It’s fun to see a chronograph in full-blooded racing form. There is a strong connection between racing and watchmaking that influences a distinct, instantly recognizable style. Over time, the style has evolved, as has racing. For many people, though, the true romance of racing and racing chronographs is in the past. I also love the romance that a nicely executed vintage racing chronograph offers in comparison to modern-style racing chronographs. That is why I was curious to check out the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph. It takes us back to the 1970s, an era when racing was an exciting adventure with possible dangers lurking around every corner. It’s time to find out more!

Straight out of the box, it’s clear to see that this is a racing chronograph. With a retro-style case, a dial with black and orange elements, and a perforated racing-style leather strap with orange stitching, this new Depancel model does not leave any doubts about what inspired its design. The French brand’s new silver-dial Allure Manual Chronograph is part of a duo of releases. The second model comes with a classic blue and orange race livery, making for a couple of attractive watches that will surely resonate with the fans of classic racing.

The Allure Manual Chronograph in detail

So, let’s take a look at the details. The Allure Manual Chronograph has a classically styled 39mm stainless steel case that is 13mm thick and 45.5mm from lug to lug. This 50m-water-resistant case is the same one that Depancel used for the Allure Legend 60s that Daan reviewed last year. For the most part, it features brushed surfaces but also a polished bezel and chamfers for a nice mix of finishes. Additionally, on the right side of the case, you will find the pump-style chronograph pushers and an octagonal crown. All three are modest in size but fit the overall design quite nicely. And while the Allure Manual Chronograph might have the same case as the Allure Legend 60s, overall, the watch gives off a very different vibe.

It’s nice to see the design jump from the 1960s to the 1970s. The version we had for review comes with a silver dial with a “mono eye” design to separate reading the time from the watch’s chronograph functions. Indeed, the dual-register layout makes the watch easy to read whether you want to know the time of day or the elapsed time of an event. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is for the running seconds, while the black standout sub-dial at 3 o’clock is the 30-minute totalizer. It contrasts nicely with the silver color of the dial.

Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph dial

A chronograph dial with many different details

The silver dial consists of two very distinct parts. Its center features a vertically brushed finish and holds the brand’s signature on the upper half and “Motor Racing Instrument” text on the lower half. The second part is a ring with a circular finish that holds the applied hour markers.

Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph lume

There is where we find the elongated hexagonal indices, which are filled with vintage-inspired beige lume that lights up green in the dark. Encircling this silver sector is a thinner black ring with two printed scales. The first is a mostly white pulsometer scale graduated for 15 pulsations. It allows readings between 70 and 200 beats per minute, with 150–200 highlighted in orange.

The second is a tachymeter scale marked from 60 to 240 kilometers per hour. While Depancel says it’s calibrated from 0 to 240, indeed, “60” is the lowest marking. In any case, it is inspired by the typical performance range of 1970s F1 cars. The last portion, from 210 to 240 km/h, also changes to orange as that is the high-risk zone. Overall, it’s a neatly designed dial that oozes racing. The style of the sub-dials reminds me of the speedometers of the 1970s, adding even more retro charm to the overall feel. To enhance that even more, the dial is protected by a box-shaped sapphire crystal with a non-reflective coating.

The Seagull ST1901 powers the Allure Manual Chronograph

Depancel equips the watch with a hand-wound Seagull ST1901 movement. It is based on the classic Swiss Venus 175 chronograph caliber and operates at a 21,600vph frequency with 45 hours of power reserve. This movement also comes equipped with a traditional column wheel, and it is visible thanks to the large sapphire window of the display case back.

Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph case back

As this is an affordable movement, it has basic machine finishing and is more fun to see in action rather than visually striking in all its watchmaking glory. It’s all about the charm of seeing a mechanical chronograph working, and that’s what you get with this watch.

As mentioned, the watch is fitted with a “Traforato” micro-perforated black calfskin strap. Depancel also offers the choice between a deployment clasp or a pin buckle. Straight out of the box, I could smell the leather strap. I always find that a great sensation with true leather straps. On top of that, this one is nice and supple, so it doesn’t need any real break-in time.

Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph pocket shot

Wearing the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph

On the wrist, the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph immediately gives off those classic racing vibes. If you enjoy these looks, this watch hits the sweet spot nicely. The second thing that stands out is that the dial design has a lot of little details that are nice to discover, from the brand’s emblem as the 12 o’clock marker to the typography used for the sub-dials and the color of the lume. Depancel founder Clément Meynier has made sure that the Allure Manual Chronograph is a very nice tribute to the racing chronographs of the 1970s.

Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph on wrist

Operating the movement is easy thanks to the nicely straightforward pushers. However, there is a great difference in action between the start/stop and reset pushers. The first gives a reassuring click when pushing it, while the second is smooth…almost too smooth. While I am used to the difference in operating the two pushers, no definition when using the reset pusher is not optimal. Sure, we know that the Seagull ST1901 is a basic caliber in both quality and finishing, but the reassurance of solid pusher action is important.

Having said that, as Daan explained, all the Depancel watches come with a five-year warranty covering all manufacturing defects. So, if something goes wrong in those five years, apart from the owner’s wear and tear, Depancel will take care of it.

Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph flat

Final thoughts about the Depancel Allure Mechanical Chronograph

After wearing this watch for a few days, I can say that it has plenty of retro charm. The design of the case and dial ooze 1970s racing, and the best thing is that the dial has plenty of details to keep you coming back to discover new things. So, if you love an affordable racing-style chronograph, the Allure Mechanical Chronograph just may be for you. Both this version and a blue-dial variant are available for €650. There are not that many brands out there that offer a true mechanical retro racing-style chronograph for that kind of money.

And Depancel has the sweet spot in terms of design to make for a charming watch. The Seagull movement is something we’re seeing more often in mechanical chronographs under €1,000. It is basic in all its elements, but it gets the job done well. On top of that, it’s nice to see the inner workings of a manual-winding chronograph.

If an affordable racing chronograph sounds right up your alley, check out this Depancel Allure Mechanical Chronograph. Knowing how many people love the classic spirit of racing, I am sure that plenty of watch fans will love this piece. And that’s exactly who the brand creates its watches for, so I say it’s another job well done by Depancel.

For more information, visit the official Depancel website. Also, let us know what you think about this new Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph in the comments section.

Watch specifications

Allure Manual Chronograph
Silver with black and orange accents and applied indices with beige lume
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
39mm (diameter) × 45.5mm (lug-to-lug length) ×13mm (thickness) × 20mm (lug spacing)
Box-shaped sapphire crystal
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire exhibition window
Seagull ST1901 — hand-wound column-wheel chronograph, 21,600vph frequency, 45-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
5 ATM (50m)
Black leather racing strap
Time (hours, minutes, sub-seconds), chronograph (30-minute sub-counter, central seconds), pulsometer, and tachymeter
Five years