A Week on the Wrist – Parnis GMT Watch Review
When you are buying a sub-£100 Chinese watch from eBay you don’t get much in the way of presentation. The Parnis arrives in a padded bag (or a polystyrene box if you are lucky) and wrapped in blue protective film.
Once you’ve carefully peeled away the plastic it’s a surprisingly nice-looking watch. The case is made from solid 316L stainless steel with a nice polished finish. The unsigned crown screws down and allows you to adjust time, date and the GMT function. The bezel is crisp and rotates with a pronounced click.
Although the feel is good, I was unhappy on two counts: It’s a 120-click unidirectional diver’s bezel, not a 24-click bidirectional GMT bezel. This makes quickly switching time zones more of a challenge than expected. Also, the engraved numbers have been filled with white paint but the finish is quite sloppy and makes them look a little blurred. Not a deal breaker at the price point, but worthy of note.
The Parnis GMT has Sapphire glass on the front, with a “cyclops” date magnifier that actually magnifies the date – far better than those fitted to Steinhart watches and some other more expensive brands. The movement is a self-winding mechanical Chinese GMT movement, which ticks at 21,600 bph (6 ticks per second). The second hand is smooth and has very little stutter – which can be a problem with these cheap Chinese automatic movements.
Dial and Hands
The dial is sterile – although “Parnis” branding is available. It actually looks better than I expected without any text, and the Rolex GMT Master II (to which this is an homage) has a fair bit of writing there. The GMT hand helps to fill any blank space on the dial for most of the day. The hour markers are applied with polished metal outers. They are really nicely done, and make the watch look more expensive than if it had a printed dial. The lume on the watch is superb for the money, it’s a bright green that looks great in the dark after just a short exposure to sunlight.
The hands are of the Rolex-style “Mercedes” type, and again are nicely finished. The GMT hand is of the “floating” type: with a true GMT watch, you can either adjust the hour (on modern Rolex watches) or GMT (on ETA movements) in 1-hour steps to quickly switch time zone. With the Parnis GMT you have to carefully move the hand round and point it at what you estimate to be the right place between the relevant hour markers. It’s tricky and because it only goes one way around it can take a few tries to get it right.
Bracelet and Clasp
WRUK don’t review many watches with bracelets, but I prefer a bracelet to a strap on nearly every watch. The bracelet on the Parnis GMT is both extremely good and extremely frustrating in equal measure. The positives are that it is made of solid (not folded) steel, a with screwed-in adjustable links and polished midlinks. It’s really well made, smooth to the touch and feels like it should be fitted to a far more expensive watch. The clasp pops open with a satisfying click and closes firmly.
The downside to the bracelet is that there is no micro-adjustment. A Rolex GMT Master clasp has micro adjustment points which are adjusted inside the clasp. The links at the end have small cutouts to allow access by a bracelet adjusting fine-fork tool. On the Parnis GMT there are no cutouts so you’d have to trash the bracelet to adjust it. The Rolex “easy-link” that adds an extra 3mm or so without the need for tools is also not present. This means that for many people the watch will be a bit too tight or a bit too loose.
Parnis GMT Video Review
What I Liked
- Build quality is great, and not just for the sub-£100 price
- You don’t get many automatic GMT watches at this price
- It looks like a very expensive watch
What I Didn’t Like
- It will look too much like a replica Rolex for some people
- The lack of micro adjustment on the bracelet made it hard to get the perfect fit
- The bezel mechanism is for a dive watch bezel, not a GMT bezel
Parnis GMT – The WRUK Verdict
Overall, I found myself having to remember how much I paid for the watch when criticising it. Many readers will have arrived here asking “are Parnis watches any good” and the answer is – honestly – yes. For the price, you can’t find much to touch a Parnis. High street watches in this price range will generally have mineral glass crystals, folded link bracelets and quartz movements. The Parnis beats pretty much every sub-£100 watch I’ve reviewed hands-down when it comes to “bang per buck”. If I’m honest, it’s not a watch I will keep thanks to the bracelet and strong resemblance to a fake Rolex, but I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the watch if you need a GMT function on a budget.
Buy a Parnis GMT watch
You can buy a Parnis watch in the UK from Amazon, but the best deals are to be had when you buy a Parnis GMT watch from China via eBay. Buyer beware, the quality control of Parnis can vary according to reports I have read, but the one I tried was excellent in nearly every way.