Marathon ADANAC GPD Review

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The “ADANAC” in Marathon ADANAC GPD is something spelled backwards. No surprise there. The company – famous for their atomic clocks and mil-spec tritium-tubed mechanical watches – has been headquartered in Ontario for nigh on 80 years. Setting aside the fact that the GPD’s shipping box says “made in China,” let’s run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it . . .

At first glance the Marathon ADANAC GPD looks like any other plastic fantastic digital timepiece. Closer inspection reveals a watch boasting a 316L stainless steel case, with the brand and model name etched into its deep dark surface.

Speaking of which, military-minded Marathon coats the steel case’s surface with black IP. IP, UP, we all pee. Here IP stands for ion plating, a tougher version of the physical vapor deposition (PVD) process.

Casio-F91W-vs-Maraton-ADANAC-GDP

The ADANAC GPD’s overall shape is fluid, almost biomorphic. It’s a welcome improvement over the geometric excess typical of some digital watches I could name. The GPD bezel’s cross hatching and matching reptilian band insert are the only purely stylistic shapes. I’m not sure what the chromed bumps on each side of the case are about. For all I know, they’re rebar reinforcements to ensure the watch’s 20 ATM water resistance rating.

Unlike the same digital watches I could name, Marathon places the GPD’s button-function text inside the fixed bezel, where it won’t wear off so quickly. The sole nod to color sits under glass nearby: four thin red stippled spots. The six bezel bumps are raised to protect the mineral glass crystal, allegedly. As the molded band doesn’t lay flat, the ADANAC GPD’s sits on its side or face down when off wrist.

Like the Torgoen T10 Turnstone, the ADANAC GPD’s band doesn’t flex for the first half inch or so. That’s not exactly a [form] fitting solution for a watch reviewer (or anyone else) with 6.5″ wrists. So I wore the GPD using the tightest slotted hole on the wide buckle prong (fashioned in the same black IP-coated steel as the case).

You could say the band was designed to stay off the top of the wearer’s wrist, to enable air flow for tactical types who worry about a sweaty wrist top degrading their gun or knife handling, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Bonus! The [inadvertent] suspension system allows a bit of give as your wrist swells throughout the day.

Marathon ADANAC GDPThere’s only one keeper (the bit the band slips through), but it’s muffin top end prevents the keeper from sliding off when taking out enemy sentries and such. The caseback is a huge flat matchbook-sized affair with seven screws and eight lines of neato GI quartermaster mumbo jumbo. Despite the band’s best efforts to elevate it, the vast metal plane clings to skin.

The Marathon ADANAC GPD does all the voodoo that a Casio F-91W does so well. Hourly chime, alarm, day, date, 24 hour time, stopwatch – it’s all there. But wait! There’s more! A half hour chime, two alarms, second time zone and countdown timer. The watch’s Indiglo-like electro-luminescent blue colored backlight is bright enough for government work and stays on three seconds after pressing the appropriate button.

Every effortless button press gets a beep – unless you deselect that feature (to avoid detection by enemy sentries). Being a Chinese-Canadian watch, the GPD’s default date display appears in military/Euro DD-MM format – unless you switch to civilian American MM-DD display.

To indicate the seconds, the ADANAC GPD offers little blocks that railroad train around the dial. It would make for a cool “defusing a bomb” movie scene, but the digital depiction (54 seconds on the right) is more generally useful.

The ADANAC GPD counts up or down to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds (all you can get with six digits). The countdown is brilliant – it goes straight from counting down to zero to timing up, so you know exactly how late you are. But you won’t be late because the warning beeps are insane.

The ADANAC GPD beeps once per minute for each of the last ten minutes before the target time. In the last minute, it beeps every ten seconds. During the last ten seconds, it beeps once a second, like a bomb is about to blow (see: above). If that doesn’t get your attention, the watch beeps then twice per second. The graphical seconds display spins frantically for that last half minute, or until you press the “I got this” button.

Marathon ADANAC GPD stock shotWhat you won’t get anywhere else: this quality of nagging. Visually, the screen washes out at an obtuse angle, like old flat screen TVs. When I put my arm out to the side of the keyboard on my desk, the contrast was too poor to read. There’s a setting for that! Cranking up the contrast from default 3 to 5 (out of 10) solved the problem.

I didn’t expect I’d take a shine to the Marathon ADANAC GPD. I like small, slim, analog dress watches. This is not that. Although the GPD was designed for deadly serious use, it’s a hoot (especially the seconds indicator’s endless circumnavigation). If a G-SHOCK is BTDT, your eyesight is failing and/or you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a durable watch, the Marathon ADANAC GPD is a battle-tested bonanza.

Model: Marathon ADANAC GPD WW194024
Price: $56

SPECIFICATIONS:

Case diameter: 48mm
Case thickness: 16mm
Case metal: 316L stainless steel with black IP coating
Band: Resin
Weight: 70g (2.5 oz)
Crystal: Mineral glass
Lume: Blue electro-luminescent, stays lit three seconds after button release
Module: Quartz Digital
Water Resistance: 20 ATM
Functions: Chronograph, dual-time-display, light, stop-watch, timer
Warranty: 2 years

Design * * * *
Almost no-nonsense, but enough to avoid looking too dour. Very buttoned-down regarding color, graphics, text, branding and other frippery.

Legibility * * * * *
Something this big better be legible, and it is with 7/16″ (11mm) tall main digits. Always readable with ease at beyond arm’s length, glasses or not. Backlight just works, and the three second delay off should be the norm everywhere.

Comfort * * *
Smaller wrists can fit pencils under the band at tightest setting, but it stays put. Tolerable despite rigid shape that won’t conform; durability is a higher priority than comfort.

Overall * * * *
Military grade here is more than marketing hooey. It’s a big tough watch with unassuming styling with an indispensible, user-friendly feature set. Built to go to war, priced to move, the Marathon ADANAC GPD brings the fight to G-SHOCK.

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13 COMMENTS

    • Yes, Amazon has it even cheaper! Full disclosure: TTAW Command Central told me to get this on Cyber Monday when it was half off, which made it under $50 Fed-Exed from Canada. Amazon was out of stock at the time anyway.

      All I know about G-SHOCK’s come from reading here, but the ADANAC GDP seems very comparable to their base offerings with a few extras like the rotary seconds indicator and the ‘may be practical to someone’ 100 hour countdown capability instead of 24 hours.

      I didn’t have room to mention that the buttons are so splendid they escape notice. They just work. No difficulty pressing, discomfort, trickiness finding, or accidental presses.

      I have no idea how common this is, but the seconds on the second time zone are locked in synchronization with the main time, which is as it should be.

      Christmas bonus: size comparo of the GPD and the Casio F-91W

    • Apparently it’s an old joke up there, and the name goes back to watches they made in the 80’s used by the Air Force. Anyone wanting to go into that can look it up, as house style here is not to have a page of introductory background info and history and blah blah blah. Plus, I’d get even fewer articles out if left to wander down internet research rabbit holes.

      • Indeed — there were a bunch of towns named by the railroad workers in the late 1800s and 1900s as they built the cross country railroad. One of them in Saskatchewan was “Adanac.” It was down to 7 people or so in the early 2000s.

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