Gruppo Gamma Divemaster
One of the great things about being a reviewer is getting to see a brand grow. I have reviewed quite a few Gruppo Gamma watches over the years and they have come a long way from the very first model I reviewed. The Gruppo Gamma Divemaster is by far the best watch the company has produced to date, as it should be. Any company that produces a product should always strive to improve, so number 6 should be better than number 5, and so on. As usual, I have some things that I think could have been done better or differently, but on the whole, this is a great watch from Gruppo Gamma and I can only imagine that in 2017 they will up the game even more. Let’s get onto the review.
Gruppo Gamma Divemaster Specifications:
- 44mm stainless steel case.
- 52mm lug to lug
- 24mm lug width
- 16mm thick including crystal
- Double domed sapphire crystal
- Sapphire Bezel Insert
- 300 meters water resistant
- Seiko NH35 Automatic Movement
Price: $499 USD
I reviewed the Gruppo Gamma Divemaster prototype earlier this year and even though there were to be quite a few changes to the production model, I knew it was going to be a great watch. Most of those changes were improvements, such as a slimmer case and a double dome crystal instead of a vintage dome crystal. There is one thing I thought would be an improvement that after seeing in person I realized was not; the second-hand color. The prototype of the D-01, the number of this model, had a red second hand. As you can see, they went with a silver second hand for the production model. I can’t really say why but I guess it is the monotone look it now has and the red second hand gave it that pop of color. If you do like the red, there’s a version that has vintage lume that utilizes it, so they did not get rid of it entirely.
Let me get the only other negative I have found out of the way as well. The second-hand color is extremely subjective, but the quality of the rubber strap is not. It is obviously patterned after an Isofrane as so many other brands have replicated, and some have done very well for super low price points. The issue with this version of the Gruppo Gamma Divemaster is it is super thick, and it is also very long and is just not all that comfortable. Now, most of us have many 24mm straps laying around that we can put on this watch, so not a big deal. If you do not, I would suggest checking out the leather strap that I show it on in this review, which is available from Gruppo Gamma, as it is a great leather strap, and I love the contrast of color it adds.
So, enough of being a downer, let me get to the great! The first great is the case machining. All brushed, no rough edges and just one hell of a tool looking diver. The Gruppo Gamma Divemaster gets a lot of things right, and the case finishing is one of them. The design is obviously a mix of Ennebi, Panerai and of course a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. It is not an homage of just one, and in that, it is very unique. I see some complain that a true dive watch should have crown guards. I have seen watches made by actual divers (Scurfa comes to mind), and I like the different aesthetic a guard-less crown has. In use, it is wonderful, it screws down with ease, and has a solid feel that does not give me worry.
I am not a big fan of domed crystals. It is subjective, many watch enthusiasts do love them, but for me, it has to be the right watch. While I still would like a flat sapphire on this Gruppo Gamma Divemaster, the originally planned vintage dome was crazy thick and caused way too much distortion for my tastes. While this double dome is not slim, I can deal with it, and it is not as big and bubbled as some. The AR coating does help, though you will still see distortion and the crystal does cause the dial to look dark blue rather than black because it reflects a lot of light. This version, the D-01 is a sandwich dial with white markers, there is also an am embossed dial variant. I am a sucker for sandwich dials and the cutouts are clean and precise on the Divemaster.
As I spoke about with the prototype, the Gruppo Gamma Divemaster houses a Seiko NH35 automatic movement. Originally meant to be a Miyota 9015, but cost increases and a 6 month wait time gave Gruppo Gamma some pause. Ultimately they wanted to release the Divemaster model this year and went with the NH35, which as I have discussed is a very capable movement. While you may be thinking the price tag for the Divemaster is high considering the movement, just look at my pics and video and you will see the sum of all parts equals the price, at least in my opinion. A solid engraved case back covers the movement, and it is a change-up from the previous skull and rose engravings we have seen on some GG models in the past. A little more refined this time, simple and tasteful.
Wrist shot on 7 1/2 inch wrist
As usual, the lume is no slouch and the Gruppo Gamma Divemaster is lumed on the dial as well as the sapphire bezel insert. It glows bright, is fairly long-lasting, and it is what I expect to see from Gruppo Gamma at this stage.
While the first part of this review might have come off like I did not like the Gruppo Gamma Divemaster, nothing can be further from the truth. Those things I mentioned are very minor, and the one thing I might have not touched on yet is: The Gruppo Gamma Divemaster is gorgeous! Yes, I do feel the design and look of this watch are superb. I think a 42mm model that is 14mm thick overall would be even better, at least for me personally, but I know Gruppo Gamma has a fan base that like bigger watches as well. The look is there, the quality is there, and it is a great transition for the brand, who is trying to move beyond just another Panerai homage, and make Gruppo Gamma their own. I think they did a fantastic job and are well on the way to cementing their own legacy.