When one discusses the desirable qualities in a watch, there are many potential factors to take into consideration. Build quality, looks, price, complications, etc… And these factors can get very specific depending on one’s needs, such as helium-escape valves for divers. It’s not often that a watch comes along that covers a particularly large amount of those potential needs, and the Limes Endurance 1000 GMT 3 is one such watch. At 1,195 Euros, or about $1,575, the German made Endurance features an ETA 2893-2 TOP grade GMT movement, a 1000m water resistance, sapphire crystal, an incredibly sturdy build and a unique three time zone design. While the price is certainly more than the bulk of watches we discuss, the Limes Endurance offers substantial value by being a “multi-tool” as well as packing a top grade ETA movement.
Limes is a German brand that is run and manufactured by the Ickler family out of Pforzheim Germany. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve recently also reviewed the Defakto Detail and Archimede Outdoor, which are also Ickler family brands. Limes is basically their higher end brand, specializing in elegant dress watches with complications, such as their Pharo hand wound with power reserve, and the Endurance line of sport watches. As with Defakto and Archimede, it’s important to keep in mind that these are genuine German made watches, like Sinn and Nomos, giving them a lot of added value.
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: ETA 2893-2 GMT Top
Dial: Black w/ White and Red markers
Strap: Rubberized Leather
Water Res.: 1000m
Dimensions: 41.8 x 50 mm
Thickness: 12.6 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 4 x 7 mm screwdown
The Endurance 1000 GMT 3 has a particularly interesting case design. The stainless steel case measures 41.8 x 50 x 12.6 mm, making it a medium sized watch, though quite compact for a 1000m diver. The design itself is unique amongst any watch I’ve encountered, with a jagged and geometrical design that is both purposeful and visually interesting. The shapes of the various parts are actually quite difficult to describe on this watch, as there are many unexpected facets and cutaways. Notably, the lugs have a sharp line going across them that runs at just about tangent to the bezel. This acute break in the surface helps to visually separate the dial from the case as well creates a bold look. On either side of the large 7 x 4mm screw down crown are protective crown guards. The guards too have an interesting shape. They run from about 2 to 4, jutting out from the side of case, and taper the further away from the case they get. While a prominent feature of the case, they are proportioned well and do not overtake the design.
The most prominent feature of the case is the large steel 120-click unidirectional bezel. The bezel is actually slightly larger in diameter than the central chassis of the case, making it overhang for easy gripping. The teeth that line the perimeter are large and chunky, providing a nice tactile surface. The bezel mechanism is nice and snappy, clicking precisely and with a reassuring sound and feeling. The bezel insert will be discussed alongside the dial, later in the review. The underside of the watch is fairly unadorned and clearly has a functional design. The case back is screw down, and has a truncated pyramid shape. There are light etchings on the back with the Limes and Ickler logos, as well as various details about the watch. Since the watch has a 1000m water resistance, it is not surprising that the case back is all business, rather than décor.
The build quality, as I mention in the intro, is very good. The case is solid and everything fits well, as would of course be expected. The engineering of the case that makes it somewhat remarkable is fairly invisible. The watch is genuinely very compact and nimble for what it is. 1000m watches aren’t made on accident and require very good tolerances and tough skin. Often, they are quite large and heavy. But the Endurance is a modest size and weight, 86g with strap, making it a more versatile watch to wear.
There are a few models in the Endurance line by Limes, of which there are 2 variations on the GMT model. For this review I asked for the 3-time zone model, as I am always a fan of clever dial and bezel designs that add function and maintain legibility. The dial of the GMT 3, which is matte black, has three indexes on it in a fairly tight space, but manages to be easy to read. The outer most index indicates individual minutes or seconds, with numerals every 5 and small markings in between, all in white, without lume. The next index moving in towards the center is a large primary hour index with trapezoidal markings. The markings, which are all lumed, are very bold and easy to read. The markings get larger at 3, 6 and 9 and there is an extra large double marker at 12. Aesthetically speaking, this hour index is the primary visual element of the dial, and it provides a proper modern diver look.
Moving in towards the center, in a slightly embossed trench, is the first 24-hr GMT index, presented in a deep red. The index has numeral marking for the even hours, and small lines for the odd. The slight change in elevation here creates a subtle but effective visual break between the 12-hour index and the 24. It also adds some needed texture to the dial. Between 4 and 5 is a small date window showing the white on black date wheel beneath. The date is legible but does not stand out too much. The indexes are continued onto the bezel insert. The index closest to the dial is a standard minute scale, basically a repeat of the one on the dial, for use as a standard dive bezel. Though subtle, the minute markers for the first 15 minutes are slightly longer than those for minutes 16 – 59, referring to the standard dive bezel style. The larger index on the bezel is the 2nd GMT index, which mirrors the first in design. At 24/0 is a triangle with a lume “pearl” set on top, which is the only glowing element of the bezel.
Taking the dial and bezel in all at once, the overall design is quite striking. The alternating red and white indexes create what I could only call a bulls-eye form that is unlike any other watch I have seen. While the look might not be for everyone, I found that the almost stubborn amount of indexes gave the watch a certain tool aesthetic that grew on me. It’s sort of like finding a scientific calculator cool looking, which is something I bet many watch people can appreciate.
The 5 indexes alone don’t tell the whole story. In order to properly read the watch, the hands, obviously, play a crucial role. But unlike in other watches, the shape and the color of the hands are used in conjunction to organize the information, which is critical as this watch tells time in 3 places simultaneously. The primary time is the 12-hour index all represented in white (also the only part that glows). The hour, minute and second hands too are in white. The hour and minute hand have an obelisk shape, reminiscent to the Washington monument. The hour hand extends just past the GMT index, and the minute hand extends to the outer minute index. The hands are very legible and readable at a glance.
The GMT hand is red and features 2 lumed triangle pointers. The first triangle stops just short of the first GMT index on the dial. The second pointer stops at the very edge of the dial and points to the index on the bezel, naturally. The use of red and white, though an obvious way to organize information, is surprising effective. When the eye looks for white, it ignores red and vice versa. In the dark, only the geometric index and the hands glow. The lume is fairly strong overall with decent glow duration.
The Endurance 1000 GMT3 has at its heart an ETA 2893-2 Top grade movement. The 2893-2 is a 25-jewel automatic with a frequency of 28,800 BPH, GMT and date function. ETA movements come in different grades (from low to high): standard, elaboré, top and chronometer. There are various differences between these, but the basic gist is that as grade goes up the quality goes up as well. This is seen in a couple of ways, decoration, accuracy and regulation. A top grade ETA movement is decorated, regulated to 5 positions and has a claimed accuracy of +/- 4 seconds a day. The higher the grade, the more expensive the movement becomes. Though it’s internal, so the decoration is lost, and the accuracy might not be perceivable to the untrained eye, the inclusion of a top grade 2893-2 is a genuine value adder for the Limes Endurance.
Straps and Wearability
The Endurance we received came on a very cool 20mm rubberized leather strap. To be honest, it’s not like any strap I’ve felt before, and I’m not sure if “rubberized leather”, which is language from their site, means that this is dipped leather or that it is rubber that has leather like properties. The strap is matte black with contrast off-white stitching. There are padded shapes running from the lugs down about half of either side. These pads create an interesting break in the matte finish and flat shape, giving the strap a sportier feel. The strap is very comfortable, avoiding a lot of the hang-ups of normal rubber straps, such as feeling sticky or not letting skin breathe. The look of the strap is sharp and works well with the intense dial and case design, by not adding too much more noise to the overall aesthetic. This is likely the nicest rubber strap I have personally worn.
Another option for the Limes Endurance would of course be a nylon NATO. On an olive green NATO, the watch takes on a much meaner and more aggressive persona. The added bit of color also changes the overall look, emphasizing the red in the dial and bezel.
The watch is remarkably easy to wear. The size is comfortable, the 86g weight is extremely tolerable and the strap does not irritate. At 12.6 mm, the watch is also fairly thin. We’ve come across many divers in the 14 – 16mm range, which gets fairly noticeable during the day. I have to commend them for designing a robust 1000m diver that is wearable as a daily watch. It’s sort of like the watch is hiding a cool secret. The look of the watch is definitely unique, but not so out there that it’s hard to wear. If anything, it’s a very mature looking watch with a somewhat austere demeanor. This isn’t a watch you would see on a teenager or some loud mouth that likes to show off. The watch is technical, architectural and altogether tasteful.
If you are looking for a strong, geometric watch with a practical but attractive look, the Limes Endurance 1000 GMT3 is watch you should consider. If you are looking for a watch with a GMT movement, are enticed by the ability to track 3 time zones, and want a top grade movement to boot, this is a watch to consider. If you ache for a 1000m diver, but have prefer slim, nimble watches, then you might want to take a look at the Limes Endurance 1000 GMT3. And if you are interested in all of the above… you get the point. This watch offers a lot in a neat and tidy package. Sure, the price is a bit higher than what we generally discuss, but it’s certainly in range of other German made watches with similar credentials. What’s most important is that watch isn’t overpriced. You aren’t paying for ad campaigns or endorsements with a Limes watch, just a solid watch that took care to make.
Review unit supplied by Limes Uhren
by Zach Weiss