Reviews of products are always valuable, but sometimes it takes a little longer to get to know a watch...
Back in November 2018 I acquired a Geckota S-01 Marine Blue (serial no 0055) and immediately took it on a maiden voyage to the Middle East for some desert exploration. I was armed with multiple straps and the new watch performed well withstanding significant temperatures and super-fine sand which is renowned for adversely affecting crowns and bezels. It ate up the harsh environment without a blip, so our relationship got off to a good start. This odyssey was covered in November 2018 in the WatchGecko Online Magazine.Six months later, I still wear the watch weekly, interspersed between other brands. Therefore, in a fashion more akin to automotive reviews, Geckota and I thought it would be interesting to do a brief follow up analysis of how the watch had continued to perform and cope with the knocks and rigours of six months of everyday life. Tim Vaux (WatchGecko's Head of Marketing and a regular here on the Magazine) requested that I be honest in this review; which is fair play to the talented people in Tewkesbury who appreciate that a “good news only” review ultimately benefits no one.
After the initial trip, I was on a real high with the watch and wore it every day for a whole month. My Rolex, Breitling and Omegas lay forlorn and unwound in the watch box while I embraced life with my S-01. As time passed the other watches came out of their hiatus and the Geckota became a respected member of the collection; worn as the mood took, much as I do with the other brands. It is fair to say that seldom has a week gone by when I do not wear the S-01; such is my affection for the watch.
So how does it look and wear?
The S-01 is a very versatile watch and looks good with almost every strap combination. Hence it can be worn in a smart environment or very casual depending on how you dress the watch up or down. I have been, and always will be, a great advocate of quality NATO straps and as my S-01 is Marine Blue it looks particularly good on Geckota’s 22mm premium NATO straps – especially Grey or the Iridescent Herringbone grey/blue stripe. Equally, it looks good on a vintage Dusty Blue Highley Geckota leather strap which gives it a weathered exploration look. After several snorkelling trips, I commented to HQ that it would have been good to have taken a waterproof leather strap for the watch so I look forward very much to trying it on the new Seaford waterproof option or the Sailcloth (which I have recently tested and thoroughly recommend).
The one change I did make to the stock Geckota leather strap was to retrofit a smart brushed steel ZD buckle which came on a ZULUDIVER two-piece Cordura strap. As the S-01 has plenty of sub-aquatic DNA I think this buckle really enhances the diver element of the watch if you choose to deploy it on leather. I confess I have a real dislike of plain buckles, so I am delighted that Geckota now offers ZULUDIVER or ZD stamped buckles for those of us who like to continue the brand consistency and diver heritage under the wrist.
The watch can also be seen online with a steel linked Warrington bracelet which gives the S-01 a dressier look. I confess I have not had hands-on with the Warrington but looking at the multiple links I imagine it is as comfortable and wrist hugging as the Rolex Jubilee bracelet to which it bears a resemblance.
Fit and finish of the watch were very good from new and it has remained so. The blue bezel still notches solidly 120 times in a revolution and has retained all of its finish (which can’t be said for some other more expensive brands I have…) The crown screws in with reassurance and the slightly raised sapphire crystal is unblemished despite some harsh treatment. The case appears to have lost none of its polish but has surface scratched a little. The only serious ding on the case is where the watch was subjected to an alarming contact with an SUV door. Any watch would have shown some damage after this impact, and the resulting crater only adds to the journey the watch and I have taken.It is worth mentioning the non-conventional off-set crown position. The S-01 adjustment is located low on the left side of the case; exactly in line with the number four marker. This is an unusual but smart place to have the crown. It stops it digging into the top of your hand when doing many activities - a constant irk with so many watches with large diver crowns. I do a lot of rifle shooting and the natural position of the left support hand means that watch crowns traditionally leave a nasty mark on the top of my left hand.
Not the case with the S-01. When it comes to changing the time the slanting location seems a very natural place to reach for. It’s a small detail but, but to those of us who analyse watches to that level, it works really well and shows thought in the design.
There is a decent power reserve with the S-01 at around 40 hours and I have never worn it for a day and woken to find that it stopped at 02.00hrs the next morning. The ETA2824-2 fires up with the slightest movement and produces a satisfyingly smooth sweep of the second hand. The lume is very good for a watch in this price bracket. It is a soft blue which compliments the underwater ethos of the watch. My lume has developed no blemishes or faded patches so I have high hopes that it will shine for many years to come. Like all Superluminova products it looks particularly good when you walk indoors from bright sunlight.
I cannot fault the legibility of the watch, but I do wish that the model had minute markers. I have very politely mentioned this to Geckota’s Head of Product Development Ben who said it’s always an option. I am one of those owners who likes to set my watch accurately to GMT or BST when it requires a restart. You must wait till a multiple of five minutes past the hour to do this on the S-01 as you cannot set the specific minutes with accuracy.
However, let me be the first to bring us back to the real world with a reality check. This is a very small design omission and the aesthetic decision does leave you with an uncluttered, minimalist, watch face. But it is the only change I would make if you consider the product against other serious 300m diver watches. I am sure two S-01 owners would have different views; however I do see an easy possible solution.
Recently Geckota introduced replacement bezels for the S-01. This is a clever idea which allows you to give the watch a totally different look. There is an image online of a Marine Blue S-01 with a new brushed steel coloured bezel which radically changes the appearance of the watch. It is personally exciting as it gives the watch more than a suggestion of one of my “holy grail” models which is an early 1990s Breitling Shark – back in the days when Breitlings really were considered equipment for professionals.
So, I will be swapping my blue bezel for sure, but I really hope that Geckota takes this chance to offer one additional bezel option with minute markers – even if it is just from 0-15. Perhaps it could be a possible addition for the future portfolio?
Six-month later…There is no question that ownership of the S-01 is an overwhelmingly positive experience. The watch is a heavy, solid, machine which has successfully taken all the knocks of my everyday life and a few occasional extreme moments in harsh environments. In the last six months S-01 S/N 0055 has experienced temperatures as high as 50 degrees and as low as -10. It has spent time under saltwater and been subjected to weeks of tropical 90%+ humidity, so it is impossible to fault the machine’s functionality.
The watch is also very versatile depending on what strap configuration you choose allowing it to look good in an evening at your favourite wine bar or be a reliable travel partner as you tackle a South-East Asian jungle.
Would I respectfully request any changes? Not to the core of the watch but I would, reiterate that consideration please be given to at least one of the replacement bezels having minute markers please. It’s a small thing but it would, in one’s humble opinion, address the only design omission in what is otherwise a fine watch.
Over the last six months, my S-01 has been a fine and welcome addition to the watch collection and I have no doubts that in the next six years we will still be sharing adventures and there will be more dings in the case with great stories behind them.
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