Posted on October 05 2023
I have to admit that I'm the type of watch fan who wears a subtle piece under my shirt cuff. I may have spent hours researching a watch and unearthed its backstory, but aside from this blog, you'll not hear about it.
Other watch enthusiasts want you to check out their wrist. The watch is there as a conversation starter and they proudly wear it to make a statement. It's another side of the watch world and for the big spenders and celebrities, it's a world of haute horology, colourful jewellery and hefty price tags.
But there's also a niche market for buyers who want the same eye-catching aesthetics but without eye-watering prices.
Sitting with Gresham's debut model in my hand it's clear that the young British brand has built a watch for that customer. They've created a watch that offers high-end styling but at a very affordable price.
Gresham Genesis G1 Special Edition - Eclipse
Gresham Genesis G1 Special Edition Watch Review
Gresham is a new name to me and a watch brand that appears to have popped up out of nowhere. A little digging shows that they're a young British brand that is part of a larger collection of fashion brands.
Like Machia - the German company I've just reviewed - Gresham markets itself as a feisty brand that isn't too interested in following conventions or conforming to the watch industry's expectations.
In their own words, they create watches for "those who are willing to break the confines and rigours of conformity."
As you'd expect, Gresham's debut watch isn't a subtle and understated piece. It's anything but.
The Genesis G1 is a beast.
It's large, bold and in your face.
It also reminds me of the ultra-expensive Richard Mille models inspired by rock music.
The G1 is certainly an interesting watch and one that offers something very different to most sub-£500 automatic watches.
Let's take a closer look.
Gresham Genesis G1 Special Edition Watch in Detail
Although there's little about the brand online (they seem to be produced by Birmingham-based Peers Hardy Group) you've got to love some of the ideas behind Gresham. I'd say my two favourite quotes from their site are:
"The trouble with the rat race is, even if you win. You’re still a rat."
"The only real luxury in life is time itself…and we aren’t particularly fond of those endless waitlists."
There's a lighthearted streak to Gresham and I'd suggest that the Genesis G1, with its ornate appearance, shouldn't be taken too seriously. By that I mean, it's not a £150k Richard Mille and hasn't got a five-year waiting list like the Rolex Daytona.
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Instead, it's a little under £500 and available now. It's both affordable and accessible.
So for me, this is a fun watch that happened to be a lot more ostentatious than my usual wristwear. And at the centre of the outlandish styling is the case. In Gresham's marketing, it's clear that they also see the case as the G1's primary distinctive feature.
And it is very distinctive. It's also quite big.
It's described by Gresham as a "hybrid Steel and Aluminium Exo frame chassis" that consists of a gold-coloured steel base with a black aluminium layer bolted on. Although the appearance is striking, it was the smooth curve of the case that impressed me the most.
The case - front and back - gently curves and hugs your wrist - handy when the diameter is 45mm and the height is 14.5mm. In a nice touch, the mineral crystal - again front and back - is curved too. The case and the glass curve together seamlessly and enhance the practicality of such an eye-catching piece.
This black and gold variant, the Eclipse, is one of two quite formal colourways. I know, it's not exactly a dress watch, but the others in the collection are more colourful and sporty looking.
The gold-coloured base isn't exactly subtle, but the black layer restrains the design somewhat. There are eight screws attaching the black layer at the front and a further four on the case's side. The screws give the watch an architectural look that is mentioned in the brand's marketing. They also give the playful watch a serious edge.
Although I've suggested that the heavy-duty case is central to the watch's aesthetic, it doesn't take long for the extravagant dial to steal your attention. Again, it's unusual and difficult to sum up in a few words. Here goes...
The skeleton dial features multiple cut-away sections that expose the mechanical movement below. The skeleton design includes a gold-coloured spider-like construction that displays the balance wheel in the lower section. There's a black background, inlaid with gold, and black hands with white tips. Like the case, there's a successful mix of curves and straight lines, with the cut-away areas featuring slopes that catch the light well.
Did you get all of that? If not, it might be worth spending a minute looking at the pictures again.
Given the architectural influence of the case, the dial compliments the overall look well and reinforces the ultra-high-end influences that the Genesis G1 is giving a nod to. The caseback doubles down on this style and features more of the same. It's also curved, screwed down, and has curved glass that displays the workings. With the skeleton dial at the front and an exhibition back, you can see right through the watch - yes, I sat with my eye a centimetre from the case back to confirm this.
I like that. The watch feels at once heavy and masculine but also exposed and artistic. The jewels in the movement add a little colour, although it's not clear from the Gresham website who manufactures the watch's engine.
The time is set using the oversized crown, which is - you guessed it - gold-coloured and black. It has an octagonal construction and an outer silicone ring that aids grip.
That black silicone is also used on the strap which integrates with the case - a feature that seems to be particularly popular at the minute. The simple black rubber strap is a good choice and on this model favours the elegant, rather than sporty, look. There's a black buckle signed with a simple letter G.
The Gresham Genesis G1 is presented in a handsome black glossy case that suits the overall aesthetic of the watch.
The Gresham Genesis is a handsome and masculine watch that fuses architectural styling with influences of high-end horology. It's big, and bold and features an unusual case construction.
It won't be for everyone. It's too much of a statement piece to win over those with conservative tastes.
But if you lust after a Richard Mille watch? Or you you love the integrated strap and angular case of the Royal Oak? Then the Genesis G1 is a very affordable way to get an eye-catching automatic watch on your wrist.
And make no mistake, this watch will generate attention.
What's maybe less obvious is how much time you'll spend looking at your own wrist while wearing this watch.