It’s been quite some time since we’ve written about Steinhart, the German brand known for producing some of the most affordable Swiss-made watches on the market. But a few days ago, the company sent out a press release that caught our collective attention. Today, we have the pleasure of introducing Steinhart’s latest addition to their Ocean line, the Ocean One Vintage Dual Time.
As you may have guessed, this isn’t an original design from the brand. Rather, the Ocean One Vintage Dual Time is Steinhart’s take on the legendary PanAm Rolex GMT, a watch first developed by Rolex in 1954 for Pan American World Airways. Pan Am was the first airline to offer commercial international service, and as the lore goes, the airline worked with Rolex to create a watch that could meet the needs of the company’s transatlantic pilots. Pan Am’s executives were apparently quite jealous of the pilots and their new toys, so Juan Trippe, the head of Pan Am at the time, decided to squelch the discord by commissioning a batch of approximately 200 unique white-dialed GMT Masters. Now, I use the word “lore” because this story has never been confirmed–nor has it been refuted–and the large name of fakes and Franken-watches floating about further cloud the narrative. Regardless, it’s hard to deny the elegance of these white-dialed beauties.
Steinhart’s take on the watch is no less stunning. Utilizing a case first introduced with the Ocean One Vintage, the Dual Time comes in at 42mm and features a mix of polished and brushed finishing, topped off with a high-dome sapphire crystal. The dial is something of a cross between beige and grey, boasting a radial gradient that darkens ever so slightly towards the outer portion of the dial. Setting off the dial are the hour markers and classic Mercedes hands, both of which are generously covered in parchment-colored lume meant to mimic aged tritium. The GMT hand is slender with a diminutive arrow point, a direct nod to the historical model, and it’s colored red. The 24-hour bezel insert is an attractive faded Pepsi (red/blue), a possible divergence as the original was thought to have a Coke (red/black), insert, though this too is hotly debated amongst Rolex enthusiast. One of my favorite details is the date aperture, which showcases a roulette date wheel with alternating black and red numbers.
Overall, it’s a beautiful entry into Steinhart’s already full Ocean line, and it shows that the brand is really stepping up their game in terms of quality and finishing. That is, however, reflected in the price, which is 840 EUR, or 705 EUR without V.A.T., which equates to approximately $794 as of this writing. A good chunk of that price, however, comes from the movement, a beautifully finished Soprod A10 modified with a 24-hour indicator module.
The significance of this cannot be overstated. With ETA slowly, but surely, ending distribution of their movements to third parties, most smaller firms were more or less forced to put the kibosh on certain mechanical complications. Chronographs, for example, were hard hit, though Seiko recently stepped up to the plate with their excellent NE88 automatic chronograph caliber. But even worse off was the GMT function afforded by ETA’s 2893, a movement that had no viable alternative on the market–that is, until now.
In many ways, this is a game changer from Soprod. Sure, the movement is pricier than ETA’s counterpart, but Soprod calibers are also generally regarded as higher-end movements. Their innovation and willingness to work with third parties is a good sign for smaller outfits like Steinhart, which relied heavily on ETA and do not have the capability to go fully “in-house” (at least not yet, anyways). Having seen some of the other great things coming from Soprod, I am personally extremely excited to see what kinds of things the movement maker has in store in the coming years, as well as the kinds of watches that might result from them.
The Ocean One Vintage Dual Time can purchased here.