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Marathon GSAR: Knight Rider to the Rescue
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Marathon GSAR: Knight Rider to the Rescue

The black diamond of luxury and adventure
Dec 25, 2020

Introduction: Marathon Company History

The company that would become Marathon Watch was founded in 1904 under the name Weinsturm Watch, later given the name Wein Brothers. Morris Wein created Marathon Watch in 1939, providing all of North America with the finest precision watch parts. Marathon has manufactured timing tools for the Allies since 1941, and today the family's fourth generation continues the tradition with instruments that calculate time, temperature and distance. Marathon watches combine military durability with Swiss engineering and craftsmanship to ensure the highest level of quality and precision.

mrathon watch history

(Wein family potrait in 1892. Photo credit: Marathonwatch.com)

Marathon products are produced with great care and through various quality control measures. This attention to quality is underpinned by a commitment to excellent customer support to ensure the best product experience.

The Marathon Watch Company, founded in 1939, is based in Canada. The fourth generation, family operated company, Marathon designs and manufactures original military watches, stopwatches, clocks and scientific instruments including optical equipment. Products are supplied under contract to the Canadian, US and UK militaries and other allied governments.

In North America and across the globe, customers also include major retailers. Marathon facilities are located in Vaughan, Canada and La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland.

Most of Marathon watch production is produced under contract with the US Government (Department of Defense, GSA, Department of Navy, FAA and Federal and State departments), Government of Canada (PWGSC, DND, CCC and other departments), Government of United Kingdom (Ministry of Defense ) and the Israel Defense Forces.

The company specializes in many mechanical (and electro-mechanical) devices such as custom lab timers, stopwatches, and most recently for the US Department of the Navy, custom chronometers, and Marine clocks. In addition, Marathon manufactures products for the Canadian Ministry of Corrections, the Ministry of Health in Ontario, as well as Corrections Canada and Health Canada and the RCMP. Marathon currently supplies military grade binoculars and binoculars under contract to the US Government Department of Defense (DLA Aviation in Richmond, Virginia) and has previously also supplied night vision binoculars.

Regarding performance, the company has excellent delivery and quality ratings and is the winner of a two-time Bronze Medal award for delivery and performance by the US Government (Defense Supply Center Richmond / DLA Aviation).

The company that would become Marathon Watch was founded in 1904 under the name Weinsturm Watch, later given the name Wein Brothers. In 1939, Morris Wein founded Marathon Watch, supplying the finest precision timepieces in all of North America. Since 1941, Marathon has produced timing instruments for the Allies, and today the fourth generation of the family continues the tradition with instruments that measure time, temperature and distance. Marathon watches combine military durability with Swiss engineering and craftsmanship to ensure the highest level of quality and precision.

Marathon products are produced with great care and through various quality control measures. This attention to quality is underpinned by a commitment to excellent customer support to ensure the best product experience.

Search and Rescue Operations - A Diver's Watch

Marathon watches are used by personnel in many different departments of the US Military and Government to perform their jobs effectively. Marathon composite watches such as WW194003 General Purpose Mechanical, WW194004 General Purpose Quartz, and WW194015 General Purpose Quartz with Date are called "General Purpose" watches since in all military departments they are used by personnel: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and special departments in government.

(The WW194003 General Purpose Mechanical (GPM) watch is the official watch contracted for Operation Desert Storm that started on August 2, 1990 and was later referred to as the "Persian Gulf War") The all-purpose watch was created in compliance with various government requirements. Both the Canadian and US governments purchased this watch since World War II with slight variations in the design.

WW194006, WW194007 diver's watch is used by elite dive teams and search and rescue operations for the Canadian and US military and coast guard. The JSAR LGP Diver watch WW1914018 was developed for law enforcement officers who need a large screen watch with specially painted MaraGlo illuminations.

JDD WW194021 is designed to meet the requirements of bilingual Canadian Forces (British & French) which includes the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force. It is the largest search and rescue watch developed to meet the bilingual day and date needs of making enormous diver's watches with bulk and tritium gas cylinders for lighting. It is the first watch to use two tritium tubes at 12 o'clock and places a specially fitted tritium tube in the second hand.


Marathon GSAR Government Diver Black Automatic - Rubber Ref. WW194006BK

Canada's Marathon Watch Co. currently has only one "dark" watch and it is a 41mm wide automatic "GSAR" in anthracite-tinted steel. I personally name this Marathon WW194006BK reference watch the "GSAR Knight Rider" because the single red line of text "300m / 100ft" reminds me of the red light ricocheting off the black modified Pontiac Trans Am "KITT" shown in the 1980 TV Series. -an titled Knight Rider. The General Search & Rescue (GSAR) watch by Marathon is a fantastic tool-style watch that is noteworthy as a rare modern watch still officially issued to a wide range of active government professionals (including some elite soldiers). That also ensures that the watch meets the reliability and functionality of military requirements.

Most GSAR watches look the same as the Anthracite PVD-coated model, except for the black color on the case components including the case, bezel and crown. Watch lovers have known for years that a mere change in color can, in many cases, greatly change the personality of a watch. In an all-black color, the 41mm wide GSAR actually feels a little bigger just because the dial looks bigger. This is due to the optical effect caused by the inner walls of the dial being black to match the black dial, as opposed to the steel color. Likewise, the bezels appear larger because there is a seamless visual integration between the bezel itself and the black insert.

In black, the Marathon Anthracite GSAR has a distinct personality. The "U.S." is not printed on all GSAR watches The government is on the dial, but one of them is this WW19006BK - which is good with me, because the KITT is a very damned American car. Featuring David Hasselhoff as the main character, Michael, the KITT is a quirky semi-autonomous car that is probably just waiting for a body kit to put on top of the modern Tesla Model S.

When I first started using the GSAR Anthracite, I felt that the design was beautiful, functional, and a bit like Darth Vader. But it doesn't feel like a bad guy's watch, although the watch does have a creepy "tactical gear" vibe at times. No, the watch is more of a celebration of durable tools and things that people sometimes wildly do when using them. Nothing celebrates the concept more than the car entertainment culture of the 1980s. Speaking of Star Wars, if you watch the video clip above, when Michael David Hasselhoff's character first sits in the KITT chair, he thinks it "looks like Darth Vader's toilet." 

The GSAR, manufactured at Marathon's own factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, is powered by an automatic Swiss Made Sellita movement. The case is 41mm wide, 14mm thick, and has a lug-to-lug distance of about 48mm. It wears smaller with 20mm wide lugs but doesn't feel small considering the thickness of the case and high bezels (which have become the look of a typical Marathon watch). As a sports / professional watch, the GSAR has a sapphire crystal, is water resistant up to 300 meters, and uses a self-illuminating tritium gas cylinder for dark lighting on the hands and hour markers.

What makes the GSAR so legible as a timepiece is the depth of the dial, as well as the lack of a reflective element. Depth is a side effect of the space required for all gas cylinders, but it also helps the watch have the highly functional appeal that made General Search & Rescue models so popular for the brand. The watch also features some traditional luminaires (such as the bezel) for added visibility in dark conditions.

Technically, the GSAR is a diver-style watch, but that doesn't mean you can only wear it if you're going to get wet. As all watch lovers know, the mechanical dive watch is perhaps the most versatile type of contemporary watch. What Marathon will probably start doing is offer more of its watches in black-plated variations, but it won't happen overnight.

According to Marathon, to get the right kind of coating, a long-lasting black coating application, they need to go through many rounds of experimentation. "Pain in the butt" has come up several times when explaining what it takes to achieve a black application that meets Marathon's high standards. For that reason, a matching black plated steel bracelet isn't available yet, although I'm sure it will probably come. It will make the GSAR Knight Rider look even more attractive.

While the rubber strap that comes with the watch is of decent quality, it lacks the personality of the watch itself. A wise move for consumers of this WW194006BK watch is to wear it for a few months and then decide what 20mm wide strap to wear next. There are many interesting options for a very versatile watch.

Marathon GSAR Government Diver Black Automatic - Rubber is available on Gnomon Store. Get yours now!

Marathon GSAR Government Diver Quartz - Bracelet Ref. WW194007BRACE-US

To some, but not to Canadians, Americans, and particularly military watch fanatics like us, the Marathon brand might be new. This better-known moniker for collector's watch is among the few that officially give the military a no-frills timepiece to this day. The regime includes the US and Canadian troops from about 70 years ago.

Let's dive deeper. The company that would become Marathon Watch was founded in 1904 under the name Weinsturm Watch, later given the name Wein Brothers. Morris Wein created Marathon Watch in 1939, providing all of North America with the finest precision watch parts. Since 1941, Marathon has produced timing instruments for the Allies, and now the fourth generation of the family is continuing the tradition with a variety of instruments that measure time, temperature and distance. 

Marathon watches combine military durability with Swiss engineering and craftsmanship to ensure the highest level of quality and precision. All of these traits were revealed at the Marathon GSAR Government Diver Quartz on Bracelet Ref. WW194007BRACE-US which we will introduce today.

The acronym "GSAR" stands for "Government Search and Rescue." - where suitable military personnel in various branches and occupations are offered this official watch. Since this particular model is made for the most part to be taken under the sea, it is suitable for all branches of the Navy. GSAR Government Diver Quartz celebrates form over function, a non-conspicuous watch to be sure, but built with the aim of helping soldiers on their mission.

The GSAR Diver Quartz starts with a 316L stainless steel casing measuring 41mm wide, 14mm high and 48mm lug to lug. Furthermore, the finish of the case gets a full satin-brushed finish, removing unnecessary sources of reflections in this case, while still being neatly executed. The 120-click bezel features a wide notch that allows one to rotate it unidirectional in most conditions, especially when your hands are wet. The engraved black anodized bezel stays true to the military format, in 60 minute format, with a glowing triangular pip at 12 o'clock. The dimensions of the watch allow one to feel rugged and purpose-built, right off the pitch.

Turning to the side profile, we get a box-shaped crown guard that expands on a nail-textured screw crown for easy manipulation. Turning it over, we get a screw-in case-back, allowing it to withstand 300m watertight. Right on the back of the case, we're engraved with important government marks and specifications. This gives credentials to GSAR Diver Quartz manufactured following US Government specifications. All that said, we assure you it's safe to say that we supervise US collectors and military for use in operations on land and water.

As you might expect on a military-style watch, the dial needs all the right materials to bring the pattern to life. Beneath its flat sapphire crystal, Marathon has applied tritium gas cylinders with MaraGlo ™, a total of 15 encapsulated tritium (H3 isotope) on the hour markers and syringe-style handsets. Even the second hand gets one on the end, allowing one to see the time with maximum readability even when you are in the dark for more than 24 hours. The result is constant light emission. 

There's no more need to charge with external light sources like conventional SuperLuminova. The dial features an Arabic hour marker just below the tritium tube, only to further guide the set of 24 hour markers reading inside. The date was also placed at 4.30 so as not to interfere with the placement of the tritium gas cylinder. Finally, only important wordings are included, with the logo "Marathon, US Government" at the top and "300 m / 1000 ft (red)" at the bottom. The dial is additionally marked with "H3, danger symbol" to indicate the use of tritium gas. All information about this GSAR Diver is easy to determine even at a glance.

At its heart is the traditional Swiss ETA Quartz movement, which operates with high torque precision and an End-of-life indicator for battery life. The use of this movement shows that Marathon emphasizes durability and accuracy in all conditions, especially compared to mechanical movements in general. Furthermore, one can select and go with this GSAR Diver easily without the hassle of resetting the time and date.

Attached to the GSAR Diver Quartz is a 20mm high quality stainless steel bracelet made using the same high quality 316L grade. Further allows the diver to fold fold along the buckle section if one needs to tie it over his wetsuit. The bracelet has the Marathon emblem engraved on the clasp. It fits the adventure theme, enhancing the sportiness and overall toughness.

Overall, Marathon products are manufactured with great care and go through various quality control measures. This attention to quality is expressed in GSAR Government Diver Quartz on Bracelet Ref. WW194007BRACE-US, combines military toughness with Swiss craftsmanship. The world of military-style tool watches was once populated with industries, where consumers had choices to choose from, but not all had the right to US Government approval until recently. GSAR Diver Auto stands out from the rest in this way from day one, and on top of that, their timepiece is purpose-built in every respect offering surprising value for money to us watch collectors.

Marathon GSAR Government Diver Quartz is your next exclusive collection, get one now on Gnomon Store.

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