BACKGROUND Gruppo Ardito Watches are team of talented engineers, watch enthusiasts and professional divers that first gave birth to the brand through an Italian professional scuba diving forum.
They have gained a loyal following that has grown over the past 3 years to become one of the artisan dive watch brands to watch out for - producing hand-crafted divers in the same vein as brands such as: Ennebi, Kaventsmann or Vintage-VDB. The Kraken is Gruppo Ardito’s third model.
PACKAGING True to their Italian artisan roots, Gruppo Ardito have supplied the Kraken in a beautifully handcrafted wooden box with an aged metal GAW name plate. On opening the box you are greeted to a sporty bright orange felt lining adding a real sense of occasion. Inside the box was an additional handmade Italian sharkskin strap in brown with the colours of the Tricolore stitched into its sides and a large strap changing tool. All very nice!
DIAL The Kraken boasts a sandwich dial in matte black with a lumed white underneath revealing trapezoidal and baton shaped markers. Printed onto the dial are: white minutes, a tiny line of text saying ‘Prodotto Italiano’ and two large logos.
The first logo at 10 o’clock relates to Gruppo Ardito Watches while the logo at 6 is the name Kraken in a contemporary bold white font, underscored by an inverted orange swoosh. The logos aren't by any means subtle but are a youthful hallmark of the GAW brand and add a welcome touch of Italian flare. I personally love the logos, but would happily lose the minute track which would allow for even larger indexes. ;)
HANDS A simple set of semi-skeleton sword hands provide supremely legible timekeeping while a white sweeping seconds indicator with a rectangular luminous pointer let's you know that the Kraken is fully operational. Wouldn't change a thing!
CASE Gruppo Ardito design all their models from scratch - the Kraken is no different; its design while unique remains restrained - nothing outlandish here - just robust masculine shapes that flow nicely together. While the top of the case is somewhat elliptical in its design, the case sides offer gently sloping lines and soft angles.
The Kraken’s case is constructed from Grade 5 Titanium and measures 46mm in diameter by 18mm thick with a 60mm overall length. Like its namesake it is a bit of a monster, and yes, 60mm l-to-l is gonna create a slight overhang but the watch looks good - even on ladies’ wrist. If you don't believe me HERE’s a lovely wristshot courtesy of Timemonki, OceanicTime’s resident photographer.
CRYSTAL the Kraken is fitted with a 7mm thick double domed Hardlex Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on its inside.
The CASEBACK and fixed BEZEL have been securely bolted to the case with 12 Allen-screws, 6 on top and 6 underneath. The bezel is kind of like a door to a bank vault or better still a submarine hatch. It gives the watch a powerful look.
The caseback is a solid slab of G5 Ti with beveled edges that have been engineered so as to make sure the watch sits more comfortably on the wrist. Etched on the back is the Kraken name along with some text and the mythical sea creature itself complete with tentacles.
Unfortunately the Kraken etching is a little too faint to be fully appreciated. G5 Titanium is incredibly hard so a proper deep engraving would have been a little tricky but perhaps laser etching the caseback or even staining it with acid would have produced a clearer result.
CROWN The Kraken is fitted with a lovely oversized screw-down crown with multiple gaskets. The crown has been etched with the GAW initials. I love the size of the crown, love the feel of it and cannot fault it.
WATER-RESISTANCE The Kraken has an impressive depth-rating down to 4000 meters. Each watch has been individually tested in the GAW laboratories in Italy. 4000 meters of water-resistance is extreme even by today's standards. Only a handful of watches can match its performance - one of them for reference is the UTS 4000M.
LUME The Kraken’s dial and hands have been lumed. Actually I'm not exactly sure what lume has been used but it's probably C3 SuperLumiNova. The lume is good - just good - nothing mental! I would have liked to have had my retinas burnt out by a watch if this ilk but alas not this time.
MOVEMENT The Kraken is powered by a Swiss automatic mechanical movement, the GAW001 based on an ETA 2824-2. The watch keeps excellent time - I wonder if it has been regulated and if so to what degree because mine keeps pretty damn good time.
STRAP The Kraken is supplied with two straps, the Sharkskin one mentioned at the beginning of the post and an articulated and ventilated Italian natural rubber divers strap - you know the kind with the lovely vanilla scent.
I feel the watch looks better on rubber as it kind of fills in the blanks where a typical diver would have a timing bezel etc thus giving the Kraken a more purposeful look.
The Sharkskin strap comes with a multi-piece roller-BUCKLE like an Ennebi while the rubber strap has a fairly standard looking buckle. My NumeroZERO actually had a roller-buckle fitted to its rubber strap so I was a little disappointed that this one didn't have the same awesome buckle. There is however some more of the faint etching on its side which does make it a little more special.
QUALITY We need to remember that the Kraken has been hand-machined from one of the toughest metals that there are. This has then been given a beautiful utilitarian sand-blasted finish, so unlike the Grade 2 divers that we see covered in swirls and scratches - this G5 Ti deep sea monster is going to be tough to inflict wounds upon - in other words it's going to hold up very well, thank you very much!
Everything from the dial, the bezel has been executed beautifully. The caseback engraving could certainly be improved upon, but it's a minor complaint.
PRICE The GAW Kraken has a price of 1980 euro. This is a lot of watch for the money. You will struggle to find anything as beautifully finished in the artisan sector for less - trust me, and not with an extreme depth rating or in Grade 5 Titanium, either.
OVERALL I've been reviewing dive watches for neigh on eight years now, it's nice gig, I can't complain, but it can be a tough one at times mainly because there has been a glut of vintage styled divers - they're all very nice but they do get a bit samey.
It's watches like the Kraken that come along and offer us breath of fresh air. I realize that 4000 meter, fixed-bezel dive watches are a niche product, but God, am I happy to be reviewing something from this specialized niche within the dive watch industry.
The Kraken is exactly the type of dive watch that gets my juices flowing - it's a living breathing, deep sea diving machine. It literally gives me Goosebumps, and after more than a decade of watch collecting it is one of those watches that reminds exactly why I got involved in dive watches in the first place.
If places of worship connect us with God then it's dive watches like the Kraken that connect us with the abyss and for me is what it's all about - amen!