Hands-On: Love At First Sight with the Lorca Model No.1 GMT

As a self-proclaimed watch guy, I’ve developed a natural habit for watch spotting in the wild. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the midst of a routine trip to my local cafe or seated in my designated row as I observe the rest of the passengers board the plane. It’s also not limited to being out and about, as I’ve been known in my household to occasionally pause a movie if I spot something interesting on a character’s wrist. Needless to say, my watch-radar is always on.

There are a few things that actually set this “radar” off. But for the most part, it’s design recognition. You know what you’re looking at, even when you just catch a glimpse of the watch from across the room. All the classic models and references have this going for them. A couple months back however, I must admit, I was stumped. A gentleman strolled into our Worn & Wound office and was looking to chat with someone from our editorial team. He walked into our headquarters, so surely he should have a watch on, right? So mid-conversation, I glanced over when the opportunity presented itself, and just visible outside of a denim shirt cuff, layered with a stone gray tweed overcoat, was a watch that I thought I recognized.But the more I looked, the more I got confused … and intrigued. “Definitely vintage,” I thought. But was it an IWC? A Universal Geneve? It was none of the above – it was actually something totally new.

Turns out the gentleman visiting that day was Jesse Marchant, a New York based recording artist (and local to our headquarters in BK) whose music toes the line between folk, rock and pop. And on his wrist, was the Lorca Model No.1 GMT. You see, Marchant isn’t just a singer-songwriter. He’s also the founder of Lorca, a completely new watch brand. And on his wrist was Lorca’s debut model inspired by the particular design and functional needs Marchant wanted in watch as he traveled the world on tour. The watch needed to look great on, and off the stage. It needed to be subtle. Not too flashy, and with just enough of a vintage vibe, as well as good design. One look at Marchant’s sartorial set-up that day told me that he had great design taste in spades. But the most important quality about the watch was that it had to keep up with Marchant. That means climbing the Adirondack mountains, open water swimming, and traveling the world. So it’s no surprise that the watch is able to track a second time zone.


Hands-On: Love At First Sight with the Lorca Model No.1 GMT

Stainless Steel
Soprod C125 R4 – Automatic, Engraved Rotor, Date & GMT Function
BGW9 Swiss Superluminova
Double-Domed Sapphire Crystal w. Internal AR Coating
Stainless Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
200 Meters
Lug Width

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the Lorca Model No.1 GMT. All I can say is that there is so much going on, in a good way, that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes the watch so charming in hand. We’ve featured the Model No.1 GMT on an On-Wrist Reaction and talked at length about it on the podcast. And during every conversation, there was a different feature, character trait, and design decision that someone would point out and applaud – the art deco dial, funky-vintage steel bracelet, dress-casual versatility, 200 meters of water resistance, and obviously, the GMT complication. But all of that seemed to take precedence over the most important thing, in my humble opinion, about this watch – it’s 36mm! Heck yeah!

In recent, and not so recent memory, I can’t tell you that I’ve seen a steel 36mm watch with a GMT complication. Can you? I’m sure it has existed at some point, but I can almost be certain that it doesn’t look like the Lorca Model No.1 GMT. And that’s where we’ll start. The case is constructed using a 3-step case design. The bezel sits atop the slim midcase, and below is another step structure where the screw-caseback inserts. For the most part, the case is brushed with touches of polish along the case facet and the outerim of the bezel. Case proportions are as ideal as it gets for a watch this size; 44mm lug to lug, 11.2mm caseback to crystal, and a 19mm lug width. Now for those scrolling down to the comments to complain about the lug width, let me just mention that our in-house mathematician and Managing Editor, Blake Buettner, has done the math for the 124270 Rolex Explorer in his Owner’s Review, which has similar proportions to the Model No.1 GMT, and it’s the closest as it gets to the “Golden Ratio.” Marchant also mentioned during the early production process that the 1mm difference from 20mm to 19mm lug width, made a significant difference in how the watch looked and felt on the wrist, and ultimately, 19mm was the way to go. And if your 19mm strap inventory is low, my suggestion is to keep the watch on its bracelet because that’s one of its best features. More on that in a bit.

At the bezel, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT measures 37mm, and that’s because the steel bezel flares out from the midcase. The bezel gets more of a refined brushing and houses the 24-hour display. A black diamond marker demarcates the 24th hour, with alternating black circular markers and numerals marking the rest of the second time zone display. The crown, believe it or not, has a couple of design touches that I appreciate. The screwdown crown at three nestles slightly into the case, as opposed to fully sticking out after being screwed in. And on top, a polished conical shape that’s sort of reminiscent of a Cartier jewel crown, but more discreet and less precious.

The dial in itself has its own character. There’s a mix of dress and sportiness going on that follows the theme of the entire watch. The dial presents the hour markers with slim, elongated, polished batons. The minute markers follow suit except they’re painted on and are slightly shorter than the hour markers. This fully indexed display tugs on my rally car heartstrings. It shouldn’t be given how the overall watch presents, but it does. The hand set, a dauphine style hour and minutes hand, and a snowflake GMT hand, once again, are of opposite tropes, but still have a cohesiveness to it. After some time with the watch, details like the cross-hairs, which somehow I didn’t catch at first, and the Pole Router-esque window rise to the visual surface.

The Lorca Model No.1 GMT comes in two different dial variations – a black and champagne dial. Throughout my experience, the black dial seems to be the one I gravitate towards. Not because of the dial color, but because the markers are more readily legible on the black dial ref 2901-1 as opposed to the black markers against the champagne dialed ref 2901-2.

Thus far, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT has proved to be a solid offering, right? But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the real MVP here which is the steel bracelet. Not a slight at all against the case and dial, but the steel bracelet was what drew my attention when I first saw the watch. The Lorca Model No.1 sports a pair of solid end links that have two small, pill-shaped articulating links that transition into the bracelet. The tiny articulating links in relation to the entire endlink gives somewhat of a resemblance to a more garish design in the Tudor P01. My point is here, it makes the watch look sporty. The rest of the bracelet is composed of a 6-link design. The bracelet feels and wears like a mesh bracelet. It drapes right onto the wrist and wears like your favorite t-shirt. The bracelet tapers from 19mm to 16mm at the clasp. The clasp gets a double-line engraving on each side, just like the one encircling the blank caseback, and a cursive “L” at the center. I look at that cursive “L” as a signature from the brand founder. “Here’s the Lorca Model No.1. Wear it often and wear it well.”

On the wrist, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT is as comfortable as it gets. The steel bracelet easily conformed to my wrist much like any 70’s vintage watch on beads-of-rice type bracelet. Because of its fluid nature, I needed to get the fit just right or else even the slightest off-adjustment, and the watch would travel around more than I would prefer. In regards to the dial, I love how the GMT hand is not heavily advertised. It doesn’t scream, “Hey, look at me!” with a large-arrowed or brightly colored hand. Instead, the GMT hand camouflages itself within the elongated markers and monochrome dial, but is there when you need to be reminded of home time or a time abroad. Although I did mention that the crown was one of my highlights of the Lorca, I noticed that while screwing in the crown, my thumb kept catching the edge of the bezel. It’s not an unpleasant experience, but something that I noticed, and comes with the territory of having a crown that positions itself slightly within the case.

The 36mm case sizing alone makes the Lorca Model No.1 GMT a distinct offering and puts it solely into its own category within the GMT space. Although the watch pulls from various vintage designs, it doesn’t feel derivative by any means, and retains a welcoming old-world charm.

The Lorca Model No.1 GMT is slated to make its debut on March 7th and comes with a pre-order price of $1,450. Once the window for pre-order finishes, the full price for the Model No.1 GMT will be set at $1,750. Sure there are other options out there in the microbrand space, as well as other established brands, that offer a GMT complication (some with an independently adjustable hour hand) at a fraction of the cost. This is not an inexpensive watch by any means, and some might be hesitant being that this is the first watch release from a brand making their debut. What I can say after spending some time with the Lorca Model No.1 GMT is that you’re not going to have any shortage of details, charm and charisma. I also want to challenge those who scratch their heads at the price to imagine being at a watch meet-up and looking at a pile of watches. Now in this imaginary scenario, grab all the GMT’s and separate them from the pack. Chances are that each GMT watch that you pick up will resemble another one in the group – split tone rotating bezel, bright secondary hour hand, and plus 39mm in width. Not one of these things is present in the Model No.1. Similar to my experience, you’re going to be surprised by the Lorca Model No1 GMT time and time again.

I met up with Jesse Marchant at a local brewery to return the Lorca Model No.1 GMTs a couple weeks back. We met at the bar, and even though he was dressed way more casual than our initial meeting, you could just tell, intentional or not, that this guy knew how to throw a fit together. And of course on his wrist, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT looked just as good. A style chameleon, if you will. Marchant looked at the beer list long and hard. Curious about each and every offering on the menu. Surely his tastes have been molded by traveling around the globe. After a few good laughs, we parted ways. I walked towards my car, and Marchant hops on a handsome, all-metal Public commuter bike with leather trim. If there’s a good sign as any in what you’re getting into with a Lorca, the founder has a good eye, and exquisite taste for mechanical things. Lorca

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Thomas is a budding writer and an avid photographer by way of San Diego, California. From his local surf break to mountain peaks and occasionally traveling to destinations off the beaten path, he is always searching for his next adventure, with a watch on wrist, and a camera in hand. Thomas is a watch enthusiast through and through; having a strong passion for their breadth of design, historical connection, and the stories that lie within each timepiece.