The Marathon GSAR Diver - Has it become an icon?


We have worked closely with Marathon for a number of years now and, as with every manufacturer we represent, the closer we work, the more we learn.

Since 1904, Marathon have produced their watches in the small Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, with a population fewer than 40,000. La Chaux-de-Fonds stands at the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry, playing a significant role in horological history. Famous brands have their roots here; from Ebel to Corum, Eberhard to Gerard Perregaux and even Omega and Rolex.

The ever popular Marathon brand recently acquired the original Girrard Perregaux manufacturary here. Now, it's worth mentioning that Marathon have supplied military watches since the Second World War. Indeed, over recent years, production has been almost entirely taken up by the military.


The invention of cheap quartz and digital watches in the 70s and 80s saw a decline in the number of regular watch purchases. But with the arrival of the mobile phone, it quickly became apparent that many a warfighter (a term used not to differentiate between soldier and officer) did not possess a timepiece; let alone one built to the required standards.

At the start of the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91, the U.S. army commissioned Marathon (already a trusted supplier) to manufacture 60,000 watches; an order that was increased to 120,000 watches, within 5 minutes of the commencement of the meeting!

And of course, Marathon had to perform. As a preferred supplier, their watches had to be rugged, reliable and perform consistently to the highest standards; as they still must.


At the heart of the range is the classic Marathon Diver’s Automatic GSAR. Built to U.S. Government specification NSN 6645-21-558-0133, this timepiece encompasses everything one would want from a 'rugged and reliable' Swiss-made diving watch.

It is important to note that Marathon's designs are never the result of the latest 'concept' from the marketing department; these watches are built to perform to specification. The Swiss-made cases, for example, have short drilled lugs to enable the quick changing of straps. Meanwhile, crown guards are built into the case to protect the 'non-slip' crown, and the screw-in case back lists all the military specifications along with the correct NATO stock number.

Marathon GSAR

The dial features Marathon's own Tritium tubes for superb low light visibility and these tubes are again fitted to the hour, minute and second hands. Time is displayed with simple am/pm numerals, with the 24-hour alternative in small numerals below. Of course, the display includes a date window.

Marathon have long been customers of renowned watch movement makers, ETA; so the tried-and-tested ETA 2824 movement is built to Marathon’s specification.

A stainless 60 minute bezel with 120 click ratchet system features on the diver’s watch; the bezel has an easy-grip knurled rim, to use with a gloved hand, and the watch is topped with 2.8mm single-sided, anti-reflective crystal.

Several of our customers have owned their Marathon watches for many years; these timepieces have given sterling service in a plethora of environments around the globe. As the Official European Service Centre for Marathon watches, we see many watches which were truly tried-and-tested.

Consider this; Marathon’s genuine military watches have not only gained a cult following, but they’re manufactured from start to finish by a heritage watchmaker in Switzerland. We believe the Marathon GSAR and its quartz partner, the TSAR, have the makings of future classics. We hope you do too. Alternatively, this video will show you how to choose your ideal Marathon timepiece; feel free to watch at your leisure.