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Depancel F-Back Dusk Blue

Akin to Wearing a Supercar on Your Wrist

Here, I’ll say it again: it’s not everyday that a watch surprises me. I thought I had seen most of it in the past three years but then I lift a rock I hadn’t paid attention to before and find something new, exciting, and different. I guess this feeling is similar to that of traveling to a new destination with lots of expectations that get smashed as soon as we land: this new country, city, or piece of land is full of surprises. We didn’t think we would enjoy it here but we do and such in a way that is unexpected. The same scenario therefore happens as well in the small world of horology that we are so obsessed with. And this is the case here with a brand I had barely heard of before and which turns out to have been putting out amazing watches that look like no other.

I won’t lie, getting the Depancel F-Back Dusk Blue in hands was at first a complex experience. It's bigger than what I’m used to wearing but it is its daring and bold design—which had attracted me in the first place—that prompted me to get one in for review. I won’t lie, it's a massive watch that will certainly look better on those who have larger wrists than mine (6.50”/16.5cm.) But yet again, the F-Back is not meant to be subtle. Its case shape evokes that of the front grille found on vintage fastback cars—those which had a teardrop shaped rear which originated in the 1930s. It is therefore an “in your face” kind of watch and I’d say it works quite well here. As we will see below, it both has the looks and specs to make you think “Wow.” 


In order to not make you wait too long to get an idea of how large of a watch the Depancel F-Back Dusk Blue is, we must first talk about its dimensions. This big guy comes in with a width of 43mm (instead of saying diameter since it’s rectangular,) a lug-to-lug of 50mm, a thickness of 13mm and lug width of 22mm. As you can tell from the photos, the F-Back’s wrist presence is somewhat controlled and contained by the short lugs that turn down. Otherwise, it would have looked like a mastodon. Another key aspect of the case design that works in its favor is how perfectly symmetrical it is: the fixed bezel appears to be of the same thickness as the see-through case-back, while the slightly boxed sapphire crystal remains discreet. 

Furthermore, the case comes with a complex alternation of brushed and polished accents, where the former can be found on the upper section of the bezel, lugs, and case flanks, while the latter can be found on the edges of the case-back, bezel, sides of the lugs as well as the corner section of the case that sits between the flanks and lugs. (I really suggest you take a closer look at the photos below!) On the right side we find what appear to be crown guards, although they are too short and too far from the crown to really protect it. However, the top crown guard is where we find a small pusher that controls the top-right sub-register which indicates the month. 

Speaking of which, the movement inside the F-Back Dusk Blue is the Miyota 9120 RM triple calendar that beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and has 40 hours of power reserve. In addition to indicating the date at the 4:30, the 9120 has a 24-hour scale at the six o’clock, a day indicated at the nine, and a month indicator at the three. We no longer see many watches that come with this type of movement nowadays and I like it as this means the Depancel F-Back not only looks badass but it also is very functional. But, we will talk more about this further down this article. The last two pieces of specs you should know about concern the water resistance (50 meters) and the leather strap that comes with quick-release spring bars and a deployant clasp. 


The F-Back comes with a distinct character that is its best attribute. First, notice the patterns found on the center portion of the dial and the outer edges which are reminiscent of the aforementioned front grilles found on fastback cars. The pattern in the center looks like a fine waffle—which truly reminds me of muscle cars—while the one on the outer section is made of vertical lines and grooves. What I like here is the fact that the textures are quite subtle and perfectly integrate with the overall design of the watch. The triple sub-register layout further nods to fast-moving vehicles as they remind me of the large counters found on dashboards of a vintage Shelby. (Don’t take my word on the latter though as I'm no car expert.) 

More than the sub-registers, what pops right out of the dial are the white and red vertical stripes found on the left side. Racing-inspired, they are echoed on the side stitching of the leather strap towards the lugs that represent the colors of the French flag. (Have I mentioned already that Depancel is French?) The long and thin hands visually match the style of the applied hour markers, the latter being subdivided in two sections, one smaller found on the center portion of the dial and the other one, longer, on the outer portion. This is due to the fact that the latter is sur-elevated which adds depth to the dial. Depth is further accentuated by the polished frames around each sub-register as well as the slightly sunk-in (also framed) date aperture. 

Each sub-register is complemented by a radial finish at their center which contributes to creating interesting dimension and light plays. The day indicator shows each day of the week while the month indicator only every other month, and a similar layout can be found on the 24-hour indicator where only the even hours are indicated with Arabic numerals. All of this set against the textured dial, polished frames, and minimal branding contributes to endowing the F-Back with a muscular, bold look. What was perhaps surprising is how small the crown is, although I understand why it was made so given the proportions of the case. If the crown would have been even just slightly bigger, it would definitely have ended up digging into my poor French wrist. 

The Heart of the Matter

At the heart of the matter here is the fact that the Depancel F-Back Dusk Blue is a watch that has an identity of its own. And it isn’t the type of timekeeping device that exists for the sole purpose of being bold; no. It’s also highly functional given the triple-calendar complication which denotes intentionality from the brand. Depancel could have easily made a watch with a bold design just so that watch enthusiasts—and those who are horologically curious—could notice it from a distance. Instead, they paired the large case and its imposing wrist print with a great movement, a great crystal, and a good amount of lume so that reading the time at night is easy. Yes, it’s the first time I’m mentioning the lume; my apologies. 

Moreover, I would say that the Depancel F-Back is a watch that perfectly matches its intended purpose: to make a statement. And I would argue it is done tastefully so here given how much attention to details was put into laying out the dial, polishing the hands, and juxtaposing three different types of textures on two levels to create depth and visual interest. While it might not be for everyone, I can easily say this: coming in with a price tag of $750, one gets a lot of mighty bangs for his/her bucks. What I hope shows on the photos is the quality of manufacturing the F-Back is endowed with. Everything is precise and perfection-free, something that perhaps doesn’t jump out of the photos at first glance given how much there is to see. 


If you are on the market for a bold and functional watch, then the Depancel F-Back Dusk Bleu is definitely for you. Actually, I didn’t know such a market existed until I saw this watch in the metal. So what’s perhaps more important here is the fact that this watch is different, unique, and clearly shows intentionality as mentioned more than once in this review. Let’s face it, there are so many watches we could choose from today especially under $1,000, so it’s quite nice to see something different, that both looks as good as it is well manufactured and thought-through. There are more little design details which I didn’t cover here and which I invite you to investigate on your own. For example, the engraved Depancel logo found on the north part of the fixed bezel. 

You can learn more about Depancel, its collections, and the F-Back here

Thanks for reading. 


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