The Ginault Ocean Rover is a Rolex Submariner homage watch. How you define an “homage watch” is up to you, but this one has caused quite a stir because of the origins of the brand and the watches themselves. The controversy felt like one of top events of 2019 within the watch community. Some say the brand is supposedly financed by years of profiting from the replica watch industry, while others are extremely pleased to find such a close copy of the Submariner at a fraction of the price.
One thing for sure, it’s really hard to talk about the Ocean Rover without mentioning Rolex. The Submariner is one of the most recognizable watches in the world, and it is also one of the most knocked-off. Exactly which Sub the Ocean Rover borrows DNA from depends on which part of the watch you’re looking at. The aluminum bezel insert and slim case are almost exact clones of the older reference 16610, while the larger hour markers, bracelet and clasp feel more like the newer reference 116610 (the one with a ceramic bezel, beefier case, and maxi-dial).
Of course, there are a lot of reasons why watches like the one Ginault made should never be compared to a real Sub, but from a distance, especially to those uninitiated into the world of Rolex watches, they made a strong contender worth a closer look. So, let’s get to it…
The watch in this review is model 181875GSLID. The “LID” On the end of the reference number indicates that is has a blue and gold bezel. It is uni-directional rotating with 120 super smooth clicks. Other than the color, the font and lume pip are almost identical to a Submariner. If you prefer a black bezel, the reference number is 181875GSLN.
There are a few different Ocean Rover models, but this piece features Ginault’s Gold Sand lume. This lume has caught some flak due to the verbiage that they use on their site to describe it:
“We have heard of the legend of a luminescent material that is not a product from the Swiss RC Tritec, the lume company, and is so expensive only the top antique clock and pocket watch restorers could afford and would be interested in using on their masterpieces. We travelled far to acquire this unique luminescent material.” –source
It is definitely similar in color to Super-LumiNova “Old Radium” lume, but as you can see from the macro shot above, it has a sand-like texture to it. Also from brand’s description:
“Ginault Gold Sand performance is comparable to pure Superluminova C3 in terms of burst and longevity. After a full charge, the initial high lume will fade gradually in 15 or so minutes. The low lume will remain visible in a pitch black room for 12 plus hours.”
On a Submariner, the line below the coronet logo and ROLEX text reads Oyster Perpetual Date. The Ocean Rover features a flower instead of a crown, GINAULT instead of Rolex, and the line Kinetic Continuous Date.
Moving below the handstack is a few more lines of text. What this has in common with a real Submariner is the depth rating of 1,000ft/300m and the word Chronometer.
To back up the use of the word Chronometer on the dial, each individual Ocean Rover watch includes a certificate to show the results of accuracy tests carried out over the span of 6 weeks.
This is not to be confused with a COSC certificate, since COSC is an independent laboratory which only tests Swiss made movements. The results, however, do appear to fall in line with the requirements of a COSC certified chronometer being able retain accuracy within the range of -4 to +6 seconds per day for the first 10 days of testing.
Aside from the controversy surrounding the origin of the brand, something else that created drama was the origin of the watch itself. In 2019, Hand Built In America is not something that is taken lightly, but there it is written across the bottom of the dial. A few years ago, brands could get away with it, and some made millions from the smoke and mirrors of the watch industry until policymakers started to define what is and isn’t considered made in USA.
Can a $1,500 watch be 100% hand built in America with 100% American made components? If so, then why not make a unique watch? More and more people have become interested in not only buying watches and USA-made goods in general, but also in crowdfunding micro watch brands. As a result, information is more readily available about legitimate difficulties of manufacturing watch parts in USA. For that reason, what used to work extremely well as a marketing gimmick to lead collectors into thinking they were buying American-made timepieces, has become a trigger for skepticism as well as a reason to research and expose the truth about where watches are really being made.
To get to the engine that powers the Ocean Rover, you’ll need a specific caseback tool. Notice the shark tooth grooves. The design is so similar to the Rolex Submariner that we were actually able to use our Rolex opener with ease.
The inside of the watch is where mirroring the Submariner stops. Instead of a clone of the Rolex caliber 3135, you will find an automatic movement that Ginault calls the caliber 7275. It is based on the widely used ETA 2824-2, but instead of being Swiss made, it is said to be “cut, machined, assembled and fine tuned in USA.” As with the Hand Built In America line on the dial, this claim has met understandable resistance from members in the watch community.
Rather than digging into it again, here is an extensive review of this movement that I posted on Caliber Corner, along with a high quality video at the bottom of the page there.
As with the 2824-2, the movement in the Ocean Rover hacks (seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out two clicks in time setting mode) and is hand-windable via the gasket-packed screw-down crown.
If the crown had a coronet logo rather than a flower, newbies could easily mistake it for the Rolex Trip-Lock system. Even the diameter and distance from the crown guard is similar.
It wouldn’t be a Submariner homage without a cyclops date magnifier on the sapphire crystal and an Oyster style band.
The bracelet has solid endlinks and a heavy clasp. You’ll either be in awe of it or disgusted by its similarity to the Submariner. If you want to swap straps, look for something with a 20mm lug-width, just like a [please insert model name of the most copied dive watch in the world here].
Love it or hate it, the clasp has a satisfying snap when closing it, and an easy-to-use wet suit extension for adjusting the size without removing links.
If you do need to remove links, they are screw-type and the correct size screwdriver is included in the box along with a branded polishing cloth.
On the wrist, the watch wears like a sport model Rolex, but with a more affordable $1,499 USD price tag. Just like a Submariner, it is suitable for a dress shirt at the office, a casual weekend in jeans and a t-shirt. The 13mm thickness plays nice with most shirt cuffs. Weighing in at 148 grams/5.2 ounces, you could wear it all day without feeling the need to take it off.
Is the Ginault Ocean Rover a replica Rolex? No. A replica Rolex would be a watch that says Rolex on the dial or contains Rolex markings without having been made by Rolex. Is the Ginault Ocean Rover a knockoff? Yes, according to Wikipedia:
“The colloquial term knockoff is often used interchangeably with counterfeit, although their legal meanings are not identical. Knockoff products are those that copy or imitate the physical appearance of other products but which do not copy the brand name or logo of a trademark.”
The watch industry softens the blow of the term “knockoff” by calling a copycat watch an homage piece. At the core, an homage is basically a copy with a different brand name. Is it wrong? Homages mostly exist when design patents have expired, therefore they are technically not breaking any rules.
Whichever side of this debate you stand on, what it really boils down to is whether you’re a fan of homage watches or not. If you are cool with the concept of a timepiece being designed and marketed after an icon, then the Ocean Rover will be on your radar. Check out Ginault’s site here or buy it in the KTT watch shop. If you can’t stomach the idea of watches being carbon copies of each other, then this – along with most of the watches on the market – isn’t going to be your cup of tea.
What say you, Watchfam? Would you sport the Ginault Ocean Rover without hesitation, or would you smash it with the watchmaker’s hammer? Leave your reply in the comments below…