Today we are gonna look at enthusiasts project that came to life through the Watchuseek F71 affordable watch forum. And I got to say, they nailed the design and overall look of the watch that it is inspired by. The guys that made this are also behind companies like EMG (We looked at their newest project a couple of months ago called Horizon) and HKED. I was contacted by Ed (HKED) and he really liked my review of the EMG Horizon and offered me to review the newest project called the WUS Emperor Diver. Before we dive into the review more, let’s have a short talk with Ed:
Hi, I’m Ed and I’m a watch addict.
Watches have always been my passion. My earliest memory is playing with my grandfather’ wrist watch, and it is now one of my most cherished watches.
I don’t baby my watches, so anything that fits my casual style and can take a few knocks is good enough for me.
Too many to count to be honest since I started hoarding Chinese vintage watches. My collection includes Chinese vintage watches, Stowa, Panerai, Rolex and a bunch of WUS project watches.
Anyone who is genuinely interested in watches.
We have two children and most of our time is spent with them. I love vintage watches and you may see how they shaped my watch designs.
I’ve teamed up with Derek and Eric from EMG Watches and we will continue to design and produce watches that we like. HKED watches will focus on vintage inspired watches.
We have a few projects in the pipeline, including 42mm versions of the ED63 and a GMT watch with EMG.
For me, the most difficult part is striking a balance between producing watches I would personally wear and those that will appeal to the wider market.
Know the market and your potential customers. It’s not as easy as ordering a generic model online, selling them all and making millions 🙂
So as you know this is Watchuseek forum watch. Here is the link to the original post. The Emperor Diver is available in three colour variations: brown dial/black bezel, blue dial/silver bezel and black dial/black bezel. My personal favourite is probably the brown dial one that we have here for review. It just looks more vintage with the brown dial than other versions. Inspiration actually came from an old Technos diver, at least that’s what I saw on HKED’s Instagram. And I have to say, they really managed to capture the vintage watch essence with that dial, black bezel and especially with the “Beads of rice”(BOR) bracelet. When HKED contacted me about doing review of one his watches I was really excited as I was following both EMG and HKED watches since I ever started to read watchuseek about 4-5 years ago and since then I always wanted to review one of those divers as they looked so good and many people said so many good things about it, so finally I have the opportunity to check it out.
This watch is a lender unit and I actually think it is a prototype, not the final version so there won’t be any box or anything. But still I had a great unboxing experience as I waited for this watch with excitement, I was even watching the tracking number each day to check where it is as I could not wait for it to arrive 😀 The day it arrived I unpacked it and wow, I was really surprised with the quality as the watch only costs 350$. It should cost about three times that in my opinion and it would still sell out pretty fast. The first impressions were very good. The only things that kind of popped in my eye was how the bracelet’s end links aren’t flush with the case, there is a noticeable gap between the case/lugs and the bracelet, but again this I think is a prototype and in the final production versions maybe they will work that thing out. But any case that was the only thing that I noticed from the first look at the watch.
The case of the Emperor Diver is made of 316L stainless steel. The case shape is round. The machine work is done very good with very nice lines and edges. The case is finished in two finishes brushed and polished. The sides of the case are polished and the upper side of the case and underside is brushed. The finishing is also done pretty good and in good vintage traditions. You will see that many dive watches from the 60s and 70s came with the same finishing where the sides of the watch were polished. The case diameter is 40mm, the thickness is 13,7mm with the crystal. From lug to lug it measures at 47mm and the lug width is 20mm. Very nice size, in my opinion, it isn’t too small or too big, it is just perfect for daily wearing + the BOR bracelet gives it almost a dressy look and you can wear it easily to some fancy event with suit. At 3 o’clock we have a polished and unsigned screw down crown. The crown action is very good and it is pretty easy to grip it. The bezel is aluminium but it is PVD coated in black colour to resemble the black bezels of dive watches from that era that this one is inspired. The bezel is unidirectional and has a very nice action to it, the clicks aren’t maybe as good as my Ginault Ocean Rover has, but it feels solid. The bezel is lumed with superluminova so you can time things in the dark too. All the lugs are drilled so it makes strap change a job you can do under a minute. I actually wish more companies did this as I have reviewed a lot of dive watches through these years and only a couple of them had drilled lugs and the strap change for some of them was a 10-minute job. The screwed down solid case back has a brushed circular pattern. On the case back you have the emperor penguin engraved on it with some bubbles, definitely goes into the top 10 coolest case backs from what I have seen over the years. Also there you will find some engravings of specifications. On top of the watch sits slightly domed sapphire crystal, on first I actually thought it will be acrylic crystal, but it just looks like one. The water resistance is 200m (20ATM), and yes you can go swimming with this one no problem and do all your water activities.
Now we come to the dial which is really striking in the sunlight. That brown is dark enough that it doesn’t stand out if you see it from a far, but the sunburst effect will pop when you move your wrist or put it in sunlight. The light also catches the polished frames of those large indices. I don’t know why, but exactly this tone of brown reminds me 70s, not that I was born in that time, but from watching movies and everything, seems that brown was pretty popular 70s colour. I really like the logo they have on the dial, one of the prettiest logos I’ve seen in some time, also like that there is no company name, but just logo, it kind of gives it it’s own uniqueness. All the hands and hour markers are lumed with superluminova. I wouldn’t say that it lasts very long, but it does its job very well.
The movement that is powering the Emperor diver is the commonly used Seiko NH35. Right now is probably one of the best Japan made movements to use in a microbrand dive watch. It is an automatic 24 jewel movement with 41-hour power reserve and beating away with 21,600 BPH. As you all know this is my go-to movement when it comes to affordable time only movement from Japan, the Miyotas to me are too noisy and doesn’t keep the accuracy so good as this one does. Also, another plus is the hacking seconds. The accuracy is quite good, about +6 to +8 seconds a day, which is great.
The BOR or “beads of rice” bracelet is probably the thing I wanted to check for ages. This is my first experience with it. And damn, I like it. On the wrist, it feels very good. It wraps the wrist nicely due to short links. The machine in my opinions is done very well all through the bracelet except for the end links, I just don’t like that gap between the case and bracelet. The links can be removed by screws and this is what bothers me in other bracelet watches. Why a small company that is selling this watch for only 350$ can make that links are removable by screws, but watch that comes from a big company has pins that you need to hammer out and sometimes it is very hard to adjust the bracelet. This watch is very thought out, each detail from the drilled lugs, screws for the links and everything is done to make the experience pleasant. The milled buckle is pretty good, not particularly the best one, but it does its job well. There aren’t any divers extensions, but there are 3 micro adjustments.
Overall I really like this watch, and I think this will definitely be a future classic even if it is inspired by vintage watches. Everything is very thought out, if I would make a vintage-inspired dive watch, it would probably look close to this one. I really like the vintage styling, that sunburst dial and especially the BOR bracelet. Some people actually don’t like the BOR bracelet, because they think it is a hair puller, but even for me (I’m super hairy) it was no problem, it doesn’t pull any hairs or anything. If you need a solid diver with a vintage vibe, this is the perfect one!
I don’t know if when you are reading this, it is still available, but you order it through Watchuseek forum here: https://forums.watchuseek.com