I’ve owned the Geckota E-01 for about a month now, give or take, and after spending an almost ridiculous amount of time with the watch strapped to my wrist, it feels like as good a time as any to give it a proper review. I already included it as my pick of the bunch for Tudor Black Bay 36 alternatives, and for good reason. Let’s get a bit more intimate with the E-01 and figure out just what makes this relatively affordable watch one of the best all-rounders under $1,000.
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Lug Width: 20mm
Strap: Beige Textured Calf Leather
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Crystal: Domed, AR Coated Sapphire
Water Resistance: 100 Meters (w/ Screw-Down Crown and Caseback)
Price: $460 (379 GBP)
On paper, the watch is solid. A solid steel case, sapphire crystal, and 100 meters of water resistance with a screw-down crown are all pretty straightforward, but ultimately important specs. You could take this watch swimming with no issue whatsoever (and I have), just don’t take it diving since it lacks the 200 meter minimum for that particular activity.
That being said, to me the watch’s purpose isn’t inherently to be a full blown tool watch. In many ways, the E-01 is a perfect surrogate for the Explorer 1 or the Black Bay 36 (like I mentioned). It’s a die-hard sport watch that is thoroughly capable, but not at the expense of style and elegance.
We tend to think of 36mm as a relatively small diameter, and in a more traditional round dress watch, that’s probably true, but I would urge anyone on the fence about a 36mm Oyster case or something of a similarly almost cushion shape to really give it a shot. It’s a more comfortable fit than any other watch I own, and I have pieces going all the way up to 45mm in my collection. If you still don’t believe me, here’s a side-by-side shot of the E-01 on my wrist, along with the Hamilton Khaki Field 38 and the Seiko Fifty Five Fathoms (at 42mm).
Obviously, lug-to-lug distance plays a huge role, and the longer lug-to-lug of the E-01 definitely helps it wear a bit larger, but honestly, 36mm might really be my new sweet spot which, when your personal budget is on the more affordable side of things, ends up actually becoming a bit of a pain in the neck.
Visible through the transparent caseback is the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. This is probably about as “workhorse” as a Swiss movement gets, having been used in watches from brands like IWC, Omega, and even Tudor (the Black Bay 36, in fact, is still powered by this movement). While the movement isn’t anything special in terms of finishing, it’s still always cool to be able to see the thing powering your watch in action. Not only that, but Geckota have chosen to go with a ten-sided screw-in caseback rather than the more traditional notched casebacks most watches feature.
The dial and hands are also utterly magnificent. The dial is executed in what Geckota are calling a vertical fume pattern, similar to the kind you might see on something from H. Moser & Cie. My example is listed as black, but as you’ll see from some pictures below, it can go from black to gray to almost copper colored with just a bit of shifted light. Adding to the functionality of an otherwise beautiful dial is the use of broad lume filled hands, a sort of bulb shape for the hour and a longer, cathedral shape for the minute. A simple pointed arrow seconds hand also has lume, as do each of the indices, making for a watch that is not only incredibly legible at a glance during the day, but at night as well.
The only writing on the dial is the brand name at 12 o’clock, and the word “Automatic” and the watch’s water resistance at 6 o’clock. At 3 o’clock, we have the date, which is white on the above blue dial example, but is tone on tone with the black (and I do love a matched date wheel).
The watch comes equipped on a handmade Spanish leather strap in a light beige color. It is incredibly supple right out of the box, and super comfortable. My one real complaint is that, much like the leather strap option on the Black Bay 36, it isn’t quite long enough for my wrist. It fits, don’t get me wrong, but rather than my usual second or third to last hole, I’m buckling this one down at about the third hole in of seven total. Like I said, not the end of the world, but still a bit annoying.
Of course, as many of you will know, I’m a bit of a strap junkie, so I’ve already thrown the watch on a few different straps. Being summer in New Jersey, though, the E-01 has spent much of its life on the Oyster-style bracelet you’ll see below. I’ll continue playing with straps as we get into Fall and Winter, so if you want to see how it fares with more interesting options, give me a follow on Instagram @loganjhannen (as long as you don’t mind pictures of my dog, my cooking, and some shameless self-promotion for my next book).
Strap #1: The T&H x Jean Rousseau Quint
Source: Theo & Harris
It’s no secret that we make some kind of incredible straps. It’s equally no secret that black and blue should not go together (if you would have asked my grandmother, she would have told you it looked like a bruise). Yet this combination really freakin’ works for me. At the right angle, the navy of the strap catches and plays off of the blue tint of the AR coating, and it’s just magic.
Strap #2: Invicta Oyster-Style Bracelet
Source: Theo & Harris
I know, I know, calm down. My first automatic was an Invicta Pro-Diver, and honestly, it’s a ton of watch for $80 and it got me into the hobby so I consider it a keeper on those grounds. My version came with the nasty synthetic rubber strap, but I got myself an Oyster bracelet for it off another Invicta I found at a thrift store. And with a bit of squeezing, it fits the E-01 like a glove. It completely transforms the look of the watch, appearing to pare down the lugs a bit and make the whole profile more ovular. Plus, like I said, it’s been in the upper 90s for the last week, so leather isn’t exactly the best move.
Strap #3: Bark & Jack Grey Seatbelt NATO
Source: Theo & Harris
I’ve already reviewed Adrian’s straps in the past and I still stand by what I said about them being the NATO straps that got me to like NATO straps. On the E-01, they’re almost a no-brainer. My pick is the grey, though really any of the colors would work just fine. It’s the perfect option for swimming, and just generally more active situations, and is the strap I’m wearing it on the most behind the Oyster.
The Geckota E-01 is an absolute beast of a watch for just under $500. The case finishing is, frankly, next level, and feels very Grand Seiko-esque in terms of using sharp angles to the advantage of a unique and memorable design. It’s incredibly legible, impressively comfortable, and worth a look if you’re trying to land on your first smaller sports watch. My only real con with the watch itself is that, compared to other 2824s I’ve experienced, the winding seems a bit tight, as if I have to exert a bit more force in each turn to actually make progress. I don’t know if this is common across all of the models, but it’s definitely present on mine. Either way, the Geckota E-01 is perhaps the Omega Aqua Terra of the sub-thousand dollar price point, the ultimate surf and turf watch to help you keep it classy, watchfam.
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