The L21 inside of the Antarctic is an extremely thin hand winding movement that beats at 28,800bph with a 36 hour power reserve. There are 17 jewels throughout the movement as well. On paper, the movement is technically similar to the ETA 2804 and Sellita SW215. I’m torn on the movement choice here. On one hand, it allows the watch to be super thin. On the other hand, it makes for a tool watch that you have to hand wind. While I’m no stranger to hand winding tool watches (proud Speedmaster owner, here), I do believe that the act of winding should be easy. A simple fix would be a more generously sized crown with some more texture to it.
Strap + Wearability
There are several choices to pick from when spec-ing out your Antarctic including a variety of leather and bracelet options. This review unit came with a supple brown leather racing strap with perforations throughout that keeps it light and airy on the wrist. I really like the buckle, as it has a premium feel and nice finishing. Subtle branding in the form of the Nivada “N” logo is a nice little touch. Stitching runs down the side of the straps in tonal brown, matching the leather.
Wearability is where the 35mm Antarctic shines. It’s light, sleek, slim, and ultra comfortable. I could see wearing this on your wrist with layers of clothing and gloves over it and never feeling encumbered by the watch. For me, this is where the tool watches of old really set themselves apart. When there’s lots of gear to be worn and carried, the last thing you want to worry about is your watch getting in the way. Something sleek like the Antarctic is a great option for both tool watch and casual wear.
There’s a lot to like about Nivada Gretchen’s re-release of one of their iconic watches from the back catalog. The small size, razor thin profile, and art deco styling stand out from the pack. It’s not without a few quirks, mainly being that I’d personally prefer an automatic movement that I’d have no problem trading a millimeter or two of thickness for. At the very least, a more robust crown with enhanced grip on a hand winder is a must.
I could see this piece being an excellent addition to the collection of those who appreciate a small watch with character. There aren’t a ton of similar options within the price range, making the Antarctic all that much more appealing. You can secure one for yourself starting at $850 on leather and going up from there for bracelet options. Nivada Grenchen