The French brand Depancel has captured the hearts of people who love classic racing-style chronographs. The colorful and diverse racing chronographs of the 1960s and ’70s continue to offer plenty of inspiration for Depancel’s new models. With the new Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic, the brand once again looks to the greats from the past while introducing a new movement for the Série-R Chronograph. It’s time to find out more!

Depancel is one of those successful brands that has made a name for itself among a small but dedicated group of followers. Since 2018, Depancel has released many racing-inspired chronographs developed with and for fans. The series that started it all on Kickstarter in 2018 was the Auto. Then, the Série-R debuted as the Depancel [Re]Naissance in 2019. With a case design inspired by the grill of the 1930s Delage D8-120 car, the watch stood out immediately. In fact, Delage is one of the three French carmakers that inspired the Depancel name (a combination of Delage, Panhard, and Facel Vega). For the latest Série-R model, the brand combines its square case design with the look of the Allure Tangerine model that came out last year. Add a new movement, and there is plenty to talk about.

Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph

The story of the Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic

Earlier this year, I had the chance to go hands-on with the silver versions of the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph. I enjoyed spending time with the watch because it reminded me how cool classic racing chronographs can be. While the silver version with orange accents is less colorful than the blue and orange one, it fits my style nicely. But when I had a chance to take the Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic for a spin, I knew that the bold blue and orange were perfect for familiarizing myself with the Série-R.

Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph

As mentioned, the Série-R has been a staple for Depancel, and over time, the brand introduced several versions. The new Tangerine Chronograph Automatic takes its spot next to the Calendar and Power Reserve models. With its classic case shape, race-inspired colors and design, and chronograph functionality, this is the purest racing-style model of the Série-R.

Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph

The details of the Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic

Let’s kick things off with some details. The watch has a 36 × 40mm case that is 13.3mm thick, measures 48.5mm from lug to lug, and takes a 22mm strap. With a modest water resistance rating of 5 ATM, it’s not a watch for your exciting underwater adventures. But that is also not what it was developed for, so I don’t see a problem with that at all. Obviously, the case shape looks familiar to watch fans. To address the elephant in the room, any square/rectangular chronograph with a blue and orange race livery will immediately be associated with the famous TAG Heuer Monaco. While the inspiration for the Série-R case is different and the case shape is a bit more graceful, it’s hard to deny the design’s likeness to the Monaco.

But that wasn’t a negative for me because I slowly started appreciating the Depancel Série-R for what it offers. The case is nicely shaped and, because of its grill-inspired curves, is less harsh than the Monaco. I like that because it makes it friendlier for the eye. On top of that, it also makes it a little easier to wear. On the right side of the case, you will find two chronograph pushers and the crown. The crown features a hint of orange with an anodized insert. The case is nicely finished with a mix of brushed and polished surfaces and topped with a sapphire crystal. I was once again impressed by the high level of detail that Depancel puts into creating its watches.

Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph

An intricate dial design

The same level of detail is also evident on the dial. The Série-R Tangerine has a blue dial with vertically engraved grille-like lines on the raised outer portion. Eight applied Super-LumiNova-filled hour markers sit on top of this pattern. The center of the dial is a slightly recessed circle that holds the three sub-dials, an additional set of hour markers, and an orange and white vertical band running from 7 to 11 o’clock. Orange can also be found on the outer ring of the 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock.

Additionally, the central chronograph hand and the hands of the chronograph counters at 3 and 9 o’clock are orange. Lastly, the numerals marking the last 20 minutes of the 60-minute scale are orange as well. As a result, quite a few orange elements on the blue dial provide a nice contrast. The combination of orange and blue continues on the blue leather strap with orange stitching. As a result, this is a proper racing chronograph. The watch immediately takes you back to the glory days of racing, which will appeal to the loyal group of Depancel fans.

The new Peacock SL-4801 automatic movement

Inside the case, you will find the new Peacock SL-4801 movement produced in China. The automatic chronograph caliber was introduced at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2023 and is slowly making its way into more affordable chronographs. The movement operates at 28,800vph and has a 60-hour power reserve. The integrated chronograph architecture features a column wheel, a vertical clutch, and a transversal balance bridge.

Apparently, the architecture is heavily based on the Rolex caliber 4130, which has the same overall dimensions and construction. Additionally, the 12-hour and 30-minute counters are centered above the cannon pinion, just like on the Rolex Daytona. The movement’s finishing is basic, and I would prefer an all-steel case back to potentially shave a little off of the total thickness.

Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph pocket shot

Wearing the Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic

That’s not to say that this is a chunky watch. On the contrary, at 13.3mm thick, this Série-R Tangerine is a lot slimmer than many of the automatic chronographs that land on the Fratello desks. It makes the watch much more comfortable than chunkier square and rectangular chronographs. If you have ever worn a square chronograph this size, you know it takes some time to get used to it. But I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to wear this one.

Granted, the overall size would never be an issue on my 19cm wrist. The watch looks right at home, making it easy to get used to it. If the watch is larger than what you typically wear, though, I could see that it might provide a different experience. Once on the wrist, the Série-R Tangerine grabs attention. Its combination of blue and orange makes it hard to miss. On top of that, it takes you right back to the style of the early 1970s, and that certainly has its charm.

Final thoughts on the new Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic

Operating the chronograph was a pleasant surprise. As it is a new movement, this was my first experience with it. The chronograph starts with a nicely defined click, and the same goes for stopping and resetting it. I love these defined clicks as they give the impression of a quality movement. It will be interesting to see what brands will opt for this new Chinese caliber and what users’ experiences with it will be like.

Having said that, the attention to quality and level of detail that Depancel puts into its watches impresses me every time. Especially considering the €995 price of this new Série-R Tangerine, it is another worthy effort from the young French brand. The design takes its inspiration from the rich past of racing chronographs and one model in particular. That makes it a watch that will not appeal to everyone. But there are plenty of watch fans who will love this affordable vintage-inspired chronograph. That’s why I do not doubt that Depancel will find buyers for all 300 pieces that will be produced.

The Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic is available for pre-order starting today, June 11th, on the brand’s website. Deliveries will start in December 2024. Let us know in the comments section what your thoughts are on this new Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic.

Watch specifications

Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic
Blue with vertically engraved grille pattern, recessed central portion with sunburst finish and orange accents, circular-grained sub-dials, and applied luminous indices
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
36mm (width) × 48.5mm/40mm (length with/without lugs) × 13.3mm (thickness)
Case Back
Stainless steel and sapphire crystal
Peacock SL-480: automatic chronograph, 28,800vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve, column wheel, vertical clutch, and transversal balance bridge
Water Resistance
5 ATM (50 meters)
Perforated blue leather with orange stitching
Time (hours, minutes, small seconds), chronograph (12-hour and 30-minute registers, central seconds)
Special Note(s)
Limited edition of 300 pieces