For Every Purpose: Hands-On with the Marathon GPM

Marathon‘s Officer’s Mechanical (also designated as GPM, which stands for General Purpose Mechanical) represents an important part of watchmaking history, the modern watch being a direct descendent of the field watches that the brand developed for the Allied forces in WWII. They are specifically designed for officers and infantry partaking in ground operations, and are currently built according to U.S. Military Standard MIL-PRF-46374 G. While this indicates that form follows function, there is also for civilian watch enthusiasts enough to get excited about.

The case’s cone shape, with its distinct lugs, is quite pleasing and almost elegant. It’s very well-finished, with no sharp corners, and comes with an easy-to-grasp crown tucked away between two shoulders for added protection. It could have been a dress watch if the dial wasn’t all business. Its matte black color offers a bold contrast with the white numerals and markers, making it very easy to read. To ensure that this is also the case in the dark, Marathon uses tritium gas tubes on both hands, as well as the hour markers. The one at twelve o’clock has a different color so that it is easy to identify. They are protected by a sapphire crystal that is placed ever so slightly above the stainless steel case.

In today’s world, we might not consider a 36mm large (or should I say small) watch very military. In popular fiction, soldiers wear big and bold watches, but in actual combat situations, it is essential not to have your wrist movements obstructed by too-large a watch. This ease of movement can cost split seconds, and sometimes be the difference between life and death.

While Marathon also offers the Officer’s Mechanical in a quartz version, this one is powered by Sellita’s SW210-1. This manual wound movement offers a power reserve of 45 hours and is known to be particularly robust. It is, therefore, a very nice fit for this Marathon, all the more because the original field watches it made in WWII were, for obvious reasons, also mechanical.

The nylon Defstan strap comfortably fits wrists large and small, and its hardware matches the finish of the case. On a watch like this, it also feels mandatory to have such a strap, as it is so closely linked to its performance and purpose, past and present. The fact that it comes with such a rich heritage, combined with the mechanical movement and the expressive design, makes it a rather compelling case to add to any collection. This is all the more because, as the U.S. Government demands a bang for its (tax) buck, efficient production is a must and so the Marathon Officer’s Mechanical is quite competitively priced at US$600.

For more info, visit Marathon, here.

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