Hands-On: Lorier Gemini

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As I sit here, putting the finishing touches on this hands-on, the watch at the center of this article officially launched. The brand chose an auspicious time – 2pm on 02/22/20 – to open sales. While clearly not arbitrary, the fates must have aligned as the watch, as is often the case, did see a couple of delays between first being shown at Windup Watch Fair NYC 2019 and release. The result? The first batch, which consisted of three versions and a few hundred units, sold out in 10 minutes. So, with the caveat that at the time of publishing this article, the watch is not immediately available, and already a success, I present to you, the Lorier Gemini. If you missed out, don’t be forlorn, they will return. And if you did happen to get one, here’s a little taste of what you’re in for.

A watch that is as fun to wear as use

With two divers and an all-purpose sports watch (the Falcon reviewed here) out of the way, Lorier was all teed up for a chronograph. Building off of the platform used in those previous watches, they took their long-lugged 39mm case, massive acrylic crystal, arrow handset, and best-in-class bracelet, added in the Seagull ST19 caliber and a clever bezel mechanism, creating what’s already proven to be another hit watch. The Gemini channels the zeitgeist for vintage-styled and sized chronographs, while still feeling like its own, distinctly “Lorier” design. And, in staying true with their philosophy of creating obtainable timepieces, the Gemini comes in at a remarkable $499.

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$499

Hands-On: Lorier Gemini

Case
316L Stainless Steel
Movement
Seagull ST19
Dial
White Panda
Lume
Yes
Lens
Domed Acrylic
Strap
Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
50M
Dimensions
39 x 47mm
Thickness
13.3mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
push-pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$499

For those familiar with their previous watches, the case of the Gemini will come as no surprise. At 39mm x 47mm x 10mm without the acrylic crystal / 13.3mm with, it’s a great medium-size that is small enough to have a classic, vintage appeal, while big enough to feel sturdy and have a strong presence. Impressively, the Gemini is thinner than their three-hand watches thanks to the manual wound movement within. This translates to an even more comfortable, better-wearing watch.

While Lorier clearly draws on vintage watches to find their design language, they also find ways to make their watches unique. For the Gemini case, it’s the bezel. They didn’t fall into the trap of a fixed external tachymeter, rather going for a useful 12-hour bezel with a bi-directional 24-click mechanism. Not something you see every day, the mechanism has a really nice feel and action to it, taking the right amount of effort to turn, and having no wiggle once in place. For the insert itself, they went with the format from their Neptune diver, swapping the numerals for 2 – 10, keeping the lumed triangle at 12.

the 24-click bezel is a great feature
thin case, tall crystal
Applied markers with an aggressive design
Contrasting gloss dial with matte sub-dials

Now, I don’t mean to insult all watches with fixed tachs – I am a self-proclaimed Speedy fan after all – but they’ve been done an awful lot, especially as vintage-styled motorsport chronographs have been in vogue. As such, this one little change gives the Gemini a purpose beyond its design appeal. I can count the number of times I’ve needed to use a tachymeter in my daily life on less than one hand. A dual-time bezel, however, is useful every time I leave my native timezone and can be used for other situations as well.

While the dial of the Gemini speaks to the same cautious approach that can be seen in their other watches, it does have more going on due to the contrast sub-dials and applied polished batons that mark every hour save three and nine. The batons are quite dramatic, with sharp tips that point toward the center of the dial, pulling the eye in, creating almost a sense of pressure. To be picky about one thing, I wonder if they could have been a touch shorter, allowing for a bit more breathing room on the dial. Around the outer edge is an index of fine lines, black as seen here on the Panda variety, for both the minutes and chrono-seconds. At intervals of five are small lume squares.

The dial balances many elements

The sub-dials are then actually on a surface below the main white dial. A smart construction, it allowed Lorier to achieve a very nice effect. First, the upper surface is glossy, giving it a smooth, even look, which also allows for very sharp printing. The edge of the cutouts is a sharp drop off, allowing for a distinct line between the two surfaces. The lower surface is then matte, creating maximum contrast, which is exactly what you want on a Panda dial. Lastly, there is a nice effect right before the edge of the cutout due to a slight radius, giving the dial an almost enamel look. This all goes towards an execution that feels higher-end than the price tag might indicate.

On the wrist – well, it’s a 39mm x 47mm x 10mm tall chronograph, how do you think it wears? Very, very well is the answer. If you’ve tried on other Loriers, you’ll find that thanks to the thinner profile, the Gemini wears even better than those watches. It sits perfectly on my 7” wrist, and is very comfortable as well. Perhaps more importantly, the Gemini just looks amazing strapped on. It has all the style of a vintage Carrera, with none of those modern-missteps, like a chunky mid-case or an out of place date window.

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It only costs $499 to look like a million bucks
Yeah, it looks great on leather too

And as with all Loriers, the Gemini comes on their insane bracelet. Featuring flat, brushed, fully-articulating links, the bracelet has the look and feel you want. It even features easily adjustable links with single-sided screw-bars (my favorite) and a relatively discreet, yet solid clasp with one-stop of micro-adjustment. You might never want to take it off, but if you do, the Gemini looks incredible on a leather strap as well. It is a vintage-style chronograph after all, and rugged leather straps are always going to click.

Some bracelets got it, others don’t – this has lots of it

So, the Gemini is all-around a pretty impressive watch, especially at the price point. A feat that is even more astounding when considering that it’s a mechanical chronograph. Of course, to even begin to achieve this, Lorier had to use the Seagull ST19 movement. Basically the only inexpensive mechanical chronograph out there, the Chinese-made manually wound, column-wheel caliber is ideal for a vintage-styled watch, as it’s as close to vintage movement as you can buy. The ST19 is based on the Venus 175, a movement from the 40’s, of which the tooling was sold to the Chinese in the 1960’s so they could develop their own military chronos (see the Seagull 1963).

It has the feel, the size and the layout of a vintage chronograph, so it fits right in. If you had an open case-back, you’d see it has the look too. But while a fun movement to look at, it doesn’t hold up under a loupe, so I think it was a smart choice for Lorier to keep it covered. So, what’s the downside? Well, since it’s inexpensive, it’s really up to the brand and their factories to QC the movements very well before casing. Also, they can be a bit fragile. This isn’t a watch you want to hand to your four-year-old nephew so they can try to play Beethoven’s 5th on the pushers. Instead, treat it with a bit more care than you would a modern Swiss-made chrono, and don’t push on the reset button while the chrono is active (actually, don’t do that on any chrono that isn’t a flyback, you and your wallet will be unhappy with the result).

Panda Chrono + Rally Strap = Happy Enthusiast

So, what’s left to say? It’s clear that Lorier has another winner on their hands with the Gemini as indicated in the intro by the fact that they sold out in minutes. But it certainly helps that they just did a really good job with it too. They nailed the design, the style, the finishing, that 24-click bezel, and went the extra mile by using the Seagull ST19, which was a bit of a risk. At $499 it’s really hard to argue against it. Well, I guess it does have one issue – you’re going to have to wait to get one.
Lorier Watches

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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