Hands-On with the Rugged, Adventure-Ready, Gavox Longitude
Based in Belgium, Gavox was early on the micro-brand scene, launching in 2011 with their first watches crossing our desks in 2013. But it’s been a little while since we last had a Gavox in the office for review. In December 2019, they launched a 36mm pilot’s watch with a quartz movement and a “dirty dozen” appeal. As we all know, shortly after, life changed quite a bit. But Gavox persisted if quietly, making a bold return in late 2022 with the announcement of a new and ambitious watch powered by the equally exciting Miyota 9075 “flyer” GMT. Called the Longitude, it’s a fresh take on the integrated bracelet sports watch, combining a handful of timely trends into a well-specced-out package.
Named to inspire a sense of exploration, it also has a personal connection Michael Happé, the founder of the brand. A descendant of Dirk Hartog, a 17th-century Dutch explorer who is credited as the first Western European to set foot in Australia, the watch celebrates this connection. Despite the historical and seemingly nautical roots of the Longitude, the watch itself is a very modern expression of adventure. Available in four colors at launch, including an entirely black DLC version, the Longitude has a final price tag of $1122, but is available for pre-order at $762 through March, 2023.
Hands-On with the Rugged, Adventure-Ready, Gavox Longitude
Notable Specs and Features
Gavox went out of its way to pack the Longitude with features. Some expected but still welcome features are a sapphire crystal, 200m water resistance, and a bi-directional 24-click bezel. And then, there are the special features, like a Kolsterized case that is 1300 Vickers hard on the outside for high scratch resistance. Also, the new Miyota 9075 “flyer” GMT automatic movement, as previously mentioned. While this movement might eventually be ubiquitous, it currently has only appeared in a small handful of watches, and greatly adds to their value and functionality. Measuring 39mm x 43mm x 12.8mm with a flat crystal, the Longitude is a happy medium.
But perhaps my favorite feature is that the Longitude not only comes on an integrated bracelet but also with a set of additional end links that allow for the use of 20mm straps. A piece that all integrated bracelet watches should have, it solves what is, arguably, the worst feature of integrated strap/bracelet designs, which is a lack of third-party strap support. While the included bracelet is well-designed and finished, playing off of a faceted motif from the dial, the watch happens to sing on a mil-strap.
The Longitude is an appealingly different watch. At a glance, the overall package might speak to various concepts and watches from the past (admittedly, most watches do), and yet there is a novelty to the design up close. The 39mm cylindrical body puts a visual emphasis on the rotating bezel, which has a vaguely Explorer II appearance from the alternating numerals and triangles, yet feels more aggressive. The Rolex similarities quickly end there (and to be clear, are not an issue), as traditional lugs are replaced with a faceted appendage that transitions from the case to the bracelet.
There is a bit of a contrast in the style of the case and the bracelet that works in the watches’ favor. The case is simple, compact, and a bit mid-century. The bracelet is harsh, angular, aggressive, and contemporary. Had the aggressive design of the bracelet been pulled into the case it would have been too much or looked like it was trying too hard to stand out. Had the simpler, mid-century style of the case been dominant, it might have been boring. As is, it’s balanced.
Of course, this is also to offset the heavily textured dial. Consisting of two parts and applied markers, the dial features a seemingly random motif of – well – you take your pick. Sometimes I think it looks like choppy water seen from above. Other times, it appears like chiseled stone. Yet others, fractured ice. No matter what you see, it’s a pronounced, organic but harsh texture that covers everything but the chapter ring. Whether or not the rise of Grand Seiko can account for the increased use of texture in new watches is up for debate, but regardless of the inspiration, I’m happy to see it here as it adds a different dimension to the watch.
The attention to detailing is carried to the markers and hands as well. Each marker has many facets, a mix of finishing, and lume fill. The dauphine hour and minute hands feature a play in finishing that gives them a sense of volume they don’t actually have, playing off of the markers. A steep chapter ring further adds depth to the dial. All in all, it’s quite impressive and engaging.
As you can see in the photos, I was supplied two versions of the Longitude. One in steel with a medium blue dial, the other black DLC with a black dial. Both looked great, though the contrast of the steel markers and hands against the blue dial did make it more legible than the very stealthy all-black model. That said, the black had a little extra attitude that made it call out to me more when I was deciding between which to wear.
The bracelet itself is nicely made and finished. It features H-links with a pointed shape, brushed on the incline and polished on the edges. This creates the faceted look of the watch, playing off of the dial. The connecting links are polished and rounded adding contrast in finish and shape. It all works. My only issue, and this might be “just me” is the 2mm taper from 22mm to 20mm. It’s quite thick and hefty. 22mm looks great proportionally against the case. But the slight taper just feels very heavy on the wrist. Another two to four millimeters would have lightened it up significantly. Conversely, had the watch been titanium, the reduced weight could have compensated.
That said, Gavox supplies converter end-links (just made that term up) allowing for 20mm straps to be attached, as mentioned before. This is just genius as it infinitely opens up the versatility of the watch, while still being an integrated design. And, the watch looks great on leather, nylon, and I would imagine rubber as well. One thing to keep in mind though is that because of how these end-links attach, they move the attachment point of the strap way out, with about 55mm between the spring bars. As such, you might find yourself needing shorter two-piece straps. Pass-through straps, however, will be just fine and were my preferred method for wearing the Longitude.
The last thing worth mentioning is the Miyota 9075. Well, it does what it says it does. The hour hand jumps in first position, forward and back, allowing for fast adjustment when passing through time zones. The date is also set by rotating the hour hand. This is the downside of all “flyer” GMTs, but only an occasional issue unless you let the watch die often (and you should wear it!). That this is now available in a circa $1,000 watch that is not part of a major group is what’s really special, and I’m still giddy about it. Gavox put the movement to good use here, as the Longitude is a great travel companion.
When a brand has been quiet for a little while, just running and minding its own business without a ton of releases, it can be tricky to come back and make enough noise to get the attention of the easily distracted masses. I think Gavox has achieved just that. The Longitude is feature-rich, rugged, clever, and well-executed. It manages to combine an integrated sports watch design with a textured dial, a new “flyer” GMT, a hardened case, and a unique-enough style into an affordable package. It’s a watch that people should pay attention to. It might not be for everyone, no interesting watch is, but for those looking for a highly capable, all-purpose sports watch, or an integrated bracelet watch with a different style, it has a lot to offer. Gavox