By TLex As nice as it is, why make do with a HOMAGE when you can have the real thing?! That's right, ZRC is back doing what it does best after more than 4 decades of absence with a phenomenal re-edition of their iconic Grands Fonds 300, which enjoyed great success from 1963 – 1974.
I have only ever seen pictures the original Grands Fonds 300, there’s one in a book of mine, but by all accounts with its unique styling, the GF 300 is a true dive watch icon such as the Ploprof and alike; vintage models are highly sought after by collectors and homage watches have been made.
All the signature ZRC Grands Fonds 300 design cues are here; the quirky bezel markings with triple-dots at 12 and double-dots at 3, 6 and 9, the super-wide ‘Magnum’sword handset and oversized circular seconds indicator, the massive triangular logo with oversized Z.R.C text running across its bottom
the chunky crown with its unusual 6 o’clock placement that was chosen so that it would not restrict the divers movements and of course the unique bracelet design.
The style might be 5 decades old, and that’s kind of how we like our dive watches to look these days, but make no mistake, this is a highly sophisticated modern diver boasting a number of new technologies and utilizing the very latest materials.
Following the success of the Grands Fonds 300, ZRC has decided to continue the adventure by re-releasing a Swiss-made “Marine Nationale” version of this revolutionary watch.
The diving instrument par excellence, with high diving legibility provided by its SuperLumiNova hour-markers and Magnum hands, and a crown at 6 o’clock, ETA movement, unidirectional notched bezel, reverse direction winding mechanism and automatically adjustable “diver” strap: the new Grands Fonds 300 proudly asserts its original identity.
Moving from a case diameter of 36 to 40.5 mm, which is more in line with current trends, the watch has been given a domed anti-reflective Sapphire crystal. The addition of chamfers to the case/strap ensemble should make it very comfortable to wear, too.
E C S™ Easy clean system - The ECS™ is a technical solution to an issue encountered by the mine clearance divers of the Marine Nationale during their many dives: salt crystallizing in the gaps between the bezel and case, thus impeding its rotation.
For the 2015 re-issue of the Grands Fonds 300, ZRC has developed and patented a functional solution – the ECS™ was born. A unique system for cleaning the inside of the bezel by circulating fresh water that dilutes and evacuates the sea salt. The ECS™ is the ultimate tribute to the original Grands Fonds and is perfectly in tune with the brand’s identity.
C P S™ Crown protection system - 100% safety is guaranteed thanks to this exclusive strap system using retractable lugs. It is now impossible to place the watch in water without screwing the crown back into its original position. If the crown is not screwed down, the strap cannot be correctly repositioned. This effective method prevents oversights that can lead to technical difficulties.
B R A C E L E T D I V E R - Diver strap - The new Grands Fonds 300 is equipped with an automatic adjustable strap, which allows it to be worn over a diving suit. This unique embedded spring system automatically adapts to the diameter of the wearer’s wrist for unparalleled comfort. No adjustments are required, as two links on either side of the case extend to accommodate the new diameter.
S P O R T C H I C If the GF 300 2015 Re-Edition is a little too toolish for your tastes ZRC, have created a second version of the GF 300 called Sport Chic. It is based on the same watch only with a slightly toned down handset, which includes a red seconds indicator, a white date window that the re-edition thankfully lacks and a beautiful black leather strap with contrasting red stitching. For this version the bezel’s ESC logo and the triangle on the crown are both in red.
For reference I have included a couple of images of the original ZRC Grands Fonds 300 from 1964; one below and one a little further up (can you spot it?). For more info. on the 2015 Re-Edition, follow the link embedded at the bottom of the post . . .