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Ginault Ocean Rover II
I am fully aware of what Ginault has been accused of, and why most have promised to never cover the brand again. That is all well and good, and every site and channel should do as they please. Same thing with Watchreport. For a while last year, I thought about doing the same. When Ginault reached out to ask about reviewing the Ocean Rover II, I initially declined. After I pondered it a bit though, I asked myself why. I have always been upfront with my thoughts on the brand and the controversy and even after reading that blog last year, it didn’t change my mind on the watch or the company. I never backed Ginault as far as their claims-I called them out on it quite a few times. Now, let’s be clear. I called them out not because of my thinking they were made in China, but because of the lack of transparency with the company. When you start to dig into that though, that brings up many other brands and the lack of transparency though, and it makes you start to question lots of things.
Ginault Ocean Rover II Specifications:
- 40mm pre-ceramic style case, chamfered lugs, no holes (hand finished)
- High-gloss enamel dial, forged applied indices (hand assembled)
- Beveled sword hour/minute hands, custom Ginault red-second hand
- Sellita SW200-1/ETA 2824-2, 5 positions 6-week regulated
- Ceramic insert, engraved, 60min full graduation, lume pip at 12 o’clock (if you prefer the classic look, aluminum inserts seen on our OR-1 can be mounted upon request)
- Gen II bezel assembly, structurally redesigned for the most amazing turning and tactile feedback, the outer ring is slightly re-profiled with slightly deeper and sharper teeth for a better grip
- Triple-layer, optometry grade (clear coating, no blue-hue) anti-reflective sapphire
- Gen II 94530G bracelet, tighter mid-link tolerance, slightly re-profiled clasp for enhanced comfort and durability, 3 x 3 permanent link design allows a perfect fit even for the slender wrist.
- Pricing: Once available on site, $1499 (no date) and $1699 (date)
Let me be clear before we go any further. No, I do not support replica watches. No, I am not advocating for this brand and telling you to buy one of their watches. I try and stay away from telling anyone to buy anything, and just review the product for what it is. With the Ginault Ocean Rover II, that is not exactly possible, simply because of all the negative press this watch and company has received. I am also not trying to change anyone’s mind either. I still look at this watch as a Rolex homage. If what Ginault is accused of is true, the Ocean Rover is still an homage, just like a Steinhart, Davosa and countless other Rolex homage watches. I never felt there was truth to what Ginault claimed and they are well aware of that. The fact that it doesn’t seem to bother them, makes me raise an eyebrow as well. My question though, is do you know where your other microbrand watches are made though? Or your mainstream brands? Has Halios shown you their factory? Armida? Helson? No.
I am not going to deny Ginault has done themselves no favors over the past 3 years. Part of it was smart marketing in some respects and sold a lot of watches (at a discount I should mention), and others I think was just trying to get away with certain things. The Ocean Rover II still claims “Hand built in America” because they can not put Made in America. They have never divulged where these watches are supposedly made and I think the biggest issue most have with lack of transparency is where it concerns the price. Without a discount, these watches are not $4-$500, like a Steinhart is an example. These run about $1500. Like it or not, when we start spending upwards of $1500, we want to know more about the brand. $1500 is a lot to spend for a Chinese made micro (for most people anyway), yet $1500 for a watch made in America sounds relatively cheap. It makes you start scratching your head.
There has not been a big press release about the Ocean Rover II either. As I write this, they are not on the Ginault website. I do not know where the preorder was even announced, the whole thing just seems weird. I am told once all preorders are shipped, that the watches will be put on the website for sale, and that they are behind with orders and that is why they are not releasing them to the general public just yet. Whatever the case, if you are interested in buying one, it seems you will have to wait a bit or pick up one on the secondary market from someone that is flipping their preorder.
When it comes to the actual Ocean Rover II itself, I am a little disappointed. It is just as well-built, probably even more so than the original. My problem is that not enough was changed. At first glance, the Ocean Rover II is very similar to the original, and most people would not be able to tell the difference with them side by side. The dial text seems to be unchanged, the hands and indices look to be the same and while there is now a ceramic bezel insert and upgraded bezel system, I wonder if this was even worthy of denoting it II-it could have just been another variation of the Ocean Rover, as there have been quite a few.
Inside is a different story. One of the biggest issues people originally had with Ginault was the use of their caliber of movement, supposedly being a clone of ETA, and made in the US. It was a MASSIVE part of their marketing. Massive. Yet, now that movement is gone, and in place is either an actual ETA or from what I have seen most, the Sellita SW200. It just strikes me as so odd that you would drop this supposed US-made movement because people wanted a Swiss Movement instead (that is what they claim is the reason for doing so). I think the bigger issue was not that they had issues with the movement, but again the lack of transparency and where and how it was being made. Sure, buyers will like a movement they are more familiar with, but the change seems sudden and strange.
I am told the case is slightly different, especially where the bezel attaches and that the bracelet and clasp are slightly upgraded as well. Honestly, I did not personally see any noticeable difference when it came to the bracelet, but the bezel is improved, not just with the ceramic insert. The bezel action is superb, no doubt about it. Upon arrival, it was stiff, but I was told that it is normal and after 100 turns or so, it should be good to go. I didn’t count, but after a bit, the bezel action was smooth and superb and locks into place without any back play. So, a thumbs up for the new bezel. I also read that you can’t get the ceramic insert for the older generation as it would require a new bezel, and that would require a new Ocean Rover II case, and that would run about $700. I am not sure if that is true, or they are just pushing previous owners to purchase the new model.
The Ginault Ocean Rover II is still a very nice watch, just as the original was. This time you get better bezel action, ceramic insert, and a Swiss Movement. It still wears great on the wrist, it still has excellent lume and is just a well-made piece. As I said, they are not available on the site just yet. There are also only two variants (well four if you count the no date versions), though there is supposed to a blue at some point, they have stated they had issues matching the color of the ceramic bezel insert, and will not release it till they get it right. I imagine this has to be the most expensive Rolex homage, though I believe some MKii models have been sold around this price. It is an expensive piece no doubt, and the lack of transparency and supposed history of the company does not help.
As I have mentioned now a few times, nothing has changed for me. I do not have any concrete information about the company (yes, again, I am well aware of the blog) and for many, that was the death of the company. Understandable as well. Though, I do see that many who bought the originals preordered the Ocean Rover II or are waiting for it to hit the website to purchase. I feel that most who are super vocal about the brand never bought one or had any plans to do so. Is Ginault a huge black eye to the watch industry? I do not know if I would go that far, but I don’t know if the brand can ever fully recover from last year. Yes, since the very beginning the band was shrouded in controversy, but last year’s blog did not help, true or not. The company has shown they can make a hell of a watch and it is still most likely the best mil-sub homage out there but is that enough for watch nuts to overlook everything that has been said over the years? Only time will tell I guess.