Marathon GSAR: A Comprehensive Review

Military watches are crafted to be as durable as possible, ensuring maximal longevity. Since military personnel prefers utility over design—which is perfectly reasonable given their line of work—aesthetics tend to be less of a priority for military watches. Marathon is a great example of a watch brand that champions functionality and durability. By focusing on substance over style, Marathon has firmly cemented its place as one of the best military watch manufacturers in the market.

The Marathon GSAR, otherwise known as the Marathon Government-Issued Search and Rescue, is a collection of high-utility watches meant for critical military missions. This Canadian-made watch ensures optimal comfort and mobility, improving the success rate of the wearers’ missions—especially since time is very crucial in dire situations. In addition, these watches are tried and tested by both the Canadian and US military forces, which serves as a testament to their quality.

Today, we will be taking an in-depth look at the Marathon GSAR to just see what makes it so special as a search and rescue watch. Plus, we have also included 5 impressive alternatives for the Marathon GSAR watch if you are looking for something similar. Read on to find out more!

First Impressions

front view of Marathon GSAR watch
Image courtesy of Marathon Official

The Marathon GSAR collection is an ambitious innovation meant to help military personnel fulfil their duties. It comes highly approved by the Canadian and US governments and has been endorsed by many high-ranking officers as well, so you can be sure of its reliability.

That being said, the Marathon GSAR might not be of much interest to the average watch enthusiast or casual wearer. Indeed, its plethora of features tend to be useful primarily for military individuals or explorers and is not a great fit for the dance floor or as part of your everyday routines. If, however, you are looking for a companion on your next outdoor adventure, then the Marathon GSAR is a great choice. Without further ado, let us go over the specifications of the Marathon GSAR Ref. WW194006SS-0101.



The Marathon GSAR Ref. WW194006SS-0101 is also commonly known as the Large Diver’s Automatic, due to its sizeable case. It employs the use of 361L stainless steel to craft its case, which measures 41mm in diameter. In addition, this is quite a robust watch, with its 14mm thickness. It also has a secure screw-in crown which keeps any moisture or dust from getting into the watch and causing damage to its inside.

The water resistance rating on the Marathon GSAR is a whopping 30 ATM or 300 meters. This allows it to withstand great water pressures, which makes it a massive help during underwater search and rescue missions—the very purpose it was meant to fulfil. It is equipped with a 2.8mm thick sturdy sapphire crystal, which protects the dial from all sorts of external elements and damage.


The Marathon GSAR Ref. WW194006SS-0101 has a jet black dial with white numeral hour markers and a 24-hour layout commonly found in military watches. There is also a small date aperture between the 4 and 5 o’clock markers, too. The monochrome design allows time to be easily read even with all the details on the dial.

luminous dial of Marathon GSAR watch
Image courtesy of Marathon Official

Its visibility is also further boosted when used in the dark. Equipped with tritium gas tubes with glow that can last up to 25 years, divers can easily tell the time even when deep down underwater. The Marathon GSAR Ref. WW194006SS-0101 uses their very own luminescent technology, the MaraGlo. Notably, the MaraGlo is proven to be non-radioactive, so you do not have to worry about any hazards when it comes to using tritium gas tubes.”


movement of Marathon GSAR watch
Image courtesy of Marathon Official

The Marathon GSAR Ref. WW194006SS-0101 is equipped with the ETA 2824-A2 caliber. This is an automatic movement that is popularly used in the market. With over 32 hours of power reserve, you can achieve a lot of things while wearing this watch—especially during search and rescue missions.

Furthermore, since this is an automatic caliber, you do not have to worry about having to manually wind the watch during your missions. All you have to do is wear it and go about your business, and as long as it is on your wrist, it will never stop ticking. That said, if you do take the watch off for several days, simply turn the grooved crown to manually wind the watch again.


The strap used on the Marathon GSAR Ref. WW194006SS-0101 is a 20mm black rubber strap. It adds comfort and maintains the balance of the watch’s design, enhancing its sporty look.


This high-functioning, government-issued search and rescue watch does not come cheaply. However, this is to be expected of a military-grade watch like this, which delivers impressive precision and durability. You can purchase this watch for around $1,300 USD.

5 Marathon GSAR Alternatives

1. Casio G-Shock 35th Anniversary Magma Ocean Ref. GWF-1035F-1JR

front view of Casio G-Shock 35th Anniversary Magma Ocean Ref. GWF-1035F-1JR watch

Since the Marathon GSAR is technically a diver’s watch, you can find several dive watches that are just as robust as the Marathon GSAR. The only difference is that these watches are not government-issued, let alone made for the sole purpose of search and rescue missions. That said, the Casio G-Shock 35th Anniversary Magma Ocean Ref. GWF-1035F-1JR is an exceptional Casio’s diver’s watch that would surely be of use to you during your underwater expeditions.

The Casio G-Shock 35th Anniversary Magma Ocean Ref. GWF-1035F-1JR has a large 52.8mm case made of hard-coated stainless steel and polymer. This might sound like an unusual combination, but this case is reinforced for maximum protection against water pressures and shocks. The dial, on the other hand, is mainly digital. It also has a backlight function to provide a light source in the dark and underwater, giving this G-Shock watch greater legibility. This Frogman piece is also equipped with Casio’s very own Tough Solar and Multi-Band 6 features, making it eco-friendly and highly functional.

This watch retails at $749 USD. It is a great alternative to the Marathon GSAR since it is fitted with incredibly useful features for both diving and other outdoor activities.

2. Longines HydroConquest Ref. L37813587

front view of  Longines HydroConquest Ref. L37813587 watch

Longines also have an impressive dive watch up their sleeves. The Longines HydroConquest Ref. L37813587 is a perfect example of a stylish diver’s watch that is comparable to the Rolex Submariner but is much more affordable.

The Longines HydroConquest Ref. L37813587 uses a 41mm stainless steel case with a bidirectional rose gold bezel. The bezel also has a black ceramic insert, painted with a tachymeter scale for improved utility. This is paired with a two-toned stainless steel bracelet with exquisite rose gold central links. The dial of this HydroConquest watch looks a lot like the Submariner, as it features bold circular hour indices and a date window at 3 o’clock. Its black backdrop blends perfectly with the rose gold accents all over the watch’s exterior.

This watch is also equipped with a water resistance rating of 300 meters, so it is more than capable of competing against the Marathon GSAR. In addition, it makes use of the Longines Caliber L888 automatic movement to ensure excellent precision and a 62-hour power reserve. As a stylish luxury diver, this watch is a bit more expensive than the Marathon GSAR. It retails at a price of $1,699 USD.

3. Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79230B-0007

front view of  Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79230B-0007 watch

Tudor is another luxury watch brand that does not fall short when it comes to exceptional dive watches. If you are in the market for a luxury diver that offers a sleek style while also providing durability and functionality useful during outdoor activities, give the Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79230B-0007 a shot.

The Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79230B-0007 makes use of a 41mm stainless steel case with a sporty dark blue leather strap. That said, for those who prefer a more professional look, you can opt to swap the leather strap for a stainless steel bracelet too. The dial is protected by a high-quality, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It does not have a date aperture, but it features large hands and oversized geometric hour markers which are very easy to read.

The water resistance capacity of this watch is slightly less impressive than the Marathon GSAR, at 200 meters. It might not be as powerful as the Marathon GSAR, but if you are looking for a pseudo dress piece that boasts durability and versatility, then this Tudor Black Bay model might be the one for you. You can purchase the Tudor Black Bay Ref. 79230B-0007 for $3,475 USD.

4. Seiko Prospex Divers Ref. SBDC101

front view of Seiko Prospex Divers Ref. SBDC101 watch

If you are looking for an affordable alternative to the Marathon GSAR, the Seiko Prospex Divers Ref. SBDC101 is a great choice. Priced at around $1,449 USD, this Seiko piece offers a straightforward, minimalist design that promotes comfort and class.

The Seiko Prospex Divers Ref. SBDC101 utilizes a quintessential build, with a 40mm stainless steel case and matching three-link bracelet. The black dial contrasts nicely with its silver-tone hands and thick hour indices, allowing for improved legibility. A date aperture can also be found replacing the 3 o’clock marker. As a dive watch, this model also comes with a black bezel, marked with a tachymetric scale in white paint. With its substantial 200-meter water resistance capacity, this is an excellent option for those seeking a partner during underwater dives.

5. SINN Diving U212 Ref. 212.040-Solid-2LSS

front view of SINN Diving U212 Ref. 212.040-Solid-2LSS watch

In terms of utility, the SINN Diving U212 Ref. 212.040-Solid-2LSS is possibly the best alternative to the Marathon GSAR. Although it does come at a more expensive price of $3,049 USD, this watch offers a delightfully versatile aesthetic and features even better than that of the Marathon GSAR.

The case of the SINN Diving U212 Ref. 212.040-Solid-2LSS is quite large, weighing in at a diameter of 47mm. It is best suited for average-to-large-sized wrists. This case, and its matching bracelet, are both made from bead-blasted German submarine steel, a military-grade material that maximizes the watch’s durability both underwater and in extreme weather conditions. The submarine steel bezel is marked with playful red and black accents and comes with a tachymetric scale for optimal utility.

The dial of this Sinn timepiece also comes in black, with contrasting white indices and hour and minute hands. The seconds hand comes in bright red, adding a hint of sportiness to this piece. One downside to this watch is that the date aperture is much smaller than in the previously mentioned watches. That said, given the large size of the dial, the date display is still quite readable.

Equipped with an incredible water resistance capacity of 1,000 meters, you can easily bring this watch on deep dives without ever having to worry about water damage. Indeed, this Sinn Diving piece is quite pricey, but the value you get from it is far more than what you pay for.

Final Thoughts

The Marathon GSAR is an exceptional watch that showcases the potential of military and dive watches, and how innovation and passion can take things further. This tool watch might not be for everyone, especially since it is geared more towards military use and extreme adventures. Nevertheless, if you are intrigued by the functionality of the Marathon GSAR, you are still welcome to give it a go and see if it fits your lifestyle.

And if you think that a rugged government-issued watch is too much for your tastes, we have also presented five great alternatives. These alternatives have the same utility as the Marathon GSAR, but they possess different styles that just might fit your tastes more.

Images courtesy of WatchShopping, unless stated otherwise.

Featured image courtesy of Marathon Official

If you consider yourself an adventurer and are looking for a durable companion, have a look at our 20 Best Hiking Watches in 2021!

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