Where I live in Eastern Ontario, we are visited by a Great Blue Heron every morning in the summer. He picks his way astride the shoreline on long, elegant legs hunting for fish and frogs. When he is through, it takes only one flap of his majestic wings to lift him from the silty waters and another to send him soaring out over the lake and off into the distance. Héron Watches of Montreal are hoping to capture this majesty in their new offering, the Gladiateur.
The Héron Gladiateur is a stylish diver with classic, graceful lines. It comes in a highly wearable 41mm diameter case with a conservative 48mm lug to lug. For a diver, it is also relatively svelte at 12mm in thickness. And with a 20mm lug width, it is sure to be a strap monster. The prototype featured here is the blacked out PVD version. It has a screwed down case back which will be matched by a screwed down crown in production models. The Gladiateur offers 100m of water resistance and will make a capable recreational diving and snorkelling companion.
The watch employs a flat sapphire crystal with AR. The dial design is simple and clean. It has baton-style applied indicators with a triangular pip at twelve. There is also a printed chapter ring around the outside of the dial indicating sixty minutes. The handset is a classic pencil style with a lollipop seconds. All indices and hands are filled with C3 Super-LumiNova. The brand logo appears under the twelve position, along with the brand name in a block-style lettering. The only other script is the word “Automatic” above the six. In all, it is a well-proportioned distribution of elements.
The most interesting component is easily the steel bezel, which features a rather unique use of Roman numerals–a nod to the the watch’s name to be sure, but also a useful twelve-hour scale which can be used as a simple GMT function for tracking a second time zone if desired. The bezel has a nicely milled coin-edge, like the crown. Beyond the blasted surface of the bezel insert, the rest of the watch has a polished appearance with smooth rounded edges.
The caseback features the embossing of a stylized heron. When looked at in the right way, it also appears like the face plate of a Roman gladiator’s helmet. The timepiece comes matched with a fitted silicone strap, which, in my opinion is a highlight. The tolerances of the strap are high, and yet the ends have been designed in a way that makes strap changes easy and effective. The strap employs stainless steel hardware (/w a PVD coating in this reference). It is pliable and comfortable on wrist and passes smoothly through the two keepers.
Powering the Gladiateur is the capable Miyota 9039, which offers a smooth 28 800bph sweep. In addition to the Black reference featured here, the Gladiateur will also be available in three other colourways: White, Blue, and Rose Gold.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel (PVD coating)|
48mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
120-click Uni-directional Bezel
Screw Back and Crown (on production models)
100m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Flat Sapphire Crystal with AR|
Pencil Hands /w Lollipop Seconds
Lumed Indices and Hands
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Fitted Silicone Strap |
/w Stainless Steel Hardware
The Gladiateur is designed in Canada and produced overseas. It is the second watch from Héron. The Sturgeon diver–featuring a Swiss Ronda Automatic Mecano–was a much larger watch than the Gladiateur. It was fully funded on Kickstarter in under 72 hours. The Héron is destined to launch on the same platform at the end of February.
The Héron prototype has a push-pull crown and the lume is somewhat limited. Both of these issues will be addressed in production. As a true diver, bezel legibility would be an issue; however, the intent of this watch appears to be more of all-round sports watch–comfortable as a weekend adventurer, but sophisticated enough in appearance to be worn at the office.
Beyond its bezel, the Gladiateur is not a revolutionary dive watch. It incorporates tropes and cues from a number of classic designs–not the least of which is the Yacht-Master. However, what it does, it does well. It reminds me of the Seiko 5 Sports line–not in its appearance, but in its intent as a stylish entry-level diver that looks as good on the street as it does in the stream. It is hard to find fault with its iconic case shape and well-balanced dial. And unlike many divers in this price range, the strap is hardly an afterthought. Instead, it is an integral part of the overall impression. There are also thoughtful inclusions, such as the caseback embossing and Roman numeral GMT bezel that add style and flair. Over and above the aforementioned Seiko 5, the Gladiateur also offers a high-beat movement with a screwed down crown and sapphire glass. If you were to secure this timepiece at the Super Early Bird pricing of $250USD, it would be quite a value proposition, indeed. In fact the Early Bird pricing of $280, and the Late Bird offer of $310 are still bargains.
Once the Kickstarter campaign is through, the Gladiateur will retail for $475USD. So strike while the iron is hot. For more information, visit the brand website.
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