May 19, 2023
Every time I scroll through Instagram, I typically stumble across at least a few new watch brands. That said, Lorca is one of the few that stuck with me enough to the point that I felt compelled to reach out and see if I could get a sample in for review. Founded by New York-based recording artist Jesse Marchant, Lorca is a new brand entering the space, and its inaugural watch is the Model No.1 GMT. As a touring musician, Jesse frequently felt that his ideal travel watch was missing, and his brand’s first model aims to be the timekeeping companion that he always wished he’d had while on the road. With refined vintage vibes, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT represents a refreshing aesthetic departure from the overbuilt utilitarian designs that frequently serve as the foundation for GMT watches, yet it still promises enough durability and water resistance to stand up to just about any aquatic activities that you might encounter.
When it comes to aesthetics, the overall design of the Lorca Model No.1 GMT could best be described as an elevated and slightly dressier take on a traditional fixed bezel GMT watch. At a quick glance, the Model No.1 GMT almost looks like a retro-inspired cousin of the Rolex Explorer II that went to study music abroad instead of becoming a spelunker. At the same time, the vintage-leaning design language of Lorca’s first model is ultimately quite a bit more refined than an outright tool watch like the Explorer II, and while it is also categorically not a dress watch, Lorca’s inaugural timepiece could easily look right at home if paired with a button-up shirt and sport coat or even more formal attire.
Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case of the Lorca Model No.1 GMT measures a fairly compact 36mm in diameter by 11.2mm thick, which includes the gently curved box-shaped sapphire crystal that sticks up above the rim of its fixed bezel. The slightly conic shape of the bezel extends to give the watch a total outer diameter of 37mm for slightly more presence on the wrist, while the lugs are set 19mm apart and curve as they extend from the case, creating an overall lug-to-lug-profile of 44mm. The case itself features largely brushed surfaces with a high-polished rim under the bezel and wide angular polished bevels running the length of the lugs. Additionally, the lugs themselves feature drilled holes, which play into the vintage vibe of the watch while also permitting easy strap changes.
The crystal of the Lorca Model No.1 GMT gets furnished with a clear anti-reflective coating on its curved underside surface, while the fixed stainless steel bezel surrounding the crystal is engraved with a black finished 24-hour scale that features an Art Deco style font for the even numerals. The reverse side of the case is protected by a solid stainless steel screw-down caseback with circular brushing and a large space for personalized engravings, while a high-polished winding crown with a conic tip screws-down to the case to help create a rather generous 200 meters of water resistance. While there will inevitably be some folks out there who feel that the Model No.1 GMT is a bit too small for their wrists, I personally love its rather compact size, and I appreciate how it offers multi-time zone functionality and dive watch levels of water resistance in an overall package that wears far more like a 1990s Datejust than a purpose-built sports watch.
At the time of launch, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT is available with the option of either a sunburst silver dial or a gloss black dial like the example pictured here. Other than the color, the two dials offer an identical overall design with thin baton-shaped markers, a prominent radial style minute track, and a carefully placed date window at the 3 o’clock location. The sideways trapezoid shape of the aperture for the calendar display helps preserve the aesthetic layout of the dial, while a thin set of lines run through the center of the dial, creating a cross-hair pattern that further plays into the watch’s vintage-inspired overall design. While the printing is done in black for the silver dial model, it appears in white on the gloss black dial variant for maximum contrast, despite the rather thin lines of the printing itself.
At the center of the dial are four hands that are tasked with displaying the time. The hour and minute hands are dauphine shaped with luminous inlays, while the seconds hand is a simple polished needle, and the GMT hand is a thin painted rod with a luminous diamond-shaped tip. On the silver dial example, the hands and hour markers are high-polished, while they receive a brushed finish on the gloss black dial model for added contrast and increased legibility. Similarly, the GMT hand is painted black on the silver dial version, while it appears in white on the black dial model in order to match its dial printing. In addition to having BGW9 Super-LumiNova on the hands, each one of the hour markers receives a small luminous dot placed along its outer edge, with a small horizontal line at the 12 o’clock location for added visibility in low-light conditions. I can often be a stickler when it comes to hand proportions on watches, yet Lorca seems to be equally detail-oriented in this category, and all of the hands are properly sized and perfectly correspond with the lines of their respective markers.
Powering the Lorca Model No.1 GMT is the Soprod C125 R4 automatic movement, which is more-or-less an equivalent of the popular ETA 2893-2. As such, it runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 42 hours, and it features both a quickset date and an independently adjustable 24-hour hand. The version of the Soprod C125 fitted to the Model No.1 GMT is the Top Grade version, and it is rated to +/-4 seconds per day, which is even more precise than what is required for COSC standards, despite the fact that it isn’t actually a chronometer-certified movement. While a movement with an independently adjustable local hour hand would arguably offer superior convenience when it comes to using the Lorca Model No.1 GMT as an actual travel watch, there are still only a handful of mechanical GMT calibers that offer this functionality, and most of them are still fairly new designs, while the underlying design of the Soprod C125 is quite proven, which is something that is essential for a new brand and its very first watch.
Completing the Lorca Model No.1 GMT is a stainless steel bracelet that features solid links, screw-in pins, and a machined folding clasp that is signed with Lorca’s logo and fitted with a double push-button release system. The bracelet itself offers a rather refined and elegant design with a slightly dressy nine-link structure that has somewhat of a similar aesthetic to a beads-of-rice bracelet, but without having the prominently rounded links in the center. The small individual components of the links create a highly flexible and breathable design, and they also offer a rather elevated appearance that perfectly complements the refined styling of the watch itself. Although the clasp doesn’t feature any type of integrated extension system, it does include four holes of micro-adjustment, and it offers an overall size and profile that is proportional to the case. In addition to promoting comfort and flexibility, the small size of the individual links makes it fairly easy to fine-tune the sizing of the bracelet in order to achieve a perfect fit on the wrist, and I ultimately found it to be incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
When I originally first saw the Lorca Model No.1 GMT, I had no idea what price tag was attached to it, and I initially hoped that it would be under a thousand dollars (as I do with just about every watch that I wish to own). However, within seconds of having the watch in my hands and seeing the quality and attention to detail that went into it, I instantly knew that it wouldn’t be something that could be sold at such a modest price point — especially considering the “Swiss Made” signature on the dial. That said, with an official retail price of $1,750 USD, the Lorca Model No.1 GMT is still very reasonably priced, and it is right in line with many other watches from small-scale independent brands that are powered by similar Swiss-made GMT movements. As a whole, I find Lorca’s inaugural watch to be incredibly charming, and the concept of a timepiece that is dressy enough to attend an evening jazz show, yet tough enough to spend the following day snorkeling and cliff diving is incredibly appealing to me, especially when it also offers versatile proportions and a high level of attention to detail. For more information on the Lorca Model No.1 GMT, please visit the brand’s website.