Until recently, I had never changed my opinion about the originality of a watch three times in the same week. But that happened when the intriguing Gallet Navigator Telemeter crossed my path. Two other great collectors joined me on my journey of exploration, and they were equally puzzled. The buying experience of this rare Gallet Navigator Telemeter has resonated with me for two months now, so I thought you might find a retrospective on my investigation interesting.

I am not confident enough to make a call about what’s right or not when it comes to Rolex or Omega. The stakes there are much higher, and the quality of Frankenstein’s “work” sometimes reaches the original factory level. But I thought I could easily recognize fake or reprinted Gallet dials. I thought my eyes were trained enough not to get tricked so easily. I emphasize easily. It seems I was wrong.

Gallet Navigator Telemeter

Here’s what happened

What’s the deal with this Gallet Navigator Telemeter’s dial? Well, I first thought it was original, then called it a reprint, only to call it original again a few days later. As it kept bugging me, I studied it further, and I ended up concluding that it was not original again. After that, another round of macro shooting and comparing details to additional reference models proved the originality. Then I called it a day. I found what we call “conclusive evidence of originality” in our collectors’ group. I was satisfied, and so were my collector friends.

Gallet Navigator Telemeter wrist shot

Two months after the purchase

The other day, I took this Gallet Navigator Telemeter from my watch roll again. I thought back on the core findings that shaped my opinion twists. Suddenly, I realized that I could reconstruct the story and how I lived it from the beginning for you. It’s good to be reminded that, depending on many factors, some things can seem both real and fake, true and false, or “black” and “white” at the very same time. Also, it’s important to say that there is nothing wrong with changing our opinions. It’s natural and human, especially when it’s based on deep and thorough research with the honest pursuit to compare and evaluate all possible resources.

Gallet Navigator Telemeter

The Gallet Navigator Telemeter pops up again

I had one Gallet Navigator already, and it’s an impressive watch in its design, functionality, and originality. I showed other Navigator versions in my first story, including the Telemeter. As fate would have it, that example ended up being the same watch you see pictured above. I remember that it was sold by US-based dealer Justin Vrakas a few years ago. I didn’t study it much back then, but I thought it was original.

First doubts

The watch changed hands and ended up with another dealer. When a friend sent me a link to the relisted watch, I instantly got excited and asked the dealer to send me more pictures. And here it comes. The picture above triggered my doubts. Can you see the red “10” on the telemetric scale? I hadn’t noticed the so-called “bleeding” before. What I was sure about is that the original Gallet watches all had pretty crisp printing with sharp edges. Bleeding is one of the signs of a dial reprint. I looked closer, and I could see bleeding all over the dial.

Gallet Navigator Telemeter close-up

Image: @the_watch_vault

What’s next?

I faced sort of a sensitive situation. I was about to share my doubts with the dealer. Some dealers don’t like to hear anything like that; they take it personally and instantly shut the door. They are not open to such a discussion. I got lucky this time. Despite the dealer having already bought the watch, thinking it was all original, he was keen to listen to my findings and look for answers to my questions. He was patient and kind to me.

Image courtesy: @the_watch_vault

“I am looking at it under the loupe. The areas around the 10 and 6 where the printing looks as if it is too thick are actually some scratching on the dial. Under a loupe, the red printing itself is actually quite crisp and looks to be spaced correctly,” reads a message from the dealer after he sent me about 10 macro shots. I was relieved. What looked like bleeding in a low-res picture now looked like a tree grown with ivy. I could see red printing and dozens of rusty micro-scratches around the numbers. I even contacted Justin, and he confirmed: “I remember some pitting and wear to the surface, maybe causing some ‘bleeding’ of the print. But the dial was original in that one!”

Image: @the_watch_vault

Round two

When I came to peace with the condition, my watch friend and Gallet enthusiast threw in another angle. “I still have problems believing the sub-dial printing is original. The ticks seem hand-drawn, each with slightly different length and shapes,” Fred Mandelbaum told me. I looked at them better and realized that he was damn right. It didn’t make much sense because the rest of the dial seemed to be correct, but I had to get the answer for that too.

When purchasing remotely is a problem

We got to the stage where it was really painful to buy the watch without a real chance to see it in the flesh. If you collect vintage watches, you probably know what I mean; you are dependent on the quality of pictures you get from the seller. The dealer was kind enough and tried to get me the best macro shots he could. But again, the slightest movement of the camera could affect the clarity of the lines.

Gallet Navigator Telemeter macro

Image: @the_watch_vault

We got into an active chat with Fred. I was zooming in, comparing, and highlighting. So was he, as was Pedro, another Gallet aficionado, archiver, and my trusted Gallet mentor with decades of experience. I argued that the length and width were consistent. I couldn’t see that these lines had been drawn by hand. All of the minor optical distortions seemed to be due to micro-scratches. Fred disagreed with me, and I am humble enough to respect Fred’s opinion. He has seen way more watches than I have. I was also glad that he did not shut the door and wanted to discuss more. I felt he didn’t want to call it original or fake until he saw conclusive evidence.

Image: @the_watch_vault

Not giving up

I know that everyone should do their due diligence and decide for themselves. But this time, I simply wanted to prove to myself, Fred, and Pedro (who was also 50/50) that we could call it original. I must say that the uneven or “sloppy” printing in the sub-dials bothered me too. We know that Excelsior Park and Gallet printing was top quality. As I was sure that the outer edges were all original, I was leaning towards original condition on the sub-dials too. And that kept me digging.

Am I stuck?

I spent hours studying other Gallet Navigators. But since the Telemeter is a pretty rare model, I didn’t find much to compare it to. I found one or two other watches, but the quality of the pictures was simply way too poor. Gallet is not Rolex or Omega, so there aren’t tons of forums where hundreds of enthusiasts discuss details of specific models in crazy detail.

Image: Analog:Shift

A lucky find

At a certain point, I came back to Justin. “I’ve seen plenty of other Gallet watches with weirdly cutoff numbers and other oddities,” he said. This sentence inspired me to look beyond the Navigator watch and explore a range of Gallet MultiChron models that served as a base for the Navigator. After some research, I found a watch listed on Analog:Shift. I guess the comparison picture below says it all.

Details to notice

You cannot overlook the “fringe” on the “G” of the Gallet logo swimming in a pearl sea (well, or a slightly aged, yellowish lake in the non-Navigator example). I highlighted just a few details, but you can see that the same printing pad was used for sub-dials. You can clearly see how unevenly printed numbers or ticks are on the same spots in both watches. Also, check the “Swiss” printing above 6 o’clock. As Fred told me, we got our conclusive evidence. I was satisfied because this round made Fred believe that this Gallet Navigator Telemeter was all original. “I’m now officially ‘on the fence’,” was how Fred announced his verdict.

Final thoughts

Well, some may object to this being a piece of conclusive evidence and call both dials possible reprints. In that case, we must rely on experience collected over the years. Plus, I am looking at the watch, and I’ve had a chance to study it under a loupe. My biggest surprise was not the two other people’s different views on the same watch. Rather, I found it fascinating that I changed my opinion three times. I realized how easily fooled our senses can be.

Fast-forward two months, and I can tell you how happy I am about this watch. Pedro was kind enough to give me a mid-case in NOS condition because the original case was a bit polished. I kept the original case back with the serial number stamped on it, and now I can enjoy the sharp lugs and perfect contrast between the brushed sides and polished top. When I compare my two Navigators, the first one is a bit more classy and dressy. Although it has a bit of a “blossoming” patina all over the dial, the Navigator Telemeter is my preferred choice. You should find yourself one too. Happy hunting!