This week’s #TBT focuses on a model from brand that’s finally getting some long overdue attention: the Gallet Multichron 45. Here on Fratello Watches, we’ve had a couple articles on Gallet – and more are coming – but I’ve mainly had my attention on the larger 3-register Multichrons (Gallet’s name for their chronographs). Today, though, we’ll look at a more diminutive piece that’s a lot simpler in execution, but no less interesting. Let’s jump into it!
35mm – don’t be afraid!
When it comes to watch diameters, 36mm seems to be the cutoff between the wearable and the passé. I’m not sure why, but I suppose this size is a fair enough threshold that’s likely been bolstered by the fact that for so long – and still to this day – watches such as the original Rolex Datejust and the Explorer have been made in 36mm. It’s also a nice size that fits well with business attire but, at least if you’re not a Panerai person, also works for most other activities. I reviewed a 34mm Tissot that I bought for my wife and while I find it charming enough to wear on my own wrist from time to time, it is a little watch. That leaves us with 35mm as a bit of a no-man’s land and I will say that it’s an extremely variable size. What I mean by this is that there are big 35mm watches and small ones of the same diameter. The case design, dial size and lug length have a lot to do with this fact and proportions do count. Still, though, there are so many people who dismiss a 35mm watch with nary a glance; yes these specimens are the Rodney Dangerfield of timepieces. (For our non-American readers, this means that they “get no respect”.) Well, I am here to show you a 35mm watch today in the Gallet Multichron 45 that you’d be silly to pass up – especially if a 36mm watch is desirable.
The Gallet Multichron 45 is a classy chrono
I won’t recount any Gallet history here (please see our articles on the Multichron 12 and the Multichron Pilot for more), but suffice it to say, the brand made a lot of different chronographs during its watchmaking history. The Gallet Multichron 45 is just one of those, but I find it extremely approachable because a) it’s reasonably priced in this red-hot chronograph market and b) it’s a damn good looking, relatively easy to find vintage chronograph.
The Landeron 149 sits inside
The meaning behind the “45” in the name is simple; the watch sports a 45-minute counter on the right. Driving the Gallet Multichron 45 is the 17-jewel Landeron 149. This is an interesting movement as it’s one of the few Landerons that operates like a traditional chronograph – remember, most Landerons use the top pusher to start the complication and the bottom pusher to stop and reset. It was actually a surprise to me that I didn’t uncover until it was sent off for a service, but my research on the movement shows it to be robust, serviceable, and made in vast quantities – so it’s good for parts.
Moving on to a look at the dial on the Gallet Multichron 45, we’re faced with lovely white background with ridged sub registers, and blue outer scales. The numerals, much like the Multichron 12 we reviewed, are applied tritium. The usage of this luminous material points to a production date of somewhere in the 1950’s to early 60’s. Another giveaway to the timeframe is the script of “Gallet” itself as the company switched to what I’d call a “cheerier”, more modern script in the 1970’s. Hands are batons that gently gain thickness towards their ends and both contain some now-gone lume. Looking at the dial when the watch is on the wrist yields an amazingly attractive, yet simple design. It’s so legible, blends a touch of sport, but is also so very classy. I don’t own any Universal Geneve’s from this era, but the look of the Gallet reminds me of them. As far as elegance, I’ve worn the watch to work a few times to work in more formal settings and I must say that this is a great alternative to a simple 3-hand dress watch. Perhaps that 35mm has something to do with it!
A 35mm watch that looks bigger!
Let’s address the elephant in the room about the 35mm diameter of the Gallet Multichron 45. I know that I’ve reviewed several pieces of these size – the Omega DeVille 930, the Clebar/Zodiac V178, and the Benrus Sky Chief – and I am here to tell you that along with the Omega, the Gallet could easily pass as 36mm. Why did I pick these 2 as examples of 35mm watches that look larger than their actual size? I honestly think it has to do with the fact that both have a 19mm lug width. Seriously, the ability to pair this Gallet with a wider strap than on, say, the Benrus makes a huge difference. For some reason, I find 18mm straps to look ribbon-like whereas 19’s are just right for chronographs.
Add to this a simple stainless steel case that’s beefy enough – it has long lugs that end up ceding only about 2-3 mm overall to the Multichron 12 – to help make the watch appear larger. Finally, a thick snap case back and a slimly domed acrylic crystal give the right proportions to keep the watch from looking too tall, but not so thin.
I picked up this Gallet on eBay for about $400 and it looked like the picture above which is, well, not that pretty. Still, though, I was convinced that there was a nice dial under there somewhere and it luckily turned out to be the case. Of course, a new crystal was added as well. On the service side, let’s just say that this non-runner had a reason to quit: rust.
I was thankful that my favorite Greek watchmaker, via LocalTime, spent the time to clean up the Gallet Multichron 45 in order to get this watch back into running shape.
Now, I’m happy to say that it runs like a charm and is a real joy to use – those perfectly sized cap pushers work well with the crisp Landeron – and it keeps perfect time.
You’ll see that I’ve paired the Gallet Multichron 45 with a stingray strap from GLC Straps of Italy and I think it looks pretty cool – especially for business dress. On the flip side, a NATO or a weathered brown strap would look fantastic as well. I can imagine that I’ll be doing some swapping as necessary. I think all of you know by now that I have infamously small wrists. Still, I can pull off >40mm watches with relative ease but you’ll see that the Gallet looks good on me as well. So, it’s all about trying these and I’d suggest you don’t overlook a Multichron 45.
The Gallet Multichron 45 is a rare bargain…for now
Look, the vintage chronograph is currently hot to the point that some days on eBay, there’s little more than Sicura’s and Poljot’s for sale. That’s ok if that’s your thing, but if you’re looking for household name stuff, it’s getting harder and harder. Thankfully, there are usually a couple Gallet Multichron 45 examples out there. Sure, some are a bit ridiculous, but I’ve seen a few lately that are straight up auctions without crazy buy-it-now pricing. I think, that with patience and negotiation, one should be able to find one of these pieces for $800-900 in really nice condition. Lesser examples should be available less, but factor in a service and possibly a new crystal. As always, keep away from pieces missing major cosmetic parts, but don’t fear a non-runner unless it’s a total mess. Looking back at my price estimate, I’m struck that this is one of the relatively few legitimate pieces out there still available at a nice price – snap one up!
Thanks for tuning in for a look at the Gallet Multichron 45. I’m really happy with this watch. It’s a quality piece from a well-respected marque and, yes I’ll say it again, it wears very nicely despite the 35mm moniker. We’d love to hear from fellow “45” owners about what you think about the size and if it wears well…until then, happy hunting!