Depancel’s new Allure Manual Chronograph is a value-driven ’70s charmer Depancel’s new Allure Manual Chronograph is a value-driven ’70s charmer

Depancel’s new Allure Manual Chronograph is a value-driven ’70s charmer

Buffy Acacia

Whether or not you’re a fan of racing watches, you have to be impressed with Depancel’s ability to explore every possible aspect of the genre. Their catalogues are flooded with watches of varying sizes, functions and movements, but the racing DNA runs so strongly through each design that they may be the first modern company to never release a diver. Within that racing watch subset, not only have they explored a tonne of technical possibilities, but also homages to certain eras. The new edition of the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph is an ode to the ‘70s with enthusiasm for authenticity.

The case

depancel allure chronograph wrist

When it comes to racing watches, the case is often an oversight. As long as the watch is attached to your wrist and you can glance at your timing when zooming down the straights, then the case is kind of irrelevant. If the angle is to go for authentic retro vibes, then keeping things simple is actually the best move, because the watches that embraced the 1970s funk too much wound up mostly forgotten. Here, Depancel has opted for a representation of the slender-lugged chronograph case which was popular throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, with alternating brushed and polished finishes to bring out its slight elements of glamour.

depancel allure chronograph case profile

The Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph doesn’t stray too far from the truth in size either, with a 39mm diameter which is still likely sized up for modern tastes but small enough to carry a vintage air. 13mm is a fairly average thickness for a manual chronograph, with a decent slice of that thickness owed to the sapphire display caseback. The lug-to-lug length is approximately 45mm, which should fit like a dream on most wrists. It’s water resistant to 50m, which is also about what you would expect for a chronograph like this. It’s not designed for submersion, but it will handle champagne spray on the podium.

The dial

depancel allure chronograph dial close up

Depancel can be known for its creative misdirection on watch dials, for example arranging calendar displays to look like chronographs. However, the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph has no need for visual illusions. With a running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock and a minutes counter at 3, the main chronograph seconds hand runs along the tachymeter rehaut. The arrangement of printed markers on the subdials is intentionally detailed with contrasting colours, marking it out as a 1970s style as opposed to the classiness of the 1960s. Depancel has released panda-dialled chronographs based on ‘60s models in the past, and they couldn’t be further away from the new ‘70s editions.

depancel allure chronograph lume

Two references have been created for this release, both of them supremely sporty but remaining versatile for wear in any context. They’re not exactly dressy, but their polished and glinting elements do give them a baseline level of apparent prestige. The silver dial is the less colourful option, although its jolts of bright orange do remind you of its racetrack spirit at every check of the wrist. The blue dial, with its mix of sunburst, matte and guilloché finishes is instantly sportier. The varying textures bring out a range of depth from the colour, darting around between deep sapphire and electric blues.

The movement

depancel allure chronograph movement caseback

If you come across an affordable chronograph from a small brand with two registers, there’s a high chance that it’s going to be powered by this movement. The Seagull ST1901 has become legendary in enthusiast circles for both its looks and value, as it is effectively a replica of the popular Venus 175 movement developed in the 1940s and used up until the 1960s. Now manufactured by Seagull in China, it’s a wonderful way to enter into the world of chronographs. Owners generally report solid reliability for these moments, in all aspects from durability to accuracy – plus, it definitely offers one of the prettiest caseback views in its price range with no winding rotor to get in the way. It beats at 3Hz and has a 50-hour power reserve.

The strap

depancel allure chronograph strap

The Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph would scream ‘racing watch’ even if you wore it on some fishing line tied around your wrist, but as it stands, the quintessential racing strap is a suitable fit. The perforations in the leather allow for better air circulation and therefore less sweat, but the neatest touch is the French flag sewn near one of the corners. Depancel is proud of its French origins, and it’s a subtle way of integrating its brand identity. The silver dial watch comes with a black strap and the blue dial has a matching blue strap, both with contrasting orange stitching down the sides. If you feel the need to change the straps, then the 20mm lug width affords you plenty of aftermarket options.

The verdict

depancel allure chronograph

Sometimes Depancel’s design choices can be frustrating, but the new Allure Manual Chronograph really has nothing missing. It wears its 1970s inspiration on its sleeve without feeling over-the-top or kitschy, and it functions just like a bicompax chronograph should. If you’re in the market for a racing watch that feels classic but not stuffy, or sporty but not laughable, then the Depancel Allure Manual Chronograph rides that line perfectly.

Depancel Allure Manual pricing and availability

The Depancel Allure Mechanical Chronograph is now available from Depancel’s website. Price: US$650

Brand Depancel
Model Allure Mechanical Chronograph
Case Dimensions 39mm (D) x 13mm (T) x 45mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 50 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and caseback
Dial Silver or blue
Bracelet Black or blue perforated leather with orange stitching
Movement Seagull ST1901
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, running seconds, 30-minute chronograph
Availability Available now
Price US$650