Since its resurrection a few years ago – we’ve listed the brand in our recent buying guide on recently-revived historic brands – Nivada Grenchen has been hard at work, providing nicely designed and well-priced watches with a retro feel. It all started with the revamped Chronomaster, followed by funky models such as the “Pac-Man” Depthmaster or the Antarctic Spider. And then came the Super Antarctic, a rugged exploration model with no-nonsense design. Well, today, it’s not so much about “no frills” anymore, as French artist Seconde/Seconde, a.k.a Romaric André, gives (quite literally) a cool touch to this watch, with the new Nivada Super Antarctic Keep Frozen Limited Edition.
You might know Romaric, or Seconde/Seconde, for his artistic work on watches. His idea was to give a lightly-toned twist to usually serious watches. As he says himself, “I vandalize other people’s products only because I failed at building mine.” This says a lot about the mindset of the man… Everything he does is about fun, artistic touch, a slightly sarcastic sense of humour and, something rare in the watch industry, not taking things too seriously. We’ve already seen Romaric’s work in several collaboration watches with H. Moser & Cie. or with Louis Error… Sorry, Louis Erard.
On the other side, we have Nivada Grenchen, a historic brand with a great aura amongst a community of seasoned collectors, specialised in instrument watches. The brand has been relaunched recently by Guillaume Laidet (who’s also behind Excelsior Park and Vulcain) and has focused most of its production on vintage-inspired models, all re-editions of glorious past watches of the brand. And this includes the Super Antarctic, a robust, non-nonsense exploration watch with a clean design, good specifications and accessible price. This is the watch that Seconde/Seconde has chosen for its latest re-interpretation.
This watch (circa 1950), the Antarctic, was Nivada Grenchen’s first waterproof automatic timepiece and was worn by the members of the American Navy’s Deep Freeze 1 during their expedition to the South Pole from 1955 to 1956. And the Super Antarctic provided a more legible dial and a more rugged case. The modern version is basically using the same recipe, with a comfortable 200m water-resistance, thanks to a screwed caseback and a screw-down crown, and despite the compact dimensions of the case – 38mm in diameter, 11.50mm in height and a reasonable 45mm lug-to-lug. A double-domed sapphire crystal on top completes the vintage look.
The dial of the Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic is certainly bringing classic explorer vibes, with its applied markers combining batons and triangles. Matte black as a base, it’s equipped with large luminous hands and is all about immediate legibility and contrast. Simple and efficient. So… what’s new in this Super Antarctic Keep Frozen Edition? Romaric a.k.a Seconde/Seconde took the model with white Super-LumiNova as a base. And then, rather than evoking the great polar explorations and the heroic destinies that were associated with the historic models, the artist brings something lighter, associated with our daily life and, much cooler… in all senses of the word.
The central seconds hand has been replaced by a central disc (available in 4 colours) that reads “keep frozen” and is shaped like a snowflake. It “looks like a frozen product that you can imagine, no longer on the ice, but stored in the freezer between two ice creams,” explains the brand. And to push the concept even further, the watch is no longer delivered in a standard box, but in a cooler… just like your favourite pack of ice cream. Of course, this has to be taken lightly and with a bit of humour, as always with Seconde/Seconde’s creations.
Inside the case ticks an automatic Soprod P024, an alternative to ETA movements, with 4Hz frequency and 40h of power reserve. The watch is worn on an FKM tropic-like rubber strap, also available in 4 colours, matching the central disc – Ocean Blue, Polar Blue, Forest Green and Tropic Orange.
The Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic Keep Frozen x Seconde/Seconde will be a limited edition of 15 pieces per colourway, priced at EUR 990. For more details and orders, please visit nivadagrenchenofficial.com.