Square watches are less mainstream than their round counterparts, but some models have become truly legendary. TAG Heuer’s Monaco is arguably the most recognised and synonymous with motorsport and Steve McQueen. The new Serie-R Cruiser from French microbrand Depancel is inspired by motorsport as well, specifically café racer and cruiser motorcycles. Its square case is certainly reminiscent of the iconic Monaco, and comparisons will inevitably be made, but the Cruiser is no copycat and has its own style and vibe. Let’s take a closer look.
It’s All in the Name
Depancel is a small watch brand that takes inspiration from cars and motorcycles. The name comes from three different French car manufacturers, Delage, Panhard and Facel Vega, and each collection looks at different parts of the automotive world. The logo was also inspired by the 1954 Facel Vega coat of arms. The brand’s tagline is: “A brand created by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts.”. This isn’t just a marketing line, as Depancel works closely with the watch community when developing new models. Founded in 2018, the brand has a small team of eight, but there’s already an impressive collection of automatics at attainable prices. The Serie-R Cruiser follows the best-selling Serie-R F-Back, a square piece with the same dimensions that honours fastback car designs.
Embracing the Square
In the same vein as the TAG Heuer Monaco, the 316L stainless steel square case has a motorsport vibe. Not only does it follow the aforementioned F-Back, but the square [Re]Naissance from 2019 as well. It’s technically a rectangle at 42mm x 36mm, but visually a square with a square dial and crystal. Height is 12.95mm. The crown has a black PVD section at the case, providing a subtle yet sporty detail, and there are flat pushers on either side. These are actually crown guards that give it a chronograph look à la the Monaco, but in a unique, Depancel kind of way. The finish is a combination of sandblasted, brushed and polished surfaces, and the sharp angles of the case resemble a radiator grill. A sapphire crystal protects the dial, while a mineral glass exhibition caseback displays the automatic movement. The back is secured via four screws at each corner, and water-resistance is rated at 50 metres.
The watch seems to be moving while stationary on the wrist, thanks in large part to the dial. For starters, the power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock resembles a fuel gauge, while the vertical Côtes de Genève complements the case with a radiator grill aesthetic. Four screws at each corner of the dial recall the look of a cruiser motorcycle’s engine, while red accents on the seconds hand and power reserve indicator reinforce the sporty vibe. A 24-hour sub-dial sits at 6 o’clock but is directly linked to the central hands and acts as a day/night indicator (not a second time zone). A date window sits at 3 o’clock. Applied indices are arranged on a raised, brushed ring to resemble polished fairings, and all indices and hands have lume inserts. The dial is available in three metallic colours – Petrol Blue, Dark Green and Shadow Black.
Powering the Serie-R Cruiser is a Miyota 9132 automatic. It has 26 jewels and beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 40-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds, power reserve indicator, 24-hour day/night indicator and date. Accuracy is rated at -10/+30 seconds per day, which is comparable to standard Swiss counterparts. Seen from the exhibition caseback, the movement is decorated with Côtes de Genève and a custom rotor.
The new Depancel Serie-R Cruiser is an intriguing piece that really provides a Monaco-like vibe at a fraction of the cost. There’s a lot of detail throughout the case and dial that reinforce the café racer and motorsport theme, but nothing is overdone, and it’s a well-thought piece that can dress up or down. Finishing things off is a 22mm leather strap in either brown or black with an embossed pattern reminiscent of driving gloves. There’s an option for a steel pin buckle or deployant clasp as well. The Cruiser launches on 15 November at 10 am for EUR 695. There’s no pre-order period, and it comes with a 5-year warranty. Not bad for such a detailed piece with very useful complications.
For more information and to place an order, please visit Depancel.com.