The GSD Pilot is the first watch from custom strap maker Greg Stevens. If you are familiar with custom straps, you probably know who that is. For those that don’t, Greg has been making custom leather watch straps and accessories since the mid 2000’s and was one of the first custom strap makers on the scene. His venture into watches has been a slow one. A few years ago he released a similar model, with manual movement, and then some things went awry with his supplier. Fast forward to 2016 and he redesigned it a bit and it is now available with a Miyota 9015 automatic movement and with two different finishes and a few different dials. The dial on this example is the type 2, and I will touch on the differences in this review. For the watch enthusiasts that like a classic looking large pilot this is a great example.
GSD Pilot Specifications:
- Case Width: 46mm excluding crown
- Case Length: 55mm
- Case Thickness: 15mm
- Lug Width: 24mm
- Movement: Japanese/Miyota 9015 automatic, 28,800 bph, hacking seconds
- Crystal: Scratch resistant sapphire, 3.5mm thick
- Water Resistant: 300m/1000ft
- Choice of custom leather strap and also a nylon NATO
- 1 yr limited warranty against defects in workmanship and materials
Price: $795 USD
*Watchreport readers mention Watchreport when ordering to get a special price. You must email Greg to order. *
First things first, unlike the last pilot watch I reviewed, this is quite large. Coming in at 46mm with a 55mm lug to lug, this will not be for the timid when it comes to watch size. I can honestly say it is a touch large for my tastes as well, but that it does fit my wrist comfortably, but more on that later. Keeping with tradition of pilot watches, it is not very chunky despite its large diameter, coming in at 15mm thick. My example has an all brushed case with a polished bezel with the Type 2 dial with Old radium Superluminova applied to the hands and markers, giving it a slight vintage feel.
The Type 2 dial of the GSD Pilot has printed logo, a logo that you will see on the crown, case back and the metal box it is shipped in. It is very pronounced, which I don’t mind and actually prefer over the Type 1 dial. For those that like something a little more subdued, the Type 1 has more basic branding and is stamped from the inside, allowing the dial to be three dimensional as opposed to flat. Below is a side by side comparison. *Picture of the Type 1 is from Greg’s website.
There are many brands that produce pilot watches, so what are some of the things that make the GSD Pilot stand out in the crowd? Well for one, it has a screw down crown. Now this is not the first pilot watch to utilize this, but it is definitely not the standard. The GSD Pilot is also water resistant to a whopping 300 meters! Putting it on the included nylon NATO, you can now venture into the water if you choose. I do not think I will be doing that anytime soon, but it is nice to know you can get it wet without worry for those times when your drunk friends throw you in the pool when you are not looking.
Case finishing on the GSD Pilot is on par for what I expect of a watch of this price point, a medium grit brushing on the case and a super mirror polish for the bezel. The stamped crown is another nice touch as it is not just a simple laser etching as so many do. From front to back you can see there is a great attention to detail on what is a pretty simple design. Another aspect I admire is the use of a solid case back as opposed to a see through to see the Plain Jane Miyota 9015. The 9015 is a great entry level movement, but it is not pretty to look at as I have conveyed here many times.
One of the other things that makes the GSD Pilot stand out is the option of any leather strap that will be handmade by Greg himself. Some might initially balk at the $795 price tag, and I agree that on the watch itself, that is a little overpriced. When you factor in that you are getting to choose any leather strap that Greg currently makes, with your choice of stitching color and placement, in whatever size you need, you can start to see the value a little better. Many of Greg’s handmade straps are $175 an up, and worth every penny in my opinion. I have had quite a few straps of his over the years, and the quality and craftsmanship is always top notch. The leather strap I chose is a Horween Dublin, a beautiful lightly distressed dark caramel that I think fits perfectly with the dial. You can choose whatever you want, from a more standard pilot strap with metal rivets or something with minimal stitching, the choice is yours.
My one and only real gripe with the GSD Pilot would be the lack of a lumed second hand. And as you can see below, the Old Radium Superluminova has been applied generously to the hour/minute hands and dial markers, so not being able to see the second hand in the dark was a little disappointing. Fortunately Greg told me he has some lume tipped second hands coming in later this month to give customers the option. If you are one that wants that lumed second hand, I would wait a bit, or shoot an email to Greg to find out a better timeline on when they will be available. As it is though, the lume is fantastic.
7 ½ wrist for reference
I’m sure it is easy to see that I am pretty enamored with the GSD Pilot, and if you like this design I would think you would be impressed with it as well. For me, 44mm would be preferred, but I can see the appeal of this large pilot. My one real gripe of a non lumed second hand is already being addressed and that leaves me with nothing negative to convey. I mean sure, it would be great if it was $200 less, but the quality of both the watch and strap is there to warrant the price tag. If pilot watches are not your thing, keep an eye out on Greg’s website and/or instagram as I know he is working on a dive watch as well. Will Greg be the next great micro brand? Well, it depends on how well things go, and if this is something he wants to really dive into. I know this has been a slow process for him as he still makes his watch straps full time, but I can see with the first model that he is doing things right and hope to see more GSD branded watches in the future.