Hands-On: The Nivada Grenchen F77 Lapis Lazuli

Nivada Grenchen’s F77 was a big hit when it was released last year. With an integrated bracelet, 37mm case, and exposed-screw bezel, the F77 captured all the fun of 1970s sports watches. Even better, this was no mere homage: the watch has actual heritage street cred as a reissue of a model produced by Nivada Grenchen in 1977. Now, Nivada Grenchen has leaned even further into that 70s funk, with four new dials for the F77. I got to go hands-on with arguably the funkiest of the bunch: the F77 Lapis Lazuli.

The F77 LL keeps all the specs that made the original a hit, but with a new dial crafted entirely from–as you may have guessed from the name–lapis lazuli. The other three dials in the new F77 releases are beautiful, with one dial featuring an ​​anthracite basket-weave pattern, another made of aventurine, and one limited-edition model in meteorite. But despite the attractiveness of the other models, the F77 Lapis Lazuli is the clear standout.

The blue of the lapis is vibrant and eye-catching, while the speckled pattern evokes a starry night’s sky. And because it is made of stone, each lapis lazuli dial will be unique. Despite being something of a novelty in today’s market, the lapis lazuli dial is true to the 1970s vibe Nivada Grenchen is trying to capture in the watch. Stone dials had their moment back in that era, and lapis dials are particularly collectable. (Just look up the lapis Rolex Datejust that now sells for tens of thousands of dollars.) Fashion is cyclical, and the recent popularity of meteorite dials looks like it might presage a return to the stone dials of yore. Don’t be surprised if you see other brands follow Nivada Grenchen’s lead 


All of this is to say: I really like the look of the watch. It’s unique, it’s fun, and it’s the sort of sports watch that merges utility and aesthetics really well. Stainless steel, sapphire crystal, 100 meters of water resistance, screw down crown. All the specs you’d want and need. I also like the feel of the watch. Mostly.

First the good: 37mm is a great size for the watch. At 12.1mm thick, the watch is a happy medium size. The case’s stepped design helps break up that 12.1mm to make it appear even thinner than that. (An aside: This model comes in stainless steel, but if you’re a fan of the anthracite or meteorite dials, they’re being produced in titanium.)

Despite the dial and case working hard to make this watch as wearable as possible, the integrated bracelet and the watch’s lugs are quite flat, which on my 7 inch wrist created a frustrating gap between my wrist and the first links. In some ways this is not a fair criticism on my part: the flat, angular aesthetic is true to the 1970s. But I’ve been spoiled by sloping lugs that allow larger watches–including my 45mm diameter smartwatch–to fit relatively flush against my wrist.

Admittedly, this is not a major problem and won’t be that noticeable. (How often are you or anyone else looking directly down your wrist?) But a minor fix with the lugs would make the watch practically perfect, especially in the eyes of nitpickers like me.

Inside the watch is a Soprod P024 automatic movement featuring a 38-hour power reserve. I have been unable to find consistent numbers for what the accuracy rating for the movement is, with websites pinning it at anywhere from plus or minus 7 seconds a day to plus or minus 15 seconds a day. In my week on the wrist, I found it gained a respectable average of six seconds per day.

At $1,390 the F77 Lapis Lazuli does feature an increase in price over the original blue and black models, which now retail for $1,260. The anthracite ($1,490) and meteorite ($1,690) are even more expensive. The markup is understandable given the new dials and may even be justifiable considering all you’re getting in the watch. It’s also still a heck of a lot cheaper than a vintage lapis Rolex. Nivada Grenchen

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Alec is a writer and editor based out of Washington, DC, currently working as a congressional reporter. His love for wristwatches started at age 10 when he received a Timex Expedition as a birthday present. A film buff and tennis fan, Cary Grant and Roger Federer played influential roles in continuing to develop his interest and taste in watches.