A moment in time
Huddled around a table in a basement just a stone’s throw from the dead centre of Copenhagen, the men behind Arcanaut watches furtively discuss their next move. They are well aware that the brand has quietly become one of watchmaking’s most promising independents and that, for the first time ever in the brand’s short existence, the pressure is on.
Arcanaut’s story began in 2015, when two friends, Anders Brandt and Simon Goldman had one too many beers together and decided they could start a watch brand capable of out-punching the entry-level luxury bracket by embracing bold Danish design and an experimental approach. Three years later, the very first model, the Swiss-made Arcanaut Arc I proof of concept watch hit the market. It sold out almost instantly, but Brandt, the company’s Chief Designer, wasn’t satisfied. He knew they could do more. He knew there was something missing from the recipe he’d been working on. Fortunately, the missing ingredient Arcanaut needed to put it over the top was hiding in plain sight in another part of Scandinavia, just a short hop across the sea away...
The missing madness
Discovering James “Black Badger” Thompson, a materials wizard known for his headline-grabbing work with brands such as MB&F, Schofield, MW&Co., Linde Werdelin, and De Bethune to name but a few completed the Arcanaut outlook. James provided the missing madness Anders knew his ascetic case design demanded. With the Badger on board as a co-owner and the development of the brand’s Arc II — D’Arc Matter series well underway, Arcanaut was ready for round two and the new beginning that would well and truly put it on the map.
The fusion of genuine craftsmanship and a host of handmade elements with the clinical and intellectual case design reaped immediate dividends. All the brand needed now was a model capable of expressing those values wordlessly.
The D’Arc Matter Debuts
D’Arc Matter is the name given to the in-house developed slate composite material from which Arcanaut makes dials for the series of the same name. D’Arc Matter, developed by Thompson after a chance discovery in his Gothenburg-based workshop, is a particularly flat and black material, providing excellent contrast against the blasted and lightly brushed hands and the proprietary lume produced for Arcanaut by Super-LumiNova creators RC Tritec in Switzerland.
D’Arc Matter, like all the best things, happened by accident. James was walking his son Alfie home from school one day when they passed a beautiful old fountain. Charmed by its aesthetic, Alfie did what any self-respecting kid would do and kicked it. A small lump of slate fell off the fountain. Halfway between concerned that they might get into trouble and curious as to what he might be able to do with the ill-gotten shard, James pocketed it and continued the journey home.
Days later, he was sitting in the Den, staring at his new industrial coffee grinder that claimed it could reduce almost anything to dust. He idled with his hands in his pockets mulling over his options of what to crush when his hand fell upon the shard of slate. He slipped it into the machine and ground it to a fine sand. Intrigued, he passed it through the machine again and again until he had a soft, relatively uniform powder.
After mixing it with resin and curing under a UV lamp, before sanding and blasted the resulting billet, James realised he had found something foundational. It was exactly what the brand needed.
A building block for the future
“I guess we needed a base, you know? Something that was a solid every day watch without being too conservative. Something that was a conversation starter and good old fashioned timekeeper. It came out perfectly.
And then Anders came up with the design and it just lent itself so perfectly to lume, I had no choice but to give Albert a call to see if he could help us out?”
Albert Zeller of RC Tritec. The company that is behind its far-better-known product, Super-LumiNova.
Albert and James had been collaborating for years. His expertise and James’s desire for novelty makes them a good pair. Albert knew exactly what to do (and he had a few more ideas for future iterations of the D’Arc Matter concept should Arcanaut ever see fit to revisit it).
The exceptional luminous performance of the compound developed by Albert and his team imbued the inaugural D’Arc Matter model with a recognisable low-light character and, when paired with the Danish-made 41mm wide 316L hypoallergenic stainless steel case and the brand’s striking laser-cut handset, the watch was ready to step out into the world.
A fast start
The first run of D’Arc Matter pieces was 50 strong. It sold out in a few hours. It was too special a material and too perfect a pairing with the 41mm wide case, best remembered for its central lugs and trapezoid crown. It simply has to return. And return it will. In August 2023, the new D’Arc matter Colours collection will be unveiled for the first time before going on sale at the end of September.
Arcanaut chose to power its core models with the Soprod A10 caliber because of its ready availability, reliability, and serviceability. While future models will explore more exotic and proprietary calibers, for the brand’s every-day beater, nothing but a tried and tested tractor movement would do.
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“D’Arc Matter’s our thing,” smiled James, stirring a bubbling concoction that was giving off fumes that didn’t look safe to breathe. “As long as we’re ticking we’ll keep reimagining and reinventing it to keep it fresh. But it’s here to stay. It’s a dark, mysterious, totally unique material that is ours and I can’t wait to share it with more people.”
“Well,” I said, reaching for a gas mask. “There isn’t long to wait now...”