When we last reviewed a G. Gerlach watch, I concluded by saying that I was more excited about the potential of the brand than the watch itself (the watch being the Otago, a 70’s style diver). I felt that they had an opportunity, by being a Polish-made brand that used Asian movements, to sort of do whatever they wanted. They could set their own tone. Well, with the watch we are going to review today, I think it’s clear that they are, and that they are quickly evolving into something great.
The Lux-Sport is an automotive inspired watch that draws from a car of the same name from 1936. The watch itself is fairly modern to my eyes, but in keeping with the brand concept, it celebrates Polish history and industry. Like all Gerlach’s the watch is also predominantly made and assembled in Poland. That is something to keep in mind when looking at this watch. There was no real watch industry in Poland (at least not currently) when G. Gerlach set about starting their brand. Now they make several watches, all with a very decent level of finish.
While the Otago might have more directly drawn on watches of the past, the Lux-Sport is decidedly unique. When I first took it out of its box, I was immediately excited by what I saw. Good finishing, good case work and a well laid out dial. Inside, there is a SeaGull ST2526 automatic movement with big-date and small seconds complications. This might be the most contentious aspect of the watch, since SeaGull movements don’t command a great deal of respect yet, but I believe they used it to good effect in the Lux-Sport. For a nicely finished watch with a unique design, a domed sapphire crystal with AR and an automatic movement with complications, the watch is very affordable, coming in at 1199 Polish Zloty, or about $370.
G. Gerlach Lux-Sport Review
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: SeaGull 2526
Water Res.: 100m
Dimensions: 40 x 46.3 mm
Thickness: 14.2 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 7 x 5 mm
Warranty: 2 years
The Lux-Sport has a simple, but successful case design with better than expected execution. The all steel case measures 40 x 46.3 x 14.2mm (to the top of the domed sapphire) making it a nice compact size for a modern sport watch. It is tall, which is likely in part to accommodate the modular movement, but happens to work with the watch. The instrument style design makes more sense as a bit large, even clunky. Had it been flat, I think it would have lost some character. It also accentuates the slightly smaller diameter, by which I mean makes it seem smaller, which is a good thing.
The design is pretty basic (I believe they use this case on other models, so it makes sense form a practical perspective to make it simple and versatile) with slab sides and broad lugs with a classic taper. From the side, the proportions of the bezel to the central case to the case back are well tuned, so it doesn’t look too massive. The lugs curve down slightly for a more comfortable fit.
Off of three is one of the more curious and massive crowns I’ve ever seen. It’s a screw-down crown measuring 7 x 5.7mm (from the case to the edge of the crown). I suppose it would be considered an onion crown, but the design more closely resembles a barrel, bowing in the middle. A very cool detail is that there are two red bands that wrap around the crown, tying it into the color scheme of the watch, and generally making it a more interesting part of the watch. Otherwise, it has a very fine tooth to it and a G. Gerlach logo on the outside surface.
Off of 10 is an unexpected pusher. This is used to set the big-date, though it comes across as a chrono-pusher, perhaps hinting that the watch has hidden functionality. Aesthetically, I like it, for the latter point. It looks technical, which works with the watch’s concept. Functionally, while it makes setting the date very easy, it’s also possible to accidentally bump, changing the date at unwanted times, hence why these type of pushers are typically sunken.
The case back is screw-down and features a line drawing of the 1936 Lux-Sport automobile. Overall, the finishing on the case is good. The bezel is polished while the central case is brushed all around, with radial brushing on the top and horizontal brushing on the side. The edges of the case are generally very crisp, giving the watch a nicely machined look and feel.
The dial of the Lux-Sport is a fun ode to automobiles and gauges without being too obvious about it. The surface is a clean, matte silver, which is very easy on the eyes. It’s nearly white, but has more depth and reflects light differently. On the silver is a primary minute index of large black numerals in a geometric typeface. It’s an unexpected choice, but one that works well. The minutes are all double digit, starting at “00” rather than ending at “60”. I happen to like this detail as it, to me at least, suggests a tachometer.
The outer edge of the dial features a steep chapter ring with a rail-road index in black. It’s a simple and effective way to use the ring, adding some legibility by giving you individual minutes, and also giving the dial a finished edge before the bezel. The mix of lines and the steep angle also pull the eyes in towards the center of the watch.
At 6 is a seconds sub-dial that draws a lot of attention. It’s quite large, but still in good proportions for the dial. It’s solid black with circular graining, giving it a different sheen than the rest of the dial, but it’s not recessed down, keeping everything on one plane. The seconds index is fun and busy, with red numerals at 60, 15, 30 and 45, red markers every 5 seconds, and white markers in between. It has an energy to it that speaks to the fact that it’s the only visibly active area on the dial.
The center of the dial has a simple texture to it that uses the space well. It’s a lightly debossed pin-stripe within a circle that catches light nicely, almost adding a gradient. it’s well implemented in that it apparent, but not so deep as to overtake the rest of the design. Running from 9 to 3 is a blank space in the texture, where they put the G. Gerlach and Lux-Sport logos. Though the two logos are very different from one another, the layout is balanced, maintaining dial symmetry.
Just below “00” is a the big date window. Big dates are very cool and not something we see often these days on mechanicals, largely because mechanical movements with them are not available… I don’t think Seiko or Miyota even have offerings. The look of the double window is perfect on an automobile inspired watch, hinting at mile counters, etc… On the Lux-Sport it also balance wells with the sub-dial at 6. The date itself is presented in black text on a white surface. And herein lies my only gripe; the date wheels don’t really mesh with the aesthetic of the watch. Had it been the same font as the numerals, that would have worked, perhaps red on black could have been aggro and cool. But as is, the font is classical and a bit out of place.
The hands chose work perfectly as well. Long, slender, sharp needles for both the hour and minute fit the concept perfectly. The hour is polished steel, while the longer minute hand is bright red. Though their shapes are similar, they are easy to tell apart at a glance do to the coloration. The second hand has a similar shape, but is scaled down for the sub-dial.
All in all, the dial is very successful. There is a really nice balance to it and coherence between all of the elements, save the date disks. The mix of silver, black, red and a touch of white, with silver and black being dominant, is clearly sporty, a touch aggressive, but not over the top. For fans of sub-seconds, this dial is also a dream as it puts a huge emphasis on that sub-dial.
Inside of the Lux-Sport is a SeaGull 2526 AAA-grade automatic with big-date and small seconds modules. The movement has 28 jewels, hacks, hand winds, a power reserve of 40 – 45hrs and an odd frequency of 22,600bph (rather than the standard 21,600). In my time with the watch, it has kept good time and shown no power reserve issues. Nothing about it in operation feels cheap either (nice resistance when setting the time, good feel during winding).
Using a SeaGull movement is an interesting choice as on one hand, their is distrust for the brand, largely stemming from a lack of good testing, breakdowns of the movement or adoption from larger brands. On the other, it allows G. Gerlach to maintain a great price point and have added complications. The big-date in particular is a real value adder. In terms of SeaGulls, this is also a high (AAA) grade, meaning, at least as I understand it, it has passed a higher level of QC. For my part, I would prefer a SeaGull auto to an unknown Swiss auto, that is likely a Chinese auto assembled in Switzerland.
For the hell of it, I opened up the lux to take a look and was pleasantly surprised. The movement is decorated with perlage on most surfaces and features blued screws. It also appears to be made to have an open dial to show off the balance, as the balance is centrally mounted over a bored out area, held in place by a bridge. What is clear is that it’s not just 2824 clone.
Strap and Wearability
The Lux-Sport comes mounted on a 20mm Polish-made big hole rally strap. It’s black with red stitching. It’s a very decent strap, with heavy padding by the lugs, a slight taper (20>18) and a blunt end. Often, big hole rally straps with a lot of padding end up looking distorted and strange. This one is quite rigid, likely padded with leather, so the holes maintain their shape and look good. It works well with the watch, clearly paying off of the car motif. The big holes resonate with the large sub-seconds and the black and red are a natural pairing with the dial. Though I’m normally not one for bright red stitching, it does work here.
On the wrist, the Lux-Sport wears well. It’s a nice size that is comfortable, yet has presence. The height adds to the overall mass, giving it a solid look and feel. The huge crown was a bit of a concern as I expected it to dig into my hand, but in practice it wasn’t bad. If I bend my hand back to the extreme, it will press in, but that’s basically forcing it. All around, good fit.
Aesthetically, this is a great looking watch. It’s sporty, but oddly reserved and well styled. It doesn’t feel to extreme or contrived or like it’s trying too hard. It’s great to look at and fun to wear. While it’s overall very modern, the contrast sub-dial does remind me of panda dial chronos, so there is a subtle vintage vibe. While this might no be the right watch to wear with a suit, you can definitely pull it off with rugged casual wear, and I don’t think it would look bad at the office.
G. Gerlach has made big strides with the Lux-Sport in terms of both design and execution. It’s a nice looking watch, relatively unique, well made and at a very good price. $370 is almost unbelievable, but that’s what you get with a Polish-made watch powered by a SeaGull movement, a lot of value. The movement choice, in the end, was also the right one. It was the only way to get a mechanical movement with those features at a good price. Sure, there might be some Unitas module combo with a big-date, but then the watch would have been manual, much larger, and probably 4 – 5 times as expensive. So, if you’re looking for a fun sport watch with an automotive theme and a very good price, this one is worth checking out.