There is nothing as hype these days as the 1970s steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet. To make it short, they are everywhere and at every imaginable price point. The style is so popular that even high-end indie watchmakers and micro-brands are jumping on the bandwagon. Can we blame them? Surely not, as it’s just a response to what the market wants. Looking at the accessible segment, the strongest contender with a Swiss movement and one of the few go-to options is the Tissot PRX collection. Except that there is a new competitor on the block: welcome the F77 Automatic from Nivada Grenchen.
As with most of the previous releases of Nivada, this new watch doesn’t come out of the blue. It is actually a revival of a vintage watch that was produced in 1977, with all the codes you would expect from a watch designed after the shockwave produced by the Royal Oak. The original model, which you can see below, certainly displayed references to existing watches – an octagonal bezel with screws – and was entirely in line with the codes of its era. Sharp case, facets all around, raised bezel, textured dial, integrated bracelet and all-steel construction. No question here; it’s one of the countless watches that followed in the wake of the RO.
Back to 2023. Guillaume Laidet, the man behind the recreation of Nivada (and more brands) with a good nose for trends, has decided it was time for the brand to embrace the vibe of the 1970s steel sports watch. And since there was already a watch that played exactly on this trend, the task was simply to modernise the overall concept.
The new Nivada F77 Automatic remains faithful to the original version with some adjustments to comply with contemporary standards and some decisions sourced from the brand’s own community – what’s better than to get your fanbase’s approval in advance? What remains is the overall design, with a 37mm diameter, a relatively thick case of 12.6mm and, for better or worse, an octagonal bezel with eight screws that certainly looks very familiar. Even though the original Nivada featured the screws, it remains an iconic design feature of the RO watch. Anyway. The rest is a sharply designed case with facets, alternating brushed and polished surfaces, a domed sapphire crystal on top, a screwed steel back and a screw-down crown for a comfortable WR of 100m.
Moving to the dial of the Nivada F77 Automatic, we can see a recreation of the past design with a black or blue background and a basket weave pattern – again, the resemblance with the Czapek Antarctique is inevitable, even though the 1977 watch already featured it. This textured dial is complemented by typical 1970s baton hands and markers with luminous inserts. The logos of the brand and the model are raised on the dial – nice touch – and Nivada will let you choose whether or not you want a date window at 3 o’clock. The brand mentions that a smoked brown tobacco dial will also be launched later this year.
An important element of such watches, the Nivada F77 Automatic comes on its own integrated steel bracelet with lines that follow that of the sides of the case. The integration with the case and the way the connection is made isn’t as smooth as some other pieces in the category, but then again, it respects the original design. This 3-link steel bracelet is entirely brushed and closed by a folding clasp. It doesn’t feature a quick-release system, but it has classic spring bars on the back, so it could be removed quite easily.
Underneath the solid steel back is a classic Swiss automatic movement, the calibre Soprod P024 – a clone of the ETA 2824 produced by a long-established Swiss movement maker. This self-winding engine runs at 4Hz and stores 38h of power reserve when fully wound. Classic, precise enough and easy to service.
One of the key elements of this new Nivada F77 Automatic is its price, just below 1.1k euros. There aren’t many models in this range. The PRX Powermatic 80 comes at a slightly more accessible price, while the other Swiss-powered models we can think of, the Frederique Constant Highlife COSC and Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic, are closer to the 2k euros mark. In this respect, the F77 is pretty well-positioned.
It will be available for pre-order from April 7, 2023, exclusively at nivadagrenchenofficial.com, for EUR 1,089, USD 1,150 or CHF 1,078, and not as a limited edition.