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As with any niche community of enthusiasts, the world of horology can be an unforgiving place. Buyers ready to stump up big sums for a timepiece are in a good position to be discerning, making their voices heard on social media, forums, and yes, blogs. Look no further than last month’s Watches & Wonders product release to see how quickly opinions coalesce — this watch is too thick, that watch is too baby blue, that date window is too 4 o’clocky, and on and on. To quote an expert who has sold watches for 25 years (and wishes to remain nameless), “I miss the days when people would come try on watches they’d never seen nor sometimes even heard of — before they’d been told what to think about it.”
So, it’s with this in mind that we commend the effort of Los Angeles-based Artel Rotec. As the new kids on the block and with an extremely limited run, Artel Rotec has gambled that the watch world will look closely at an otherwise familiar style of sports watch and draw its own conclusions. At just four years old, this energetic brand’s output cuts no corners, making for an impressive first run. Founded by automobile, timepiece, and fashion design enthusiast Matt Roknipour, Artel Rotec takes the founder’s design passions and distills them into a forged carbon tonneau sports watch called the V-Series. Composed of the intuitively named V1, V2, and V3, the V-Series is limited to just 100 pieces of each reference.
Breaking down the references, the V1 takes on a fiery red look with colored elements that offset against the otherwise moody construction. Painted subdial numerals, power reserve indicator, rehaut, and logo match the stitching on the included black nylon strap. For a more stealthy look, each watch in the V Series also ships with an all-black FKM rubber strap. The V2 takes on an identical look to the V1, albeit in an electric blue style. Finally, the V3 utilizes warm metallic accents, extending the rose gold theme to the crown, hands, and bezel screws for a warm, luxurious look.
Controlled by the crown at 3 o’clock, the V-Series offers a grand date complication, symmetrically located just north of the center hole. Its presence doesn’t overpower the other elements, which include the small seconds at 9 o’clock and a power reserve feature at the bottom that’s clean and mercifully easy to read. The watch’s branding is also subtle, letting the rest of the V-Series design shine through. The hands are accented with Super-LumiNova, which, along with the minute track, enables time-telling after hours. All this sits beneath a curved sapphire crystal that’s treated on the inside with anti-reflective coating— something we hope becomes standard among watchmakers much bigger than Artel Rotec. Inside, a Calibre ART052 made for Artel Rotec by Swisstech is visible through the exhibition caseback, showing off the branded rotor and a rich texture of finishes, materials, and shading.
Saving the best for last, the tonneau case is 46.5mm from hidden lug to hidden lug but viewed from above, it’s more like 51mm. At 41mm across, this is a sizable watch in the style of bigger brands making watches like this. What’s most compelling about the case is not so much the material — we’ve seen forged carbon cases before — but the price point. At under $3,000, this is a Swiss-made luxury sports watch made with an exotic case material available at a mere fraction of a Hublot or Richard Mille. Impressive stuff for a brand releasing its first watch. It doesn’t take a detective to piece together that based on the price, materials, and style, the V-Series is a timepiece designed by a watch enthusiast. We’re already interested to see what Roknipour’s Artel Rotec comes up with next.
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Brand: Artel Rotec
Dimensions: 51mm, 41mm across
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Case Material: Forged carbon composite
Crystal/Lens: Curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on interior
Movement: Swiss Made Calibre ART052; Self-winding automatic
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Strap/Bracelet: (1) Black FKM rubber and (1) nylon pressed calf leather
Price & Availability: Available now at Artel Rotec’s site for $2,700. Each of the three references is limited to 100 pieces