Hands-On Review: The Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic
It took me a while to get this one done. I received the new Nivada Super Antarctic lineup before the holiday season. I say “lineup” because the box had one of each of the three iterations. No problem, I thought, it should be a walk in the park. Then the end-of-year dinners started to roll in, preparing for my time off work, and finally COVID… As in me getting COVID. And this is exactly what I needed — a bit of time off so I could sit down and take a closer look at the new Super Antarctic from Nivada Grenchen.
Since I received every iteration available, I felt spoiled. Yet I soon found out that I kept returning to one version of the three when I wanted to wear a Super Antarctic. Which one was that? I won’t tell you, but soon enough, it won’t be that hard to guess. Let’s have a closer look at this fantastic release.
As is normally the case with Nivada Grenchen, the models we are here to discuss are re-editions of popular watches from the past. I will not call them iconic because as someone pointed it out to me — and I agree — that word is heavily overused. Still, the Super Antarctic is a model many vintage watch fans know, perhaps because it resembles the design of another famous model from Rolex. So, 50-odd years ago, if you could not afford the “real deal,” maybe you would have settled for this. Or maybe you’d choose it because it was simply a well-priced, trusty timepiece back in the day that translates well to modern times. In any case, vintage Super Antarctic models are now hard to find and often command a high price.
The best thing about this watch though is the story of why it even exists. It was one of those social media posts that went viral, and enthusiasts demanded that the brand listen and make the watch. Nivada has a heavy presence on social media (as it should) so the brand caught wind of this quickly. The watch fit into its lineup and the decision came fast that the Super Antarctic project was a go. The bottom line is that fans demanded it and Nivada made it happen. Some features needed a bit of tweaking, and as a result, the size of the watch is now a bit more modern. Overall, though, it looks very similar to the vintage model. However, no re-edition will ever be a carbon copy, so please don’t bash me in the comments when I say that the look is there. Instead, compare a vintage model and this, and you’ll see what I mean.
On the wrist
Aside from the color of the indices and hands, the three Super Antarctic iterations, ref. 91412 A, B, and C respectively, are the same. We have a 38mm case that is around 45mm from lug tip to lug tip. As such, it is a comfortable, modern-sized watch, and neither too big nor too small. The thickness is around 11mm even with an automatic movement. While the case is long, the lugs are short. Looks-wise, aside from a thin, smooth bezel, the Super Antarctic is all dial. Thanks to the huge triangle indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock as well as the big sword and lollipop hands, there is no problem with legibility. I’ll come back to the dial a bit later.
I received all three models on brown leather straps with matching full-length side stitching. The straps fit the watch well and the combo felt great on the wrist. They were also flexible and complemented the Super Antarctic’s look. On the brand’s website, however, it appears as though the default brown straps will have vintage-style white stitching. Alternatively, you can order the Super Antarctic on a black vintage-style leather or rubber Tropic strap and various metal bracelets, including three Forstner options. If you have your heart set on the straps pictured here, Nivada offers them separately in the Straps section of its website. It is virtually impossible to not find a strap or bracelet that you like.
If we flip the watch over, we can see a large gold medallion on the case back. This is a tribute to the vintage Antarctic models that also had such a decoration. The medallion is a copy of the original one, featuring an icebreaker and a plane with some stars and mountains. Originally, the medallion was added to vintage Nivada Antarctic models to commemorate the International Geophysical Year (1957).
Sword and Lollipop
I touched upon the topic of dial variants above so let us spend some time on the face of the Super Antarctic a bit more. As said, Nivada released the watch with three lume colors — white, cream, and green Super-LumiNova. The white gives the watch a modern look, while the cream (more like yellow) gives it a bit of an aged look. Now, I have a bit of a problem with this “cream” lume, as it is very yellow for faux patina. I don’t know what else to say other than it does not convince me. The green lume, just like the white, adds a modern feel to the Super Antarctic, but maybe even that is a bit too much.
If we step away from the topic of lume color for a bit and take a look at the hands and the dial’s overall layout, we see how easily readable the Super Antarctic is. Just like the vintage counterpart, the minute hand is large and sword-shaped. Again, the hour hand has the same form as its predecessor, but I’m a bit puzzled here. Shall I call it a Mercedes hands? I clearly can’t do that, as the Mercedes logo is missing from the middle of the circle. Maybe it’s a lollipop hand? Well, also not really, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick with that. When you have such large indexes and hands, there’s really no need or space for much text on the dial. Aside from the brand name at 12 o’clock and the model’s name and the number of jewels at 6, just like on the vintage model, you have nothing else. Clean and simple.
The original Nivada Super Antarctic was an automatic watch, and this new iteration is self-winding as well. There is a bit of a difference there, for the new model’s caliber comes from Soprod. It is the ref. P024 movement, which is basically a clone of the ETA 2824-2. Nothing wrong with that; it gets the job done and keeps the price low. While I had the watches with me, I encountered no problems, and trust me, these demo timepieces see a lot of action. Other features include a screw-down crown to ensure its 200m water resistance, as well as a double-domed sapphire crystal.
Price, availability, and more
The Nivada Super Antarctic will be available starting in March 2022. You can already order one on the brand’s website now, but you might have to wait for a few more months for delivery, given that you fancy the looks and can afford the watch, that is. In terms of pricing, you have two options. On leather, Nivada charges you €679.95, and on a bracelet, the price is €874.95. I think if you consider what you are getting, especially if you opt for the Forstner combo, this Nivada Super Antarctic is a good deal. We have a clear vintage DNA in an updated yet not overly huge case. While the caliber might not be to everyone’s liking, I see no problem with that. It’s a 25-jewel automatic movement that gets the job done and serves the Nivada well. The new Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic might just be the nicest time-only budget watch out there.
If you’re interested in ordering a Super Antarctic, head on over to Nivada Grenchen’s website and check out the options.