The Lorca Model No.1 GMT is 36mm of horological goodnessTime+Tide
While brands were busy making GMTs using either the Seiko NH34 or Miyota 9075 calibres by adapting existing models (generally divers) into travel watches, a new brand was secretly developing a watch we didn’t know we needed or wanted. The brand is Lorca, based out of New York City, and the model in question is simply named the Model No.1 GMT. Although with a minimalistic approach to naming conventions, Lorca did more than create a simple watch. The Model No.1 GMT is a capable timepiece that boasts incredible specs, packed into a small body which is complemented by a design that is both classic and novel. As we will see, there is a lot to love here – it already captured D.C.’s attention at Windup 2023.
To put this watch into context, let me tell you a little bit about the brand’s founder. This model is the creation of one Jesse Marchant, a New York-based singer and songwriter who leads a double life as a watch enthusiast. He designed the Model No.1 to be his perfect travel companion on tour and the adventures that come with his nomadic lifestyle.
The thing with GMTs is that, more often than not, they tend to be bigger than what many contemporary watch enthusiasts would like them to be, despite what their dimensions suggest. The Rolex GMT-Master II, coming in with a diameter of 40mm, is far removed from the slender cases of GMT-Masters of yesteryear. And now that it is once again seemingly socially acceptable to wear smaller watches, it was about time someone made a sub-40mm GMT powered by an automatic mechanical movement. Because yes, I’ve seen sub-40 GMTs that have quartz movements, and while there is nothing wrong with those, some of us are just a tad snobby. All of this is to say that the Lorca Model No.1 arrived just in time, which shows that the people behind the brand knew there was something crucially missing in the current GMT market.
The first key feature of the Lorca is, therefore, are its dimensions. It measures 36mm in diameter (37mm at the bezel), 44mm lug-to-lug, 11.2mm thick, and has a lug width of 19mm. Don’t worry about the latter, the bracelet the Model No.1 comes with is quite exceptional, but we’ll talk about this shortly. Given its dimensions, you might be surprised, just like I was, to learn that the Model No.1 GMT boasts 200 metres of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back. And you might be even further surprised to hear that the 11.2mm of thickness includes a double-domed sapphire crystal which gives the Model No.1 a touch of vintage aesthetics which perfectly matches its reasonable dimensions.
I would further add that the well-finished case truly makes the Model No.1 a versatile timepiece. It shows a predominance of a satin-brushed finish on the upper section and flanks, and mirror-polish accents that run from the chamfers to the base of the fixed bezel, the underside of which is also polished. This alternation of brushing confers the Model No.1 with an elegant, sporty look.
There is a lot to cover regarding the dial, starting with the fully-brushed dauphine hands which are complemented by small areas of BGW9 lume. I absolutely adore dauphine hands, and I love how Lorca executed them here. They are paired with a simple seconds hand and a discreet GMT hand, the tip of which is diamond-shaped. Kudos to Lorca for placing the larger element of the GMT hand so close to the second time zone scale, engraved and paint-filled on the fully brushed fixed bezel. This way, reading the time in a second time zone feels intuitive and unobtrusive, all at the same time.
The hours are indicated by a combination of fully brushed, applied rectangles and small lume plots at their periphery. This means that reading the time is easy, and there is enough BGW9 to be able to do so while embarking on a night dive in your favorite tropical location. The minutes are indicated by thin hash marks that run all around the dial. I particularly like how the trapezoidal date aperture is integrated at the 3 o’clock, complete with a small applied marker east of it as well as the vintage-looking typeface for the numerals. Note how the numerals on the bezel are oriented upright.
To further endow the Lorca Model No.1 with a touch of go-anywhere-do-anything vintage allure, the brand logo is printed in a vintage script above the pinion, while the words “20 ATM” and “GMT” are printed in capital serif letters below the pinion. Moreover, cross hairlines were added to the dial to create symmetry, and the country of origin of the watch is subtly indicated below the six o’clock marker.
The bracelet is a work of art in its own right, showcasing hints of vintage IWC Ingenieur, but redesigned and perfectly adapted for the Model No.1 GMT. It has a nine-link construction where the links are narrow, short, and fully brushed, except for the outer links which are slightly larger and polished on the sides. Having this particular construction means the bracelet is very comfortable, more so, I would say, than a regular Jubilee, as the links fully articulate. Furthermore, the bracelet is attached to the case via larger end-links which are connected to the bracelet by two small links, providing additional articulation and comfort. As an added bonus, the clasp is of the double-pusher deployant variety and comes with four holes of micro-adjustments. Given how short the links are, getting the perfect fit couldn’t have been easier.
Since I put so much emphasis on movements earlier on in this article, let’s talk about what powers the Lorca Model No.1. GMT The brand opted for the Soprod C125 R4 that beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) and has 42 hours of power reserve, being part of the Festina group. “R4” refers to the fact that the movement is regulated to run at +/- 4 seconds per day, well within COSC requirements. Pretty neat I would say.
It should come as no surprise to hear that I’m a fan of Lorca’s first watchmaking effort. Not only does it expand the horizon for one of the most useful complications out there, but it’s just so damn pretty – I mean, look at it. It’s one of those watches that has just the right number of quirks (think bezel numeral orientation and endlink design) to make it interesting, yet avoids feeling gimmicky and giving some real substance. The only thing I could think to complain about is the 19mm lug width. I get it from the standpoint of symmetry, but 18 or 20 millimetres would just be so much easier for aftermarket straps. To sum it up simply, microbrand watches – especially first efforts – are often so worried about standing out that they forget to bring it back to basics with a well-considered and equally well-executed design. The Model No.1 GMT is the total antithesis of that, managing to be simple, but not boring, and unique in all the right ways.
Lorca Model No.1 GMT pricing and availability
Both models can be pre-ordered right now directly from the brand’s website with an estimated delivery of February/March 2024. Price: A$2,665, US$1,750
|Model No.1 GMT
|36mm (D) x 11.2mm (T) x 44mm (LTL)
|200 metres, screw-down crown
|Black or silver
|Multi-link steel bracelet, micro-adjustable folding clasp
|Soprod C125 R4, automatic
|Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
|Pre-orders, deliveries Q1 2024