If you are a car lover and feel inclined to build your own car one day due to the fact that nothing out there is a specific example of what you want, you are pretty much out of luck (unless you have a spare billion bucks siting around). However, in the watch world, a person with a vision for a specifically styled watch is only limited by their ambition and tenacity. Given a wealth of those two characteristic floating around among watch lovers, it should come as no surprise that there are a fair number of small, indy brands out there that represent these “custom watches.” But don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy to start your own watch brand. In fact, it is often an expensive and frustrating exercise. Those are come out in the end with a salable product should be congratulated!
Which brings me to Essex, a newer dive watch brand born in Germany. The watches are very self explanatory – and I like that. You don’t need to search for hidden meanings or appeal – you either like them or you don’t, and it doesn’t take long to figure that out. These are butch looking dive watches with a functional Teutonic spirit, and not a lot of fluff. If you know dive watches, then you know how a piece like this fits into the ecology of designs and features. It has a comfortable predictability to it – as though you have seen something like this many times before, but not exactly with this face.
Aside from basic features that any rugged dive watch need, the Essex La Primera GMT has a few unique features that help it stand out. One of these is the metal bracelet that I am sure you haven’t seen before. Love it or hate it, the bracelet was developed for the brand and works pretty well. Think of it is a hybrid between a mesh metal bracelet and a traditional metal link bracelet. It is actually executed rather watch – presenting a comfortable fit, and nice feel to the touch. The design does seem to go with the watch case and dial. Essex also wanted to make sure that the bracelet and case were flush together without any gaps.
At 45mm wide in a sand-blasted steel case, the La Primera GMT isn’t for the faint of heart. At 14.5mm thick, it is a nice larger watch. Perfect for those who enjoy the size, and intimidating for those who don’t. The large dimensions allow for 1000 meters of water resistance, as well as a 5mm thick sapphire crystal (that is AR coated). With a large screw-down crown, secure caseback, built-in automatic helium escape valve, and easy to manipulate rotating diver’s bezel – you have a hell of a dive watch on your hands. In fact, Essex is working to get more actual divers using these watches as they are fully meant to be in the sea. That watch is considered a saturation diver.
I love the 4 o’clock orientation of the crown with the crown guard that is integrated into the lug on the lower side of the case. Just a really elegant look. I did notice that the crown stem is a little bit wobbly when fully unscrewed to adjust the watch, but it shouldn’t be in that position very often, and is totally secure when screwed down.
Functionally, the watch makes use out of a Swiss ETA 2892-2 automatic movement. The watch has a GMT complication of course, which is not native to the 2892. So the watch must have some manner of GMT module over the movement as opposed to having opted for a 2893 movement that does have a GMT complication. The GMT function on the La Primera GMT watch will adjust in one hour increments, which is good. All the functions on the dial are laid out nicely, and in a logical manner. Hands are the right size, and the hour indicators are pretty huge. Each has a nice blue colored luminant that appears white during the day. The hour and minute hands are polish aside from the lume covered areas. They feel a bit flat in my opinion, but that is only because the dial itself is so deep. The hour indicators are applied, which help create more of a 3D look to the dial.
In between the hour indicators is a scale for the 24 hour hand. You could also say that the hour indicators double as 24 hour scale indicators as well. This integration look neat, and ensures that the watch retains a traditional 60 minute diver’s bezel as opposed to a GMT bezel. Such GMT watches with traditional dive bezels aren’t that easy to find. The GMT hand is a classic red and white arrow, but I think Essex would have been OK if they made the GMT hand a bit larger in size.
For the most part the dial is uncluttered, but also undecorated. It isn’t a “fancy looking” watch, but rather sober and tool-like. There are a few dial colors for each Essex model. The La Primera GMT comes in black, silver, and an all lume and black version as well. Each is actually quite nice. The all lume version will actually come in an all DLC black case, and should be a winner for Essex design wise, even though it is on the pricier side.
The comfortable bracelet uses a extension style diver’s deployment clasp that doubles as a micro-adjust to get the size of the watch right. This means that you might have the diver’s extension open a bit most of the time for the watch to fit perfectly. This isn’t exactly the most elegant solution to having a properly fitted bracelet, but it works. I have a feeling that Essex will be re-evaluating the deployment clasp on the bracelet a bit in the future. Though right now it does secure easily and operates via push-button. The claps has an Essex signature engraved into it (as does the crown for that matter). They did a good job of branding their timepieces. The most simple branding is actually on the watch dial.
When you get an Essex La Primera GMT, or other Essex watches for that matter, they throw in a lot of stuff. The watch comes in a slightly silly faux-ostrich leather case that has a large drawer and some compartments. The watch comes with a special tool (for the bracelet and bezel), and an extra bezel. So in addition to the black and red bezel as seen here, the watch comes with a silver toned ones which totally changes the look of the watch. Essex also provides a rubber strap (which is more or less necessary with true dive watches).
While I had a few minor complaints about the La Primera GMT watch that I discussed above, overall for a new brand, the watch is really polished. The case is solid, the dial is easy to read, and the wearing experience is good. I would not go so far as to call the design “exciting,” it is rather a more sober timepiece with the heart of an instrument. In the end, the La Primera GMT and other Essex watches are timepieces made by the owner of the company, for the owner of the company. This ensures that each piece has enough passion, and should appeal to those who can easily identify with the demeanor of the brand. Don’t miss other pieces from the brand such as their standard La Primera Classic models and chronograph versions. Essex has asked that I not display pricing information any longer. Please consult with them for current watch prices.
You can get it, and other Essex watches direct from their website here.