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Arcanaut ARC II Review

Who knew old paint could look so good

Textured dials are all the craze these days. From the waffle dial Tissot PRX to the Nodus Unity, everyone is taking advantage of watch enthusiasts wanting some pizzazz on their dials. But what do you do when you want each watch to have a unique dial? A 1 of 1 that can never be duplicated even if someone asked for the same dial? Ask Arcanaut. The Arcanaut ARC II features a dial made from fordite that produces a dial unique to one watch and one watch only. Let’s jump in and see what the heck fordite is and how it fits with the ARC II.

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On the Wrist

The ARC II comes in at a sporty 41mm wide, 13mm thick, and about 49-50mm lug-to-lug. I say about because it features an integrated rubber strap that blends seamlessly with the case. On my 6.75″ (17cm) wrist, I found that even with the curve of the case, the end of the integrated portion of the case landed about where I would expect a 50mm lug-to-lug watch to sit. 

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The integrated rubber strap conformed nicely to my wrist, but due to the construction of the strap, it is a little stiff as it leaves the case. This can result in the watch having a floaty feeling where the curvature of the strap doesn’t seem to start until it is way past your wrist. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it did lead to a large on-wrist look.

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The ARC II could be classified as a statement piece by some. This isn’t a watch to tell accurate, to-the-minute time. The ARC II wants to be noticed and talked about. The multicolored dial is more of an art exhibit than a watch, which is precisely what it is going for. If you need timekeeping, the Casio F-91 exists. If you need something on your wrist that showcases something beyond what time it is, the ARC II is where it’s at. 

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Arcanaut ARC II Specs

Case Width




Case Thickness




Lug Width




Water Resistance



Integrated Rubber Strap






Soprod A10



Dial Details

So what the hell is fordite anyway? Fordite is simply paint. However, there is a little more to it than that. Fordite is also known as “Detroit Agate” and is made up of countless layers of automotive paint that have hardened to the point where it can be cut and turned into things like jewelry or…watch dials. The Detroit part of its nickname comes from where it originates. Before the automotive painting process was modernized and automated, cars would be sprayed and baked to dry. The overspray would land on the surfaces around the painting rooms, sit there and dry with the car, and eventually turn into fordite.

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Arcanaut took fordite from its commonly used jewelry application and thought it might look pretty damn good as a watch dial. Oh, man, were they right! Because of how fordite is formed, the patterns are entirely random and unpredictable. They take on a geological look in most patterns, and before I learned what fordite was, I assumed it was some sort of painted rock formation. When you purchase an ARC II, the piece of fordite you get on your dial (you get to choose which dial you want from the batch) will be 100% unique to that watch, even if the next watch dial was made from the same chunk of fordite. 

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Arcanaut smartly went with the minimalism approach regarding the other elements commonly found on watch dials. Because the fordite is so busy, there is nothing else on the dial save for the hands. There is no branding text or markers. This watch is about the fordite. 

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The handset is bead blasted and skeletonized, which can create some legibility issues, but we’re splitting hairs with that complaint. As I said above, this isn’t the watch you wear to ensure you’re on time for your job interview. 

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Case & Strap

I often see watches that put all their effort into the case or the dial, not both. Arcanaut was able to achieve an extremely fun dial that is paired with an excellent case. The case is mostly bead blasted except for a polished surround on the sides of the case. Where the case design shines is in its shape. 

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The case has a fairly dramatic curve paired with a recessed caseback. This brings the 13mm case height down to a lovely 11mm wrist-to-crystal. 

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When looking at the case from the top down, it has a contemporary look that is further accentuated by the integration of the rubber strap. If the ARC II had glowing neon lines around it, the watch would fit perfectly into the TRON universe. 

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The integration of the rubber strap is both extremely satisfying and slightly annoying. The tolerances on the case and strap connections are, for lack of a better word, perfect. The strap and case have a mating connection point that supports the strap, so it doesn’t get any gaps when bent around your wrist. 

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This connection point requires hardware beyond what a traditional spring bar could provide, which is slightly annoying. A lug bar goes through the case and strap and is secured with two screws, one on each side of the case. I am thankful that Arcanaut did not use proprietary lug bars like Oris, but getting them to sit correctly can be a pain. Because the case is obviously hard and the rubber is more squishy, the strap has to be 100% in the right spot. Arcanaut included a screwdriver, but I recommend getting one with a more extended handle if you plan on swapping straps, it will make the job much easier. With all of this said, I commend Arcanaut for being as good as it is. I could see many other brands butchering this connection with tolerances that aren’t as good as what Arcanaut achieved. 

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Final Thoughts

The ARC II is one hell of a watch. The unique dial, excellent case, and tight tolerances for the strap connection are elements we don’t often see from independent brands at price points below $5,000. The ARC II has a lot of hands-on it before it finds its way to your wrist. The dials are handmade (technically twice), and a noticeable amount of care went into crafting them. 

It’s easy to get bored with the onslaught of dive and sports watches dominating the watch world right now. I’ve even gotten to the point where I feel like I’ve seen just about everything, and innovation is slowing down. The ARC II disrupts that thought process and brings something fun, different, and a level of enthusiasm I haven’t seen from many other watch brands lately. If you’re getting jaded, too, the ARC II might be the one to break you out of it. 

Check out more sports watch reviews at The Watch Clicker here

Check out the Arcanaut website here

More Images of the Arcanaut ARC II

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