Introducing the Arcanaut Arc II — D’Arc Matter Colors Collection
Independence. Creativity. Visionary re-imaginings not of what a watch should be, but rather what a watch could be. The mold is not broken often enough. Truth be told, it is rarely threatened these days. Watchmaking has always been exceptional at talking to the people who already know the industry exists and designing products that look pretty much the same today as they did 250 years ago for that very audience. And there are good reasons for this. The longer one spends held in the clutches of this craft, the less willing to ruffle feathers you become. It isn’t an exclusively bad evolution. You learn what works and why, and don’t so much feel the need to question what would happen if someone came along and did something completely different because, well, so seldom does anyone bother to do just that.
Breaking the mold
Enter Anders Brandt. Co-founder and Chief Designer of Danish outfit Arcanaut, Brandt stumbled into the watch industry on the back of a beer-fueled conversation with his friend and collaborator Simon Goldmann way back in 2015. After some early missteps, the brand Arcanaut was born in 2019 and, slowly but surely, began to trouble the fringes of watchmaking’s consciousness.
There was no massive marketing budget. There was no glossy Kickstarter campaign. There wasn’t even the almost-mandatory claim that Arcanaut would “disrupt the watch industry” or “turn the established order on its head”. The brand simply went about its business, quietly (and, honestly, in total ignorance of the impact their approach could make), designing a watch silhouette that would eventually send ripples through the collecting community.
Growing into an idea
The brand’s first model, the aptly named Arc I, was a proof-of-concept watch. Limited to 50 pieces, it sold out rapidly and set the stage for Arcanaut to push its ambitious design one step further. The brand already had the ergonomic case form in its locker; next, it wanted to attack the dial material and do something new and quintessentially Scandinavian. Enter James Thompson, AKA Black Badger, who joined the brand as co-owner in 2020 during the developmental phase of the brand’s second piece, the Arc II — D’Arc Matter series.
“It made sense to get James on board officially,” says Brandt. “He brought with him so much experience of material development and collaboration following his work with brands such as MB&F, Linde Werdelin, Schofield, De Bethune, MW&Co., Sarpeneva, and others. His sideways approach to design was the perfect fit for Arcanaut. While we want to extol the virtues of traditional Scandinavian design, it’s imperative too that we retain that twist of madness for which we’re known. And one thing’s for sure: JT has more than a twist of madness about him!”
D’Arc Matter itself is an in-house developed Swedish slate composite, made from grinding a dark stone local to Thompson’s current hometown of Gothenburg into an extremely fine powder before it is reconstituted into a millable block of material by mixing it with an ultra-clear binding agent. It is typical of the brand’s almost alchemic approach to up-cycling — taking something that would not be considered luxurious and through a patient, often hand-skill-led operation, turning it into something completely new.
The result of this unusual process is a dark, mottled stone dial that provides an excellent base for high-strength lume application, which provides excellent legibility. By combining all of these elements, Arcanaut has created a brand concept that is not only different but sustainably so.
“We do so much of the essential work in Scandinavia,” continues Brandt. “Our cases are machined here in Copenhagen. Our handsets are made down the road. James creates the dial materials in Sweden before we finish and case them here. In fact, all of our component finishing and assembly is performed by watchmakers in the Danish capital. It’s really useful to be able to walk between our manufacturing partners, our watchmaking facility, and our offices in less than an hour. And as we move forward we want to do even more in Scandinavia. Currently, only our straps and packaging are made in Asia. We’ll be sourcing the latter from Denmark within 12 months and hopefully the former will follow suit in due course. That one’s simply a question of volume — something we hope to address with the new releases coming in 2023.”
An ambitious future
Since the Arc II — D’Arc Matter limited series (also 50 pieces) sold out, the brand has been quiet on the novelty front, choosing instead to focus on building out the core collection and stepping up their watchmaking game (rumor has it that a proprietary caliber is in development and should be ready for unveiling toward the end of 2023 or early 2024).
In addition to continuing with the Arc II — Fordite series, which uses hand-finished Fordite (or Motor City Agate) for the dials, Arcanaut plans to release a direct follow-up to its initial D’Arc Matter model (to be known as the D’Arc Matter Colors Collection).
The Colors Collection will go on general release on September 30th at 19:00 CEST with a pre-sale for all followers signed up for any of the model-specific mailing lists commencing one week earlier on September 23rd also at 7 pm.
Each color (of which there will be four) will be limited to 25 pieces in 2023. The colors, Badger Blue, Gamma Green, Hornet Yellow, and Pongo Orange were all developed by Thompson with Super-LumiNova primarily for use in the jewelry that first alerted the watch industry to his skill with all things that glow. Now, these colors are being used exclusively by Arcanaut in the watch industry, with the orange (the weakest but most unusual of the emissions) taking several months to adequately refine.
The dials will be housed in the classic Arc case, which measures 40.52mm across (excluding the brand’s recognizable “Pentablock” crown) and fits wrists from 16.5 cm upward comfortably. Despite the novel crown shape (and its precise locking system), the case is water resistant to one hundred meters, benefitting in this regard from a closed and decorated case back.
Powering the watch is a Soprod A10 automatic movement, which boasts a 28,800 operating frequency and a 42-hour power reserve. The rubber straps are available in eight colors (Axe Red, Void Blue, Replicant White, Fett Green, Rex Brown, Kakarot Orange, Bondi Blue, and black). All current models are available for USD 3,950 excluding taxes but including worldwide shipping.
Arcanaut D’arc Matter Colors Collection
Movement: Automatic Soprod A10 with a 42-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes only
Cases: 40.52 mm brushed, blasted, and hand-polished stainless steel, water resistant to 100 meters
Dial: In-house developed Swedish slate composite (D’Arc Matter), with proprietary Super-LumiNova in either Badger Blue, Gamma Green, Hornet Yellow, or Pongo Orange
Strap: Rubber, choice of eight colors
Price: USD 3,950
FROM THE SHOP
|Movement||Self-winding caliber BR.CAL-301; 42-hour power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||41mm; CuAI7Si2 bronze; water resistant to 100m|
|Dial||Sunray brushed with applied, gold-plated indices|
|Strap||Black calfskin; satin polished bronze folding clasp|
|Limited Edition||Limited edition of 50 pieces|