G. Gerlach is a Polish watch brand that I’ve been eyeballing for a long time now. They have had plenty of interesting watch designs, such as G. Gerlach Navigator (two crowns compressor style watch), G. Gerlach Otago (barrel shaped case diver’s watch) or G. Gerlach CWS Sokół 1000 (vintage styled mechanical chronograph) just to name a few. However, I couldn’t really pull a trigger for any of their watches for some reason. That changed obviously when I saw G. Gerlach Enigma, a sporty diver’s watch with two sub dials chronograph and a beautiful double domed sapphire crystal. I decided that it’s going to by my first (and now I’m sure that I won’t be the last) watch from G. Gerlach. As with most G. Gerlach’s watches, there is a story behind it, and it’s not different for this one. Enigma was a ciphering machine created by the German army in the eve of the Second World War, which was later broken by a group of Polish mathematicians. G. Gerlach Enigma is a tribute to this amazing achievement of Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki, Henryk Zygalski and their team.
The word „enigma” means in Greek “mystery”. Before the Second World War the German army launched new cipher machine named: Enigma. It was a portable electro-mechanical rotor cipher machine used for enciphering and deciphering secret messages. Because of possibility of changing rotors it was extremely hard to break using standard methods.
In 1932 three young Polish genius mathematicians and cryptologists: Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski, working for Polish military intelligence’s Cipher Bureau broke the Enigma system.
But the most difficult task was to break German codes in real time or in very short period of time. Polish cryptologists designed “cryptologic bomb” – the electromechanical device which could break Enigma cipher automatically. It was in October of 1938. The war was very close. On 25 July 1939, five weeks before outbreak of World War II Polish Cipher Bureau invited representatives of French and British military intelligence, which had been unable to make any headway against Enigma, to the secret facilities near Warsaw. Poles decided to share the technology and equipped French and British colleagues with a “bomb” prototype.
During the war allied intelligence developed and improved the technology of “bombs” in Bletchley Park facility. Breaking of Enigma was a one of the most important milestones in allied victory of World War II.
This watch is our tribute for Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski and their team who changed the face of the world we live.
Today, in my G. Gerlach Enigma review I’m going to explain you what’s so special about the watch itself that caught my attention.
First of all, let’s remember that G. Gerlach Enigma is a sub $300 watch (it’s 1050 PLN to be precise, and you can get yours at G. Gerlach website). Having that in mind, I was truly amazed when I received my package from G. Gerlach. The watch comes in a beautiful presentation wooden box with a G. Gerlach logo on the top of its lid. In the box we will wind the watch itself, which comes on canvas leather strap (more on that later), a nice pillow on which the watch rests, a cleaning cloth and a pouch, both signed with G. Gerlach logo. In a package, you also a get an envelope with a sheet of paper, which serves as a warranty sheet and a short user manual. Finally, you also get a high quality strap changing tool, that’s so handy, I use mine all time! I’m really impressed how much they offer for the price.
I wanted to point out the perfect customer support from G. Gerlach. I usually don’t mention that in my reviews because I rarely, if ever, have a contact with the seller and/or manufacturer after watch purchase. However, this time was different for me. Unfortunately, when I received my watch I noticed two things. First of all, the chronograph function didn’t work properly, there was a problem with resetting the stop watch function. The second issue was that the dial was misaligned – the minute marks of the left hand side did not touch the chapter ring, as if the dial was slightly moved to the right. I notified G. Gerlach and asked them to replace my watch. I sent it back and a few days later I received a brand new watch with an additional mesh bracelet as amends. I’ll take that! The stop watch function works great now; however, the dial is still slightly misaligned. After studying some photos over the Internet and contacting G. Gerlach, I found out that in fact all white Enigma watches have this issue because the dials where misprinted by the factory. That’s quite unfortunate to be honest but I decided I can live with that because I love the watch anyway.
Case, crown, caseback, crystal, bezel
G. Gerlach Enigma sports a chunky 316L stainless steel case, which is 43 mm in diameter, 49 mm lug to lug, and almost 16mm tall including the double domed sapphire crystal. The case has visible vintage cues with its barrel like shape and distinct lugs, it reminds me of vintage Russian chronographs. The case is entirely brushed with only bezel and chronograph pushers being polished. It gives the watch a mature look and feel. Short lug to lug distance, as well as the fact that lugs are pointing downwards slightly, reassure great comfort on the wrist. At the same time, 43 mm case width and its overall bulkiness provides plenty of wrist presence.
At 3 o’clock there is a screw down crown accompanied by two pushers responsible for stop watch functions. The crown is quite big (about 6 mm in diameter) and it’s signed with G. Gerlach logo at the top of it. Its screw down construction provides 200m water resistance, so in fact we have a true diver’s watch here. The crown is easy to unscrew and screw back down and feels solid enough while changing date and time settings. As with most watches, 1st position of the crown allows to set the date, while the 2nd position lets you set the hour. Chronograph pushers are entirely polished by design, which makes it a nice accent on this brushed stainless steel case. Pushers have a nice audible click and enough level of resistance when you push them down. The top pusher starts and stops a 60 minute chronograph, while the bottom pusher resets the hands to their starting positions.
The screw down caseback; although pretty basic, is quite pleasant to the eye. There is a big laser etched Enigma logo in the middle of it as well as model description in Polish and information commemorating the achievement of breaking the Enigma cyphering machine by Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki, Henryk Zygalski in 1932.
The front of the dial is protected by a beautifully double domed sapphire crystal. The dome is quite tall but it’s not an extreme bubble at the same time. It’s a huge step forward for G. Gerlach, who decided to use a double dome sapphire for the first time in their watches. Previous models were fitted with a single domed crystals, which are nowhere near as attractive. The crystal is also covered with an anti-reflecting coating on the inside, with a slight purple tint to it. It’s extremely difficult to catch on a photo but it looks amazing in person, you have to trust me on that.
Finally, there comes a diving bezel, an immanent feature of every diver’s watch. In this case, there is nothing really spectacular to it. It’s stainless unidirectional steel bezel with an aluminum bezel insert. The bezel is fitted with 120 click mechanism but its action is quite a letdown. It seems stiff and hard to operate if your hands are wet or sweaty. Furthermore, the sound it makes while clicking is quite unpleasant, it’s like a friction of two metal parts. That’s something G. Gerlach should pay more attention in their future models.
Dial, hands, lume
G. Gerlach Enigma comes in 6 different colour schemes. There is a blue, orange, white, yellow and two different black dials. Personally, I picked the white dial version, which seems to be the most attractive to me. As I mentioned before, Enigma is a chronograph watch and that means there are additional subdials on the watch. In this case we have two. The dial on the left hand side displays minutes for the stopwatch, while the dial on the right hand side is responsible for displaying time in 24 hour system (however, it cannot be set independently to show the second time zone). If you take a closer look at the subdials, you will notice that the black ring surrounding them is slightly depressed and has a nice concentric pattern. An additional feature that’s so often seen on a diver’s watches is a chapter ring with a tachometer scale. It’s very steep and together with the tall domed sapphire crystal creates an interesting depth of the dial. The only issue I have with this chapter ring is that’s not perfectly aligned with the minute markers on the dial. But it has to do more with a dial being slightly misprinted, as I mentioned before.
Back to the main dial, at the 6 o’clock there a date window framed in an elegant chromed boarder. I’m usually not a big fan of date function on diver’s watches but this time I quite like it. It’s a right size and looks attractive. The dial is fitted with applied chrome hour markers, which are further filled with lume. The lume; however, is probably the biggest letdown of the watch. Both markers and the handset glows extremely short and when they do glow, it’s far from being spectacular. But that’s maybe me being spoiled by Seiko diver’s lume, who knows. Nevertheless, I find it weird to try to save money on something as cheap as lume. C3 lume would made this watch so much more interesting.
The handset of G. Gerlach Enigma is pretty basic. The hour and minute hands have a simple rectangular shape and are partially filled with not-so-decent lume. The hands on subdials are formed in an orange triangles, the same with the main chronograph hand at 12 o’clock. This orange accent is a perfect addition to the otherwise calm dial.
G. Gerlach Enigma is fitted with TMI Seiko VK64 mechaquartz chronograph movement. It’s a Seiko made quartz movement with a construction of chronograph module similar to the one u see on a true mechanical chronographs. That means when you start a stop watch, the second hand will move smoothly instead of ticking like in a regular quartz movement. When you reset the stop watch, it will jump right in the starting position, the same as a true mechanical watch would do. VK64 become quite popular among watch micro brands due to increased fashion for vintage styled chronograph watches. You can find it in i.e. Vratislavia Conceptum Heritage Chrono or Straton Watch Co. Curve-Chrono. But it’s just a tip of an iceberg. It’s hard to blame these companies because it’s a great budget solution, the movement has proved be reliable and failure-free. It has its quirks, however. Maybe you have already noticed that but let me point out that it does not have a seconds hand. As a result, for most of the time the dial of the watch is quite dead because there is nothing moving in there. Perhaps it’s for the best because many watch enthusiast are allergic to ticking seconds hands in quartz driven watches.
Enigma comes on a 22 mm width black canvas leather strap. The strap is equipped with stainless steel hardware, similar to what you can find on a nato straps, and a stainless steel signed buckle. You can also purchase an additional mesh bracelet on the Gerlach website. I almost immediately replaced the canvas strap. It’s not because of its quality, which is good actually! I just dislike the concept of canvas strap on a diver’s/chronograph watch. Before I even bought the watch, I envisioned it on a nice racing style leather strap. I ordered one from FXR Handmade Straps. I think I’ve got there a perfect match for everyday use. If I’m feeling sportier, a nice rubber strap does the trick. I love the look of Enigma on an orange Obris Morgan rubber or Isofrane. The mesh bracelet also works, as well as various nato straps. In fact, it’s such a versatile watch that it looks great with virtually anything!
I have owned G. Gerlach Enigma for almost half a year now and I can honestly say it’s a keeper. It’s a really well made watch, which feels solid in hand. The beautiful double domed crystal is a real selling point for me. Yes, it has flaws, some of them might be a deal breakers for potential buyers (the misprinted dial being the most significant). Nevertheless, the watch has its charm – I can’t deny it. Even though I can clearly see its cons, I still love the watch and wear it regularly. After all, it’s what counts, right? I just hope that G. Gerlach will draw conclusions from their mistakes and make sure to improve in future. Especially, since they have so many interesting project coming in, refreshed Dywizjon 303 anyone?
+ solid construction
+ beautiful double domed sapphire crystal
+ great value for money
+ diver’s watch + chronograph in one package
+ great customer support
– QC issues
– undermining bezel action
– lume is a letdown
I have owned G. Gerlach Enigma for almost half a year now and I can honestly say it’s a keeper. It’s a really well made watch, which feels solid in hand. The beautiful double domed crystal is a real selling point for me. Yes, it has flaws, some of them might be a deal breakers for potential buyers (the misprinted dial being the most significant). Nevertheless, the watch has its charm – I can’t deny it. Even though I can clearly see its cons, I still love the watch and wear it regularly. After all, it’s what counts, right? I just hope that G. Gerlach will draw conclusions from their mistakes and make sure to improve in future.