3 Indies With Eye-Catching Dials: Fratello x Czapek Antarctique Passage De Drake, Ming 20.11 Mosaic, And MB&F LM FlyingT Malachite
Ahead of Geneva Watch Days at the end of August and the European summer break, some independent watch brands have announced new watches.
And here are three of those timepieces with eye-catching dials by indie watchmakers that recently caught my eye.
Fratello × Czapek & Cie. Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green
The Fratello × Czapek & Cie. Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green isn’t the first watch our friends at Fratello have done in collaboration with a watch brand – that honor belongs to the 2017 Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Limited Edition. But it is the first to my knowledge made with an independent brand.
And to do it this time with the popular Czapek & Cie. Antarctique was a great idea for Fratello’s predominantly sporty watch-loving audience. In 2020 Czapek & Cie. introduced the Antarctique in two variations: a 99-piece Terre Adélie “subscription” edition that sold out very quickly and a ten-piece Orion Nebula edition with a hand-painted dial.
Having handled the Czapek & Cie. Antarctique at Geneva Watch Days 2020, I can attest to the well-made nature and sporty appeal of this independent brand’s first foray into the steel sport watch market, a segment that has exploded over the last couple years.
The new variation, Fratello x Czapek & Cie. Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green has a subdued, clear style that, while not trying to be a peacock, docks into the current green-dial trend (“low-hanging fruit,” as its co-creator admitted). It is a solid, attractive alternative for people in the market for a steel sports watch that is both rare and independent.
The stainless steel case of the Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green has a slightly tonneau, vaguely retro-inspired shape that differs from the current market leaders in this segment. Instead of protruding lugs it has a sharp downward break to the bracelet, which makes it comfortable for a variety of wrists.
The watch’s presentation is clean and dynamic yet simple; it feels cohesive and will be deservedly popular.
The movement is incredible, too. Caliber SXH5 debuted in the Antarctique in 2020, a movement that takes inspiration from historical pocket watches yet feels entirely modern. Caliber SXH5 is also designed as a base for future developments and features a high-torque mainspring that can be used to power later added complications.
Combining a lot of internal angles, the right amount of skeletonization, and a sandblasted blackish finish, Caliber SXH5 feels like a bold combination of classic watchmaking and modern production methods – something that Czapek & Cie. has done well since its inception. This boutique brand was built upon the concept of using historical inspiration to produce fantastic contemporary watches at a (relatively) attainable price.
The entire package provides a very high-end steel sports watch that will fly under the radar (a bonus for many consumers) that is also powered by a unique movement. Minimal and clean with just the right touch of flair, the Fratello x Czapek & Cie. Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green is a clear price/performance proposition for me.
You can read the rather personal backstory to this watch on Fratello.
Quick Facts Fratello x Czapek & Cie. Antarctique Passage de Drake Viridian Green
Case: 40.5 x 11.3 mm, stainless steel with integrated, quick-change steel bracelet
Movement: automatic Caliber SXH5.01 with free-sprung balance, 28,800 vph/4Hz frequency, 65-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 50 pieces
Price: €17,206.61 (excluding VAT); delivery commences in October 2021
Remark: comes with additional rubber strap
Ming 20.11 Mosaic
Shooting star in the (relatively) moderately priced segment of independent watchmaking Ming introduces a new flagship watch and the first production reference with the proprietary “Mosaic dial” technology first seen in 2020’s 20.01 concept watch.
The Mosaic dial is in reality a sapphire crystal disk 1.3 mm in height decorated with a multilayered, laser-engraved mosaic pattern developed over two years in association with DM Surfaces of St. Imier and Manufacture Schwarz Etienne.
The new Mosaic dial of the Ming 20.11 features 2,650 squares formed with a linear diffraction pattern etched on three different levels with a high-power femtosecond laser. When using sapphire crystal in any capacity, one may expect a bit of breakage – it is a difficult material to work, making the production process tricky.
Ming chose a Schwarz Etienne automatic movement with micro rotor in a dark bicolor finish to provide a lovely contrasting background to the corundum chessboard of a dial – all of which remains fully visible thanks to the use of sapphire crystal hands ensuring that the dial remains the star of this show.
And a special surprise awaits owners at night when light from HyCeram/Super-LumiNova X1 embedded in the sapphire crystal dial reflects off the Mosaic pattern, some of whose squares glow softly. The outlines of the hands also glow brightly for full legibility.
For more information, please see www.ming.watch/products/ming-20-01-mosaic.
Quick Facts Ming 20.11 Mosaic
Case: 41.5 x 14 mm, titanium with DLC-coated case band
Dial and hands: sapphire crystal dial with Mosaic laser etching; hands and hour ring with HyCeram/Super-LumiNova X1
Movement: automatic Schwarz-Etienne for Ming Caliber ASE.220.2 with sintered tungsten micro rotor, 86-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 50 watches in addition to an existing customer batch that is time limited from July 5 through 9, 2021
Price: CHF 14,500 (excluding VAT), including shipping; delivery commencing in February 2022
Remark: comes with two handmade Jean Rousseau straps, leather travel pouch by Studio Koji Sato, and an LED flashlight to charge the HyCeram/Super-LumiNova X1
MB&F LM FlyingT Malachite
LM FlyingT is MB&F’s first dedicated watch for women and it made a gigantic splash when it launched in 2019, scooping up every award imaginable, including – but not nearly restricted to – the 2019 Watch of the Year at CH24.PL and the Ladies Complication prize at the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
And now MB&F continues to introduce variations on the highly technical theme, here with discrete diamond setting and the malachite stone dial . . . and one diamond at the top of the flying tourbillon, a single 0.035-carat jewel that makes its revolutions right along the highly visible escapement.
While this watch is anything but modest (or discrete for that matter), it continues to be a fascinating example of high horology in every beautiful sense.
Quick Facts MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT
Case: 38.5 x 20 mm, white gold set with diamonds
Movement: automatic caliber with three-dimensional vertical architecture, central flying 60-second tourbillon with diamond on top, four-day (100-hour) power reserve, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 18 pieces
Price: CHF 125,000 / $145,000 / €118,000 (excluding tax)