Lorier Gemini Mechanical Chronograph Watch – $499
About the author: Aaron K. was first brought to Dappered by his love of watches, but has found it to be a great resource for so much more. When not reading Dappered, he’s usually relishing being a dad, spending time with his family & friends, learning about most anything that can fly, or taking photographs.
As a kid, I remember riding around in my parents’ old 1960s MGB roadster. It fell into disrepair and sat in the garage for years until I was in high school, when it was resurrected. Let me say, having a fresh driver’s license and access to a vintage British sports car, it is so choice. I was already into watches, then, but could have only dreamed of having something as perfect as the Lorier Gemini chronograph on my wrist while handling the spindly-thin wooden steering wheel, rowing through the gears, and timing how long it took to, well, get my sister to piano lessons… While I can’t go back in time and fix that omission, I can put a Gemini on my wrist now, and have done just that, with their black-dial variant. And holy cow, is it fantastic.
Movement is a mechanical Seagull ST19 column wheel chronograph.
Yes, Lorier’s at it again, with their take on a classic chronograph: the Gemini. After first getting everyone’s attention with their Neptune diver, Lorier has continued to kick out the jams with the Falcon, Hydra, Hyperion, and Gemini. As you’ve read in past Lorier reviews, I’m a big fan of their work. Their watches are gorgeous, well-made, and are very reasonably-priced, with the Gemini coming in at $499. “Affordable Men’s Style” — it’s right there at the top of this page, people! Full disclosure, I’ve actually owned a Gemini for over a year (the blue model), but when the opportunity came to try out a new color for review, I couldn’t say no.
Space! It’s inspiring! …for a vacuum.
As with their other models, Lorier has drawn heavily from the past as inspiration for the Gemini. The history of the chronograph watch is steeped first in motor racing, and later in space exploration, and Lorier cites both endeavors in their Gemini design blog, including part of the inspiration for the watch’s namesake: NASA’s Project Gemini. A quick aside: Lorier puts together very nice design blogs for each of their watch models. These blogs describe their thought process for each model, show some of the vintage watches which they’ve used as inspiration, and highlight the features of each model, all paired with lovely photography. It’s a very nice tool for a watch shopper.
Heritage motor racing also provided inspiration.
The Gemini’s most defining physical attribute is another inspiration for its name: those twin subdials, which show the running seconds and chronograph elapsed minutes. The subdials, and the rest, are driven by a Seagull ST19 column wheel chronograph movement. It’s a hand-winding movement which is descended from the Swiss Venus 175 movement. Lorier’s provided a nice writeup of this movement on their website. I find the chronograph operation to be crisp, with a nice, solid *click* at the start & stop of operation, and a soft & fast chronograph reset. Some have voiced quality concerns with the ST19 movement, in other watches, but I’ve had my personal Gemini for over a year, and it’s given me no problems at all. As with all of Lorier’s watches, the Gemini comes with a 12 month warranty.
Contrasting subdials. Chrono movement is nice and crisp.
12-hour rotating bezel instead of a tachymeter. Much more useful to most.
Visually, the Gemini uses Lorier’s design language, with a 39mm diameter case, which is 12.6mm thick (2.4mm of which is a domed acrylic crystal) and has an unmarked, solid caseback. The contrasting color on the subdials makes them pop; I quite like the white on black ‘reverse panda’, seen here. Water resistance is a just-fine 50m (don’t use the chrono pushers underwater!). The 20mm wide lugs come equipped with Lorier’s standard flat link bracelet, which feels excellent on the wrist. Owning several Loriers, my personal Gemini immediately went on a stitched leather strap, truth be told, and has stayed there ever since purchase. Don’t get me wrong, the bracelet is great, but for a racing chronograph, the leather strap seemed very appropriate, and definitely provides a different look & feel.
Available in either blue, black (reverse panda), or a white dial panda.
Looks great on a leather strap too.
One way in which the Gemini distinguishes itself from many chronographs is with the use of a 12-hour rotating bezel (with aluminum insert) instead of the more common tachymeter bezel. In my opinion, the 12-hour rotating bezel is far more useful on a chronograph like the Gemini, which lacks an hour-counting subdial. Without that extra chronograph function, the bezel allows the chronograph to track elapsed hours. In a pinch, I suppose you could even use it to roughly time a second event, since each number/mark on the bezel corresponds to 5-minute increments. Another option is to use the 12-hour bezel to track a second time zone (much like the Islander ISL-01). Regardless, it’s a welcome addition to the Gemini.
Simple chrono dial under a domed acrylic crystal.
The detail on the dial is quite excellent, with concentric rings on the subdials, sharp-tipped chrome hour indices, and relatively spare text/branding. The lume on the hour and minute hands is Lorier’s standard BGW9 Superluminova, which is good. On the Gemini, it’s paired with extremely small squares of lume on the outside of the hour indices, and a lumed triangle at 12 o’clock on the bezel. The chronograph functions aren’t lumed, so if you want to time something in the dark, you’ll have to use the minute hand and the bezel (hardly a shortcoming).
One of these is $499. The other is very much not.
So how does this all come together when you put it on your wrist? In short, it’s excellent. The bicompax layout is clean, symmetrical, and very easy to read. The 39mm diameter may sound small, to some, but I think the size is great. Over the years, I’ve become more acclimated to a wider range of sizes, and this watch feels perfectly at home on my wrist. I will say that my blue dial variant appears a bit smaller than this black dial review model, due to the white chapter ring at the edge of the dial, which visually compresses the dial. No matter, I like both models quite a lot. The reverse panda feels much more traditional, and is simply gorgeous.
If you’re looking to get a mechanical chronograph, there is an almost endless variety of options available, many well into the 4- or 5-figure price range. It’s very comforting to see Lorier provide such a great option at a more accessible price point with the Gemini. Lorier have shown, yet again, that it’s possible to produce a cracking good watch without breaking (or at least completely obliterating) the bank.