2303 Enicar Garnix
More than any Hublot which may or may not be for sale, more than any Ming which may or may not tell the hour, and more than any Speedmaster which may or may not be a parts bin, what the watch world needs is understandable and attainably priced great watches. Getting laughed out of a Rolex shop is only fun for so long. What you’re looking at is quite significant, not because of any complication, marketing spin, or celebrity. This, Enicar’s ‘Garnix’, may be the last reasonably-priced and very attractive Valjoux 72-powered chronograph out there. Interesting, attractive, and reasonable watches are what create new enthusiasts out of passive interest and I’m running low today on recommendations, particularly in vintage. So here’s the final bastion.
The Garnix is frequently called an enigma for good reason. Actually, Garnix is a nickname, which was given by German collectors and translates literally as ‘nothing’. The irreverent name comes from the fact that Enicar never actually gave the ref. 2303 a model line, name, or anything really. What they did give it is a standout monochromatic matte grey dial, black gloss tachymetre scale, and 36mm case. The case is not shared with any other model or Sherpa Graph, it bears none of the water resistant tech. As a result, it wears both 4mm smaller and a decent bit thinner than the chronographs you know from Enicar. Its lugs, too, have much less mass. This proportion has seen it gain some attention from those who really know Enicar in recent years. It’s easy to be turned off by the fact that this was marketed as an entry level Enicar in period. What it actually is is a perfectly proportioned, dressier Sherpa Graph with less branding, one which shouldn’t get too wet.
You’ll find Garnixes (Garni?) rarely come up for sale, mostly from Europe. It is thought that production was small by comparison to the main model lines. However, where the Jim Clark endorsed Sherpa Graphs will now sell anywhere between 15-30K USD, a Garnix won’t even run you half the lower bracket. It’s the same movement. It’s the same quality. It even has the red dot chronograph hand and swathes of tritium. These are watches that everyone adores. They are not to flex, invest, or resell, but to love. An entry point and counter to early chronograph enthusiasm. It would be a tall order to do better for less, which is a metric lost on many watch brands today.
This example checks out. Tritium is the first thing to look for on these, most have decayed to grey and fallen out of the hands but this example looks great. Same too for its dial, which sports no visible damage. The case and lugs are excellent, light surface wear and very likely unpolished. It comes on a beads of rice bracelet (not original to the watch) from a well-regarded private collector.