GM Lang Trailseeker

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valuewatchguy
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GM Lang Trailseeker

#1

Post by valuewatchguy » Sat Mar 20, 2021 5:46 pm

DISCLAIMER: I have received no compensation for this review. I am a hobbyist and not a professional reviewer. My opinions are my own hence I may miss details or accentuate others as guided by past experience and biases. This is a review piece and pre-production prototype so there may be signs of use on this one that should not be representative of what you will get when buying new.

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INTRO

GM Lang is a new microbrand and the latest entry into the burgeoning Texas watch scene. Yes, I said Texas! Based in Austin, Texas they join other microbrands such as Dufrane, Roebuck, and Tockr in helping put our own (yes, I’m from Texas!) identity on the watch community.

www.langwatches.com

GM Lang is a 2 person operation and is actually your typical When Grant Met Katherine story. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, as college student WIS who love vintage and expensive designs yet have college student budgets they start a watch brand to fill that void, they go on cross country national parks tour, wear a watch for trip that is good but realize they can make it better! Tada, the Trailseeker is born! See, just like the movies!

Grant actually comes from a family of WIS who appreciated watches like the Daytona, Cartier Santos, and the ALS Langematik Perpetual. Katherine is also an aficionado of vintage ladies Cartier and Rolex. They are both committed to the idea of creating ruggedly elegant go anywhere do anything watches. Given the source material that populates their personal history and after experiencing the Trailseeker, I think we will be seeing a lot of great watches from GM Lang in the coming years.

Now on to the review!


SPECIFICATIONS:

Case Diameter: 39mm Crystal: Sapphire
Case Thickness: 10.4 case + 1.7 Domed Sapphire Lume: Super-LumiNova® BGW9
Lug-to-Lug: 49mm Bracelet: 3 Link Steel Bracelet
Lug Width: 20MM Movement: Miyota 9039
Water Resistance: 200m Price: $365 ($295 Preorder)


I did not get a new model so I can’t speak to the packaging and presentation but the watch did come with a very nice leather watch pouch.

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CASE:

The case is mostly brushed with very selective use of polished accents. The case profile is reminiscent of the Tudor Black Bay 41 with a bit more pronounced beveling on the top longitudinal edge of the case. Perhaps the element that jumped out at me the most was the radial brushing of the bezel. This treatment is a vintage aesthetic that has been making a comeback as of late. I personally love the dimensionality it gives the watch considering the mostly conservative design elements. The bezel also uses polished finishing on its beveled and vertical edges.

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The midcase transitions into somewhat longish lugs that look great in no small part thanks to the polished bevel that flanks both the outside and inside of the lugs. GM Lang actually uses a nifty trick with the bracelet to offset any concerns about Lug to Lug length which I will address in a minute. Lugs are 20mm and are not drilled through. This watch looks great on straps of all kinds.


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The domed sapphire crystal appears flat at first until you run your finger across the top. It has beveled edge where it meets the brushed bezel and seems to have some AR treatment though it was not mentioned in the specs. There is no distortion along the edge either.

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The screw down crown is easy to grip, solid in action, and embossed with the GM Lang Mountain top logo. It is flanked with geometric crown guards. The design of these crown guards seems incongruent with the rest of the case and I would have preferred a bit more attention to this element.

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Flipping it over you have a screw down case back with a nicely embossed logo of a deer whose antlers are holding the sun. I didn’t ask what the meaning or origins of this logo were but it’s a nice touch that you don’t see on most affordable watches that tend to use a light etching for their case backs.

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DIAL

The dial is simple and straight forward in a very good way. This is a field watch and as such it should be comfortable, durable, and legible. I think the Trailseeker succeeds at this with one caveat. The dial uses a railroad track on the outer edge with Arabic minutes at 5 minute increments. The dial is matte black with brown colored Arabics indexes. The brands logo is painted just under the 12 o’clock index and the Trailseeker name ad WR rating just above the 6 o’clock. The script used is simple and the use of color does not take away from the legibility.

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The handset is awesome and you’ve seen variations of this from Omega, Lorier, and Serica recently. The hands use a polish finish that very nicely contrasts with the matte finish surrounding it. That polish makes the time very readable even in off axis viewing. My biggest complaint about the dial is the lume The model I was provided uses the brown tinted lume on the dial and the hands. This obviously makes for non-potent lume intensity and longevity. As a field watch I would need better lume in the middle of the night checking the time in a pitch black tent….or even my bedroom. The other two colorways of the Trailseeker use traditional white Superluminova BGW9 so those may perform better.

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MOVEMENT

This watch features a Miyota 9039 movement which considering the pre-order price is rather remarkable. Most other microbrands are using the lower beat SII NH35 series. I am glad that they did not use a glass case back because while the Miyota is a workhouse movement that is equivalent to the ETA 2824 it’s not especially decorated or finished. This unit has been running a -3 seconds a day for me on wrist.



BRACELET

The bracelet is a rather simple brushed 3 link that uses solid endlinks and milled double push button clasp. It starts at 20mm at the lugs and tapers to 18mm at the clasp. The clasp has microadjusts also. The links articulate well and I found it to be immediately comfortable on wrist. Doesn’t pull hair and I never had to adjust the bracelet even in hotter weather. I can’t find anything to complain about the bracelet; simple, functional, and comfortable.

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GM LANG uses female end links that are actually inset into the lugs a bit. This little trick will reduce the effective lug to lug length by at least 3mm.


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CONCLUSION

The value that GM LANG gives you here is remarkable. The finishing, the movement, the bracelet, the leather watch pouch, and wearability is not common in a $295 watch or even at the $365 regular price. The bezel-less steel sports watch is my favorite category of watch. Think Rolex Explorer, Omega Aquaterra, Monta Triumph, Tudor Heritage Ranger, or Astor and Banks Fortitude to name a few. In that niche I lean more towards a field watch aesthetic like the explorer than a dressy watch like the Aquaterra. I can’t think of a better value steel sports field watch than the Traileseeker. The Nodus Sector Field comes close but it’s $425 and uses a NH35. The Hamilton Khaki Field is more expensive and doesn’t come with a bracelet. The Boldr Venture is close at $405 with the bracelet but it uses a NH35 and is Titanium. There are criticisms that I found and highlighted above but that really is nitpicking considering the preorder price of $295. If you even remotely like the aesthetic of the Trailseeker, you should order one. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

UPDATE: PIc (rendering) at the bottom shows the updated crown guards that will go into production



EXTRA THOUGHTS: Trailseeker vs Monta Triumph

When I fist saw this watch a few months ago my immediate thoughts were “that looks like a Monta Triumph!” There are so many elements that are similar. I knew I had to review this one. I used to own a Monta Triumph and owned it for nearly a year. In flipper time that is an eternity and speaks to how much I appreciated that watch. But it may shock you to hear that I think the Trailseeker is a better value than the Triumph.

The Triumph retails for $1700. That’s 465% more expensive than the Trailseeker. That’s not to say the Triumph is overpriced. The Triumph is finished better, uses applied markers on the dial, uses a higher grade movement, has a better bracelet, better lume, and comes with an impressive presentation box. But for $1700 that level of refinement should be expected. The Trailseeker when placed next to the Triumph can stand proud because it gives you all of those elements to a lesser degree but far out paces the price you are asked to pay.

I prefer the dial layout of the Trailseeker but wish it used applied indices. For this particular style of watch I prefer the no date format of the Trailseeker. My biggest complaint of the Triumph was that it was too refined. It didn’t feel like a tool watch. Close your eyes and it felt like a dress watch on wrist to me. The case was less than 10mm thick and so svelte. I never wanted to wear it the way it was intended. I even sent an email to Monat asking if they felt this watch would hold up to field use. Pretty silly question for a watch marketed as a field watch. That’s how befuddled I was with the Triumph package. The wrist presence and simpler design of the Trailseeker is much preferred for a tool watch but GM LANG manages this without it becoming overpowering on the wrist. Much praise to Grant and Katherine for this achievement.

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Re: GM Lang Trailseeker

#2

Post by yinzburgher » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:35 am

I'm definitely impressed with the price for this one. I think the updated crown guards will be an improvement. The radial brushing on the bezel is a nice touch. Same with the caseback.

I already own an Alpinist and a Hamilton KF so I'm not very likely to buy this one.....but I am tempted by it from a value perspective. I don't particularly care for the brown hands and numerals on the dark grey dial though. I think they would have a few more buyers if they paired it with white rather than brown. Given the three choices as they are, I'd certainly be more likely to go for blue or green dial.

Hopefully they do well and have some future offerings with the same kind of value. Thanks for the review.....nicely done.
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Re: GM Lang Trailseeker

#3

Post by TheJohnP » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:49 am

Very good and detailed review, I think you're selling yourself short in the intro.

There's a lot to like about this watch.
However, my nitpick are with the hands. The hour hand just doesn't seem long enough, whereas the minute hand seems a touch too long. The minute hand feels like it should hit the bottom of the railroad track and second hand hitting the top. As it looks now, they're the same length. And the hour hand feels it should stretch a bit more towards the hour markers.

Again, not a deal breaker by any means. But those small aesthetic touches can make a huge difference.
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Re: GM Lang Trailseeker

#4

Post by valuewatchguy » Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:11 pm

TheJohnP wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:49 am
Very good and detailed review, I think you're selling yourself short in the intro.

There's a lot to like about this watch.
However, my nitpick are with the hands. The hour hand just doesn't seem long enough, whereas the minute hand seems a touch too long. The minute hand feels like it should hit the bottom of the railroad track and second hand hitting the top. As it looks now, they're the same length. And the hour hand feels it should stretch a bit more towards the hour markers.

Again, not a deal breaker by any means. But those small aesthetic touches can make a huge difference.

Thanks you! But still an amateur here.

Also I can see your point on the hands. The hour hand didn’t bother me because I had the Serica field watch with the similar handset and length.

I’m also a fan of the omega broad arrow speedy with similar hands as well.

In use it never bothered me. The minute hand and second hand same length could be done better for sure.
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Re: GM Lang Trailseeker

#5

Post by valuewatchguy » Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:14 pm

yinzburgher wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:35 am
I'm definitely impressed with the price for this one. I think the updated crown guards will be an improvement. The radial brushing on the bezel is a nice touch. Same with the caseback.

I already own an Alpinist and a Hamilton KF so I'm not very likely to buy this one.....but I am tempted by it from a value perspective. I don't particularly care for the brown hands and numerals on the dark grey dial though. I think they would have a few more buyers if they paired it with white rather than brown. Given the three choices as they are, I'd certainly be more likely to go for blue or green dial.

Hopefully they do well and have some future offerings with the same kind of value. Thanks for the review.....nicely done.
Thank you.

I think the value is undeniable. They showed me the next project and it’s also a value proposition tool watch so i think they are committed to the concept.

Regarding the brown lume, they are working on changing the lume a bit before production..... including the brown color. Not sure if it makes mk1 though.
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Re: GM Lang Trailseeker

#6

Post by igmundfreud » Wed May 26, 2021 11:33 am

Thanks so much for the wonderful and so very detailed review! I couldn't resist the value proposition, and placed my order for the blue model after reading your review and watching a few of the others on youtube! Do you by any chance know what the current production status is/if there have been any updates since? :D
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