I got back into the habit of wearing a watch in 2005 after Bear and I had a conversation about the fact that most people now rely on cell phones to tell them what time it is. He suggested I try the Marathon Field Watch (Mil-W-4637). It’s a great little 17 jewel, mechanical wind watch with tritium tubes on the hands and hours. You used to be able to find them for $80 and now if you see them at all, they’re closer to $200 (we just discovered that TopSpecUS has them for $137). I decided to upgrade myself to an automatic late last year and since I’ve been drooling at the Marathon G-SAR online for a couple of years, the choice was easy. This is the Marathon G-SAR Automatic Watch. The G-SAR sells for $780 USD. I purchased the optional stainless bracelet for another $157. So just what do you get for $937 worth of stainless steel goodness? Here are some specs from Marathon: The Marathon Watch Company started making watches in 1904 as Weinsturm Watch (later Wein Brothers) and has been manufacturing timepieces for military contracts since 1941. My G-SAR was born in Switzerland in October 2009 and showed up on my doorstep at the beginning of January 2010. Compared to the size of the field watch I’ve worn 24/7 for the past 5 years, this thing is huge. The sapphire face stands a full ½“ off the wrist and the bezel and knurled winding knob are beefy, easy to grasp and generally overbuilt. There are some who wear larger watches than this and actually call this watch small but I think it’s perfect. Here’s a side by side comparison of the G-SAR and the Rolex Submariner. The first item on my list was to swap the rubber band for the stainless one. Marathon suggests in the manual (attached below) that this band should be installed by a professional. Since I lack watchmaker’s tools, I complied and it took the jeweler nearly 30 minutes to install the new bracelet. He commented on the tight tolerance at the watch to bracelet mating surfaces and went slow so he wouldn’t scratch my new G-SAR. If you’ve never seen the tritium illumination of a Marathon watch, its tough to describe just how bright this thing is. I wear this watch 24 hours a day and can actually read by it at night if my eyes are fully night vision adapted. It’s the middle of the day right now and I can see the green glow as I turn the face back and forth. Brighter than any non electric illumination I’ve ever encountered; you would want to take measures to cover this watch up if concerned about not looking like a small solar flare to anyone watching you through NV. The bezel is a standard uni-directional elapsed time ring (60 minutes - 120 clicks) and I’ve found myself using it whenever I’m cooking something on the grill or need to otherwise keep track of time. I used to use electronic timers for this and I’ve now broken myself of the habit. The sapphire crystal is a 9 on the mohs hardness scale and is virtually unscratchable. This is a good thing as I’m hard on myself and my accessories. The crown (winding knob) is a 4 position knurled design that looks like it would be right at home on a creation by John Browning. It’s solid and screws down to lock, giving the watch its powerful seal against 1000ft of water. It’s easy to adjust the time and date (you must adjust the date at the end of any month that is less than 31 days as this watch is not a ‘perpetual’), and to wind the watch if you ever let it run down beyond the 40 hours of reserve time. It’s also has the ‘hacking’ feature that stops the second hand so that you can synchronize your watch with others on your team. The white hands and numerals on black face are easy to read in any light. The second hand has a red tip with a touch of Maraglo. I’m not sure why tritium wasn’t used on the second hand or the 12:00 position triangle on the bezel. The 12:00 position on the face is tritium illuminated yet glows orange in the dark. Nice touch! The date window is also between the 4 and 5 which is different than most other watches that display dates at 3 or between 3 and 4. The 25 jewel movement that is the engine of this watch is the ETA 2824-A2 which is also Swiss made. ETA makes the internal movements for nearly every watch company with the exception of a small handful. I tried to find a list and was told that I should instead create a list of who doesn’t use ETA movements. This G-SAR movement has a “A” at the end of its more common designation of ETA 2824-2 as the hands needed to be extended out further than the normal ETA 2824-2 to clear the tritium vials. This diagram is in the attached manual Here’s a little Wikipedia on the ETA 2824: ETA SA - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This diagram is in the attached manual My watch runs 12 seconds fast in a 24 hour period and has been running for around 6 months which should have given it time to settle down. Most automatic watches run fast rather than slow because the movement has to regulate the super fast heartbeat or oscillations per hour down to 60 seconds a minute at the second hand. The G-SAR runs at 28,800 BPH - same as a rolex. I’m supposed to have the watch disassembled, cleaned and lubricated yearly (although some have advised I not take it apart unless it’s broken) and if I perform that maintenance, will also have the watchmaker regulate this watch to try to increase its accuracy a little although ~10 seconds a day is 99.988% accurate already. I’ve worn this watch halfway around the world already and I plan on wearing it around the other half when I get the chance. It’s a utilitarian yet attractive tool watch that is just the right size for my tastes. It’s a workhorse that is meant to be used and pushed to its limits unlike some of the ‘prettier’ autos. At $700, I could by 8 G-SARs to 1 submariner. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea! The illumination is superb and the accuracy is well within my needs. I highly recommend the Marathon G-SAR to anyone looking to step into the world of Automatic watches. Splurge and get the stainless bracelet as well – it makes the watch. Marathon GSAR Divers Automatic Watch WW194006 (Tritium H3) - TopSpecUS.com My only complaint with the G-SAR would be that the Maraglo ‘glow in the dark’ paint on the second hand and the bezel triangle loses its illumination faster than I’d like it to. It should have been tritium although I’m sure there’s a reason why it is not. Below are some pictures of my G-SAR including some wrist shots (by request) as well as the G-SAR Instruction Manual and a couple of difficult to locate sets of schematics and technical drawings from ETA. ETA 2824-2 Manufacturing Information ETA 2824-2 Technical Communication The Marathon GSAR is now available from our new friends at TopSpecUS.com - Marathon Watches, Voodoo Tactical Gear, Nylon Watch Bands, Bail Out Bags, Weapons Cases, Outdoor Products. Everything ships free! Update 2012 - Regulated my Watch to +/- 1 sec @ day! - read below for more info.