There are plenty of things we can choose to be frustrated by in the watch world. Rising prices, the increased importance of mysterious social media algorithms, outright chicanery, nonsense, and shenanigans in the auction world. Yes, these are forces contributing to making the hobby a little less enjoyable at times. But I like to focus on the bright spots, of which I’d argue there are more than enough to get excited about. One of those bright spots is the reemergence and wide availability of affordably priced, classic designs from thoughtfully resurrected heritage brands. Guillaume Laidet has become something of a specialist in this area, playing an integral role in the return of Vulcain, Excelsior Park, and Nivada Grenchen, the subject of this hands-on.
For a time, it seemed like a month couldn’t pass without a “new” brand that went dormant during the quartz crisis coming back with an updated version of their most popular model. So many of these attempts to capitalize on the popularity of vintage, neo-vintage, or whatever we’re calling it wound up failing, but the Nivada Grenchen strategy always felt different, and the brand continues to be successful a few years out from the relaunch because of Laidet’s forward thinking. Beyond the overall quality of the watches, which is consistently high, Nivada has always been presented as a real brand, and not simply a vehicle for launching one, or maybe two, watches. The idea of having a real collection for consumers to pick from, with distinct, evergreen product lines, lends a certain amount of legitimacy to the whole operation. Just as there will always be a Submariner and a Day-Date in the Rolex catalog, Nivada will always have a Chronomaster and Antarctic. It seems obvious, but this is something a lot of brands that don’t succeed fail to think about.
Naturally, the watches have to be good too, or none of that matters. I had a chance to spend some time with Nivada’s new Antarctic Diver recently, and was charmed by its understated, vintage influenced design notes. It reinforced what I’ve thought about Nivada nearly from the beginning of the time since Laidet came on board, which is that this is a rare heritage brand that has a plan to stick around for good, long after interest in the one-to-one replicas of the original watches from a prior generation have faded.