We see many new brands and releases at the Fratello offices, but it’s not often that watches make a great first impression. All too often, new releases are a take on familiar designs. This familiarity obviously creates comfort, but sometimes you want to see something a bit more surprising. When we received the first glimpses of the new Atelier Holgur Frømand, that’s exactly what I felt. The excitement of seeing a watch that is not a derivative take on a classical dive watch makes for a great first release of this new Singapore-based brand. Let’s find out more about the modern and stylish Atelier Holgur Frømand.

We watch enthusiasts are a weird bunch when it comes to design. As I have said before, we often desire to see something new and refreshing. However, when we are confronted with a completely new take on a watch or an archetypical design, we often perceive it as weird or too futuristic. If it’s too close to “home”, we quickly see plenty of references to watches that came before, deeming the new release unoriginal. Essentially, it’s a very thin line to walk where familiarity and the initial discomfort of a new design turn into something exciting. Atelier Holgur walks that thin line perfectly with the new Frømand. The watch stands out from the crowd of new releases, especially in the world of dive watches.

Atelier Holgur Frømand

The story of the Atelier Holgur Frømand

The story of Atelier Holgur is the story of Matthew de Bakker and Asbjørn Simonen-Andersen. They decided to start the Singapore-based brand almost two years ago. Next to creating a brand to develop their take on a modern dive watch, both men also care a great deal about the conservation of marine life. That’s why it only makes sense that the two men picked a dive watch as their first release.

Atelier Holgur Frømand

But the intention was never to create an archetypical dive watch according to the familiar diver’s aesthetics that were introduced in the 1950s. As mechanical watches have become a luxury product first and foremost, we have seen dive watches on the wrist of watch fans in many different situations. With the new Frømand, the men behind Atelier Holgur wanted to create a watch with all the specs of a modern dive watch combined with a contemporary take on the design of the military dive watches of the past. The result of that endeavor is the attractive Frømand, which takes its name from the Danish word for “frogman.”

Atelier Holgur Frømand

Modern design and materials

The Atelier Holgur Frømand features a 40mm Grade 5 titanium case that is 13.5mm thick and water-resistant to 300 meters. The lightweight, angular case feels very modern and features a mix of micro-blasted and polished finishes. The subtle finishes suit the titanium material perfectly and contrast nicely with the sharp angles of the case. I particularly love the proud crown guards protecting the screw-down crown and adding both form and function. The case comes with fixed lugs or, as the brand puts it more accurately, “integrated strap bars.” The reason is that the case doesn’t feature classically styled lugs. As a result, the straps visually integrate very nicely with the case.

Atelier Holgur Frømand

Furthermore, the Frømand comes equipped with a black DLC 120-click unidirectional dive bezel. The bezel features a count-up diving scale executed in white that lights up in the dark thanks to the use of Super-LumiNova. As you can see, the base shape of the bezel is round, but the faceted edges provide grip as well as add a present-day design twist to it. Underneath the sapphire crystal, you will find a black dial that features snailing for extra texture and depth. At 6 o’clock, you will find a small seconds indicator that repeats the snailing pattern beautifully.

The contrast of the dial

Protected by a sapphire crystal, the dial features white hour markers and a white 60-minute track. Hovering above the dial are the sword-style hour and minute hands, also executed in white. Both the hour markers and hands are also treated with white Super-LumiNova that lights up when the sun goes down. Overall, the combination of the case, dial, hands, and bezel feels stylish and current but rooted in a familiar design. But the great thing is that the brand has been able to make it into something that feels fresh — something that feels like Atelier Holgur.

Speaking of which, another detail that I like is the size of the logo on the upper part of the dial. It’s printed in quite a substantial size, giving it plenty of presence to counterbalance all the other white elements. I like that it’s not printed too small on top of the fine snailing pattern. Overall, the watch makes a statement from afar, but if you zoom in further, you will quickly find all the intricate details that show that this is a really well-considered design.

Atelier Holgur Frømand

The Schwarz-Etienne ASE 200 for Atelier Holgur

If you turn the watch around, you will see the beautiful Schwarz-Etienne ASE 200 caliber through the sapphire crystal of the screw-down case back. The men behind Atelier Holgur asked Schwarz-Etienne to help them create a modern movement that perfectly fits the overall concept. And I have to say, the result looks stunning. The skeletonized automatic movement consists of 198 parts, operates at 21,600vph, has 33 jewels, and delivers 86 hours of power reserve.

The caliber comes with a micro-rotor with bidirectional winding and features a micro-blasted finish with hand-polished beveled edges. As mentioned before, the movement features central hours and minutes and a small seconds indicator at 6 o’clock. The movement’s architecture and finish are perfectly in sync with the design of the watch. It shows that the guys at Atelier Holgur had very clear ideas about creating a modern luxury dive watch in every sense. A total of 100 pieces will be produced, and as proof that each one is a part of the first 100 watches the brand has created, they will feature an engraving on the case back stating, “THE FIRST 100”.

Atelier Holgur Frømand

The Frømand’s straps

The Atelier Holgur Frømand comes with two straps made with recycled ocean plastic, reflecting the founders’ passion for marine conservation. The first is a black strap for daily wear that features a hook-and-loop fastener, pin system, and titanium buckle. This pin system is secured at the strap’s front side, ensuring you can see the movement in all its glory. The second strap is a single-loop teal strap with black edges that features a hook-and-loop fastener adjustment.

Both straps can be changed without using a tool, making it easy to swap between them. The black strap is the perfect choice for daily wear and creates an overall stylish look. The teal strap speaks to the more functional side of this dive watch, letting you know that it doesn’t just exist to look good.

Initial impressions of the Atelier Holgur Frømand

Overall, I think the guys at Atelier Holgur have come up with a great first release for their brand. The Frømand is a very well-thought-out watch that combines great modern style with an impressive movement. The final product is a timepiece that I can’t wait to check out up close. While I love my classic dive watches and have quite a few of them, this luxurious, contemporary take on the genre definitely has me excited to find out more.

As mentioned, Atelier Holgur will produce the Frømand in a limited run of 100 pieces. The price of the watch is CHF 8,850 excluding local taxes. Essentially, we are looking at a watch that will cost roughly 10K. Obviously, that is a serious amount of money, but you get a great combination of style and substance in return. First impressions are lasting, and my first impression is that the guys at Atelier Holgur have created a watch that looks phenomenal and clearly shows a great eye for detail. The Frømand walks that thin line between familiarity and excitement perfectly, and that’s why I can’t wait to see it in the metal.

To find out more, visit the official Atelier Holgur website. Let us know in the comments section what your first impressions of the modern Atelier Holgur Frømand are.