Gruppo Gamma Vanguard Aged Steel
If this is your first time here at Watchreport, you may not know that we have been reviewing Gruppo Gamma Watches for a long time. This latest model, the Vanguard Aged Steel is a throwback of sorts to the original Vanguard with some very nice upgrades. Gruppo has been in business since 2013 and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Now equipped with an ETA 2824 automatic movement and a custom Di Stefano leather strap, this is easily the best watch they have produced to date.
Gruppo Gamma Vanguard Specifications:
- 316L stainless steel/ aged finish/
- Double domed sapphire, anti-reflective treatment
- Diameter 44mm, length 54mm lug-to-lug
- Height 13.5mm
- Solid case back
- Screw lock crown
- Water resistance 200m
- ETA 2824 Automatic Movement
- Leather strap by Simona Di Stefano, handmade in Italy
Price: List price $900 *USE CODE WATCHREPORT AT CHECKOUT TO SAVE $100, MAKING IT $800 USD. * This Price till February 10th and is good for any Vanguard.
This Gruppo Gamma Vanguard Aged Steel (and regular steel and bronze models) have a lot of similarity to the original Vanguard models and as such, I am going to highlight the differences here in this review, rather than go over some of the many things I have in the past. A quick search on the site will bring up all Gruppo Gamma watches that have been reviewed in the past. To me, there are two big standouts with this new version, the Swiss ETA Movement and the Aged Steel Case. I have discussed the ETA 2824 countless times here and as most probably know, it is a great workhorse Swiss Movement that can be found in countless entry-level watches and microbrands. The case finish, on the other hand, I need to delve a little more into.
So, the Gruppo Gamma website does not specifically state the process for the aged steel coating and to be honest I am not sure if it is a DLC or PVD transfer. I am going to assume that the coating is distressed when it goes on as it is too uniform to be hand distressed. One thing I do know is that this is one of the nicest aged or distressed finishes I have seen on a watch. I know some people are on the fence about it and for those that are, there is a standard satin finish available, but in the simplest of terms, this finish is hot.
Another unique feature would be the bolted on crown guards and bronze side plate, both which are removable, but not sure why you would want to do that. While I do not see any real functionality to them, it adds to the rugged, industrial look of the Gruppo Gamma Vanguard. Here is a look at the bronze plate and crown guards below.
One of my personal favorite aspects of the Gruppo Gamma Vanguard Aged Steel is the case back. As skull aficionado, (is that even a thing), I appreciate not only the very detailed skull motif and engraving on the case back but also that they chose to not put it anywhere on the dial. As much of a fan of skulls that I am, I appreciate images like that be left on the back. Only you know it is there, which makes it a little special and doesn’t make the watch look tacky or gimmicky either.
Do you like lume? I mean, do you want your watch to glow like crazy? If so, these new Vanguards fit the bill.
In the photo above, you can see just how much Swiss Superluminova has been applied to the hands and markers. Of course, with this much, this watch can almost be used as a flashlight. It is not only ridiculously bright but will last in the dark for at least 8 hours, at least from what I have seen in the time I have tested it.
One of the nicest straps I have seen on a production watch is included with the Gruppo Gamma Vanguard Aged Steel. The Di Stefano blue leather strap is a step above most any other leather strap you will see, especially at this price. Di Stefano is a custom strap maker out of Italy, and if you are not interested in the Vanguard, I would definitely check out their straps, they are fantastic. This blue leather strap is supple, thick and just wraps around the wrist. The blue shade is not for me personally though, I would prefer a black or brown leather strap. On the Gruppo Gamma website, a nice brown version of this is shown on the brushed stainless version and may be possible to ask if they could give you that one instead if you do not care for the blue.
The default strap length is 125/75mm, but you can order the Vanguard with a shorter strap or a longer one at 130/80mm, which is what is I asked for. Below you can see where this sits on my 7 1/2 inch.
With its aged case, beautiful dial and custom strap, the Gruppo Gamma Vanguard Aged Steel is the best the company has to offer. At $900 it is currently their most expensive as well, but it does have a Swiss ETA movement that has been keeping time at +4 seconds a day as well as all the other upgrades mentioned in this review. When you up the quality to this level, the price is going to inevitably go up. Obviously, there is no shortage of competition and with the price, some people are going to balk and that is expected. Gruppo Gamma is not only upping the quality and components of their watches but also wants to be around for the long term and that is difficult with thin margins. As I have always stated here, I do not sell watches, just review them and give my take on it. The consumer will always be the deciding factor, but just before publishing this review, I saw a post that said this first batch is almost sold out, so it looks like Gruppo Gamma knows what they are doing and have a following ready for more.