OceanicTime Archives


ZRC GF 300 Re-Ed. BLACK PHANTOM [review]

BACKGROUND Since its re-launch in 2015, the Grands Fonds has been released in a number iterations of which the Black Phantom is probably one of the least seen and possibly most exotic. The Black Phantom is ZRC’s answer to the demand for a tactical watch; however beyond its dark exterior and blacked out features, it is pound for pound the same great dive watch as the GF 300 2015 Re-Edition.

Regular OcenicTime readers will have seen that I have not only covered the ZRC GF 300 and its family members such as the new NORTH ADVENTURE extensively here, but have already conducted an IN-DEPTH review of the GF 300, so in this review I will be covering some of the special features that are peculiar to Black Phantom.

DIAL All the GF’s signature design elements are here: the wide ‘Magnum’ handset and oversized circular seconds indicator, the massive triangular logo with large Z.R.C text running across its bottom except these have been applied with black SuperLuminova.

The dial is in matte black while the hands are gloss-black echoing the diver’s bezel and shiny black DLC case. Despite the Black Phantom’s black-on-black design; all of its key time reading features manage to stand out enough.

I don’t need to tell you how cool this black-on-black styling is but it is even more special when its been applied to a classic diver.

LUME The BP’s wide hands certainly allow for a generous amount of lume but it has been applied in multiple layers so that even its dial indexes and bezel markers have a glow that would put most regular green C3 applied dials to shame.

I have never come across a watch with black lume that glows like this does; so black lume doesn’t necessarily mean piss-poor (to coin a phrase) illumination. I don’t do lume shots as they are so often misrepresentative of how the actual lume is under different lighting conditions. All I can tell you is that this is VERY GOOD for black.

MOVEMENT The BP is powered by arguably one of the most reliable Swiss made automatic mechanical movement that there are, the ETA 2824-2 with 28,000 v/h and a power-reserve of approx. 38hrs. I still couldn’t tell you to what degree that the movement has been regulated by ZRC’s watchmakers. At the BP’s price-point I would expect some in-house tuning and a custom rotor.

CASE The almost diamond-like shaped GF case is in brushed Stainless steel with a gloss-black DLC (diamond-like-carbon) finish. The black case looks super clean and tactical. The only downside is that black tends to make things appear a little smaller so the already modestly sized case might seem a tad smaller to the eye when compared to the steel versions.

BEZEL The GF’s signature triple and double-dot bezel markings are with black lume while the bezel itself is in a gloss black finish.

Once again the black-on-black (dark grey on black) color palette is very appealing and once again as with the dial the markings are very much visible despite the closeness in bezel and lume colors.

All GF bezels boast ZRC’s patented ECS™ Easy clean system, a unique system for cleaning the inside of the bezel by circulating fresh water that dilutes and evacuates any sea salt that has built up –

an issue that was encountered by the mine clearance divers of the Marine Nationale during their many dives. Salt crystallizing in the gaps between the bezel and case could impede the bezel’s rotation, which for reference has a precise, firm yet springy 60-click cycle.

This isn’t a function that will likely ever be used by the desk-divers of us, but that’s not say that it isn’t appreciated. Besides this it’s a pretty cool aesthetic detail.

CROWN Owing to the BP’s 6 o’clock crown position, time-setting remains be a little fiddly especially when you consider that you must set the time functions in a somewhat awkward manner, but it’s a small price to pay.

In addition to this, the GF’s crown has an additional safety feature, the CPS™ Crown protection system, a 100% fail-safe system that is guaranteed thanks to the GF’s exclusive strap system that uses retractable lugs –

so that it is impossible to immerse 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 re-positioned and so the watch cannot be worn.

BACK A solid black DLC-coated Stainless steel caseback has been securely screwed to the back of the BP. In the center is the ZRC crown logo, around the outside is some text outlining a few of the watch’s key features. Due to the black the text is a little less visible than steel models. To be honest though, I would prefer deeper engraved casebacks an all models.

STRAP The Black Phantom is equipped with a black NATO-style tactical Nylon strap. Unlike a traditional NATO that threads itself underneath the case, this is mounted just like any other strap so is far more comfortable and doesn’t suffer from any of the traditional NATO issues such as sitting too high up on the wrist.

The black nylon strap is complimented by gloss-black double keepers and a gloss black Steel prong buckle. I absolutely LOVE the strap but can’t help thinking that a black DLC GF bracelet was an opportunity lost because that would have taken this watch to the next level.

12FIT ‘n’ FINISH The BP’s production was carried out using the very latest in Swiss watchmaking technologies. Its overall fit and finish reflects this - it is excellent! Pertinent to this review is the DLC quality that has been used for the case.

I would say that it’s the same high-quality that is being used by Aquadive and H2O Watches who are both using the best Swiss and German applications available in the market.

ON the WRIST The BP measures 40.5mm at its widest point (across the middle) by 13.85mm thick with a lug to lug measurement of 49.2mm. On paper the watch sounds quite modest, but it in reality, it looks and feels a much bigger on the wrist than you’d expect.

PRICE Please contact ZRC directly for the most up to date prices in CHF, Euro and USD.

OVERALL I’ve been hooked on the ZRC brand from the word go. I couldn’t say I was ever a vintage ZRC fan because – I was never into vintage divers full stop but retro. However re-editions, modern equivalents these are my thing and the ZRC GF 300 2015 RE is one of the greats.


The Black Phantom's tactical aesthetic puts a new spin on things. If you want to wear it for your Black Op’s missions it won’t let you down and if want something chic to wear with casual attire it’s an equally great proposition.


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