Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Very Canadian Dive Watch

Made for a 2009 Canadian Military contract, the Marathon “Maple Leaf” GSAR is a relatively rare version of the Government-issued Search and Rescue watch (hence GSAR) with a red appliqué Maple Leaf on the dial. 
At a shade under 100g and approximately 46mm across, this watch is not unimpressive; it sports the 'workhouse' (but still highly respected) ETA 2824-A2 movement, which is ideally suited to the the lifestyles of the intended wearers. The milled stainless steel case is substantial, topped with a thick sapphire crystal and has a large, prominent  deeply knurled but highly comforting crown. It winds precisely, with none of the looseness that has been seen in certain recent boutique models. Water resistance to 30 ATM is well beyond the now de riguer 200m. The caseback is engraved with the following information, confirming its diving credentials (ISO 6425) and issue numbers.
ISO 6425 
WW 194006 
NOV 2009 

The dial is precise (see the crops below) and littered with highly visible markers which utilize self-luminous tritium vial technology - 26 millicuries of it or thereabouts. I'm not sure why this information is included on watches without a far more useful estimation of the actual dose of radiation that could be expected from such an amount - but that's probably just my inner chemist speaking. The GSAR's hands stand out well, and sit proudly above the dial (the watch is almost 14mm tall).

The 120 click bezel is firm and chunkily styled - in keeping with its nature - and moves easily. I tried using it in gloves and had no bother setting the time precisely. I'm sure Canadian government agencies use neoprene rather my woollen mittens, but I gave up wearing those a while ago - in my experience, it encourages divers to touch corals which are easily damaged.

All in all, this is an impressive watch, in styling and in substance. At approximately $795 on rubber (if you can find one - it only appears to be available in the US), it represents decent value for money - it's uncommon, solid and practical. A pragmatic choice.

More photos can be found here.