Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’m reviewing the upcoming Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze.
Gruppo Gamma was kind enough to lend me a prototype of the Peacemaker Bronze for an exclusive review. That’s right – you’re not going to be able to read a review of the Peacemaker Bronze elsewhere! I have to thank Naoki and Christine over at Gruppo Gamma for keeping me in mind for this review, as I’ve been yearning to review a watch from Gruppo Gamma for quite a while now. Without further ado, let’s see how the Peacemaker Bronze fare!
Gruppo Gamma – the Brand
Gruppo Gamma was founded by Naoki Tsukumo in 2012. To those familiar with microbrand watches, Gruppo Gamma should be a familiar name – in the short span of time that they have existed, Gruppo Gamma has already cultivated a substantial cult following worldwide. From being derided as a mere Panerai rip-off to selling out models in days, Gruppo Gamma has had quite the journey in their 6 years of existence. Currently, they market their watches as “The Ultimate Tool Watch”.
I’ve actually covered Gruppo Gamma as a brand in detail in an article for Watch Wonderland here. In the article, I chronicled the journey and evolution of Gruppo Gamma, and I wholeheartedly recommend you guys to give the article a read if you’re interested in learning more about the homegrown brand!
Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze – Build Quality
As per usual with Gruppo Gamma watches, the build quality of the Peacemaker Bronze is superb.
Firstly, the Peacemaker Bronze utilizes a boxed sapphire crystal with an internal AR coating. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. With sapphire crystal used on the Peacemaker Bronze, one can bang this watch around without having to worry about getting scratches on the crystal of the watch! The sapphire crystal here also has an AR coating applied on the underside, preventing irksome reflections from occurring and allowing you to view the full beauty of the two-tone gradient green dial (more on that later) without hindrance. In addition, the WR rating for the Peacemaker Bronze is stated as 200M, which is surprisingly high given the inclusion of an exhibition caseback here. I’m not quite sure how Gruppo Gamma has managed to pull that off, but this means that you can safely bring this bronze beauty out to the pool and the beach – the same can’t be said for the bulk of Panerai watches, most of which possess only 100M or even 30M (for the Due line) of water resistance! Given that Gruppo Gamma claims its design and brand inspiration from the watches worn by Italian divers of old, it seems only fitting that their watches have a WR rating high enough to actually be worn out in the sea.
As the name suggests, CuSn8 bronze is used as the case material in the Peacemaker Bronze. As I’ve stated in my previous reviews, I think that bronze looks best on divers, or at least nautically inspired timepieces. On the Peacemaker Bronze, the bronze case looks right at home given the watch’s beefy proportions and retro vibes. Personally, I enjoy the natural patina that bronze develops with age, and the unique character that it brings. As the patination of bronze depends on a variety of factors (exposure to air, water, etc), no two Peacemaker Bronze patina in the exact same way. Starting as a shiny, rose-gold case, the watch will eventually patina into a rustic brown. I love the transformative effect of bronze, and personally I find a bronze case much more interesting than plain old stainless steel.
Powering the Peacemaker Bronze is the Swiss-made ETA 2824-2. This movement needs no introduction – commonly found in watches from Swiss luxury brands such as Longines, Oris, Omega, Tudor, etc, the ETA 2824-2 is probably the most desired movement to be had in a microbrand watch, as compared to its Sellita/STP/Miyota counterparts. Some specifications: The ETA 2824-2 has 38 hours of power reserve, hacking feature, 4 Hz operating frequency, 25 Jewels and an ETACHRON regulator system. It is one of the most recognizable movements in the watchmaking industry, so getting it serviced should be no problem (aside from the cost, of course). In addition, the relatively high beat rate of the movement translate to a smooth sweep of the watch’s second hand (yes, the Peacemaker Bronze includes a second hand!), which makes the simple act of time-telling captivating to watch.
Something I should point out: to this date, Naoki still takes the time and effort to test and regulate each Gruppo Gamma watch before sending them out to customers. As such, Gruppo Gamma timepieces probably have one of the least movement issues of all microbrands out there. To add on, he doesn’t just test and regulate the movement – he assembles the spring bars, puts on the strap, test-drives the watches, and more to ensure that customers get the best watch possible. I think Naoki and Gruppo Gamma exemplify the increasing allure of microbrands. Most microbrands are passion projects, driven by passionate individuals who want to share their craft and ideas with the world. There’s something inherently human about that, leading to a sort of human appeal. You won’t find this sort of blood, sweat and tears in your big brands like Tissot, Hamilton, Oris, etc – Swiss luxury brands that Gruppo Gamma is now competing with in the 1K SGD price segment. I’ve personally spoken to numerous Gruppo Gamma customers, and most reflected the same consensus – one can feel Naoki’s passion in the watches he produces, and it is that allure which attracts followers to the Gruppo Gamma brand like children to a candy booth. Gruppo Gamma has managed to build a tremendous brand with an incredibly loyal following, and as long as Naoki keeps doing what he’s doing – interacting with customers online, personally checking every watch, constantly evolving designs – I am confident that Gruppo Gamma will continue to attract even more converts!
Unfortunately, as the watch I had was a prototype it did not come with the production strap. As such, I am unable to comment upon the quality of the eventual strap that will come paired on the Peacemaker Bronze. However, Gruppo Gamma has stated that the Peacemaker Bronze will come on a matching Horween leather strap, which is a step up from the leather straps used on the regular Peacemakers. In addition, the Horween leather strap will also come with a matching bronze buckle so that you can see the buckle develop patina alongside the case.
Gruppo Gamma watches are known for their strong lume, and that trend continues here on the Peacemaker Bronze. The combination of a sandwiched dial and Swiss Super-Luminova results in bright lume during night-time. The lume on the Peacemaker Bronze is also one of the longest-lasting amongst the watches I’ve reviewed thus far. However, I do wish that the tip of the second hand possesses lume as well.
Overall, the Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze definitely represents a step up in quality, especially compared to the regular Peacemakers (which are now sold out). One get a box sapphire crystal, a Swiss ETA 2824-2 movement, exotic bronze case, Horween leather strap, and strong, long-lasting lume. Given the fact that Naoki personally tests and checks every watch before sending it out, defect rate is likely to be low. Naoki once stated in a Facebook watch group that he plans to give Panerai a run for their money with his 2018 models – and in the Peacemaker Bronze, it’s clear that Gruppo Gamma are elevating their watches to the next level in terms of build quality!
Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze – Design
I honestly think that the design of the Peacemaker Bronze may be my favourite from Gruppo Gamma thus far!
The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful green fume dial. Lighter in the center, and gradually darkening towards the edges of the dial, the two-tone green gradient dial really imprints itself in the mind. Green dials has been the rage in 2018, with numerous luxury brands such as Oris (Big Crown), Grand Seiko (High-beat GMT) and Glashutte (Original Sixties) introducing green dial watches for this year. In the Peacemaker Bronze, the fume green dial, paired with the bronze case, is a stunner. I have always felt that green dials looked most at home in a bronze case, given the fact that bronze produces a green residue when it patinas. On the wrist, it’s definitely a watch that draws attention to it.
On the Peacemaker Bronze, Gruppo Gamma brings back retro styling with the use of a “semi-California” dial. For the uninitiated, a “semi-California” is a twist on the conventional California dial. While conventional California dials comprises of half Arabic and half Roman numerals, a “semi-California” dial comprises fully of Arabic numerals, but with the hours of 3, 6, and 9 replaced with dashes instead of numerals and an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock. It’s a dial configuration that rose to prominence in Rolex, and of course, Panerai dive watches in the 50s and 60s, and it is clear that it is from that era of horology in which the Peacemaker takes its design inspiration from. In addition, I love the inclusion of a second hand on the Peacemaker Bronze – a feature the regular Peacemakers did not have. Seeing the second hand sweep smoothly serves as a reminder of the beating ETA movement within. Also, I like the golden colour of the dial text – it complements the hands, indices, and bronze case perfectly. Lastly, I also appreciate the use of a printed baton minute track – there’s a military, utilitarian feel to the aesthetic, and feels at home with the vibe of the Peacemaker Bronze.
I absolutely adore the combination of that box sapphire, as well as the sandwiched indices. Combined, they allow the Peacemaker Bronze to exude a vintage charm that suits the bronze case (especially after it has patinaed). In addition, the curvature and height of the box sapphire, as well as the recessed indices, adds depth to the watch. It prevents the watch from looking one-dimensional and flat, which is a danger other watches fall prey to.
Moving onto the case, I think that it well designed and executed. Details in the CNC milling of the case is evident in its gentle curves and beveled edges, with the case being brushed finished. Also, I like the short lugs of the Peacemaker Bronze. On paper, the Peacemaker Bronze is a hefty watch at 44mm wide, but the short lugs makes the watch wear smaller on the wrist as the specifications might indicate.
We also get a rather nice crown on the Peacemaker Bronze! Firstly, the crown is actually in bronze, unlike other bronze watches that I’ve reviewed previously. As such, it will patina nicely alongside the bronze case. Secondly, the crown is signed as Gamma I – signifying that this is a Mark I model for the Peacemaker line. Naoki got the inspiration for this naming system (whereby the first models will called Mark I, sophomore line Mark II, etc) from the Iron Man series! I personally think that’s pretty cool. The crown is nicely sized and grooved as well, which made winding the watch a joy.
The Peacemaker Bronze includes an exhibition caseback, which is always my preference as it allows the full beauty of the mechanical heart to be seen. The caseback on the Peacemaker Bronze is indeed screw down (to achieve the 200M WR rating), with some relevant information denoted. As per usual, the caseback is made of stainless steel. This is because bronze leaves a green residue when it oxidises, which would be undesirable on the skin. Aesthetically, I quite like the contrast between the brushed outer portion, and the polished inner portion of the caseback. In addition, there’s a rose gold coloured ring surrounding the movement. The indentations on the ring conjures to me portholes on ships, and reinforces the nautical, vintage feel of the watch. I think Gruppo Gamma was quite smart here – the ETA movement, being relatively small as compared to the case size, probably left an unsightly empty space when viewed through the exhibition caseback. I suspect Naoki used the metal ring to cover up the empty space unoccupied by the movement – a clever touch. However, if I had a knock here, it would be that the ETA movement looks relatively spartan and unfinished. Aside form a signed rotor, the movement lacks decoration. I would have loved for the movement to exhibit some sort of finish – perlaging, Geneva Stripes, blued screws, etc. It would certainly make the movement more of a beauty to look at!
All in all, I think that Gruppo Gamma has knocked it out of the park with the Peacemaker Bronze (in green). The two-tone green dial, paired with the bronze case, makes it a stunner. The box sapphire crystal, combined with sandwiched indices, lends the watch vintage charm. If I have a knock, it would be that the movement could use more finishing. I suppose one could argue that the spartan, bare-bones movement fits in well thematically with the utilitarian vibe of the watch, but I personally would definitely have preferred the movement to be decorated to a higher standard – it would certainly have elevated the watch a little bit more!
Shootout: Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze vs Lum-Tec Combat B19 Bronze
The Lum-Tec Combat B19 Bronze shares a lot of similarities with the Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze – it’s under $1000 USD, it has a bronze case and a green dial, strong lume, and features a military, utilitarian aesthetic. As such, it will be my comparison to the Peacemaker Bronze for today!
In terms of specifications, I would say that the Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker has a slight edge, primarily due to the movement. The Lum-Tec Combat B19 uses the Miyota 9015 movement, while the Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze utilizes the ETA 2824-2. While both watches are similar in specs, the ETA 2824 is slightly more accurate, as well as easier to regulate. In terms of serviceability, repair services are also likely to be more familiar with it as compared to the Miyota 9015. Above all else though, the ETA 2824 is a Swiss movement – that itself will convince some people to opt for a ETA 2824 over a Miyota 9015 any day. In terms of lume, Lum-Tec might have a slight edge due to the usage of its proprietary MDV lume, though the Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker is definitely no slouch in this department either. Lastly, while both watches uses sapphire crystal, the Peacemaker Bronze utilizes a boxed one – and boxed sapphire crystals are probably one of the most expensive sapphire crystals out there (as compared to flat, domed, and double-domed) in terms of cost. Therefore, I will have to give the Peacemaker Bronze a slight lead on paper.
From an aesthetics perspective, I personally prefer the design of the Peacemaker Bronze. The green dial of the Gruppo Gamma is two-toned, making it more interesting and striking than the solid, olive green dial of the Combat B19 Bronze. In addition, the box sapphire, combined with sandwiched indices, gives the Peacemaker Bronze depth. In contrast, I find the dial of the Lum-Tec rather flat, without contrast in both colour as well as depth. That being said, I do think that the coin-edged bezel of the Combat B19 Bronze is rather interesting, and I like the vintage vibes from that. However, all in all I do believe that the Peacemaker Bronze has the more unique and striking design.
To top it off, the Peacemaker Bronze is also currently significantly less expensive ($236 USD) than the Lum-Tec Combat B19. As such, I have to give the Peacemaker Bronze the win in this one, though the Lum-Tec Combat B19 certainly came close.
Conclusion: so the Gruppo Gamma Peacemaker Bronze “shiok” anot?
Definitely – in fact I think this is my favourite Gruppo Gamma thus far! I love the combination of the fume green dial with the bronze case, and the depth present through the pairing of the box sapphire crystal as well as the sandwiched indices. Altogether, it’s a striking watch when worn on the wrist, one that will certainly garner some attention. As compared to the regular Peacemakers (which are now all sold out and will not be returned to production), it is definitely a step up.
The Peacemaker Bronze comes in two colour variants (blue and green, see picture above), but my pick will definitely be the green dialed version that I reviewed. Paired with the bronze case and a matching green strap, the watch “pops” more than its blue-dialed counterpart. At $759 USD/ ~$1045 SGD, it is a step up (price-wise) from the regular Peacemakers, but I think the price is justified. On the Peacemaker Bronze, one gets an upgrade in case material (bronze vs stainless steel), movement (ETA 2824-2 vs Miyota 8N33), strap (Horween leather vs regular leather), and dial (two-tone fume dial vs plain black/blue dial). Naoki has publicly stated that he is positioning Gruppo Gamma towards the higher end of the microbrand market, justifying the increase in price through the usage of more premium materials. Gruppo Gamma started off making $200+ USD watches – now their current watches (the Vanguard collection) hover about the $1000 USD mark. Not many microbrands can navigate the increase in price well, but Naoki has certainly done so. I predict that these will fly off the shelves.
If you’re interested, you can pre-order the Peacemaker Bronze here at its special $759 pre-order pricing (MSRP $950 USD). Act fast though, as Gruppo Gamma watches have a tendency to get sold out rather quickly!