MICRO MONDAYS: The Artel Rotec V2 offers futuristic watchmaking at an accessible priceBorna Bošnjak
You’re already familiar with the formula. Exotic material for the tonneau case, openworked dial with a complication or two, a rubber strap and a price that makes your eyes water. Well, the Artel Rotec V2 is all of those things, save the extortionate cost. Partnering with watch designer Rodolphe Cattin, who has designed watches for Corum, Breil and Cerruti, they debuted with the strong design of the V Series. Despite being a young company, founded in 2018 by designer and collector Matthew Roknipour, Artel Rotec clearly have long-term intentions and no shortage of ambition.
Skeletonisation, complication and some surprising choices
Without a traditional dial to speak of, the V2 uses a combination of a large outer minute track and suspended subdials to tell the time. All of the dial elements are under the protection of a curved sapphire crystal that sits ever so slightly proud of the bezel. Mostly dark in its finish, the silver and blue accents help with legibility. The fencepost hands are also skeletonised, indicating hours and minutes, while their miniatures feature at the 9 o’clock small seconds and power reserve at 6 o’clock. Matching the silver colour of the hands, the hour markings and CNC-machined grand date stand out against their black backgrounds well, although I was a little disappointed to find only the tips of the hands, both small and large, to be lumed.
Zooming right in, we can see the sculpted frame that highlights the correct date, sporting a vertical brush with polished chamfers. A small, but nice touch to give that much attention to something hardly seen with the naked eye. I do love a big date complication, and this one is executed well. It has a quickset feature, and changes instantaneously at midnight. While also silver in tone, some of the gears brought to view by the skeletonisation, including the power reserve indicator, show traces of machining marks on their surfaces, which take away from the otherwise solid finish. Speaking of the power reserve, I was surprised to find one on an automatic watch, especially one with an already busy dial, though it does bolster the supercar aesthetics.
Curved carbon composite case
There is a particular feel that carbon watch cases give, that I couldn’t fathom until I actually had one in my hands. Without the cold touch of metal, yet far superior to any plastic case, the sharply sculpted case of the V2 feels solid. With a total weight of 110 grams, it might not be as light as you’d expect from a carbon case, and this is partly thanks to the large 41mm by 53.1mm case and 14.5mm thickness. The carbon bezel is held in by six, proportionally spaced screws. This side view also gives a good look at the scalloped sides and the top of the lugs, which adds character. Many designs looking for a piece of the RM and Hublot Big Bang cake suffer from oversized crown syndrome, which the Artel Rotec side-steps successfully.
The watch wears large, as its dimensions suggest. The black rubber strap that the watch is fitted to from the box is comfortable enough, though a little stiff. The blue nylon on the other hand, was a pleasure to wear. Backed by soft calf leather, it elevated the comfort and looks of the V2 with its soft padding and vibrant colour. With no quick-release system to speak of, Artel Rotec includes a strap-changing tool that makes the job a breeze.
There’s more to the movement than meets the eye
The Calibre ART052 is produced for Artel Rotec by Swisstech, who ensure that the movement meets all the requirements of the Swiss-made designation. It is likely based on the Swisstech S24-051, then skeletonised with the seconds moved to 9 o’clock to meet Artel Rotec’s requirements. Along with the aforementioned complications, it has a 50-hour power reserve. The brass-coloured gear train and balance wheel jump out immediately, as they don’t receive the same blackout treatment as the rotor.
For a bit of background info, Hong Kong-based Swisstech began building their reputation with quartz production lines in Asia throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. They evolved to Swiss-made designation movements in 2010, and offer everything from ready-made movements to complete watches. Swisstech has become more and more popular with microbrands in recent years, with the likes of Maen, Gentian and Isotope using variations of their movements.
While the demand for tonneau-shaped, skeletonised watches would seems like a niche one, the last few years serve as proof against that. So, if you are in the market for just such a watch, the Artel Rotec is definitely worth a look. The quality of construction of the case and straps are impressive to say the least, and while too big on my small wrist, it wore comfortably, with the nylon strap a pleasant surprise. If you admire the look of a Richard Mille or Big Bang but are unable to afford (or justify) the outlay, the accessible price of the Artel Rotec V2 could make it well worth your consideration.
Artel Rotec V2 pricing and availability:
The Artel Rotec V2 is available now, limited to 100 pieces, from the Artel Rotec website. Price: $2,700 USD
|Case Dimensions||42mm x 14mm x 53.1mm|
|Case Material||Forged carbon composite|
|Water Resistance||50 metres|
|Crystal||Curved sapphire crystal|
|Strap||Black FKM rubber
Blue nylon with calf leather backing
|Movement||Swisstech Calibre ART052, grand date, power reserve, small seconds, 50-hour power reserve|