HANDS-ON: The Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary HANDS-ON: The Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary

HANDS-ON: The Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary

Fergus Nash

Five years is a drop in the ocean for a heritage watchmaker, but for a brand like Depancel the wooden anniversary is truly significant. The spirit of racing runs through them much deeper than their short existence may suggest, and they manage to stand out in a truly flooded market of motoring-inspired watches. Their best selling format, the Serie-R, has been given a bold, fresh dial as the Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary, turning an annual calendar into a chronograph-shaped package.

The case

Looking past the square display of the Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary, the case is actually very unique. It’s arched top and square bottom evoke the shape of a vintage car grille, not too far away from the 1954 Facel Vega which also inspired the shield-like shape of the Depancel logo. That logo can be seen on the case’s upper section, where the brushed finishing can really be appreciated with its sporty character. The angled facets do play with the light nicely, and you get glimpses of high-polish steel from the outer edge of the bezel, caseback, as well as the faux-pushers.

Square watches do tend to wear larger than circular ones thanks to a greater area corner to corner, but the Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary plays to its size well. It’s 36mm across and 43mm tall, making for a lug-to-lug length of around 49mm. This achieves a nice amount of wrist presence and fulfilment, without feeling overbearing or lopsided. It’s also a good medium thickness for an automatic sports watch at 12.95mm thick, with a flat sapphire crystal.

The dial

Within the grille-shaped case lie more automotive easter eggs, most notably the waffle or grille texture that’s been applied within the central sector of the dial. The outer edges are vertically brushed, providing a nice frame for the inner details, and the hour markers are blockier than the regular Serie-R giving off ‘70s bravado. Against the sumptuous blue coating of the background, vibrant hits of orange are made the centrepiece of the hands and the two-tone hour markers for that classic racing contrast.

If you were just glancing at this watch you’d have no reason to doubt its racing origins, however a closer look reveals that this watch actually isn’t a chronograph at all. Made all the more significant for the 5th Anniversary, this Depancel Serie-R is actually an annual calendar. In place of the running seconds and chronograph minutes register, we have French day of the week and month displays, with the date window placed symmetrically at 6 o’clock.

The movement

Powering the Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary is a movement that plays into Depancel’s humility and affordability — the Miyota 9122. As one of Miyota’s premium movements, the quality and accuracy is fantastic for the price, and you get a nicely decorated view of the calibre from the sapphire display caseback, along with a laser engraved winding rotor. The day, date, and time can be adjusted as normal via the crown, while the hidden pusher for advancing the month is actually located on the side of the chronograph style faux-pusher. The stated accuracy tolerance is -10/+30 seconds per day, however they tend to perform much better than that according to general consensus. The power reserve is relatively short at 40 hours, but the 4Hz smooth sweep is a welcome aspect.

The strap

A leather strap on racing watches is usually quite a simple affair with holes punched for ventilation, but here on the Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary there has been considerably more effort involved. The blue leather has a contrasting orange stitching that echoes the shape of the Depancel logo, and the padding has been banded for a sporty ridged effect. There’s also a jubilee-style bracelet option for an extra €100, and the lug width is 22mm for ease of aftermarket alternatives.

The Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary pricing and availability:

The Depancel Serie-R 5th Anniversary will be available for pre-order from May 9th, with only 300 numbered editions made. Price: €795 (on leather) / €895 (on bracelet)

Brand Depancel
Model Serie-R 5th Anniversary
Case Dimensions 36mm x 43mm x 12.95mm
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 50m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Blue
Lug Width 22mm
Strap Blue leather or steel bracelet
Movement Miyota 9122
Power Reserve 40 hours
Availability Limited to 300 numbered pieces, available for pre-order from May 9th
Price €795 (on leather) / €895 (on bracelet)