Mechanical chronographs used to be out of reach for the budget watch enthusiast. In a world dominated by the Valjoux 7750 and similar movements for decades, it was difficult to find a mechanical chronograph for under $1000. That is, until Seagull popularized a handwinding mechanical chronograph movement. This movement opened the door for watch brands to create more affordable chronographs for the masses.
Watches fitted with these movements have been around for several years, but I have yet to experience one. When I had the opportunity to review the Geckota W-02 fitted with the Seagull ST19, I jumped on it. Packing a lot into a small package at an affordable price, let’s see if it is a watch that can get the job done for those in search of an affordable mechanical chronograph.
On the Wrist
Chronographs, by nature of their larger movements, tend to be on the larger side. In terms of diameter and thickness, it isn’t uncommon to see a 42mm watch that is over 15mm thick. With the Geckota W-02, if you take the crystal out of the equation, it is 37mm wide and 10mm thick. The crystal adds to the thickness to make it 15mm thick but it doesn’t feel anywhere near that.
Geckota’s case design breaks the case up into a few elements with various cuts and bevels and combined with the heavily domed crystal, it is extremely wearable and comfortable. For a 37mm watch, the 47mm lug-to-lug seems a bit long on paper but given the vintage flair of the W-02, the long thin lugs feel authentic. They also turn down heavily as they leave the case and the watch doesn’t sit flat on the wrist.
I’ve recently become a fan of white-outlined hands. While polished hands look great in several applications, the legibility you get from white-outlined hands is second to none. You don’t need the light to hit them the right way to become more visible; they are always highly visible. The W-02’s handset is entirely outlined in white and makes for a bold appearance with tons of contrast.
Given that I had never experienced a Seagull chronograph movement, I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I started the chronograph. It certainly isn’t as tight as the Omega 1861 (nor should it be) but the pushers feel nice to operate. The reset of the chronograph isn’t as clicky as I would like; it feels a bit flat. With that said, the reset is instant and lined up to 0 every time. It’s hard to argue with that.
Geckota W-02 Video Review
The W-02 comes in a variety of dial configurations ranging from racing-inspired to what we see here, vintage-inspired. There is no mistaking the heavy-handed fauxtina on some of the numerals, markers, and hands. I usually am not a fan of this but given the color choice used, it feels more a design decision rather than trying to force patina.
The dial’s layout is straightforward. Two subdials, one running seconds and the other a 60-minute totalizer, make for a symmetrical dial configuration. I was beyond thrilled to see that none of the numerals were partially cut off by the subdials, a pet peeve of mine. As with most of Geckota’s watches, dial text is kept to a minimum with Geckota at 12 o’clock and Chronograph at 6 o’clock.
A telemeter scale is around the outside of the dial. If you are unfamiliar with a telemeter scale as tachymeters are more common on chronographs, they can be quite useful. A telemeter scale is used to calculate the distance between the wearer and a thing that can be seen and/or heard.Timing how far away a lightning strike is an example most can relate to. When the wearer sees lightning, they would start the chronograph and when they hear the thunder, they would stop it. Wherever the chronograph hand is pointing at on the scale is how many kilometers away the lightning was. I was lucky enough to have a storm while I had this watch for review and had fun timing the lightning strikes I could see.
Case and Strap
Watches fitted with Seagull chronograph movements tend to share the same cases in terms of specifications. 37mm seems to be the popular diameter for these watches and it works well. It adds to the vintage aesthetic and is wearable for most people.
Geckota completely polished the case and it works well on the watch. It looks great and allows the watch to be dressed up easily. I wouldn’t mind seeing a version with various brushed and polished surfaces but given the price point of the W-02 I can see why they didn’t.
With that said, Geckota has done a nice job with the case. The polishing is blemish-free and there are a few nice touches like a bead-blasted logo on the crown.
The Seagull ST19 is a nice movement to look at and Geckota has fitted the W-02 with an exhibition caseback so the wearer can do just that. The movement is nicely decorated for how relatively cheap it is and I had a ton of fun recording videos of it for the video review. The movement also winds easily thanks to no crown guards on the case.
My one gripe about the movement is that it is rather loud. In a quiet room I was able to hear it from over a foot away. The good news is that it doesn’t sound bad; it can be pleasing to listen to. However, any ambient noise will usually cancel this out.
Of the several Watch Gecko straps I have purchased, I don’t have a single complaint about any of those straps. The leather strap included on the W-02 was comfortable and pliable out of the box. I might have chosen a different color as I didn’t feel the dark green matched that well, but that can be remedied easily.
It is rare that I get to experience a movement for the first time. Most watches are fitted with ETAs, Miyotas, or Sellitas that are in hundreds of other watches I’ve had my hands on. While the Seagull ST19 is also in a ton of watches, this was my first time handling one. Geckota has done a great job fitting the ST19 into the W-02. It is a great mechanical chronograph and given the overall package, I’m surprised it is as affordable as it is.
I don’t have much to say that is negative about the W-02. Would I like to see mixing of brushing and polishing to create a more dynamic case? Sure, but I don’t think I would sacrifice the price of this watch to get there. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of mechanical chronographs, the Geckota W-02 is a fantastic place to start. Be careful going into those waters though; chronographs are addicting.
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|Case Width||37mm||Thickness||15mm (including crystal)|
|Lug-to-lug Height||47mm||Lug Width||18mm|
|Water Resistance||30 meters||Lume||Yes|