Nivada Grenchen is a watch brand that was originally founded by Jacob Schneider in Grenchen, Switzerland in 1926, and that was relaunched two years ago.
In 1976 Schneider’s son Max took over the business, and the distribution company he set up in the US was called Croton Company, and you can find the same watches labeled with Nivada Grenchen, Croton, or both. Nivada Grenchen manufactured automatic watches as early as 1930, and this led to the creation of Nivada Grenchen’s first waterproof automatic watch called the Antarctic in 1950. According to the company, the watch was worn by members of the American Navy’s Deep Freeze 1 during their expedition to the South Pole from 1955 to 1956.
After successfully selling his previous watch company, William L. 1985, Guillaume Laidet — with the backing of Remi Chabrat and the Montrichard Group — relaunched Nivada Grenchen (2020). They followed that up last year with the relaunch of Excelsior Park (2021) and soon will do the same thing with Vulcain (expected in 2022), which unlike the other two, was still operating until recently.
Laidet and his team have successfully applied their experience in watch manufacturing, distribution, and digital marketing to breathe new life into many of Nivada Grenchen’s historic watch designs, staying as faithful as possible aesthetically, with modernized Swiss movements, cases, sapphire glass — at attractive prices.
The company is humble and continues to use customer feedback — particularly on Instagram — to right-size what they offer based on what consumers actually want. In my opinion, very few watch companies operate this way. For instance, when consumers told Nivada Grenchen that some of the automatic-equipped chronograph movements were too thick (something that’s very important to consumers), they made changes to their marketing plan and focused more on thinner movements. And the Antarctic is no exception, measuring just 11.1 mm in thickness (not including the date cyclops).
From the dressy appearance to the conservative dimensions to the date cyclops magnifier the Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Spider Ref. 32023A is reminiscent of the Datejust — whereas the cool vintage-inspired curved silver sunburst sector Spider dial looks nothing like it. The juxtaposition of a formal-looking case with a retro dial creates a truly unique offering. Combining the dress watch styling, with a timepiece that’s sporty, and that boasts a screw-down crown and a 100-meter depth rating makes this more of a go-anywhere watch than it might seem, especially on this bracelet. Yet, my recommendation is this exact bracelet, because it simply looks fantastic with the tone-on-tone look of the dial and case.
The unique throwback Spider pattern, with aged lume, is awesome yet also slightly harder to read, particularly because has only eight applied markers, not twelve, and also because the quadruple faceted applied indices are all vertically mounted. Vertically applied indices like this look fantastic but do take away from the legibility somewhat. However, in addition to the spider legs, the crosshair marks printed on the center of the dial, which goes all the way to the edge of the dial, act as the hour markers for 12, 3, 6, and 9.
What attracted me to this watch, beyond the Spider dial, or the fact that it’s a faithful recreation, is the unique lugs and case design, not to mention the relatively diminutive size of the case — which is a perfect size for a dress watch. I tend to prefer a case diameter of 40 mm to 42 mm for a sports watch, but for a dress watch, 38 mm seems to be the perfect number for my 7″ wrist. The Antarctic Spider feels as good as it looks, with a diameter of 38 mm and a lug-to-lug of just 45 mm, a thickness of 11.1 mm, and a weight of only 127.36 grams on the bracelet — the watch sits perfectly on my wrist.
Under the dial of the Antarctic is a Soprod automatic caliber P024, which is comparable to an ETA 2824 or an SW200, which means reliable Swiss movement powers the watch, although it’s not been adjusted to chronometer specifications, nor is the movement decorated beyond industrial techniques — but that’s all right for a sub $1,000 wristwatch.
Nivada Grenchen made a very faithful recreation of the Antarctic Spider, with an attractive curved silver sunburst dial stamped with both a crosshair and Spider patterns, topped with vertically applied multi-faceted indices and accentuated with eight cool spherical-shaped lume plots. They even gave the watch a screw-down crown, and although the 5 mm diameter crown was a bit hard to handle due to its small size, I would not change it because it matches the case well, and did not protrude into my wrist at all.
Nivada Grenchen’s recreated a timepiece that’s truly distinctive, with an awesome throwback design, while giving is a modern Swiss-made Soprod automatic movement, a contemporary case, with a screw-in polished stainless steel caseback, a domed sapphire crystal, and an impressive 100 meters of water resistance. It’s the dress watch for someone that doesn’t wear dress watches.
The retail price of the Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Spider Ref. 32023A, as shown with a steel bracelet, is $961. Learn more at Nivada Grenchen.
Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Spider
Total Weight: 127.36 grams
Case Diameter: 38 mm
Case Thickness: 11.5 mm (13 mm with date cyclops)
Lug-to-lug: 45 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm/18 mm
Crown Diameter: 5 mm
Glass: domed sapphire with date cyclops
Movement: Soprod caliber P024
Depth Rating: 100 meters