If you are a watch history buff, you are definitely familiar with Nivada Grenchen. They have a long history that dates back to 1926, and were very popular in the 60s when the original Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster Pacman was born. The funky marker dial was not dubbed the Pacman then, but since the rebirth of the brand in 2020, they are embracing the likeness of the 6 and 9 markers to the famous 80s video game, and market these dials as the Pacman. These watches have been called the “Baby Panerai” by Alton Brown and a few others, as the bulging cushion case resembles that of some Panerai models. They have kept the cases pretty close to the originals, although when saying that, there were a few variations, so no way for it to be exact to every vintage piece, but one thing that has stayed the same is the case size at 39mm. Small sizes seem to be the rage these days for a lot of collectors, but is 39mm too small for this style of watch? Pricing starts at $950.
Yes, the Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster Pacman is a pretty well-known watch, at least the original models were, but what about these new ones? I have never held a vintage model in my hand, but taking a look online, it looks like the brand did a pretty faithful recreation of the Depthmaster, the dial is said to be identical, and the case size was kept to 39mm. The case has multiple finishes with a brushed aluminum bezel insert, a satin brushed top case, and highly polished sides. Between the bezel and the case, where the case is raised a little, is actually blasted, a nice little touch of detail that some may never notice.
At 39mm, and with a small dial opening, it is a very small wearing case, which is faithful to the original, but the Nivada Grenchen Pacman could probably use an upgrade in size, but that all depends on where you land on watch sizes. For vintage and re-issue accuracy, the size is perfect, but even these days, I do feel it is on the smaller size. You may think it is perfect though. The case sides are extremely highly polished, and for a tool diver with a 1000m water-resistant rating, I would rather have a satin brushed finish, as that would hide scratches a lot easier. The case does have a nice chamfer though, and it blends in nicely with the brushed top, and even though I don’t love the mirror polish, I will say the watch finish is well done and quite attractive. Of course with a massive depth rating, it has a screw-down crown, and for those of you that are saturation divers, a helium release valve on the opposite side.
In 1980, a video game took the world by storm and that game was of course Pac-Man. These days, the Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster with this dial is lovingly called the Pac-man, but that was a name collectors gave it in the 80s, as this watch preceded the video game by two decades. The dial is said to be a faithful recreation of the original, and it comes in a few color choices, the black and white shown here, a date model, a vintage patina model and if the Pacman dial is not for you at all, you can get a Depthmaster with a more traditional dial.
I personally really do like this Pacman dial. It’s funky and quirky, yet because of traditional hour and minute hands you can still easily read the time at a glance, and it’s fun but not over the top. The no-date version shown here is the way to go as it keeps it symmetrical, but one thing to note is that while this is a no-date dial, it is not a no-date movement. Above the dial is a gorgeous domed box sapphire crystal with a blue inner AR coating, that really looks fantastic with this case design and gives it that extra vintage flair.
The bezel of the Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster Pacmman is an aluminum insert, even though it looks like it would be one piece of solid stainless steel. I am kind of surprised they didn’t do a solid bezel assembly, but I assume it is cheaper, or maybe they went this route thinking a bezel such as this (aluminum or steel) would get easily scratched up, and having an aluminum insert allows for it to be easily replaced, assuming that in 5-10 years they have extras on hand for repairs. The Bezel action is good and crisp though, and the 120 clicks give good feedback.
Turning around the case back, and well, this is a very plain case back, reminiscent of the original. I love a solid case back, and the less decorated one is usually the more comfortable it is on the wrist, and that is the case here, but some could argue that it is too plain, and a nice laser etching of the Nivada Grenchen logo on the back would have been a nice touch.
The movement here is the same as in the Charlie Paris Concordia I just reviewed, the Soprod P024 Automatic Movement. It is a clone of the ETA 2824, same power reserve at 38 hours and pretty much the same specs, including accuracy. This example has been running -5 seconds per day on average over a week of testing, which is not bad at all, especially for a standard grade movement.
No surprise here, I have been talking about it all throughout this article, but on my 7 1/12 inch (19.05cm) wrist, this wears very small. It feels more like a 37 or 38mm to me, and the small dial opening contributes to how small it wears. Despite it wearing very small, one thing a few of our followers have pointed out was the long lugs, which some consider disproportionate to the rest of the case. The lugs are long and only have a slight downward curve, so they stand out even more, but they don’t bother me that much, but I can see what those guys were griping about.
This is a standard Nivada Grenchen leather strap, but there are countless options available when it comes to straps, leather, rubber, and at least 5 different bracelet options, including some very vintage-styled ones. Please note that adding a bracelet adds $200 to the price tag, no matter which bracelet you choose, bringing the price to $1,150.
The lume used on the Nivada Grenchen Pacman is C1 Superluminova and these are painted markers, not applied, so I wasn’t expecting a lume monster, and I was correct. The lume is sufficient, but don’t expect it to last all night.
The Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster Pacman is a cool watch, there is no doubt. I love that this brand was brought back in 2020, and looking through their entire catalog I really do like all the models they currently are producing. This Pacman feels solidly built and there are a lot of options, and you can even custom-make one on their website now, to truly personalize it, but the sizing for me is the biggest issue. This is a small 39mm case, and for me, just way too small. That said, I do not live under a rock. I am well aware that small sizes are the in thing right now, and if you are someone that prefers a vintage size, and in this case, a vintage look, inspired by the original model of the past, these are worth the look.
Pricing is a little high though, I think $950 on a strap for what this watch is, even this economy, is a little too much. I would have liked to see this start at $750, with bracelet options topping out at $900-$950. But many of us would like to see many different watches at lower price points because then we could have a lot more in our collection/rotation. If I had one other wish, make these and some of your other models in 42mm, for those of us that still prefer a larger watch on the wrist. You can find all of Nivada’s watches HERE on their website.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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