I receive a lot of adverts from different web watch stores daily. Most of them are just ignored, but from time to time something attracts my attention. One of the ones was the advert from one shop, offering a huge discount for GEVRIL watches. I admit, I have never heard of that brand, or to be more exact, I did know of it's existence, but that was it. So I clicked to the link.
I was surprised of the variety of the offered watches, which are branded either GEVRIL either GV2. Another surprise was, that a majority of the watches were automatic watches, and almost all declared as "SWISS MADE". But it was not stated what exactly is under the hood.
One watch was particularly interesting, named Roosevelt. Nice blue dial, octagonal case shape, sapphire glass, titanium case and bracelet, automatic swiss movement. All that, reduced from 3500 USD to 400 USD. Yes, right, a? Something smells terrible here, right? But since I liked the watch, I start digging web sites, to get more information.
First I checked the ebay. Searching Roosevelt watch gave me the first positive feedback - the same watches are selling there for around 900-1000 USD (also declared that the price is reduced from 3900 USD). Then I checked the official Gevril web site. Their official history is impressive - they are in the business from 1742! Gevril was the first exporter of the Swiss watches to the king of Spain. Check the official history here.
That official history has a huge unexplained gap of almost 100 years up until 1990. Reading between the lines you can conclude that in fact Gevril started as a totally new brand in 1990, probably by purchasing the old trademark Gevril. So all that history is just a camouflage, to make the new brand looks old traditional Swiss watch brand.
Then I checked the official description of the watch on the Gevril web page. You can check it here. You skipped it? Well, don't. Check it! Read how the state of the art this watch is, and check the 4000 USD price. Don't trust me, check it...
By searching further on, I found out that GV2 is just another brand of the same company where Gevril is a premium brand and GV2 is a cheaper sub brand (like Rolex/Tudor). Both brands are better known in the USA than in rest of the world, since the headquarter, selling dpt., etc. were moved to USA somewhere in this millennium. But at least one part the official factory remains in Switzerland, so the watches assembled there can be still treated as Swiss made.
I also read several reviews about Gevril or GV2 watches, most of them were obviously paid reviews which you can not trust. But some of them also revealed the reason for this strange huge discounts. It is obvious, that Gevril uses the same pricing model as some other brands - put the official price very high, then offer huge discount. I am not a sales person, but it seems that this model works, most known user of this approach is Invicta. For the unexperienced potential buyer it works for sure. For watch geeks, this approach is just a regular joke theme.
What I could not figure out was - which swiss movement is inside. I had just a few hints. Movement is quite thin (the watch height was declared to be just 1 cm), and from the backside of the watch (watch has a glass on the back as well) I could see that the balance wheel's bridge is from the right side of the wheel. The main part of the movement was covered by the rotor. The ideal candidate similar to what I could detect was Soprod A10.
After all information gathered, I decided to buy the watch. All that I read suggested, that watch is for sure worth 400 USD (plus import taxes for EU), and I was sure, that the official price is just a joke.
So, few days latter, the watch arrived. First impressions were very good. Watch arrived in a quality box, not some cheap shit. Titanium bracelet looked decent, case really thin. Crown well marked. Blue dial just beautiful. I don't like the huge Gevril sign on the dial, but that was not a surprise - it was noticed before buying. But all the rest on the dial is very well done. The obvious next step was to shorten the bracelet for my wrist size and start wearing it.
I have shortened a lot of my bracelets before, I have all the needed tools for it. This Gevril one seemed no big deal. Links screwed in, easy task. So, let's do it!
And here the problems started. Tried to unscrew the first one, no go. Tried to unscrew the second one, no chance! Hmmm, maybe the screws are just faked and lugs have to be knocked out like in the most of the bracelet. But then, there should be a direction point marked on the inside and there were none. Nevertheless, I tried gently from one side and from the other, no success. So, I gave up and decided to take the watch to my watchmaker. "He has better tools and more experience, he will know what to do", I said to myself.
Next day first thing in the morning I visited him and explained what I tried to do. He took the bracelet, tried the first one and unscrewed it easily. I was shocked! What did I do wrong?? Nothing, he was just lucky to pick the one which was easy :) The most of the screws were impossible to unscrew. I had to remove five links and with a lot of luck we were able to find several consecutive screws on both part of the bracelet so that we were able to gather five links (two on one and three on the other side). One more would be a no go mission. Thanks God, the clasp has another three holes for micro regulation, which helped setting the bracelet to the right size.
As you can see from the picture, most of screws holding the remaining links on the bracelet have a micro damages due to unsuccessful attempts. One of the worst shortening experience, ever (having in mind new watches, I don't count old, rusted, dirt bracelets).
All the trouble was worth it. Watch on the wrist feels nice, titanium makes everything light and comfortable. Official 43mm seems big, but in fact the watch does look a bit smaller on the wrist. The rounding inner part makes optically smaller feeling. I also checked the luminova, hands have thin layer, hour indexes nothing. But, ok, for a dress watch I can't complain.
After all that, my movement mission started - which "Swiss automatic movement" is hidden below. First, let's see the pictures of the movement. That is for sure not Soprod. And I just could not think of any Swiss movement to which this would look like. I was quite sure, that kind of watch can not have some in house movement, so it has to be the clone. But which.
The "Ruben & Sons" was my next hint. Checked web again, and suddenly things were clearer. Ruben & Sons is one hardly known company which makes clones of MIYOTA 8215 movement!! Since it is based in Switzerland, it's movements are declared as a Swiss movement. What a joke!
I said ok, but what I have here is not a Miyota 8215 movement. On a rotor there is a statement that watch has 24 jewels. Miyota hint plus 24j pointed me to the right direction!
This movement is nothing more and nothing less than a Miyota 9015 clone. Everything has been set in place then. Ruben&Sons expanded their cloning from 8215 to other Miyota movements as well. I later even found one M39D6 movement which is Miyota 9122 clone.
So, what do we have here? A Japanese movement, cloned (or even just assembled) in Switzerland and therefore declared as Swiss Made. Has the Swiss watch industry really fallen to this level? You even can't trust the "swiss made" label on the watch anymore? Can an USA based watch company which assembles watches in Switzerland where they used a Japanese base movement assembled in some obscure company again based in Switzerland really declare such a watch as a "Swiss made watch"?
Don't get me wrong, I think Miyota 9015 is a fine movement, nothing wrong with that. But to be honest, I would prefer having true Miyota movement within and not some unknown "Swiss" clone. I don't even know what materials are used in this clone. Those black parts might also be plastic, it's hard to say just trough the glass. Then, I have no idea how good the assembly was, how good the final control is. Just check the engravings on the rotor which are done bad, cheap. It's not that my pictures are bad and therefore it's hard to read what is written - this is the real view. Check those fonts, uneven lines. Garage work. If everything is done like this, this does not deserve to be treated as Miyota clone.
So, does this "Swiss made" mark not just mislead the customers that in fact instead of buying the "Swiss quality" they are buying watch which might be worse than watches/brands that clearly states that Japanese movement is used - the proper one! And that watches are assembled in China by skilled professionals..
I don't want you to get the wrong impression. Watch is good, I like it. For the price stated I thing that I made a good deal. For titanium case watch with titanium bracelet, sapphire glass on both sides, automatic movement based on a good reliable movement, 400 USD. Again - for 400 USD price! And yet I feel a bit cheated, expecting "Swiss made" in a proper sense. Paying 1000 USD what is standard on ebay is ridiculous, 4000 USD what is an official price is a robbery. I just hope the Gevril did not sell any watch for this price.