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Despite the frequent use of the word “innovation” in watchmaking, the watch industry tends to be extremely conservative when it comes to case design, with the vast majority of watches adopting circular, or occasionally rectangular, case shapes. Recognizing the opportunity for creativity and experimentation, pioneering watchmakers popularized a different approach to case architecture toward the end of the last century, introducing the world to the tonneau case. This barrel-shaped case design marries the sharp geometry of rectangular watches with soft curves, resulting in a distinctive and versatile shape that translates seamlessly to different styles of watches. With the Sky series, Artel Rotec demonstrates the timelessness and versatility of the tonneau case, marrying an impeccably finished stainless steel case to a dial that evokes the Art Deco overtones from the roaring 20s.

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Artel Rotec is a young brand, a fact it happily embraces. For Artel Rotec, its history begins now; as the brand’s motto proclaims, “Our story is your next step.” In other words, the brand is not constrained by the past but is free to experiment and work with customers to guide it into the future. Matthew Roknipour, a designer and enthusiastic watch collector, launched Artel Rotec in 2018 with the goal of joining these twin passions to create high-quality and beautifully designed watches. The watches themselves are a reflection of Roknipour himself, inspired by sports, high-end cars, and fashion.

An eye for design is one thing, but bringing that vision to life is quite another. To create watches with the artisanal care and attention to detail he was looking for, Roknipour traveled to Switzerland, eventually working with Swisstech in the small watchmaking town of Botyre. Partnering with renowned watch designer Rodolphe Cattin, Artel Rotec was able to bring its first watches to life in the V series. Unabashedly modern and aggressive, the V series features a forged carbon tonneau-shaped case, an open-worked dial, and colorful accents.

For its second release, Artel Rotec has opted for a design that’s at once sporty and elegant, with a dial that recalls the timeless style of the early half of the 1900s. The Sky series features a 38mm case (46.8mm lug-to-lug) crafted from 316L stainless steel and finished with a mix of brushed, polished, and micro-blasted surfaces. The mix of finishing accentuates the lines, bringing out all the subtle details that went into the case design.

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The Sky series is available in three colorways, each limited to only 100 pieces, never to be reproduced. The Sky 4 features a silver dial with blue strap, while the Sky 5 and Sky 6 feature black and green dials, respectively, along with color-matched straps. Both the silver and black dial models feature applied and polished pyramidal indices set against a textured, sunburst ring that contrasts against a matte center dial. A minute track rings the dial, shifting the dial’s look from pure dressy elegance to giving it a sporty charm. Unlike the black and silver dial models, the green dial model eschews the pyramidal indices in favor of polished Breguet numerals surrounded by a railroad inner minutes track — an element reminiscent of field and military watches from the early 20th century.

To ensure legibility and to showcase the intricate dials, Artel Rotec has added an anti-reflective coating to the interior of the sapphire crystal and an anti-fingerprint coating to the exterior. In another nod to functionality and wearability, the Sky series comes mounted on a 20mm FKM rubber strap with a tool-free quick-release system for easy strap changes.

To power the Artel Rotec Sky series, the brand based its movement on the trusty ETA 2824-1 Swiss-made automatic movement. Dubbed the AR068, Artel Rotec has modified the movement to remove the date function and increase the power reserve to 50 hours. The movement also features a custom rotor and is on full display behind a sapphire caseback.

The Artel Rotec Sky series watches are available now for presale, with deliveries expected to begin in March 2023. Each model is priced at $1,950 USD, with only 100 individually numbered pieces of each color produced. To learn more about the Artel Rotec Sky series and pre-order your own, please visit the brand’s website.

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