Katherine S. Cunanan

Past, Present, Whimsy

Why Nivada Grenchen is getting enthusiast hearts going again

The name Nivada Grenchen has been making enthusiast waves for the last few years, even longer if you were deep into the collector world. You would see it in watch collector meet-ups, you would see vintage pieces start showing up on wrists and online, and then you would see newly produced pieces that very nicely brought that mid-century look and vibe into the modern world at a rather approachable price point.

Who are they and what are they doing?

Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Diver

Nivada Grenchen has been around for a while. It traces its beginnings as far back as 1926 in Granges (Grenchen) Switzerland when it was created as a company that produced watches for more than one company or under more than one name. At that time, watches were becoming more mainstream than luxury and more and more small companies were striking out to create their own vision of what the world wanted and needed. Nivada Grenchen began making automatic watches in the 1930s and, as was typical of the time, began creating tough tool watches for those that had specific needs. Think exploration, timing, waterproofness, and the like.

Their first waterproof watch was called the Antarctic. Produced in 1950, it was their first waterproof automatic and was used in an expedition to the South Pole. Members of the US Navy’s Deep Freeze 1 project used the aptly-named “Antarctic” while they were part of the impressive International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) program. This was a collaborative effort by different nations to carry out earth science studies and exploration.

Nivada Grenchen Chronomaster
Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster

The company went on to create other lines, such as the waterproof chronograph named the Chronomaster. It also focused on the diving world with the Depthomatic a watch with a depth indicator. It followed this up a year later with the even deeper-diving Depthmaster. The name was reborn in 2018, and has been happily creating some very true-to-history wristwatches in small runs for enthusiasts and collectors.

Sizes of the watches are more like the originals than most modern releases, the Super Antarctic and the wonderfully design-era-evocative Antarctic Spider for example having 38mm cases housing their Swiss movements.

Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster
Nivada Grenchen Super-Antarctic
Nivada Grenchen Super-Antarctic Black and Brown

Their Chronograph watches such as the Chronokings and the Broad Arrow Manual are also at 38mm. These pieces are excellent examples of the look of the era, and indeed we often compare them directly with vintage pieces. A great way to have that classic look with modern consistency.

Dive watches like the Depthmasters are slightly larger at 39mm. Some of the dive watches have, if you look carefully, indices that may look surprisingly familiar. Their latest line is the F77 Automatic, a 37mm integrated bracelet steel watch from a design produced in the 1970s.

Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Spider

“…looking to the past for inspiration and idea but also happily lives in the modern enthusiast world…”

Nivada Grenchen Chronoking
Nivada Grenchen F77 Automatic

The company, under CEO Guillaume Laudet, may be looking to the past for inspiration and idea but also happily lives in the modern enthusiast world. Indeed, it is Mr. Laudet’s passion for vintage watches that unearthed pieces such as the F77. As such, they are becoming increasingly well known for dealing with small groups and individuals in the watch enthusiast world, creating special pieces that answer the desires for those with vision and the appreciation for the love behind the watch. They also go whimsical with collaborations with seconde/seconde for pieces like the Super Antarctic Keep Frozen.

In a world where there has been too much hype over name and model and price, companies like Nivada Grenchen are taking their passion and their ability out to a waiting enthusiast world in amounts that previously would be considered way too small. But they are finding their market and indeed may be the ones that help lift the horological seas, as they speak to both newly interested and those looking for pieces that speak more directly to them.


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