A review of my GT&FQ M002 Bauhaus Watch

by David Malone


Bauhaus style
Bauhaus style originated with the Bauhaus school of art and design established by the architect Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany in 1919. It combined a fine art education with guild style tuition in crafts such as textiles and ceramics. The aim was to bring all art forms together under a modernist aesthetic. Bauhaus aspired to radically simplified design that was functional and rational. It hit its stride when it shifted focus from labour intensive crafts to industry and to the artistic possibilities of beautifully designed, manufactured items. The objective was to create affordable, high-quality, functional products with artistic merit.

Bauhaus influence was immense and continued long after the school closed under pressure from the National Socialists in 1933. The Bauhaus style was soon to be seen in the manufacture of wristwatches. One of the first Bauhaus inspired watch designs is thought to be a 1937 Lange watch that used a dial designed by the Pforzheim dial makers Weber & Baral. Stowa also manufactured a watch with a related dial design by Weber & Baral from that year and the Stowa watch was released in 1938. Both dials are characterised by extreme clarity and they use bold sans-serif fonts typical of Bauhaus typography. The hands are narrow batons that contrast starkly against the dial and the simple, round cases have very narrow bezels and rudimentary lugs that suggest manufacturing simplicity. In the years that followed similar watch styles appeared from Zenith, Longines, IWC and Kano amongst others.



In 1992 Nomos, a new German watchmaking company, included a model in its first range of watches that closely mimicked the early Lange design. The model was called the Tangente and it remains in their line-up today in a range of case sizes. In 1996 Jörg Schauer bought the rights to the Stowa brand and introduced a modern Antea model in 2000 based on the Bauhaus Stowa watches from the 1930s.

GT&FQ brand - Rider series
I came across the GT&FQ brand while looking for a Rodina Bauhaus watch from the Seagull factory in Tianjin, China. According to reports in the forums there were issues of inconsistency in the quality of watches that people were receiving under the Rodina name. The Seagull Watch Store web site explained this problem as one of other sellers providing fake Rodina watches and the site detailed the typical differences. The site is also based in Tianjin and its owners are Tianjin GT&FQ. They not only stocked the better quality Rodina watches but had also launched the GT&FQ brand with a range of nine Bauhaus watch variants. The watch I bought is the GT&FQ M002 with arabic numerals. Like all of the watches from this brand, it carries the series name Rider on the dial.

Technical Data
Diameter: 38mm excluding crown
Height: 9mm
Lug width: 20mm
Lug to lug: 47mm
Strap pin to strap pin: 43mm
Weight: 63 grams
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Water resistant to 50 metres
Movement calibre: ST1701
Vibrations: 21,600 per hour



Movement
The movement is the ST1701 by Seagull. This is a very thin, small-seconds, self-winding movement. It allows for manual winding but does not hack. For precise setting the running seconds can be stopped with slight backpressure on the crown. The ST17 is apparently an improved version of the Miyota based ST16 with a gear train layout to provide the seconds sub-dial at 6. The movement winds readily and the hands set precisely.



Case/ Crystal/ Crown
The case is polished to a mirror finish and the light especially reflects off the lugs, the flat upper surface of the bezel and the case sides. Even the inner edge of the case under the crystal is highly reflective. The surface angles are crisp and the case feels very well made. The case back screws down and has a mineral crystal display window. The lugs are drilled, which makes strap changes very easy.



The sapphire crystal sits flat and almost flush with the case and the clarity of sapphire helps to draw attention to the dial. It is a bonus to have sapphire at this price and it is likely that the watch will be free from crystal scratches during its lifetime.

The crown is signed with an R although the definition of the print is poor. The crown is a push-pull design.



Dial/ Hands
The quality of the dial is one of the highlights of the watch. It is beautifully made and the silver-white appearance is a joy. The printing is super precise and the Rider logo is small and discreet in keeping with the Bauhaus aesthetic. The fine, circular etching provides interest and depth to the sub-dial, which can shimmer as the viewing angle changes

The hands appear well made and sit parallel to the surface of the dial. They are finely shaped with pointed ends. The hands are a very dark blue and appear black unless they catch the light. The minute hand does not reach all the way to the minute markers but reaches just past the far edge of the hour markers.

The dial and hands together provide excellent legibility. In quite low light it is often possible to pick the location of the hands by their contrast with the silvery white dial.



Strap/ Buckle
Although the strap is well made, flexible and comfortable the finish lacks the texture of really good leather. I think the watch deserves a good strap and most owners will probably experiment with a few although many will be happy with the stock strap. GT&FQ also included a red, white and blue NATO style strap as a freebie but, unfortunately, I thought it was a little bulky for the watch. I found that straps that have a similar profile to the leather one provided, flat and around 2.5 to 3mm thick, worked best and there is a wide range available.

The buckle pin is a single, solid piece with a hole through it for the strap pin. It is more substantial and secure than the typical bent metal buckle pins. The buckle sides are drilled which makes switching buckles a breeze.

Accuracy
Accuracy has been ok but not exceptional. On the wrist it is gaining around 16 - 18 seconds a day but seems to be very consistent. I am considering having my local watchmaker regulate it to slow it down a tad and I think the overall quality of the watch might warrant the extra expense to do this.



Comfort
I had always assumed that this style of watch with lugs that project from the middle of the case at 90 degrees before dipping down could sit a little oddly on the wrist. It turns out not to be so. The watch sits on the wrist very nicely. The case back dips into the top of the wrist and the sides of the watch appear to meet the wrist. Consequently, the watch looks a little thinner on the wrist than off. The watch doesn’t move around and is very comfortable.



Packaging/ Manual
The watch arrived with its packaging in perfect condition after 11 days in transit from Tianjin. The packaging consisted of an outer cardboard postal box and a thin cardboard box protecting the watch box. The watch box is a hinged, padded vinyl box with a cushion to hold the watch. The watch box is an unexpectedly nice touch at this price point. The watch arrived with bubble wrap protecting the watch head and a further layer of cling film to prevent accidental scratches. There was no manual.

Overall Impression
I like this watch a lot. Others online have commented that it exceeds expectations when it arrives and I found that to be true. It feels well made and it is very impressive for the cost. The polishing of the case is excellent and the sharp lines of the watch mean that it has a bit more glitz to it than I expected. The light reflecting off the rehaut between the dial and the crystal was a nice surprise and both the lugs and the sides pick up a lot of light. The other impressive feature is the quality of the dial. It is exceptionally well printed and the silver-white surface is very appealing. The sub-dial is perfectly engraved and it is a pleasure watching the contrast in finish between the sub-dial and the rest of the dial.

There aren’t many things I’d change about this watch. It deserves a nicer strap but that is easy enough to provide. Given its 20mm lug spacing there is no end to the alternatives available. I’ve been wearing it on a couple of alligator straps and it looks great. I would also like to see the watch more closely regulated. I have heard of owners of Seagull movements who have had both better and worse results out of the box. Improving the consistency of regulation would be a bonus.

It is rare to have a stylish, no-date, mechanical watch at this end of the market. The watch is a copy, no question, but there have been many copies in the 80 or so years that this style has been around. The reason it is so appealing is due to the strength of the original 1930s design not just the modern interpretations. The watch cost only USD$110 with free delivery from China to Australia and there aren’t many watches I can think of that would even make the shortlist at that price. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a design oriented casual or dress watch.




David Malone / DavidM1



Copyright June 2016