The 3/6/9 time-only dial layout is a vintage classic. There’s one unexpected watch with this dial type that predates most, even the Rolex Explorer 1016.
That would be the Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic, a watch with an impressive history, as it was the first watch to cross into Antarctica to the South Pole as part of the US Navy’s Deep Freeze 1 Expedition in 1955. The expedition was a combined effort of forty nations carrying out geology studies from the North Pole to the South Pole. The Super Antarctic was first released in 1950 by Nivada.
The modern Super Antarctics from Nivada come in either a black or matte tropical brown dial option with applied indices. Within these two options, there is a choice to combine either dial version with white super luminova or a lume where an aging effect is placed to both the dial and hand lume resulting in a pleasing and authentic vintage look. Another nod to the past can be seen on the caseback, adorned with the same 1957 International Geophysical Medallion seen on the original Antarctics.
The stainless steel case in a 38 mm diameter uses nice details and clean angles. The lug-to-lug width measures a comfortable 45 mm and the case with sapphire crystal is only 12 mm thick. Nivada’s modern version of the stainless steel beads of rice bracelet feels high quality and comfortable. The signed adjustable clasp is smooth and sturdy. The pseudo vintage lume color in daylight looks spot on to someone who usually wears vintage watches and the modern nighttime illumination does not disappoint either.
The movement is a Swiss automatic Soprod P024 which runs at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz) and has a power reserve of 38 hours. A Sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown offering 10 ATM of water resistance is utilized. The watch on the stainless steel beads-of-rice bracelet weighs 136 grams. Finally, the retail price for the watch on the beads-of-rice bracelet is $950, and on their leather black or brown racing strap is $750.
The case size of 38 mm and particularly what I like to harp on as the most important measurement of a watch, its lug-to-lug length, are both very pleasing. Even more so if you have a 7-inch or less wrist like mine. The watch itself can be dressed up or worn casually. The watch on the two offered bracelet options feel and look like different watches. A more dressy version on the bracelet for more formality and a much more casual feel on a leather strap. Its 20 mm lug width will provide tons of strap option possibilities as this watch will look great in many different combinations. Merge that with the aesthetics of the dial and hands with its extremely legible dial the Super Antarctic provides excellent wearability.
The brown dial with vintage lume reviewed here may be the best example of pseudo-vintage effects on a modern watch I’ve seen to date. As a vintage collector at heart, one design alternative I’d like to see imagined would be a difference in case finish for the tropical dial variant. Although the original cases were polished, I wonder if a brushed or less polished finish on the case for the tropical dial would bolster the already impressive vintage appeal even further. That being said, I found the modern Super Antarctica to retain much of the essence of the original and a watch that both vintage and modern collectors will enjoy.
Learn more at Nivada Grenchen.
Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic 3.6.9 Tropical
Case Material: Stainless steel
Total Weight: 136 grams
Case Diameter: 38 mm
Case Thickness: 12 mm
Lug-to-lug: 45 mm
Lug width: 20 mm
Bracelet: Stainless steel, beads-of-rice, 20 mm/16 mm
Glass: Sapphire crystal (curved)
Movement: Soprod P024 Automatic
Depth Rating: 100 meters