Sometimes you just stumble across a watch and realize you just have to have it! You could be scrolling through Instagram, on one of the message boards or even on Pinterest, then, wham, you’re in love with another watch! That was the case for me with the Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT. It’s a watch I had seen around but it never really caught my attention, until recently.
Several months ago, Aron Dunlap from the OFD Watch YouTube Channel did a video in which he was selling several of his watches and he listed his Ocean Vintage GMT and was asking a ridiculously low price.
That’s when I realized I “needed” a GMT and that was the watch I had to have. As you would expect I was too late and someone snagged the watch before I even had a chance to ask if it was available!
Of course I then became obsessed with the watch and decided to pick one up at Gnomon Watches, but they were out of stock. So, my obsession for the watch grew.
I tried eBay and the boards, but either the watch was too ragged or too close to retail in price, because if I was going to pay full price then I would just buy it new. Ultimately that’s what ended up happening, after a few more months of hunting around, Gnomon had them back in stock and I quickly ordered one.
If you haven’t ordered from Gnomon Watches before, it’s always a great experience. They have decent prices and in some cases they are the only authorized retailer for some brands. The other plus is they ship super quick and in a few days I had my new Steinhart GMT.
The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT bears a striking resemblance to the Rolex Explorer II Reference 1655. You could certainly call it an homage. One glaring difference and one I love is the absence of that ugly cyclops from the original. I can’t stand a cyclops or magnifier on a watch. I know, I am in a limited crowd, but to me they just ruin the face of a watch.
If you would like to know more about the Rolex version of this GMT, Wound For Life has a great article about the Rolex Explorer II, both the original and later iterations. I love watches but I am not all that into the specific histories of watches, etc. I just thought the Steinhart looked cool and wanted it!
Here’s the thing with homage watches, you either like them or hate them. I fall in the “don’t mind some of them” category. I don’t really like wearing a full-on Rolex Sub homage, but I kind of like the recreations of the classics found here in the Ocean Vintage GMT or on other watches like the Ocean Rover from Ginault, which I also reviewed.
The more you get into watches the less you want an homage, but they are an important part of collecting and really 97% of folks can’t tell a Submariner from another similar diver. It’s only in a watch group will someone notice. In the case here with the Ocean Vintage GMT, it’s a really cool watch regardless of its intentions.
The Ocean Vintage GMT hovers around $550 retail and you really get a lot of watch for the money. From the design, build quality and the full spec sheet, it’s a worthwhile investment for your collection. While not perfect in every aspect, it’s a definite winner in most.
At the heart of the watch is an awesome ETA 2893-2 élaboré. If you are not familiar with the ETA 2824 and its GMT complication brother the ETA 2893, the 2824 is a solid and long running movement found in a wide variety of watches from microbrands to major players. The movement is reliable and robust and can take a beating, but it does have one weak spot and that is it doesn’t like to be hand wound.
I learned this the hard way with one of my Hamilton’s and have stopped hand winding any of my watches. There are several movement in this family and Worn and Wound has a good write-up about them here: Worn and Wound ETA Article
One more note about the ETA movement inside, it has a nice feature and that is the crown has three positions and allows for adjustment of the GMT hand without hacking the watch. This means that you can set the GMT hand and not have to readjust the time.
The élaboré designation is a step up from the base movement in that it has been factory regulated in three positions and the accuracy of time keeping is raised to an average +/- 7 seconds per day. Pretty impressive specs to get at this price.
I have personally come to believe that these ETA movements are extremely solid and you find them in some hard use watches like a Marathon TSR and such.
Overall, I love the look of the Ocean Vintage GMT and it stays true to the original Explorer II in many ways. I personally wish the bracelet didn’t taper as much as it does and that the lume was better, but all in all it’s a very enjoyable watch to own and wear. It’s also very photogenic in the right light.
The build quality is excellent and the case is finished very well with brushing on top and polished case sides. A signed screw down crown is protected by nice crown guards and the watch has an engraved screw down caseback. The watch looks a little longer that the 49mm lug to lug would lead you to believe.
They are not curved very much and the watch sits very flat on the wrist. The end links are jointed right at the lug edge, so the bracelet will conform readily to your wrist making up for the lack of curved lugs. This also allows the watch to lay flat when not on your wrist like in a drawer or on your nightstand.
The watch is 42mm in diameter, but feels a tad bigger. I think that’s because the non rotating bezel protrudes slightly from the case, so it has a bigger appearance than the stated measurements. The lugs are 22mm apart and the total height is only 13mm. The relative short height helps to make the watch wear very well. I stated it looks a tad bigger, but it’s not to the watch’s detriment, this guy hugs the wrist and looks fantastic.
The dial of the watch really captures that cool vintage vibe, although the watch does take a little getting used to if you want to tell time. The dial marking is neat, but the squares are close together and similar in size. The half-hour marks are square too.
I found the watch doesn’t lend itself to a quick glance to read the time of day, this could just be me however. I love that even though it’s a busy dial, it is still neat and tidy looking. The date window is black numbers on a white field and the hour and minute hands are easily noticed in white outlines.
Capping off the dial is a beautiful piece of domed sapphire. The edge of the glass has a slight chamfer to it where it meets the bezel and is just noticeable at certain angles. That is why this watch is so killer, it has some really nice detail to it.
Do you like to stare at your watch to kill time, you know, like on a conference call or waiting in line? If so, this is a good choice of watch, it’s wonderful to look at.
The GMT function is really what gives this watch its character, the orange hand against the vintage cream of the markings is definitely a neat look. The theme is carried through with the lollipop seconds hand.
The dial is also the weak spot on the watch as the lume is terrible. The printed dial and hands are coated in “old radium” Superluinova. They take a charge well, but the lume doesn’t last long at all. Considering all the other positives, I can let this one slide a little.
The watch comes on a nice bracelet and is easily adjusted with screw pins. It has solid end links and a polished , milled scissor clasp and it feels very sturdy.
Four position micro adjustments round out the buckle with a signed fold over clasp. The bracelet does have a minor issue and that is it’s a pain to open. No push button release here. You have to use your nail to pry open the fold over clasp and it’s tight.
Even after two months of wear, it hasn’t loosened up a bit. Besides the four micro adjustment holes, the bracelet has two half links to help with getting the fit just right.
Steinhart watches are a known quantity. Seemingly more known for their Rolex look-a-likes, they have started to put out some more original designs over the last few years. This is great because they really build a quality watch.
I have a Steinhart Ocean Vintage Military and it too is an outstanding watch! I specifically bought this watch because I want something tough, good looking, wasn’t run of the mill and came on a bracelet. The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT checked all those boxes.
As far as reliable grab and go watches, the Ocean Vintage GMT is a winner. With a tough build, durable movement and 300 meters of water resistance, there isn’t much that the watch can’t do. It feels great on the wrist, looks awesome and is definitely a conversation starter. It’s a watch I keep at the top of my drawer and throw it on for a variety of occasions from business meetings to date nights and just for running around.
Is this watch for you? If your budget is around that $500 mark, this watch really makes a compelling offer. For a daily watch that can do many things, this is a solid choice.
Also, if your collection is heavy on divers or field watches, the Ocean Vintage GMT really crosses both those lines with something a little unique. I doubt you would be disappointed with it on your wrist.