For those that want a vintage watch experience without dealing with the hassle of acquiring a quality vintage timepiece.
Disclaimer: I purchased this watch and was not externally incentivized in any way to make this review. This review is in no way endorsed or sponsored by anybody. All opinions here are my own.
Let me begin by stating that pictures do not do this watch justice. I’ve seen plenty of wonderful photographs of this watch, and while it does photograph well, to truly appreciate this watch you must see it in person. This watch is true to it’s vintage inspiration, and I don’t just mean the reduced case size and hour indices from the years gone by. That “vintage spirit” that Lorier talks about – it’s true. The overall case design and dimensions are a perfect throwback to vintage chronograph design (Heur, Rolex, Breitling, Zenith, etc.), coupled with true-to-era chrono pushers and crown. The bracelet adds to the invocation of vintage design with it’s 60-70s styled, large rectilinear links. The links look to me like they belong to a 70s integrated bracelet, and I love it!
However, I decided to put this watch on a Crown & Buckle Harbor leather strap as soon as I got it because the blue dial was perfect for it – white trimmings and all. Note to strap junkies – the case has drilled lug holes, so swapping straps is a breeze.
Having focused on wearing and reviewing mostly tool-watch divers with bulky aggressive bezels, the elegant and narrow bi-bezel on the Gemini stood out to me immediately. It complements the rest of the case and dial perfectly. The bezel height is about 2-3mm and the bezel edge (coin-edge) is smoother than your typical tool watch bezel, resulting in a limited friction while grabbing and adjusting it. But I wouldn’t have it any other way for a true vintage inspired watch. I did notice some back-play in the bezel action, and while high granular precision isn’t a hard requirement for a 12 hour 24 click bezel, I still believe they could have done better.
Also worth noting is the lack of a fixed tachymeter scale. I can’t remember the last time I actually used one, so I don’t really have a problem with this. The 12 hour rotating bezel is a bit more practical and I use it to track a second timezone.
The overall case design is simple and doesn’t take attention way from the center of focus – the dial.
The dial is the best aspect of this watch – it defines the entire watch and carries off the entire Lorier Gemini experience. The first thing that strikes you is the beautiful contrast between the blue dial and the white sub-dials. For someone that loves blue dials, pandas and reverse pandas, this watch is an absolute treat for me to look at. The hour indices are sleek but sharp; a neat combination of stick and dagger style hands. The yellow accents fit this color palette perfectly, and the Lorier font & logo don’t look out of era at all, which is what I usually notice when modern brands try to recreate vintage watches. Hats off to the Lorier team for creating this terrific dial. Believe me when I say this – this dial is perfect for what is supposed to be. However, if there was one thing I would change about this dial, it would be the hour and minute hands. I would have preferred something less sharp and angular. Maybe simpler baton hands?
Lume addicts will be disappointed to know that the hour indices lack any lume, but the dial has lume square markers instead – a very neatly laid out sequence of lume squares along the outer seconds track. Unfortunately, these are quite weak but this isn’t uncommon to chronograph watches. The hour and minute hands are well lumed, together with the triangular marker on the bezel. In their defense, a watch such as this shouldn’t necessarily require serious night-time visibility to begin with, because contrary to what you might be told, this is not a GADA (“go anywhere, do anything”) watch. But that’s my opinion, your mileage may vary!
The main reason I stayed away from Lorier watches for this long was their use of plexiglass crystals instead of sapphire. As someone who is very OCD about his watches, the thought of having visible scratches on my crystal bothered me tremendously. Lorier have a terrific blogpost on why they believe in plexiglass over sapphire crystal – for nostalgic reasons and impact resistance. While I would have preferred this watch to have a sapphire crystal, I’m OK with plexiglass and I think a bottle of polywatch will put all my worries to rest.
I might even go so far as to say the plexiglass was the better choice in this case (pardon the pun). The plexiglass is clear and the warmth from the glass helps create that “vintage spirit” that Lorier is trying to sell you. I also love the distortion at the corners of the glass. But if you’re considering using this as a serious chronograph, I would not be able to recommend this watch to you because the glass distortion is very strong above the seconds markers, making accurate timekeeping very difficult. This reaffirms my overall opinion that the Lorier Gemini is a piece that offers more form than function, but that’s OK because they’ve truly created something special in terms of the design. They have perfectly recreated the vintage aesthetic that all of us are going crazy about right now.
On The Wrist
The watch feels amazing on the wrist and the dimensions are perfect for my 6.25” wrist. Those with small wrists might be tempted by the 47mm lug-to-lug width, but in my opinion this watch wears larger than it measures. I believe this has something to do with the ratio of the lug length to the overall case dimensions. The diameter is 39mm across the case. The lugs are a bit too long in my opinion, and shorter lugs might have made this watch more accessible to those with small wrists. That said, for wrists 6” and up, this should be no problem whatsoever. The case is very slim, measuring in at around 10.25mm, but this excludes the roughly 2.6mm chunk of domed plexiglass that sits on top of it. I like the protruding crystal and I think it adds tons of personality to the watch.
As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, this watch is more of an experience than a serious instrument. And a big part of this experience is it’s wrist presence. On the wrist, the watch looks impressive and is guaranteed to be a conversation starter. It oozes vintage elegance without the charming but ever-so decrepit appearance of most vintage watches today.
I logged the accuracy of the watch over a short (3 day) period and observed an accuracy of roughly -10.0 seconds per day. I think they have done a good job regulating this watch, even though other owners have claimed even better margins of -5 seconds per day.
- Lume – if you’re after a watch that you wish to wear all day and night, this may not be the right watch for you. The only lumed parts of the watch that are visible are the hands and the triangle marker on the bezel. Personally, this isn’t a deal breaker for me but I’m aware of the lume junkie community, and this isn’t for you.
- Movement – Everything about the Seagull ST19 makes me feel a bit insecure, even though this might just be my paranoia. Interacting with this movement reminds me of my HMT Watches, and I mean no disrespect to HMT. But those watches cost under $40 and this watch costs $500. I’m also aware of the fact that good chronograph movements are significantly more expensive to manufacture, and designing a watch that has a good chronograph movement for $500 is a challenge, specially if you want your brand to make any money at the end of a sale. In their defense, the ST19 was made to replicate the Venus 175, a Swiss chronograph movement from the 60s, so in a sense this watch is completely vintage inspired – from the aesthetics to the mechanics. Lorier have a very informative blogpost describing this movement and why they chose to use it. In all honesty, if an accurate vintage watch experience is what they are going for – this movement helps them deliver just that. But when I interact with the movement, this statement from Lorier feels less convincing – “our watches are built to be reliable tools, not precious jewelry”. That said, not all watches need to be robust tool watches, and movement aside, this watch is stunning to look at and is a beautiful invocation of vintage watch design. So I would personally feel more comfortable treating this particular watch as a precious piece of jewelry rather than a tool. And if that’s what you want it for, buy without hesitation!
- Noise – The movement is LOUD. While I’m working on my computer and wearing this watch on my wrist, the ticking is audible to the point of being almost distracting. I know this maybe welcomed by most enthusiasts, but this is a bit of a deal-breaker for me.
- Lugs – The lugs are a bit too long, in my opinion. On my 6.25” wrist this watch wears very nicely, on both a leather strap and metal bracelet. But if they would reduce the length of the lugs by a few millimeter, this watch would automatically become accessible for those with much smaller wrists. The rest of the case size is perfectly suited for folks with small and medium wrists, but the whole package is more suited for those with medium and large wrists. Even though the lug-to-lug width is just 47mm, I believe that the lug to case ratio gives it the appearance of a much larger watch.
The Lorier Gemini is a very unique timepiece that has managed to very accurately capture the essence of a vintage chronograph. The overall case and dial designs are familiar yet not derivative. Attempting to put the Gemini in a particular watch genre has been challenging. It lingers on the edge between modern classic and vintage sport watch design. To help get my point across – Have you ever spent hours on eBay, then found a vintage timepiece that you absolutely love, but then stopped and asked yourself, “What if this watch is just a hack job with shoddy parts and aftermarket everything?” “Is this legit?” or even “Can I even wear this thing or will it crumble the moment I wind it?”. This watch is a modern and more reliable way to achieve an almost complete vintage watch experience without worrying about the above.
If you’re looking for an everyday watch, I couldn’t recommend this watch as it does not evoke the confidence of a “go anywhere, do anything” timepiece. I wouldn’t strap this watch on my wrist and spend the day working on robots at work. But this watch does, however, fit perfectly in a broader realm of dress watches, with plenty of personality and character to stand out from the crowd of boring dress watch designs. This watch is definitely worth adding to a watch collection and brings enough personality and character to justify it’s place among your other timepieces.
The last point to make is the $499 price-tag – I personally believe that this may be a bit on the steep side, and I might’ve been more comfortable paying $50-$100 less for it, even after factoring in the wonderful dial design and execution. But obviously this is highly subjective. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to watch the hands-on review video for some high quality footage!