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Hands-on Debut: Marathon White Arctic Edition GSAR Watch

Today, Canada-based professional-use watchmaker Marathon debuts one of its most highly-anticipated timepieces in a while. This is the white-dialed “Arctic Edition” of the famed GSAR (General Search And Rescue) watch, also known as the Marathon Arctic Edition Large Diver’s Automatic. This is only the third modern watch Marathon has produced with a white-colored dial, and aBlogtoWatch debuted all of them. The new Arctic Edition GSAR is available either as the reference WW194006-00-01-3-001-0040 on a strap, or as the reference WW194006-00-01-001-0001 on the matching steel bracelet (as reviewed).
White-dialed Marathon watches began in the 36mm-wide MSAR collection in 2019 with a quartz movement-based watch (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here), and then later in 2020 with the also 36mm-wide automatic movement-powered Marathon Arctic MSAR diver’s watch (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). The GSAR watch is very similar, but it has a 41mm-wide case; the proportions on both models is excellent, but this 41m..

Today, Canada-based professional-use watchmaker Marathon debuts one of its most highly-anticipated timepieces in a while. This is the white-dialed “Arctic Edition” of the famed GSAR (General Search And Rescue) watch, also known as the Marathon Arctic Edition Large Diver’s Automatic. This is only the third modern watch Marathon has produced with a white-colored dial, and aBlogtoWatch debuted all of them. The new Arctic Edition GSAR is available either as the reference WW194006-00-01-3-001-0040 on a strap, or as the reference WW194006-00-01-001-0001 on the matching steel bracelet (as reviewed).

White-dialed Marathon watches began in the 36mm-wide MSAR collection in 2019 with a quartz movement-based watch (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here), and then later in 2020 with the also 36mm-wide automatic movement-powered Marathon Arctic MSAR diver’s watch (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). The GSAR watch is very similar, but it has a 41mm-wide case; the proportions on both models is excellent, but this 41mm-wide GSAR’s size is a bit more universally appealing. It isn’t actually too big a watch, and it wears comfortably, but it does feel chunkier given its 14mm of case thickness thanks to the distinctive “tall” uni-directional rotating diver’s timing bezel.

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The bezel color itself is still black, but it contrasts attractively with the dial, which is now a “cool white” as Marathon describes it. Clearly, the brand spent a lot of effort getting the dial color just right. It isn’t a stark white but rather slightly silverish in tone. This, mixed with the accents of red color on the dial, makes for a very handsome and traditionally functional dial design.

The lighter dial color might be the only serious difference between the Arctic Edition and the standard GSAR with a black-colored dial, but it makes a difference. The core idea was to have a watch that was easier to view in certain bright, cold environments. That said, most buyers will likely consider the Arctic Edition for its fashion purposes. Even though this is a strict tool watch, pairing the GSAR with this silvery-white dial, and putting it on a nicely finished bracelet makes the GSAR with with a suit or social clothing more than any model before it.

The steel case and bracelet are very handsomely finished, perhaps better than some GSAR watches I’ve seen in the past. I know that Marathon has been upgrading some of its parts, so it is entirely possible that the GSAR or today is a better-finished watch than past GSARs. The finishing quality is higher than you’d expect on a watch at this price point, and this helps a professional military watch also feel like it was intended for timepiece enthusiasts. The case is water resistant to 300 meters, and in all respects can be relied upon as a professional diver’s watch (even though this is a military watch in practices and spirit).

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Over the watch face is an AR-coated sapphire crystal. The dial features self-illuminating tritium gas tubes in the hands and hour markers. More traditional luminant paint (“Maraglo”) is applied to the 60-minute pip on the rotating bezel. The dial is just as deep and handsome in white as it is in black. To make those heavy hands operate properly, Marathon determined that it needed a movement with a lot of torque. This led the brand on a journey that eventually led to working with Swiss movement maker Sellita to create what they call the Marathon M2 automatic movement.

The movements are based on the Swiss Made Sellita SW200 automatic movement, but with some notable upgrades. These include a robust Incabloc shock-absorbing system for the regulation system, an easier setting for the date mechanism, high torque hands, and a proprietary steel suspension system (as opposed to plastic, which is often used) for the case that is designed to absorb the shock experienced by the case that could negatively affect the performance of the 4Hz, 42-hour power reserve automatic movement.

For the money, the GSAR on the bracelet (especially) is today an excellent value given the design, performance quality, and versatility. Anyone with an active spirit (or actual active lifestyle) will find that they wear their Marathon watches more than they might have anticipated prior to being owners. The lack of pretense in the watches, their masculine charm, and their “always ready for action” personality make them ideal for a broad range of activities and casual uses.

Marathon had been working on a white-dialed watch for a while. This might sound silly, if you consider that it is just a new dial color, but it isn’t that simple for Marathon. Key for the brand was maintaining its strict adherence to military equipment specifications. Changing something like a dial color matters, and they also need to offer a functional reason for it (viewability in certain extended sunlight lighting conditions). This is why we don’t see Marathon GSAR watches with popular dial colors such as orange, blue, red, etc…

The Marathon Arctic Edition GSAR white dial watch is a product the company wanted to make for its fans. It then found a way to work the product into the brand’s strict rules in order to be a military watch supplier. The Arctic Edition GSAR is the big boy version of the Arctic Edition MSAR automatic, which is where Marathon really perfected the design. I’m looking forward to seeing these on some wrists and hearing what the community has to say about them. Price for the Marathon Arctic Edition Large Diver’s Automatic GSAR watch is $1,300 USD for the reference WW194006-00-01-3-001-0040 on a rubber strap, and $1,580 USD for the reference WW194006-00-01-001-0001 as reviewed on a matching steel bracelet. Learn more or order at the Marathon website here.

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