Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononaut
I have said it many times the past two years, but vintage is definitely in style. We keep going back to the past when it comes to clothes, watches and even some cars. We are at an all time high with technology, but when it comes to products we wear, we seek the styles of yesteryear. The Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononuat takes its design cues from the super compressor watches of the late 50’s and 60’s and blends it into Gamma style like only Gruppo Gamma can. I know, that sounds biased, and it very much is. I am a fan of Gruppo Gamma, have been since the beginning. They continue to evolve and the quality of the watches is excellent for the price point, which in this case is $650 USD. The Ecomar is a limited edition of 93 (00 to 92) in collaboration with Gruppo Gamma Europe. It can only be ordered from them, not any other dealer or direct from Gruppo Gamma. If you are in Europe you can go right to the website to order, if you are in the US or elsewhere, email the GG Europe owner directly.
Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononaut Specifications:
- 42mm case
- 12.5mm thick excluding 1.5mm crystal
- 22mm lugs
- 50mm lug to lug
- Sapphire Crystal
- STP 1-11 Swiss Technology Movement
- 22mmTropic Rubber Strap
Price: $650 USD
So, lets clear up a few things on what makes the Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononaut different than the other versions available or soon to be available. The first Chrononaut was a limited edition of 100 for a Facebook group, sold out and never to be produced again. A standard production version is in the works as well, one that should be available shortly, as a matter of fact, probably any day now. That one does not have an elapsed timing internal bezel, it will be a dual time watch. The Ecomar does have an elapsed timing bezel that is controlled by the 2 o’clock crown, and of course comes in this blue dial color that is only available for this version. What is Ecomar you ask? You can read all about the organization HERE.
This model is “A tribute to Theresa Zabell for her gold medal in Barcelona – 92 and celebrating the 25th anniversary of her triumph. Collaborating with € 20 for each piece sold to the Ecomar association.” That information is taken direct from the website. So a little bit of the sales of this watch will go to the Ecomar foundation and there will never be another Chrononaut model produced like this in the future.
If you are wondering what a Super Compressor case is, one thing I can tell you is it is not any dual crown dive watch. This is something many think of when they hear Super Compressor and while it seems that the dual crown versions were either the most popular or just fondly remembered, it has to do more with the case back. Super Compressor cases arrived in the late 50’s and were manufactured by EPSA or Ervin Piquerez S.A. They only made the cases and sold them to many different brands, some brands that are no longer around and some that have become Iconic. What made them unique is that the case actually became more water tight the deeper you went down in the water, because the case back would press against the O-ring. Okay, a little history lesson for anyone that did not know. Funny enough, after all of that, I get to tell you the Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononaut is NOT an actual Super Compressor case, but only styled after the famous dual crown cases of the past. The owner of Gruppo Gamma states that watch manufacturing technology has come a long way since then and is more advanced. Taking a look online, I would say the Chrononaut, at least to me, most closely resembles a Wittnauer Super Compressor.
How is the Ecomar though you ask? It is fantastic, on par if not better than many microbrand watches it the same price range. Now, I get it, that is a lofty statement. Notice I said on par, if not better. The quality is there. Check the video review above. The case finishing, the dial, sapphire crystal, crown action etc. I sometimes almost hate doing a review on a watch that I can not find a negative because to some it might come across as bogus. And I can not control that, but I can tell you to look at any other of my reviews on this site and you will know I will always point out any issue that I find. Now keep in mind here, we are talking a $650 watch. It is not the end all be all, but it is one hell of a watch in its category.
A lot of attention to detail went into the Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononuat. The cross hatch on the crowns, screw bars for easy strap changes, fine brushing to the entire case and the edges are all smooth, nothing sharp to rub against your wrist. The size is also a first for Gruppo Gamma. While this is the second model to come in at 42mm, it is the first to only be 12.5mm thick, not measuring the crystal. If you measure to the top of the domed sapphire, it is 14mm thick but it will not “wear” like a watch of that size at all. While this is a diving watch, it is something that can easily be worn under a shirt cuff, if you choose do so.
Don’t like rubber straps? Well, here comes my sales pitch. I do in fact like rubber straps. Good ones. I used to hate them many years ago before I knew of the different materials used to make them. When I found Isofrane I was elated. I was like what voodoo is this? It was not this uncomfortable PU rubber and it did not catch lint and dirt like silicone. Then I tried Hirsh Straps, straps manufactured for different watch brands etc. So, yes, I enjoy a good natural rubber strap. Is the Tropic style rubber that comes with the Gruppo Gamma Ecomar Chrononaut the best rubber strap on the planet? I’m not sure, but I can say it is probably in my top 5, if not top 3. It is super comfortable, flexible, ventilated so your skin can breath and has a nice buckle to top it all off.
Grasping at straws, if I was to give one minus here, it would probably be the color of blue chosen for the dial. It is not a radiant blue, but more of a muted blue that can at times look almost grey. That very well could be the color they were going for, and if so, all well and good. I personally would have liked it to be a little more of a deep blue, but again, I am being nit picky. I love the watch, I love that Gruppo Gamma is now using the STP 1-11 movement in a few of their watches and the design is one I have loved for years. If limited editions appeal to you or want to support the Ecomar foundation, or you if want a Chrononaut with an elapsed timing bezel, these are all good reasons to check this one out, if so inclined.
Oh, I almost forgot. Yes, lume junkies, the Chrononaut glows very nicely as well.