There is no shortage of microbrands operating in America. A new one seems to pop up every day. With instant access to a global supply of watch parts, starting a microbrand takes far less effort than it may have taken 10 to 15 years ago. What elevates a microbrand above many others is the effort they put into their design and build quality. Originality and craftsmanship speak to the watch enthusiast above all else.
Carpathia had an interesting start that I haven’t seen many microbrands take advantage of. Utilizing the WatchUSeek forums, the brand asked for feedback and provided updates on the design. This type of transparency isn’t seen often and is something I found to be refreshing.
The Carpathia Ascent is the flagship watch from this Chicago microbrand. The brand’s founder, Mark Para, wears many hats but two of the most important for his brand are watchmaker and designer. Carpathia watches carry two distinct pieces of text on the dial: Chicago and Swiss Made. The watches are designed by Mark in Chicago and adhere to Swiss watchmaking standards. Let’s take a closer look.
On the Wrist
On the surface, the Carpathia Ascent presents as a dress watch. A simple dial layout, lots of polishing, and serif font choices for the markers give the Ascent a classy look. Where this watch separates itself from the dress watch segment is its size. The 42mm case is far outside of what many would consider dress watch sizing. There is no denying that the Ascent commands wrist presence. The watch is almost all dial and what a bold dial it is.
Despite having a large dial and long lugs (52mm), the Ascent wears impeccably well. Viewing the Ascent from the side, you will see that the lugs slope down dramatically, dipping below the caseback. Even with the long lugs, this curvature helps the Ascent hug the wrist and reduce the overall perceived size on the wrist.
There’s no doubt that I certainly noticed the Ascent on my wrist. It took up a good chunk of real estate on my 6.75” wrist. However, the lugs didn’t extend past the edges of my wrist and the curvature of the lugs helped it feel comfortable all day.
I was concerned the copper-colored sunburst dial of the Ascent would obscure the polished numerals and markers, making the watch difficult to read. Thankfully, the applied markers are still able to pop off the dial and remain readable. If the watch doesn’t have light directly reflecting off the markers, they darken in appearance, allowing for easy readability. With that said, even when the markers were lighter in appearance the watch is still able to be read quickly.
Carpathia Ascent In Motion
The Carpathia Ascent has some serious Art Deco vibes. I’ll cover the case design in a minute, but that influence extends itself onto the dial. The numerals for 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 o’clock have a unique font. They are highly stylized and are reminiscent of days long gone. Elongated, applied markers are present for every hour’s position. The long arrow-shaped markers that extend into the dial aid in the Ascent’s readability.
Carpathia’s stork logo and name are applied at 12 o’clock and command a decent section of the northern hemisphere of the dial. While I think their logo and font used is cool, I do feel that it should be scaled down a touch. It’s very prominent as opposed to be being subtle.
The handset on the Ascent is simple but the hour and minute hands extend far enough to nearly reach the end of the large dial. I’m a big fan of the arrow-tipped seconds hand. Some seconds hands simply look better rotating around the dial and this is one of them.
The Ascent’s dial color is the star of the show. Carpathia doesn’t specifically say whether this color is salmon, dial or otherwise, but there is no denying it is beautiful. The sunburst dial shifts from copper-colored to a subtle pink hue. It looks great in any light.
Case, Movement & Strap
Even though the case of the Ascent is completely polished, it is executed extremely well. The design of the case is not derivative of any other watch cases I can put my finger on. The Ascent is thin, something I’m thankful for given the larger diameter of the dial. It helps keep the watch proportional.
There are two things on the case that I think are executed extremely well: the lugs and the crown. To put it simply, the lugs are elegant. As I mentioned before, they slope down and the tips of the lugs extend below the back of the case. The way they slope down and how they cut away from the case is awesome and it looks beautiful.
A nice hidden feature on the lugs of the Ascent are the springbar holes. Two different sets of holes have been drilled into the case. The additional set is closer to the case, allowing curved leather straps (curved spring bars) to sit closer to the case for a more fitted look. It’s a nice touch.
A lot of dress watches tend to have small crowns and while they do minimize the overall size of the watch, they are often difficult to operate, especially when winding the watch. The Ascent’s crown is a larger, onion-style crown. It looks great on the case, but also makes operating it a breeze.
Behind the exhibition caseback is an ETA 2824-2 Elabore grade. It’s great to see such a beautiful and reliable movement used in a microbrand watch. The decoration on the movement looks great. The blued screws and custom rotor all add additional elements of elegance to the Ascent.
Strap options on dress watches generally consist of leather and the Ascent is no exception. The padded leather strap included is well-crafted. Its break-in time was minimal and it was comfortable on my wrist after only a day of wearing it. Carpathia also offers mesh bracelets if leather isn’t your forte.
I briefly discussed modern dress watches in my Christopher Ward Malvern review (read it here) and how they don’t necessarily need to conform to the traditional sizing standards. The Carpathia Ascent is another example of one of those watches. While this watch falls into the dress watch category, it is meant to be worn beyond black-tie events. Wearing this watch with a jacket and jeans would not feel out of place.
I said at the beginning of this review that microbrands are more numerous than ever before. However, most microbrands tend to focus on dive watches. I find it refreshing to see a microbrand come out with a smart-looking dress watch with a mixture of traditional and contemporary styling. Add a solid movement and you’ve got a great watch.
Check out more dress watch reviews from The Watch Clicker
Check out the Carpathia website
|Lug-to-lug Height||52mm||Lug Width||22mm|
|Crystal||Domed Sapphire||Strap||Leather Strap|
|Water Resistance||50 meters||Lume||None|
|Movement||ETA 2824-2 Elabore||Price||$975|