 Heuer Bund out for a spin, but still want the look, then this watch just about has you sorted. And it manages to do all this while offering a design that pays homage to the past without itself being a homage to a specific model.

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