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ZRC North Adventure Tool Watch - cheers again, Kickstarter!

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  • ZRC North Adventure Tool Watch - cheers again, Kickstarter!

    As a military watch buff, I have been occasionally looking for a ZRC Grands Fonds 300 military divers watch from the 50s/60s/70s as they were French Navy issue to mine clearance divers and also some were worn by the crew of Jacques Cousteau, who was after all a Navy officer. The GF300 had defining characteristics of the crown at 6 and a distinctive set of shovel hands. Here is a vintage model with some lovely patina on those massive hands and the distinctive markings on the bezel with the three dots for 12, two dots for 3. 6 and 9 and one dot for the rest.



    Unfortunately, these appear relatively infrequently so I was interested a couple of years ago to see that ZRC was revived by a descendant of one of the original owners and their first offering was a re-edition of the divers watch. This has taken some of the positive watch developments in the last 50 years and incorporated them into the new design. For example, the original was 36mm case diameter - not out of line with its contemporaries - but today's model has grown to 40.5mm, The overall design however is still very faithful to the original military version of 1964. In addition, they brought out a sporty, less tool watch version with slightly different hands. The engine is now a workhorse ETA 2824-2. The bracelet is expandable so that it can fit over a diving suit and there is now an easy clean system to allow salt to be cleaned out from under the bezel by fresh water. Ingenious.


    The slight difficulty with getting hold of one of these is that they are only sold in France - plus there are questions over the pricing as the metal bracelet version can be had for £2,600. which for a 2824-2 driven dive watch is arguably slightly over-priced (although the leather strap version is £500 less).



    So I was more than delighted to see a new version of this watch appear on Kickstarter - this is the North Adventure model that has been designed in collaboration with Alban Michon, a Polar adventurer who will be undertaking a solo exped next year, crossing the North West Passage by ski kite and doing dives under the ice! There have been some changes to cope with the slightly cool conditions expected. The most obvious is that the crown has been increased in size to allow easy operation, even with gloves on. Also, the metal bracelet is gone in favour of a NATO. The case is also sandblasted rather than brushed. This means that, although the GF300 metal bracelet can be ordered from ZRC, its finish would clash with the case. Another aspect is the date - apart from including this, they have also fitted a magnification disc to the crystal. This was done because it will be light 24/7 during the exped and Alban wants the date function to work out what day it is! Also, gone is the green lume, and back to the white - shame!

    The writing on the dial has changed to reflect the new model name - nice to see a splash of red there! The ETA 2824-2 is the Elabore version and will be adjusted to +/- 7 seconds a day. Lug to lug is 49mm and between the lugs is 24mm.



    This will be a limited edition and although you can also opt for a whole load of North Adventure branded clothing, I just went for the watch plain and simple. I have to say, the photo below was taken in March during cold weather testing and is probably an image I will never replicate....................



    The Kickstarter price is CHF 1,400 for the watch alone and is 50% of the RRP once the campaign ends. While still yearning slightly for the original 60s military version, this ultra-tough tool watch will do me for now.

    Slated for delivery in May 2018, it will seem a long time coming!

  • #2
    I had a look at this and rather liked it. The feature that I really liked is how they have the system to clean crud from under the rotating bezel, a very nice design idea.

    However, as there are many other things going on for me currently, I have decided to let this one pass by.

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    • #3
      Interesting looking watch. I like it.

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      • #4
        I realised there wasn't a view of the case side profile, which was one of the things that swayed me, as it is not a simple round design but comes to a point, so here it is:

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        • #5
          So if anyone was interested in backing this watch and has not done so yet, there is an offer on. If you back it and send an email to the creator giving my backer name, we both get a tool kit from ZRC worth CHF 190. What a bargain!

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          • #6
            And here's the tool kit.


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            • #7
              Tell you what, if it helps, I'll pay the €190 for the tool kit, if they're prepared to throw in the watch for free.

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              • #8
                That really is very cool!

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                • #9
                  Yes, it is.

                  But only 57% funded

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bfltd0 View Post
                    Yes, it is.

                    But only 57% funded
                    Well, you could always treat your Turf chums to one each.

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                    • #11
                      So some good news today on this one.

                      After a lot of comments by various backers, ZRC have kindly agreed to add a new pledge option. For CHF 1790, the reward is a North Face watch with a steel bracelet and the tool kit. So for 400 CHF extra, you are buying the bracelet and tool kit which retail at 590 CHF and 190 CHF respectively. The difference on this one is that the case and bracelet are both polished/brushed. You will remember that the original case was offered in sandblasted.

                      Alternatively, you can still go for the 1390 CHF pledge and add 300 CHF to that, and this gets you the steel bracelet (in addition to the NATO) and the tool kit.

                      There are some fine details to be worked out but this now represents a really good deal. Apart from the North Adventure name, this watch is pretty much identical to the ZRC GF300, which you can get on a steel bracelet for £2,600 or so. By paying CHF 1690, you get a massively similar watch plus a CHF 190 tool kit.

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                      • #12
                        Very interesting looking watches and an original has turned up on otd
                        http://www.chronocentric.com/forums/...=read;id=80109

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                        • #13
                          Case, dial and hands are in decent condition but the bracelet is shot. Good job there is a NOS bracelet with it. Bezel may need a fix too.

                          Very tempting.

                          If only I wasn't getting one of the new ones!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ChrisEdu View Post

                            Well, you could always treat your Turf chums to one each.
                            Now 76% funded! A spurt of activity following the unveiling of the watch/bracelet/NATO strap/tool kit combo.

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                            • #15
                              And this baby is now fully funded with a week to go.

                              I couldn't resist going for one sandblasted case on the NATO strap plus one brushed case on the metal bracelet, along with the tool kit and a spare NATO strap.

                              I have to say I think this model is going to be an instant classic due to the great tool watch design plus the fact it is a limited edition - they will only produce as many as are ordered on Kickstarter, which will be serial numbered, and they won't be selling any more North Adventure in their retail operations.

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