We are almost at the two year mark since we first brought you word (and did our first hands-on review) of a watch from G. Gerlach (the Otago). We of course have written about the brand since, but have not had a piece in for review since then. Today we’re back with another model that honors a famous Polish ship, the G. Gerlach Orzel 85A.
While the Otago was done up to honor Joseph Conrad’s boat, the G. Gerlach Orzel 85A is going in a bit of a different direction – it’s honoring one of the most famous submarines from the WWII Era. The Orzel (which translates in English as Eagle, which is of course present on the Polish flag) had an inauspicious start to its service, and ended up conducting a harrowing escape from Tallinn, Estonia, and eventually ended up serving with the British Royal Navy in the latter part of WWII. While I don’t have room to go through all of the exploits here, you can certainly check out this article or this one for more details.
In terms of direct ties from the watch to the sub, well, that shows up in the caseback, which features an engraving of the boat. Past that, I suppose you could look at the 200m WR rating as a sort of tie as well, but I would not consider the G. Gerlach Orzel 85A a dive watch, per se. If anything, I would say it has a more vintage military vibe, with the coin edge bezel, large onion-ish crown, and gun sights cross-hatch on the dial. This gives you a good, every-day sort of a look (especially with the PVD case).
The 43mm case is modernly large without resorting to something that dwarfs the wrist; the 22mm lugs (and strap) also give you that slightly larger look and feel (complete with a pre-V inspired buckle). In other words, it has dimensions for folks who like the look of bigger (say, 45mm+) watches but need something to not look ridiculous on a smaller wrist.
On the wrist, I found the 110g G. Gerlach Orzel 85A to be pretty comfortable. The included strap was immediately pliable and fit well, and I did not notice any issues with the larger buckle digging into my wrist. With the strap, I should note that I did notice some of the dye from the strap (which has an almost suede-like finish) showing up on the underside of the strap where the loose end is held in place by the buckle. Not a big issue by any means (no dye got on my wrist or shirt), just something to be aware of.
Along with not having an issues with the larger buckle, I did not have any problems with the oversize crown digging in, which was something I was a bit concerned about going into the review. I think this is in large part due to how rounded the crown is, without any edges to really dig in.
For our review sample, we were sent the black dial, which has a brownish-grey fade in the center of the dial (the other dial, blue, has a similar sort of fade). This sort of lightens up the watch, as well as making it so the lumed hands and indices (which are in gold-tone) are not quite as jarring against the dial. It also keeps things from being visually boring, as do the vertical lines that are present on the dial. Not a lot of texture, but just enough to break things up.
Overall, things are kept rather simply done. For instance, take a look at the writing on the dial. You have a constrained logo up top, and a model number at the bottom – and that’s it. Even the “gun sights” treatment on the dial is done in a darker red, which allows it to be a bit less noticeable. That’s ultimately what I came to really appreciate about the G. Gerlach Orzel 85A – the simplicity of the piece, with little details added in here and there.
Another one of those details shows up on the side of the case, where they have the model name engraved in. I’ve only seen this on a handful of watches that I’ve had in for review, and I do think it is a nice touch. Sure, it’s not for every watch, but for those that have it, it seems fitting. Again, it’s one of those details that is there, but as it’s done before the PVD is applied, you do not necessarily notice it unless you’re looking for it.
In the end, the G. Gerlach Orzel 85A is just like it’s submarine namesake – a solid little machine that is able to fly under the radar until it’s called into action. The sort of reliability is also reflected in the Seiko NH35A movement that is utilzed. Coming in at a price of $358 (1359 PLN, which includes VAT; those outside of the EU should get it a bit cheaper) plus another $26 (100 PLN)for worldwide shipping, the G. Gerlach Orzel 85A is an affordable tribute to one amazing submarine crew. gerlach.org.pl
- Brand & Model: G. Gerlach Orzel 85A
- Price: $358
- Who’s it for?: If you’re a fan of WWII subs, this is for you. Past that, this is a great fit for those who like the details found on larger watches, but need it scaled down a bit for their wrist
- Would I wear it?: Definitely
- What I’d change: I’d be curious what this would look like in a brushed or dark argent finish, especially with the blue dial
- The best thing about it: How clean the design is, with details hiding in plain sight (you know, like a submarine)
Tech Specs from G. Gerlach
- Movement: Seiko TMI NH35A
- Case size: 43x52x13 mm
- Case: made from surgical stainless steel 316L, sandblasted, optional covered with black PVD.
- Waterproof: WR200
- Dial: Blue or black; luminous hands and indices
- Crystal: Sapphire glass, one side covered with anti-reflective coating
- Strap: Leather or natural gum, 22mm lug-to-lug size
- Warranty: 24 month