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NOTE: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." Various, but probably derived from George Santayana.

I am restoring this original post because Forum Rule 14 and the Moderators require me to and because I failed to heed the quotes above, which I often repeat. I removed the post on January 14 because I believe certain claims by Ginault are--"unverifiable" is the word I'm allowed to use. I have endeavored to review the quality of the watch as built. I make NO representations about the legitimacy or truth of the claims that the watch is Hand Built in America--which is expressly stated on the dial--or that it is Made in USA--as is engraved on the caseback. Caveat Emptor in view of those unverifiable claims. Depending on how Ginault responds to these questions of provenance--if ever it does--I want this community to know that I reserve the right to pursue the matter with Ginault.




  1. Perhaps this is best suited for the dive forum, but F71 is home to me, so here's where I'm sticking this. I'd put it in the BSHT thread--where else would you review a Sub homage?--but it'd get lost there in about four minutes.

    Classic Sub Smackdown: Rolex Sub 16610 vs. Ginault OCEAN-ROVER 181070GSLN



    At first blush, this is an absurd comparison. The Sub 16610 is iconic, my used copy (16610A, Z-serial) is worth more than I paid for it, and its replacement, the ceramic-bezeled 116610, at almost an Omega more expensive, runs about $8k. My 16610 formerly was a daily wearer, but has seen little wear over the last several years. It has never been serviced since purchased mid-2006. By contrast, the Ginault is a fresh arrival. MSRP is $1299, but I acquired it with a 60% discount due to my agreement to write this review comparing it to the Gen.

    Paid Reviews

    A quick word, right at the outset, about what amounts to a paid review, because the 60% discount sure feels like payment…

    There's an obvious problem with offering a discount for a review. Even if you can avoid bias, there is an appearance of bias, and the additional problem of confirmation bias: Having spent the money, won't I try very hard to find the value in it? I say no, but judge for yourselves.

    Ginault offered the discount to anyone willing to write a review on WUS or post it to YouTube. I chose the written word over video. After having written several negative posts on WUS reacting to Ginault's advertising hyperbole, I chose to buy the watch. I'll leave that decision-making process for another post. I emailed Ginault:

    I would like to review it next to my Gen 16610…. To give you an idea of what I have in mind, here is a review of the comparison I recently wrote of the NTH and OWC as compared to an Omega SMP 2531.80: https://www.watchuseek.com/f71/blue...owc-9411-nth-nacken-vintage-blue-3904130.html. I can't promise it'll be glowing, but it'll be fair and balanced and complete…. I will give the Ginault a place in the lineup along with my 16610, and we will see where the chips fall!"

    Ginault's reply: "Sure thing. We would love to have your unbiased opinion and the comparison review against its big brother the 16610."

    As you can see, I promised nothing but a fair and balanced comparison, and Ginault neither quarreled nor made any stipulations. I promised fair and balanced, and that's what I intend to deliver below.

    Why the Comparison?

    Ginault is the one who likens the Ocean-Rover to the venerable 16610. In his advertising, he says,

    "It is actually very hard to make a classic 16610 Submariner homage so close to the original blueprint. The level of technical and production maturity required to pull this off is beyond many people's expectation.

    … Ocean-Rover is a product line to showcase the experts and Submariner lovers in the horology world of what we can achieve. The idea is to take on all the production challenges that most homage Submariners face and strike them head on. We decided not to take an easy way out by changing out hard to make parts with simple and cost effective substitutes. … [W]e know we are going to hit the bulls eyes when it comes the build qualities of our watches. We known an equal quality built to the original 5 digit Submariner homage [i.e., the 16610] that delivers the same balance in aesthetic, performance and durability, and beauty in craftsmanship will appeal to those of whom seeking for the best Submariner alternative." https://www.watchuseek.com/f74/clas...inault-ocean-rover-181070gsln-3860842-43.html, Post # 1.)

    Wow. Okay, then. Ginault's putting its $1300 special straight up against the Rolex. Game on!

    View attachment 10467474


    Obvious Differences that Will Be Ignored


    There are some obvious differences. Mercedes hands vs. Swords. White lume vs. vintage-colored lume. Date vs. no-date. To me, they're all welcome changes, because I already have the 16610 and don't want a copy, even if branded differently. They're purely aesthetic choices, and Ginault itself characterizes its aesthetic changes as providing zero design points. Not to say the watch doesn't look good; it does. It's just that those changes don't detract from Ginault's goal of replicating the Rolex.



    A word here on that dirty word of the prior paragraph: When I say, "rep," I don't say it in the sense of manufacturing and selling counterfeit goods. I say it in the literal sense that Ginault points to the 16610 as the model for its Ocean-Rover. It's no surprise that their dimensions are basically exactly the same, crystal height/style aside, and that the bracelets are interchangeable as are, if my measurements are correct, the bezel inserts. Ginault set out to see if he could build a watch that rivals the quality of the Rolex, so I see no reason why some on the forums are trying so hard to defend against the "rep" claim. Ginault's trying to duplicate the 16610, less stylistic changes to which he assigns "zero" design points: "We know we probably would score a zero on design input for the Ocean-Rover series but we know we are going to hit the bulls eyes when it comes the build qualities of our watches." 'nuff said.

    CASE

    Both watches use three-piece designs, i.e., midcase, bezel, caseback. Dimensionally, they are essentially the same. 40mm x 47.5mm excluding crystal. (Ginault's marketing materials at one place advertise 50mm lug-to-lug, but that definitely is overstated). Both feature a mix of brushed and polished facets; crownguards, signed 6.5mm x 4mm crown. With crystal, the Ginault comes in at a hair over 14mm, next to the Rolex, which is about 12.7mm minus the cyclops. With the cyclops included, the Rolex comes in at just under 14mm.

    -MIDCASE: The 16610 is made of 904L stainless, as opposed to the Ginault's 316L stainless. According to my elementary research, 316L has much higher hardness, and therefore has far less scratch resistance. 316L has less nickel, and therefore is far brighter in appearance. So, why use 904L? As I understand it, it's made for use in severe corrosive environments-i.e., salt water-and resists pitting. Reportedly, Rolex adopted it because of corrosion of caseback threds due to salt-water infiltration. If you're not going to wear it in a corrosive environment (I live in the D.C. Metropolitan area, so arguably the 904L would be a better choice!), the difference is irrelevant and the cost difference, as I understand it, is negligible anyway.



    -BEZEL/BEZEL INSERT: However you describe the Rolex bezel assembly, I'll just tell you that mine is the best I own. Doesn't move by mistake, absolutely no slop, pleasing feel and sound. Ginault says it found a gun-barrel manufacturer in Pennsylvania to machine his. This claim, to date, is unverified; however Ginault accomplished it, this bezel assembly is outstanding at the price point. The Ginault is a hair quieter, and a hair stiffer, but that might be attributable to the 10-year age difference. Yet, the Ginault is not quite as good as the Rolex. The stops are a bit less definite and precise, but frankly I'm nitpicking. It's really, really good. Both are 120-click. EDIT: my copy of the Ginault has something gumming up the works. Not sure what, but randomly is pretty sticky. Will investigate.

    Both use aluminum inserts. I'm not here to debate aluminum vs. steel vs. ceramic vs. sapphire. Don't like aluminum? Rip it out and replace it with a readily available replacement in whatever material (and color) you prefer. To my measurement, the dimensions of the inserts are close enough to identical that one should fit the other.



    CRYSTAL

    Crystals obviously differ. The 16610 has a date and cyclops, the Ginault has neither (making the Ginault closer to the 14060M. Both use synthetic sapphire (albeit Ginault insists on identifying it as "corundum," creating an unnecessary conundrum. For those who don't know, for our purposes synthetic sapphire and synthetic corundum are the same thing). What can I say? Sapphire is a good choice, but I'm not going to try to scratch either my Gen or my Ginault to find out which is better, if either. The Rolex has its cyclops; the Ginault, with its domed crystal, has a vintage vibe to match the vintage-colored lume.



    Casebacks are basically the same shape. The Rolex is blank. Ginault chose to include some engraved specs around the back, including, "Made in USA." This claim is unverifiable to date; it has been debated heatedly on these forums, but Ginault has remained silent as of January 15, 2017. I don't know if Ginault meets the exacting specs for a product to bill itself as "Made in USA," but I won't be surprised if Ginault is put to the test on that score.


    DIAL

    DIAL: Both are high-gloss black. Ginault copies the famous four-liner approach of the 16610, albeit with a very cheeky version of the language. Love it or hate it, it's giving you the same information as the Rolex: it's an automatic dive watch. Some dislike the cheekiness of the Ginault, but on the other hand, the Rolex is a bit blustery for many. What the hell is an "oyster," anyway, and what's the deal with "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified"? I'll get to the movements later, but for the moment, it's enough to note that both choices could use some editorial help. Beyond that, let's be real a minute: the Ginault surely owes fealty to the Rolex: it's a maxi-meaning larger indices than on the 16610-so not an exact copy of the 16610, but it's got Rolex DNA through-and-through.

    Other than that, it's worth noting that whereas the Rolex dial reads, "Swiss Made," the Ginault reads, "Hand Built in America." Again, Ginault may have some 'splainin' to do on that score; to date, the claim is unverified and unverifiable.



    INDICES: Both use applied high-sheen, lume-filled metal indices. I don't see any big difference between them. If there's a difference, it's lost on me. If you like applied indices rather than painted, you'll like 'em. With the vintage vibe, I might have gone painted, but Ginault made a design choice and executed it well.



    HANDS: Mercedes vs. Swords. Take your pic. The handsets are very well executed in both cases. I might've put white seconds on the Ginault, or even a sand colored one to match the lume, but only the red is currently available through Ginault (I asked).

    LUME: From what I understand, Rolex uses SuperLuminova on the 16610, but Ginault advertises that it uses Gold Sand obtained from the far reaches of the planet. I'm not wading into that hyperbole, as Ginault's already taken a beating for it. Whatever; it's advertised by Ginault as the equivalent of C3 SuperLuminova. I hope I didn't spend money to get a product that costs more than something that's readily obtainable off a shelf. Perhaps Ginault simply doesn't want to use Swiss SuperLuminova, mere conjecture but perhaps it relates to its stated inability to source Incabloc shock absorbers for its movements, as a result of which it uses a Chinese replacement. More on that below.

    BRACELET

    To me, the bracelet is the sine qua non of a high quality watch. I find them, universally, to be the weak link in the world of so-called affordable microbrands, defined here as those under $1500. I have first-hand experience with Rolex, Tudor, and Omega, plus OWC and Damasko, and numerous others in the sub-$700 market, all the way down to the $100-level. Some may say my standards are unreasonably picky; so be it.



    It's no big deal to get a decent link, and many provide half-links, but the kickers are the solid endlinks (SEL) and clasp. Both of these have nice oyster links. If you can find a difference, you have good eyes. Tight fit; no slop.

    SEL: The big issue with SELs are whether they are molded or machined. Machined is more expensive, and is the process that gives the sharp lines that, to me, are ideal. The Rolex has machined SELs, and they're fabulous. No surprise there. The Ginault also uses machined SELs that obviously are a copy of the Rolex, and indeed they're indistinguishable from the Rolex. I've never seen any approaching the Rolex's at this price-point, and however Ginault accomplishes it, I wish other micros would stand up and take notice. Fantastic. The SELs of both the Rolex and Ginault fit the case perfectly, with only the slightest play and no discernable gaps. If they were any tighter, they'd squeak.​
  2. -


    CLASP: On the Rolex, the Fliplock clasp is the weakest link in the whole affair. It's a basic extension clasp, with locking flap, but made of thin stamped metal, and my copy is bent. It's got the micro-adjustables holes, which are useful of course. It's also got some sort of extension arrangement that is hidden that I never understood or used. As far as I'm concerned, it's the clasp equivalent of a vestigial appendix.

    The Ginault uses what I understand to be a copy of the Rolex Glidelock, which I gather is now used by Rolex instead of the version of the Fliplock on mine, and which I've read remains subject to Rolex's exclusive rights. I won't speculate. Whatever the provenance, the Ginault works well, and is super easy to adjust on the fly, without tools, once you realize how it's supposed to be operated (which took me just a moment). It's far better than the clasp on my 16610, albeit Ginault saved a couple bucks, I think misguidedly, by opting not to sign it. The flower logo would look good. Given a choice, I choose the Glidelock over the Fliplock.​
  3. -


    Just in case you're wondering, the Rolex bracelet mates to the Ginault head as if they were made for each other….

    MOVEMENT

    Let's get right to the heart of the matter. The Rolex is powered by its in-house 3135. The Ginault is powered by what he calls the Ginault Caliber 7275, reportedly based on the ETA 2824 out of a mix of parts from a variety of sources, all assembled in the USA, but we don't know much more. These are surprising claims because American-made movements, aside from RGM, essentially are a thing of the past and perhaps of the future, but not the present. The Rolex is COSC, meaning it will run-age and service history of my copy aside-at COSC specs, i.e., -4/+6. The Ginault is not COSC-certified, but Ginault sure seems to suggest it's as good as one.

    I'm not a watchmaker, and I've decided not to disassemble a new watch just to see if I can give lie to claims about the movement in what, on the whole, is really a beautifully executed piece. What's the point? I lack the expertise and I choose not to pay the money to a pro to figure it out. According to Ginault's documentation, my copy was measured in six positions over six weeks. After the final adjustment, the Week 6 measurement puts it at -4/+4, which is better than COSC. Time and experience will be a teacher here. But, I can't see any reason to put the Ginault through paces I never put any other watch through. I've trusted all my watches to operate as advertised, trusting that I could rely on the manufacturer in the event of any disappointment. If there's a risk here, it's that Ginault-like any other relatively untested brand-won't meet its service obligations. I have no reason to doubt it'll stand behind its product, but it's proper to note that it's an untested question.

    EDIT: In answer to a question, it appears to me--without disassembly I can't be sure--that although Ginault retains the second stop of the crown, normally used for date correction, there is no discernible "click," so I suspect the date mechanism was removed.​

  4. INITIAL FINAL THOUGHTS

    We'll all come out where we come out on the copy/homage/replica debate. No question where the Ginault took aim. Right at the heart of the 16610. I'd say he hit the mark. If you're just talking look and feel, you can't examine the Ginault side-by-side with the Rolex and think, damn, I should've dropped an extra $7,000 on the Rolex, especially if you got the Ginault for only $518. A steal at that price, no kidding. At $1300, it's obviously a different calculation. Given my experience with used Omega SMP (about $1500), the Tudor Black Bay (the original ETA-powered models are about $2100 and likely falling due to the new in-house movements), plus all the really excellent watches available in that price range, including many really, really good offerings from the likes of Damasko and Stowa etc, I'll have to say value is a personal choice. Beyond that, what I can say is the-unknown questions about durability of the movement and untested customer service aside-the Ginault not only holds its own against my SMP and Damasko DA36 in terms of fit and finish and feel, it really does rival the 16610. Color me surprised, but this thing is really, really good. Other micros ought to take notice of what can be accomplished, especially if the $1300 doesn't hold and ultimate selling price falls closer to the discount offered for reviews.

    UPDATE: JANUARY 15, 2017:
    I am disappointed to report that Ginault has yet to respond to my inquiry into the provenance of the movement. Silence in the face of these legitimate questions, in my opinion, speaks loudly, but I will not speculate--because I am not permitted to speculate--what that silence might mean. I well understand that I agreed to write a review of the watch, but I never promised Ginault or anyone else that I would strictly address the quality of the build as opposed to the legitimacy of the claims that the watch is Hand Built in America or Made in USA, two claims that have specific legal meaning under American law, and which are important to me not only as a consumer, but as a licensed lawyer. I bought this watch to see for myself whether it is as good as it claims, and with the expectation that the advertising, even if exaggerated, nevertheless is true. Ginault has the ability to authenticate its claims, we as consumers have no real ability to verify those claims. It is a shame that Ginault chooses to remain silent for three weeks since posting its announcement over in F74, but that's where things stand, and until Ginault comes forward to open its records to some sunlight, I will continue to reference the claims as "unverifiable" here on this forum, without regard to what action I might take as a consumer. But WUS has interposed itself between me and Ginault as it relates to this post, and my rights are limited.
 

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Right on dude.
 
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This is well thought out and prepared review. Personally I enjoyed the introduction and initial communication information with Ginault. They definitely have a lot of confidence in their watch. Thank you for just reviewing both watches on their own merits, without dragging in other brands into the mix. Ginault seems to be taking a page out of the MKII book by producing a high end homage to watch enthusiasts. The price of this decision (while risky) might have a good result in the end. It will be interesting to see where the final purchase price sits. Enjoy the watch !


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Good review, thanks.
 
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Absolutely incredible review. While I agree that yours was a paid review, it was entirely unbiased.

It really looks like it's unbelievably well finished, particularly for the price you paid, but both because of and in spite of the, errr, questionable provenance of the case it is shocking how close the two are.

Since you you have a rapport with the manufacturer, any chance that you might be able to seek more clarification both on the ties to the less legal manufacturer and the "made in America"ness of the piece?
 

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Wow. Mic Drop... great review!

There is nothing like a Rolex dial, but this is the best micro dial I've ever seen. :)

How is the lume, and how does the bezel pip compare to the gen?
 

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Glad you like it. Doing the first review, I felt confident it was a great watch, but not handling many Rolex's or Omega's wondered how it would stack up. I've been really impressed with mine so far. Great watch and great review.


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"Ginault insists on identifying it as "corundum," creating an unnecessary conundrum."

I'll say.
:roll:

Excellent review, hwa. Thanks for taking the time and the pics.

How does the OR crown compare to the Sub? Triplock? How many turns to screw down?
 

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In 2017, there is no excuse for not knowing precisely where a movement comes from, at this or any price. I am not faulting you OP but I am faulting the company. If this company want to be taken seriously, it needs to share movement details. Ginault: Tell us what you are using and stop using those evocative superlatives as a substitute for facts.

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Knew I forgot something(s)!

Lume shot, with NTH:


Crowns, first position:


Second:


Third:


Rolex winds buttery smooth, just enough resistance to let you know you're doing something. Silent though, no mechanical feeling like a Damasko if you know what I mean.

Ginault honestly feels the same. It does have that date stop on crown, which drives some folks nuts, but not me.

And, both bezels are 120-click.

I did try to remove caseback, but i dont have the right tool and rubber ball trick didn't get it done. Stay tuned.

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Thank you for sharing your initial thoughts on the Ginault. Seems like a solid watch and well made. I too am curious about case provenance and movement too.
Re Indides where you mention differences may be lost on you... the Rolex used white gold not SS.



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