Now do not get excited. This article is not about possibly the most famous watch of all time, the legendary $17.8 million Rolex 6239 'Paul Newman'. Instead it is about a watch that is similar, but also very different...
Homage watches are rife in this day and age. The trend for companies to make watches that are heavily inspired by infamous designs from years gone by has seen a huge rise in so called 'Homage' watches. The likes of Steinhart, Parnis and Alpa have taken this in their stride, and whilst the former merely takes inspiration from these classic designs, the latter two, frankly; just makes straight rip-offs. Now, I have my own opinions about homage watches. Having owned an Alpha Explorer 1 and enjoyed it a lot, I cannot sit here in good faith and slag them off. I am also sitting here pining after an Alpha Paul Newman. However, my justification for this is if I want to be able to scratch the Paul Newman itch, I am never going to be able to afford a real one. So If I can own and love a good faximilie and enjoy the hell out of it, is that such a bad thing?? I also feel, with the Alpha specifically, that is has slightly more originality than the two other watches shown below.
The mindset around the acceptability of homages really depends on who you speak to. Purists will almost always dismiss homage watches, whilst other more care free member of the community will take the standpoint of 'if you like it and enjoy it, then crack on'. In general one of the things that I love about watches is the creativity of original design, clearly something you are not finding when buying a watch that looks exactly like another watch, but at a significantly reduced price. However, there is one watch that is a homage, without question, but is also a watch that is loved and owned by even the most serious of collectors, and it is is this, the Gevril Tribeca.
Gevril, are to my surprise when researching this article; a pretty serious outfit. They are a Swiss watch company that was founded in 1758, making them the fifth oldest watch manufacturer in the world, only behind the likes of Breguet, Vacheron Constantin and Blancpain to name a few. The brand was started by a gifted Swiss watchmaker by the name of Jacques Gevril. The brand was brought back to life in 2001, when a Swiss businessman by the name of Samuel Friedmann purchased the brand. Whilst their manufacture has and will continue to be based in Switzerland, their corporate HQ can now be found in New York City.
I must admit, having a look through their catalogue of watches, most of them are nothing to write home about. As far as I can see the only watch that has got them on the radar of collectors and enthusiasts alike, is the watch at the centre of this article, the Tribeca.
Danny Govberg, who was a shareholder of Gevril at the time of the Tribeca release, said that the the goal was to create a watch for guys who could not afford a Paul Newman, but wanted an exciting watch which emulated the 6239, whilst at the same time building a watch to the highest quality, and one that was totally faithful to the original. Funnily enough that is exactly the mantra that I have adopted around the Alpha Paul Newman! Luckily for Gevril, when they were developing the Tribeca, a number of employees actually owned Paul Newman's at the time. They actually dismantled their Paul Newman's and measured each component with calipers down to the micron, and this was how this controversial watch was born.
The crazy thing about this watch is just how faithful it is to the original. And not just from a dimensions point of view, but finishing and movement. Now for those of you who do not know, the original Paul Newmans utilised probably one of the best watch movement of all time, the Valjoux 72. Now the Gevril does not use this same movement, but does use a movement found in some pretty big hitters, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. This is of course the ETA 2824 with a Dubois Depraz chronograph module. One common trait with homage watches, such as the Parnis pictured above, is that aesthetically they are as close to the watch they are copying as possible. The savings, however, are made inside, with cheap Seiko mecqa-quartz or similar being used to power them. This automatically elevates the Gevril into the upper echelon of so-called Homages. When you are using one of the most infamous, reliable and widely used watch movements in the world, this shows that you are not messing around and exploiting a design concept just to line your pockets.
The other astounding thing about this watch is something that the legendary watch dealer Eric Ku stumbled across whilst getting up close and personal with a Tribeca. The pushers and bezel insert are carbon copies of those used on the 6239's and 6241's of the world. They can be completely interchanged and not even reputable Rolex dealers would know. Now, if you were to try and do that with your Steinhart Daytona, there is no way they would fit together in the same way. Although this is upper level nerdery, for me this is another tick in the box for making the Tribeca in its own world of what I am calling 'Homagery'.
One thing for me that crossed my mind when I was researching this article is this. Gevril, as a company have gone to such great lengths to replicate this watch. The fact that they have used the identical bezel and pushers, as well as a very high quality (in the grand scheme of things) movement, in my opinion demonstrates that they were not in fact trying to 'Homage' this watch and jump on the bandwagon. In fact they were honoring what is now considered to be the most famous watch of all time. This is greater emphasised by the time in which the Gevril was born.
The Tribeca came out in the nineties. What is worth noting, and some of you may not be aware of this, but the Paul Newman Daytona, and Daytona's in general, have not always held the 'unobtanium' status that they currently have. In the 80's and 90's, AD's literally could not give them away to customers... The fact that Gevril plowed what I can only imagine to be millions of dollars into a project to honor a watch that at the time no one really liked is yet further justification for this watch being something a bit more special than a run of the mill rip-off.
Writing this article, and the research that precluded it; has left me with this opinion. This is a seriously f*cking cool watch, and frankly if people out there disagree with me, that is absolutely fine. This has and always will be a deeply divisive watch. It is the antithesis of original after all. But the whole background story surrounding it is something that for me elevates it above its counterparts that I have touched upon previously.
The only slight barrier, and this probably will come as no surprise, is that these chaps are neither cheap or easy to come buy. As you will see from the photos above, in place of the red 'Daytona' text above the 6 o'clock sub-register, there is a series of 6 numbers. This of course denotes the production quantity of this watch. At time of production, just 500 were made of each variation (pictured below).
Due to the fact that in recent years people have released that these are actually quite cool, that has caused two things to happen. Can you guess what they are? Unsurprisingly, there are very few on the market. People either know what they have and do not want to part with it, or they decide to make the most of the limited production numbers and sell them for a pretty penny. To put it into perspective, for the same price as a pre-owned Gevril Tribeca, you can buy yourself a brand new Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch for retail price... I know that the target audience for these two watches could not be further apart, but if you are sitting on the fence about pulling the trigger on this watch, buy yourself a Speedy. I love this watch, do not get me wrong. But this watches target audience is the guy who has a vintage Daytona that sits in the safe and never gets worn out of the house. He sits there wanting the feeling of his original 6241 but wants to be able to wear it outside and not have to worry about it getting nicked or knocked on a door. This is the Paul Newman owners watch that he can actually use.
All in all this is a very interesting and cool watch. On the surface it is a blatant 'homage'. But this watch really needs to be considered in more detail and understood before judgement can be passed on it. It has not been made in order to jump on the Paul Newman bandwagon so the bigwigs at Gevril can make some more money. It has been made by people who have a genuine admiration for one of the most iconic watches of all time, and want to allow the 90% of the watch world who will never own a Paul Newman to get even a slight idea of just how good the original watch is. All in all this is a very cool piece of kit, and I will always kick myself for when these could be had for around £1,000...
I would be very interested to get your opinion on this watch. It is of course very controversial. So please send us a message/email or Instagram DM and lets have a chat about it! One of my favourite watch Youtube channels did a video on the watch, and if the photos are not doing it justice, then I think this video will. So I hope you enjoyed this article, and please enjoy a short video on the Gevril Tribeca. Thank you for reading.
Video Credit to Theo & Harris.
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The Young Horologist