Posted on November 25 2020
Their collection has dive watches, minimalist designs and aviation models. They have placed a particular emphasis on chronographs and these watches dominate the Gigandet range. I want to take you through a very brief history, before discussing the best watches that the brand currently offers.
The History of Gigandet Watches
We have to be a little careful when looking at the history of watch brands. Many companies and brand names have changed hands over the years. Sicura bought Breitling for example. Invicta now owns Glycine and Swatch Group have Omega, Longines and Tissot in their stable.
What some companies have done is revived an older, defunct brand name. Recently, I looked at Shinola, who took the name of an old shoe polish company and used it to launch an American watch brand. They wanted to use the original household name to add recognition to a new business venture.
In the world of watches, this is relatively common. A Swiss brand that went out of business decades ago is revived by new owners, who may or may not produce watches in keeping with the original designs.
So that’s where we find ourselves with Gigandet.
The original Swiss brand was created as Charles Gigandet and was involved, through Wakmann, in co-branding watches for the American market. Interestingly, these were chronograph models. The company had been created in the town of Tramelan - a name you’ll see referenced in the current Gigandet line.
By the 1990s, the family owning the name seem to have sold their production facilities to Victorinox and the Fabrique d'horlogerie Charles Gigandet SA company went into liquidation in 2000.
The current owners then registered the new brand in 2011.
Are Gigandet Watches Good Quality?
Something that I’ve repeated in a few posts is the common quality among watches at a specific price-point. Most brands don’t own their own watch plants. They have their watches made by a third party.
For example, I own a Swiss Made Calvin Klein watch that was produced by Swatch Group and has an ETA automatic movement - more here. The same movement is used by other Swiss brands including Omega. Is there any reason to think this watch wouldn’t be as good quality as other Swiss-made watches or that the ETA movement would be different from other ETA movements? In this case, the brand name doesn’t really have a bearing on the quality.
It’s a little similar to the affordable brands that I champion. They are often made by the same third party’s and use similar components. Gigandet are a case in point. They use the same reliable Japanese Miyota and Seiko movements as their competitors - in fact, the same Seiko automatic that I use in my own brand.
Gigandet have an advantage over many other brands. They have certain collections that can boast that they’re Made in Germany. You can see this text on the dial of the Sea Ground 300 models.
I’m happy enough that German factories, using branded Japanese movements, can produce good-quality, competitively priced watches.
The 6 Best Gigandet Watches
As I mentioned earlier, the Gigandet range is heavy on chronographs. But as I’ve noted previously, I’m a big fan of this style of watch. So I decided to just go with it. I’ve selected what I think are the best 6 Gigandet watches - and if I’ve included too many chronographs? So be it.
This model, the Sea Ground 300, is the slightly more expensive German-made model.
Stylistically, it is an authentic Submariner watch. It has the case shape, Mercedes hands and the correct bezel and markers. It is also a legitimate dive watch. There are 300M water resistance and a sapphire crystal.
The Sea Ground comes in a number of colour and strap variations - but this is my favourite. Due partly to a couple of features. Firstly, the Old Radium lume. I really like that vintage colouring.
Secondly, I like the strap. The leather strap softens the sporty look of the Submariner, and along with the vintage lume, gives a vintage feel to a watch that aptly has the model number 007.
Of course, one of the major selling points for a watch at this price is the country of manufacturer. This watch is made in Germany and powered by a Seiko NH35A movement.
Gigandet Sea Ground 300 G300V-007
It’s a distinctive look that the Speed Timer pulls off well. Where the original motorsports watches would have been relatively small, Gigandet have opted to update the case to a more contemporary 44mm. It is still a slim 11mm, so it’s not a bulky watch.
Rather than using a Seiko movement like the Sea Ground, this watch is powered by another Japanese piece, a Miyota 6S21. That tends to be the case with Gigandet. Seiko for the automatics and Miyota for the quartz models.
Gigandet Speed Timer G7-008
It’s a relatively straightforward modern chronograph, albeit with a colourful bezel. Smart and highly functional, the watch has the chronograph features, and also a tachymeter and a 24hr sub-dial.
The display is highly legible, with the large white indices and hands contrasting well with the black dial. It’s symmetrical, something I like, and there’s a neat date window tucked away at 4 o’clock.
There are a lot of chronographs in the Gigandet range, some with quite unique styling. However, sometimes it’s good to have a more familiar and uncomplicated design, which is what drew me to this model
Gigandet Chrono King G28-006
This model drew my attention as it takes the recognisable aviation dial and onion crown and adds a Milanese bracelet. The result is a Flieger watch that has a contemporary edge. Unlike some German aviation watches, this isn’t over-sized. At 43.5mm it is a comfortable everyday wear.
Having previously said that Gigandet uses Seiko movements in their automatics - this model has contradicted me. It uses Miyota’s Calibre 8215. So the quality is there, and there is 100M water resistance - hopefully something a pilot doesn’t need to use.
It’s one of a number of similar models that the brand produces - have a look at some other others to see if you prefer a different dial/strap combination.
Gigandet Red Baron I G8-009
This is a larger model that appeals to me because of the clean, simple design. It’s 46mm in diameter and has a 24mm strap - so it’s not as compact as the Art Deco name may suggest.
The copper coloured dial and plain brown strap give the watch a vintage and understated style. This is reinforced by the plain bezel and tidy chronograph pushers. The hour markers are simple lines and the only number is the Art Deco style text at 12 o’clock.
Other than that, there’s nothing unnecessary on the dial. Aside from the logo, there’s no additional text or graphics. I like the unpretentious design, but given the choice, would have preferred the case to be a bit smaller.
Gigandet Art Deco G13-004
It is busier than the previous watch, but the dial doesn’t become too busy or overwhelming. It’s a tried and tested chronograph style, that blends sporty and classic elements. It works well here, particularly with the clever use of silver and grey on the dial. Again, the strap is simple and doesn’t take your attention away from the beautiful dial.
The symmetry is well-designed and even the date window, which is barely noticeable, doesn’t spoil this.
Gigandet places a strong emphasis on their chronograph models and this is among the best that they do.
Gigandet Brilliance G48-001
Additional Gigandet Watches
Red Touch G51-004
Named after the Swiss town, this is yet another chronograph. This time with the popular Panda dial layout. It’s worth taking a closer look.
Gigandet, despite its Swiss history, is an affordable modern German brand. They produce a large range of watches, covering many of the styles that you’d expect. They do produce a line of German aviation watches, with traditional Flieger styling, as well as minimalist and Art Deco pieces.
There are two areas where the brand is especially strong. That is in their wide selection of chronographs and their German-made dive watches - the Sea Ground 300 watches.
On the whole, Gigandet make watches that have the specs and build quality that I’d expect at this price-point. I’d probably compare them to Spinnaker, Avi-8, Ingersoll and a few similar brands.