Invicta GMT Review
I've always enjoyed the look of the white faced Rolex Explorer II, so much so that I thought to myself should I ever purchase one, it would be the final watch in my collection. A few weeks back I visited a jewelry store and had the opportunity to handle one and even slip it on my wrist for a while. It was even more gorgeous in real life than it was in the pictures, but from the moment I held it, I knew it was not a watch worth $4,000. Maybe half of that amount, but not the full $4,000. It felt light and almost hollow, and I got the impression that the stainless steel bracelet was made of aluminum rather than steel. It short, it lacked the necessary heft that I desire in a men's watch--the nice dense feel that lets you know you are wearing something of quality.
I've been aware of the Invicta GMT models for some time now. The white faced one is nearly a dead ringer for the Rolex Explorer II. Nearly, but not so much so that I felt it was a serious contender for the Explorer II. My disappointing experience handling the Explorer changed my opinion and I purchased the white faced 9402 GMT model.
Although this review is written for the 9402, it is applicable for the other GMT models as only the color of the face varies.
The Invicta GMT uses a Japanese quartz movement, which in addition to the hour, minute, and second hands, has a 24-hour hand and a date feature. Unfortunately, the GMT is not offered as an automatic.
Pulling the crown out fully stops the second hand and allows the time to be set, but in a slightly different way than a normal movement. Instead of adjusting the minute and hour hand, it adjusts the minute and 24-hour hand. The internal mechanism is particularly loose and lacks any sort of meaningful resistance when the crown is turned. Although most quartz watches have much less turning resistance than their mechanical counterparts, in the case of the GMT, it is significantly less, to the point of being displeasing to use.
The date and hour hands are set when the crown is pulled out into the first position. The date is linked to the operation of the 12-hour hand, which is to say when then 12-hour hand passes midnight, the date advances. Turning the crown one way advances the date in what perhaps is the slowest moving date mechanism I've ever encountered; there's little danger of accidentally overshooting the desired date, but if for some reason it happens, it's a frustrating event.
Setting the hour hand is bizarre. The hand doesn't turn smoothly when the crown is turned, but rather moves in a jerky motion, alternating between moving slowly and moving rapidly--and when it does move rapidly, it is with such sensitivity that it is very easy to overshoot the desired time. There also seems to be some interaction between setting the hour hand and the 24-hour and minute hands. When the crown is turned, the other hands will sometimes turn in the same direction. When the pressure is released from the crown, the hands return to where they were, but it is distracting to say the least.
Case, Crystal, and Crown
The case is inspired by the traditional Rolex Oyster design. Its sides are highly polished and the face is brushed. On the side opposite the crown the word "Invicta" is engraved. It is in a different font than my Invicta Speedway, and a considerably larger one. Personally, I'd like to see the practice of putting their name on the side stopped. It's already on the face and the back, having it on the side also is redundant.
The bezel is fixed, as it is on the Explorer II, and it has a nice brushed surface with black inset lettering.
The mineral crystal is satisfactory for this watch. Given the other concerns that I have with the watch, the expense of sapphire wouldn't be justified. The cyclops lens over the date is somewhat underpowered almost to the point of having to question why it's there at all.
The cyclops lens has an alignment problem. When the watch is looked at straight on, the date window aligns with the top edge of the cyclops lens, rather than being centered in it. I've heard reports from people who say Invicta claims it's not a problem at all, but rather done by design, to aid in the viewing of the date while the watch is being worn. If this is true, I don't like it. If it is a quality control issue, I don't like it either. It is my feeling that that when looked at straight on, there should be no alignment issues. As for being an aid for reading the time, I'm not sure I buy it. When I look at my watch, it is indeed slightly angled, but not to the extent where the position of the cyclops makes sense--the date is still positioned too high.
The highly polished crown screws down to ensure water resistance. Its surface is decorated with the Swiss flag looking part of the Invicta logo. The logo is much thinner and less substantial appearing than it is on other Invictas I've handled.
When the crown is pulled out, there is an obvious problem. It wobbles when it is turned, suggesting that the stem may be bent. Despite this, there are no issues with screwing the crown down.
Dial and Hands
The dial is adequate, but not stunning like the Rolex Explorer II. On the Rolex, the hour markers are outlined in heavy black ink which makes it very pleasing to the eye. While the Invicta GMT has a similar appearance to the Explorer, it lacks the same black ink treatment, making it less striking.
The hour markers are luminescent shapes--a triangle at twelve o'clock, rectangles at six and nine, and circles everywhere else--and are outlined in chrome. Around the perimeter of the dial are thin black minute markers. At the five-minute positions these marks are slightly thicker. Below the twelve o'clock marker is the Invicta logo, which is in an oddly inappropriate gold color. Below the logo are the words "PROFESSIONAL 200M," attesting to the watch's capability to be used as a dive watch, albeit without the help of the traditional dive bezel.
Above the six o'clock marker are the words "DATE-MASTER GMT" in a very attractive red, and just below those it states in black ink, "CERTIFIED DESIGN". Straddling the six o'clock marker is "JAPAN MOVT".
The hands have the misfortune of being chrome. This was a complaint I made about the Speedway and it is a complaint that holds true here: chrome hands on a white faced watch just don't work. They blend into the background far too easily making it difficult to read the time quickly. It's not as bad on the GMT as it is on the Speedway, however. The hands are physically larger and the dial is less cluttered, which helps some. But it's still no comparison to the Explorer II that has high-contrast black hands.
The hour hand has the traditional Rolex Mercedes design to it and the minute hand is also similar to that of the Rolex. The second hand differs slightly; instead of being thin with a luminescent circle set a short distance from the end, it ends with a luminescent arrow.
The 24-hour hand is all red, which differs from the Explorer, and ends with a large luminescent triangle.
It must have been a bad day at the calibration lab at Invicta because there are a couple of alignment problems with the hands. Because the 24-hour hand is directly linked to the minute hand, one would think that 24-hour hand should point exactly at an hour marker when the minute hand is at twelve. This is not the case on my watch. When the minute hand is at twelve, the 24-hour hand is slightly ahead of the hour mark.
The second hand is more consistent where it lands than it is on my Speedway. On the Speedway, the hand doesn't always jump evenly. Could be a bit less than a second, could be a bit more. The second hand on the GMT does indeed jump exactly one second, but it lands exactly halfway between the markers.
I was pleasantly surprised by the luminous material used on the dial and hands. I'm assuming it's still Invicta's homemade tritnite compound, but unlike other Invicta watches that I've handled, this stuff actually has some staying power. In normal office light I can see it glow by cupping my hand over it. It also glows well into the night. I'm very impressed. Not as impressed as I am by Super Luminova, but impressed nevertheless.
So far the quartz movement is right on the money.
Strap, Buckle, or Bracelet
The stainless steel bracelet is very nice. It is heavy and has a fully brushed surface. The clasp is the standard flip-lock style and doesn't have any sharp edges or corners.
The hollow end links seem too thin for the wach and sit with a noticable depression in the space allocated for them. There is a somewhat large gap between the center part of the real links and the center part of the end links that is unpleasant to look at.
User Manual and Packaging
The Invicta GMT comes with a generic user manual and the normal bright yellow box that is used for lower end Invictas.
The watch is nice and heavy, perhaps just a hair less heavy than the Speedway. It's very comfortable on the wrist.
How to Improve
The movement needs to be completely redone. An automatic would be nice, but quartz is fine, providing the issues concerning the looseness of the time setting position, the slow setting of the date, and the weirdness of setting the hour hand are addressed.
The cyclops lens needs to be centered above the date window.
More attention needs to be paid to the alignment of the hands.
Quality control needs to be on the lookout for random issues like bent stems.
The chrome accents need to be changed to black for the benefit of appearance and legibility.
I paid $78 for the watch, which involved a $9 discount and free shipping. Even with these perks, I'm not positive I got my money's worth.
Overall Score: 6/10 with points lost for the movement, cyclops and hand alignment, hand legibility, and bent stem.