Hands on with the new Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph

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Depancel releases a new chronograph in a square shaped case, reminiscent of some of the iconic racing watches. We met up with founder Clément Meynier and had this release preview with hands on, live photographs and commentary in italics.

Hands on with the new Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph

The Depancel Série-R Tangerine Chronograph has a retail price of USD 995 before taxes.

Hands-on and Commentary

A new chronograph from this tiny, independent in Annecy in France. We have reviewed the Depancel Série-A and the Legend 60s Chronograph. The Série-A had a Seiko movement, and the Legend 60s had a Seagull movement. For this novelty, the Série-R is equipped with a Peacock movement.

Visually, especially at a glance, we think the Série-R Tangerine is strongly reminiscent of the TAG Heuer Monaco, especially the Gulf Edition. A very similar case shape, and though the pushers on the Monaco are on the left side of the case rather than conventionally on the right on the Depancel, the similarities are quite strong. First off, the colour scheme is similar, though not the same. Both the use of bicolour stripes as a graphic element. In the Gulf Edition, the stripes are blue and orange, are wide and appear on the right of the dial, while the stripes are placed on the right of the dial on the Depancel are thinner with a white and orange colour scheme over a blue dial background. The Depancel also carry more conventional round triple sub-counters, while the Monaco is a bi-compax design using square shaped sub-dials. And the Depancel is also physically thinnerr (13mm vs 15mm case thickness).

But this visual similarity is not a bad thing, as the Depancel is the David battling the Goliath in this case. The Depancel comes in at much lower pricing than the TAG Heuer. The TAG Heuer uses a Swiss sourced movement, which they call Caliber 11. Though this is not to be confused with the historical Caliber 11, but is a Sellita SW300 ébauche paired to a Dubois-Dépraz chronograph module.

The movement is made by Dandong Peacock in China, and is transparently declared by Depancel. The Peacock Caliber SL-4801 used in the Série-R has appeared in the Chinese watches like the Sugess Chronograph and the Seagull Chronograph. Both Chinese watches look like clones of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, rather than like the TAG Monaco. It is a rather advanced movement, with a vertical clutch. Depancel literature states that the power reserve of 60 hours, but other makers who use the movement state varying power reserves of “more than 55 hours” (Sugess) and “more than 45 hours” (Seagull). Movement finishing looks very basic, but this is not unexpected at this price class.

Pricing wise, the Depancel is higher than the Chinese Daytona looking counterparts. The Sugess retails at USD 459 and the Seagull at USD 780. While the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition 50th anniversary (Ref. CAW211R.FC6401) has a recommended retail price of USD 5,900.

Depancel founder Clément Meynier wearing the Tangerine. Photographed in Singapore, May 2024.

Release details

THE FISRT EVER SÉRIE-R AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH

Since 2018, the young, fully-independent brand Depancel has been ploughing its own unwavering furrow: classic fine watchmaking with a racing style, French inspiration, an engineering culture, and affordable prices.

Only one episode remained in this thrilling series, and Depancel has now produced a fitting ending: in a few days’ time, the first ever Série R with an automatic chronograph movement will be made available for a total of just 300 numbered pieces.

A NEW MODEL AND NEW MOVEMENT

The chronograph so eagerly awaited by the Depancel community is here at last, with the brand unveiling its very first Série-R self-winding mechanical chronograph. In the world of racing and motorsport, the chronograph reigns supreme among complications and was high on Depancel collectors’ wish-lists; it now takes its place alongside the Calendar and Power Reserve models of the collection.

The new development had its fair share of challenges. Depancel had been keen to add some punch to its Série-R design with a new 40x36mm format. Three millimetres slimmer than the model’s Calendar and Power Reserve counterparts, the piece has an edgier, sportier look that’s just perfect for a chronograph.

DESIGN

CLOCKWORK ORANGE

On the dial side, the ‘Tangerine’ look continues to dominate. This styling is a favourite of Depancel collectors: when the Allure Tangerine was released in 2023, all one hundred pieces sold out inforty-eight hours. To satisfy demand, Depancel has thus taken the decision to produce three hundred of the Série-R Tange rine Chrono, each individually numbered.

The timepiece sports the familiar two-tone orange and blue finish. At the heart of the case (whose design resembles a radiator grille) sits a blue striped dial traversed by a bright orange band from 11 o’clock to 7 o’clock. Tangerine orange is used for all chronograph indications too, making them easier to read: the central seconds hand, the hour counter at 9 o’clock and more especially the minute counter at 3 o’clock. The latter is the most important display on a chronograph, and so Depancel has made it stand out that bit more with an orange flange, as on the Allure. Another highlight in the same shade is to be found, in the finest racing tradition, on the perforated leather strap topstitching and on the crown sitting between the two pushers at 3 o’clock.

A NEW MODEL AND NEW MOVEMENT

However, the overall dimensions of a case are one thing, its thickness another. Traditionally, the chronograph is a complication that takes up a lot of room, requiring multiple levels and intermediate wheels not to mention its self-winding module for which an oscillating weight is needed, too.

To make its Série-R Tangerine Chronograph Automatic as slim as possible, Depancel has thus enlisted the services of a calibre that’s only just arrived on the market: the Peacock SL-4801. Tested in-house,its excellent reliability and accuracy have now been confirmed and it’s only 6.5mm thick and 30.5mm in diameter. Its power reserve is also ample: 60 hours, well in excess of the customary 42 hours, allowing collectors to spend an entire weekend without worrying about it winding down: it’ll still be keeping perfect time on the Monday morning.

The aesthetics of the movement have also been the subject of special attention. One reason Depancel chose it was its traversing balance wheel bridge. Visible at seven o’clock through the sapphire caseback of the Série-R Tangerine Chronograph, it exudes powerful, robust symmetry that also ensures the piece can withstand impacts undisturbed on the racetrack, for example.

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