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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
WUS F71 Emperor Review (Prototype)










INTRO




Enduring the harsh climate of the Antarctic, the Emperor penguin is one of the toughest animals on Earth. Not only is it an impressive diver below the water, the Emperor also challenges the extremes of the Antarctic winter above it.







Just as the Emperor penguins must work together to survive the harsh Antarctic winter, so to, did the enthusiastic and passionate members of the WUS F71 Affordables Subforum collaborate to launch the 2018 project watch, Emperor. There were around 300 members who joined the registration list, with an estimate of about 70-80 members that were actively involved in the design process from start to finish. Member HKED who has steered several other forum projects to successful completion, hopped on board again to lead the charge.






A number of vintage dive watches inspired and shaped the project. The Technos Sky Diver perhaps having the most influence.






I intentionally haven't read through all the threads that brought the Emperor to life. After being approached to review the Emperor, I thought it best to look at it with fresh eyes, instead of reading through all the material and seeing all the twists and turns a collaborative project can create. If in my review I touch on something sensitive I apologize. It is challenging at best when 2 people work together to create something, let alone when it is a large number such as were involved in the creation of the Emperor. I think it is fantastic that the WUS community can come together to generate a project watch. Well done to all involved!



The Emperor shares a case and bracelet with the HKED/EMG Nemo which I reviewed recently (https://forums.watchuseek.com/f71/boatswain-review-hked-emg-nemo-4789045.html). If you read that review, you will find some similarities in the Emperor review here. I hope you can forgive me for not re-inventing the wheel, but I will lean on some of that content in this review due to the similarities. I have gone over the Emperor and double checked everything on it specifically.






So how did the good folks of F71 do? Could they persevere and work together like the Emperor penguin to create something beautiful in what can be a harsh climate? Grab your parka, snowshoes, crack a hole in the shelf ice and let's dive in!








SPECS





My measurements, taken using digital calipers.
Case Diameter – 39.6mm
Bezel Diameter – 39.6mm
Crystal Diameter – 31.3mm
Lug to Lug Length – 46.8mm
Lug Width – 20mm
Total Height (bottom of caseback to top of crystal dome ) –13.8mm
Apparent Height (bottom midcase to top of bezel) 8.6mm approx.
Caseback Height – 3.3mm approx.
Crystal Height – 1.9mm approx.
Crown Diameter – 6.9mm
Weight – 71 g watch head w/ spring bars









ORDERING





There are 3 variants of the Emperor being produced. The blue dial version reviewed here, a brown dial version and a black dial.








The Emperor is being produced through WUS. Please see this thread for more details about ordering: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f899/14-f71-vintage-dive-watch-deposit-payment-4612309.html







The project is being headed up by member HKED. Shoot him a PM or email at [email protected] if you wish to place an order and he will be happy to answer any questions you may have that aren't covered already or buried in the Emperor threads that are on the go. I have found HKED to be excellent to work with as we discussed this review.







The price is US$350 per watch, plus US$35 for airmail or around US$50 with EMS express shipping. Watches are scheduled to ship around the end of December 2018.







The watch reviewed here is a prototype. It is close to the final version, where there are variations planned I will make note of it in the review.














ARRIVAL AND UNBOXING




The Emperor will be simply packaged in a wooden box with pillow and outer cardboard sleeve. I think this is a good choice and an area to save costs on a project watch. The Emperor will pop into your own watch boxes with its new friends no doubt quickly after arrival anyway.






THE CASE






The Emperor is made of 316L stainless-steel. 316L is the standard material for quality watch cases these days, offering good corrosion and chemical resistance while taking a finish nicely.






The Emperor is 39.6 mm in diameter, 46.8mm long lug tip to lug tip and 13.8mm tall from the case back to the top of the domed crystal. The case size of just under 40mm is an excellent choice. It is a sweet spot, scaling up the traditional 36-38mm skin divers (the Technos Skydiver was 37.5mm) to a more contemporary size that will look good across a variety of wrist sizes and shapes. The lug to lug length, just shy of 47mm, looks proportionally correct, as well as being delightfully compact on the wrist. Lug to lug length is an oft underappreciated case dimension and it can really affect how well a watch wears, more so than the diameter. 13.8mm is fairly tall for a 40mm(ish) 200m automatic dive watch, but a lot of that height is made up of the domed crystal and rather tall caseback (more on that later). The apparent height of the Emperor is very respectable at 8.6mm. What I mean by apparent height is the combination of the midcase (excluding caseback) and the bezel height. This what your eye sees on the wrist and it can affect your perception and reality of how a watch wears on the wrist. These dimensions combined with the shape of the midcase and bezel allow the Emperor to wear as a much slimmer watch than its 13.8mm height may suggest.







The Emperor has a beautiful original case shape, defined by its elegant flowing curves. The polished case sides have a subtle curved profile that is reminiscent of the comically rotund shape of a penguin. This shape though makes the penguin very efficient in the water. The Emperor has a gentle bulge about 2/3 of the way down the from the top of the midcase that provides both an aesthetic function in creating an organic soft flowing visual impact as well as allowing the case to pinch in just under the lip of the bezel edge for a better grip.







The lugs of the Emperor are well balanced in their visual weight, being neither too long nor too short and curve in gently to their tapered tips. They have a pronounced downward curvature and fine tips, like a penguin’s flippers, that help in how well the Emperor wears on the wrist. The underside profile of a case is a key factor in how well a watch wears and sits on the wrist, done well it will help to diminish the overall height and bulk of a piece. The Emperor prototype has a circular brushing pattern on the top of the lugs, but I have been told that in production it will be changed to a vertical brushing pattern, running from 12 to 6. It's great that drilled lugs are included on the Emperor. For starters, it is fitting for the vintage divers aesthetic and practically it is a big help as the Emperor is wonderfully suited to a variety of straps. Taking advantage of the drilled lugs for strap swaps will keep the case from looking like it was dragged 100 miles across the Antarctic during an Emperor penguin migration. The 20mm lug width is appropriate for the case size and will provide lots of options for straps.







The crown can be found in its familiar location at 3 o’clock. Taking a cue from skin divers and omitting crown guards gives the Emperor a clean vintage look.







The Emperor has a solid caseback featuring an engraving of a diving penguin. I am big fan of solid casebacks with good art being used on a dive watch. The Emperor art is a really well done. It is a bit shallow, thus reducing contrast, but the final production should remedy this and have deeper engraving. Display backs add an extra potential point of failure for water intrusion and unless the movement is extra special and worth seeing, I would much rather take the added security and artistry that can be provided by a nice engraving or stamping on a solid back. In addition to the penguin, the case back states “2017 Limited Edition”, “F71 Emperor Diver”, “NH35”, and “20 ATM”.



The case of the Emperor is a little bit thicker than I expected. The Emperor houses a chunky Seiko NH35A movement which likely bumps up its total thickness to accommodate it. The case employs a clever slimming trick though in bringing the visual line up from the bottom of the case. This leaves a little plinth or base beneath the polished case sides that the caseback screws into. As a pro it makes the midcase appear thinner, but the con is that the plinth and caseback combine in height to lift the lugs off of the wrist, so that they appear to float. I have seen this design trick used on other watches, but the Emperor accomplishes it to a better degree. The soft curves and tumblehome of the case sides combined with the short lug to lug length and nicely downturned lugs help to minimize the floating effect and on the wrist I don’t notice the “float” too much. Wearing a pass under strap especially a NATO would exaggerate the height. I probably would have opted for a thinner more expensive movement to trim the case down a mm or two more. However, the efficient NH35 is very suitable and has some pros in terms of durability and cost savings.



The finishing on the Emperor I would describe as average for its price point. The polishing is clean and clear and while the brushing is even. I would like to see the brushing done a bit more heavily to provide more contrast and matte texture to the Emperor case. The transitions are done well and the edges aren't too sharp.



I like that the Emperor uses an original case design with a softer curved look that remains strong and sporty without being brutish. There are nods to the original skin divers but the Emperor works well in its modern size while still suiting the vintage cues that anchor its aesthetic. Overall, the Emperor case makes for a great wearing watch in a beautiful and unique package. Very well done.





THE BEZEL



The Emperor has a 120 click unidirectional stainless-steel bezel with an engraved steel insert. The bezel grip has a thin coin edge that creates a very sleek, lean profile to the bezel and subsequently the whole watch. The narrow gripping surface though can make the bezel hard to turn at times, especially in wet conditions. The action is very good with no play either vertically or horizontally, clicking into place reassuringly with no slop. I love how thin the profile of the bezel is and it is such a positive defining feature of the Emperor that I wouldn’t change it, even if that means giving up some of the usual gripping surface. The bezel teeth aren't too sharp but could be crisper for more grip for my tastes, though I know some gripe when bezels are too sharp. The bezel alignment is spot on



The steel bezel insert has a unique radial brushed pattern on it. It is quite subtle but adds great texture and interest when the light catches it just right. I found it hard to capture it accurately in photographs. Similar to the case, heavier brushing may have looked good used here on the bezel, though that would also make the bezel more matte, which may be a pro or a con depending on your preferences. As is, it comes off as a neat blend between polished and brushed due to how the light reflects off of it.





The Emperor’s bezel is fully graduated starting with a large circular lume pip at 0/60. The lume pip is cleanly done with a glossy finish and sits just proud from the bezel surface having a slight dome. Straight hash marks are used at 5, 25, 35 and 55. Larger tapered wedges are at the cardinal point of 15, 30 and 45. Arabic numerals drop in a 10, 20, 40, 50 and the remaining minutes are marked by dots. The engraved font is too large, heavy and pushed too far towards the outer rim of the bezel. This is scheduled to be addressed and made finer in the production version. While the bezel insert design is faithful to the inspiring Technos, I do find it slightly imbalanced when looked at in isolation. It would have been nice to have an Arabic 30 at that cardinal point. The gap created between the 20 and 40 feels large and the visual lines between the 10-40 and 20-50 don’t intersect at a 90-degree angle. That is a personal preference I have for balance and symmetry on a bezel. The large round lume pip feels out of place on an overall watch design that has no circles. A traditional triangle would mesh better with the shape of the hour indices on the dial as overall there is an angular theme to the watch face. I think reducing the size of the pip slightly would look good especially with the bezel markings being reduced in size for production. At times the bezel pip can disappear into the surrounding steel due to low contrast and reflections. A nice improvement would be to have an engraved black circle around the pip. That would likely mean the size of the lume pip would need to shrink to fit inside the design still.









CRYSTAL



Like a thick sheet of polar ice, the Emperor is capped by a scratch resistant double-domed sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating. The crystal stands approximately 1.9mm above the top of the bezel. The crystal has a nice rounded shoulder before gently arcing to its apex over the centre of the dial. The double dome allows for good low viewing angles and I didn’t find that it created distracting reflections even with the gloss dial and its polished elements. The crystal is very clear as one would expect from quality sapphire. I really like the crystal shape as it adds a nice vintage character to the Emperor, like an old plexiglass crystal, without being overly extreme or exaggerated in its shape. When the light catches the edge of the crystal it creates beautiful sweeping arcs of light and colour shades across the dial. The Emperor’s crystal adds a lot of personality without being obtrusive.









THE DIAL





The Emperor has 3 dial variants, the gloss blue reviewed here, gloss black and sunburst brown. All three dials use applied indices.






The most prominent feature of the Emperor’s dial are the bold trapezoidal hour indices that borrow inspiration from the Technos Skydiver. The indices are applied with polished steel borders. At 12, 3 and 9 are large trapezoids with an additional internal dividing line. The dividing line helps to break up the large area and adds some interest. The remaining indices are narrower trapezoids. Below the date at 6 o’clock is a narrow, applied index that has the broad base of the other cardinal markers. Adding that smaller index at 6 is important to keep the dial grounded and not feeling too light at the bottom of the watch face. The indices are really cleanly done with the lume sitting flush and even across their broad surfaces. They are of a superior quality at this price point, where it is common to see some lumpy lume, especially in large applications or just applied on top of bases instead of in hollowed out wells as has been done with the Emperor. The light catches the frames of the markers making the dial extremely legible in all lighting conditions. This dial is BOLD. There is nothing subtle about it. The large indices are visually heavy and dominate the watch face. The dial has limited negative space which pushes the Emperor decidedly into a sport/tool watch aesthetic. It is very legible as a result which is a positive as a dive watch.





The indices appear to float on the glossy blue dial, like icebergs on a dark polar sea. The dial’s colour is the second most dramatic feature of the Emperor. It is called Enamel Blue with a Pantone code of 2766C. The colour is deep and rich and in darker lighting conditions it will appear a rich navy blue. In most moderate to bright lighting it will register as a brighter blue with a purple-ish undertone. I was a bit surprised by the colour in person. The colour works well with the clean white and silver colour scheme of the Emperor but it is too purple for my tastes for my long term wear. I would have preferred a darker midnight blue that didn’t trend towards purple. Colour can vary from screen to screen so I would suggest you have a look at the Pantone code to get an accurate read on it, as it is really close to the pantone code to my eye when seen in indirect light. I really like the gloss finish of the dial. It doesn’t wash out in direct light and compliments the polished elements of the dial, hands, case and bracelet very well.







Below the 12 index there is a really nice applied logo of an Emperor penguin. Great job on its design and having an applied logo brings a high-quality feel as well as tying in to the bold applied indices. A printed logo would have felt too flat. A nice touch is the tiny areas of orange around the penguin's neck.



The orange of the logo ties into the printing above 6 o'clock where “20ATM” is printed in the same colour. Above that is “EMPEROR” in white. The printing is cleanly done and rather small but feels well balanced to the dial. If it was any bigger it would take up too much of the remaining negative space left by the indices.



The Emperor places the NH35A’s date at 6 on the dial. A white date wheel with black printing is used. That is a great choice. While colour matching date wheels to dials has become all the rage, sometimes the placement of the date requires contrast to the dial colour instead of blending in, most notably when replacing an hour index. A colour-matched wheel would have incurred extra cost to the project. As is, the white date window matches the bold indices well and keeps the dial visually balanced and symmetrical which I love. The gloss dial texture catches the light too on the edges of the window helping to balance it with the applied indices. The blue dialed variant is the only option with a date.



A simple minute track of hashes runs around the perimeter of the dial. They are printed in white and the font weight is appropriate to the dial so as not to make the dial feel too crowded. The minute track is hard to read though as it is tucked under the curved shoulder of the domed crystal and it is obscured at most angles. However, with the bold hour markers and handset it was still easy to tell the time and it didn’t bother me. Some will love the vintage charm this creates while others may be irked if they like to read the time to the minute or second off of the dial easily.



The Emperor’s dial is rich and bold. Initially it felt crowded to me but after wearing it for several days it started to feel more balanced and I came to enjoy the broad and aggressive indices. It has plenty of depth and detail to be engaging on the wrist. It certainly provides a unique look that sets the Emperor apart and proudly proclaims it as a dive watch.








HANDS



The Emperor uses a dagger handset with a polished steel finish. The hands are flat with no longitudinal bevels. The hour and minute hands have a graceful taper before ending in sharp point. The central ends of the hands have nice short counter weight extensions, which suit the design well. The polished frames of the hands easily catch the light, though they will disappear at times due to their flat shape. This isn't an issue though as large BGW9 lume plots run the full length of the hands, mimicking their shape and providing great contrast against the dial. The hand alignment is good. The hand proportions feel about right for the size of the face, though they are challenged by the size of the very large hour indices.






Migrating around the dial is the polished seconds hand. It is tipped by a large BGW9 lumed triangle and balanced by a long counter weight. It is a fun detail and has a lot of vintage charm.







The lengths of the hands are spot on. The minute and second hands just graze the minute mark hashes while the hour hand traces the edge of the hour indices.






The Emperor's handset has a refined strong presence, great legibility and feels like a modern like take on vintage skin diver hands like those seen on the Technos.









LUME



The Emperor penguin must suffer through 6 months of darkness during the Antarctic winter. This would no doubt be a challenge on any living creature. As I await the coming of the dawn, one thing that brings me hope and joy is a good dose of lume. The Emperor watch boasts a generous application of BGW9 lume on its hands, dial indices and bezel pip.







BGW9 has a crisp snow white colour in daylight and in darkness will glow a cool icy blue. BGW9 is Superluminova’s second brightest colour, coming in behind C3. BGW9 was a great choice for the lume on the Emperor. While C3 has a brighter initial blaze, BGW9 will be able to keep up with it in long term moderate glow, and C3’s daylight mint colour would have clashed with the blue dial colour more.





The Emperor’s lume is very good. It is cleanly applied, has an even intensity across the different elements, charges quickly and is easily visible with dark adjusted eyes after a not quite Antarctic long night in Western Canada. I loved watching the frosty blue glow in dim light after passing from outside to inside. Lume fans will be very pleased with the Emperor’s lume. Great job!



Below are some time interval comparison shots of the Emperor against some strong BGW9 lume watches, the Gavox Avidiver, Monta Oceanking and Steinhart OT500. As you can see the Emperor more than holds its own in this company.














CROWN





The Emperor has a threaded, polished stainless-steel crown with a fine-toothed grip and rounded cap. The crown screws in and out smoothly and is positive in its positions. The stem feels very solid with minimal wobble. It takes 2.5 full 360 degree turns to unthread the crown.






The production crowns will be engraved with the same penguin logo as the dial.





The 6.9mm crown is a nice size and design aesthetically for the Emperor. The rounded cap will be welcome to those that like to wear their watches loosely, but I did find that due to the rounded end the crown was a bit hard to grasp initially for unthreading as the toothed section is fairly narrow. Some people with rather large fingers may have a hard time grasping it. Once unthreaded though I found it very easy to use and really you shouldn’t be fiddling with the crown too much. The shape is so pleasing that I don’t think I would change it, as the crown adds some character to the case shape, especially in the absence of crown guards.






WATER RESISTANCE



Searching for food in the frigid Antarctic waters, Emperor penguins have been recorded diving to depths of up to 535m and durations of over 32 minutes. That is astounding! Its name sake watch is just as at home in the water, though it can't boast quite the same depth rating, but should be able to beat the penguin on duration.



The Emperor has a water resistance (WR) rating of 20 ATM or 200m. 200-300m is my ideal WR range for a watch. It provides plenty of security for adventures in and around the water as well as dealing with the mundane inevitabilities of daily life such as showers, dishwashing, kids and leopard seal encounters. Once a watch’s water resistance tops 300m I find unnecessary bulk starts to get added to the watch for WR most of us won't be able to take advantage of aside from bragging rights. As the Emperor’s case was moderately thick already to accommodate the NH35A movement and vintage crystal, I think it was a wise choice to keep the WR to 200m.





The Emperor upgrades on the typical 50-150m water resistance found in vintage skin divers and will be a capable companion for any water activity.









ENDURANCE



-40 degree Celsius temperatures and howling 150km/hr winds ravage the Polar regions as Emperor penguins seek to survive the winter. There is no doubt they are one of Earth’s hardiest inhabitants as they endure the harsh cold. But what about the F71 Emperor? Is it as tough as its namesake? What would happen if it was subjected to freezing temperatures? Would the movement stop? Would the crystal crack? Let’s find out!





The Emperor was frozen into a solid block of ice for a day. Checking in frequently the reliable Seiko movement kept sweeping the dial. So far so good. A day later I checked back and not only was the movement still sweeping beneath the icy surface, but it was still keeping time at the same rate it had on the wrist!













Once thawed out, the Emperor seemed to have survived its brief Antarctic simulation, showing no adverse effects. Timekeeping was good, no condensation was present under the dial and all components still functioned as before. Awesome! So not only does the Emperor appear as a solid, good looking tool watch, it can back it up with some serious performance in harsh conditions.








MOVEMENT



The average resting heart rate of an Emperor Penguin is 72 beats per minute. They slow that rate down by approximately 15% when on their deep dives to conserve oxygen and muscle function. Likewise, the F71 Emperor has opted for a lower beat rate Seiko NH35A movement as it’s heart, in this case conserving cost. The NH35A is a good choice for durability and servicability.



The Seiko NH35 automatic movement should be familiar to most, it is a hacking, hand-winding automatic movement that beats at 21,600 Beats per hour. While not an exciting or elaborate caliber, it comes from a heritage of strong and stable movements. The lower beat rate in theory should allow for a longer power reserve and robust long wearing life. It may even outlast the 20-year lifespan of the Emperor penguin with minimal care. These movements generally are less regulated out of the box than a Miyota 9015 or ETA 2824-2 but are certainly capable of excellent timekeeping. I have had several NH35As and the majority kept very good and consistent time. The stated specs for the NH35A are –20 to +40 Seconds per day with a power reserve of over 41 hours. The prototype sent for review was running much better than that at about plus 5 seconds a day.




BRACELET



The Emperor comes equipped with a beads of rice style stainless-steel bracelet. It is very nicely made with solid endlinks and flexible 7-part links. The finishing on the bracelet is very good with brushed outer links, polished centre beads and no sharp edges. The 3.6mm thick bracelet tapers from 20mm at the lugs to 18mm at the clasp. The thickness of the bracelet is well matched to the case and lug dimensions.



The links are fastened with single sided screws. The screw heads are quite small, and you will need a 1.0 or 1.2mm flat head screw driver to size the bracelet. They are looking into seeing if they can make it easier to size, but I suspect that may be challenging with how relatively thin the links are. You may be better off just preparing to take it to your watchmaker or jeweler to size or investing in a quality set of small screw drivers.





The clasp shown in the review on the prototype will be upgraded to a more premium and solid style with beveled edges that will feature an engraving of the penguin logo.






The endlinks will be changed to have tighter tolerances to the case in production but should remain the same aesthetically.









The bracelet is extremely comfortable due to the short links that drape effortlessly on the wrist. The beads of rice link structure and mixed polished and brushed finish catches the light wonderfully and the texture is also a joy to run your hand over.







The origin of the beads of rice (BOR) style is a bit murky, but it has adorned some pretty famous dive watches over the years especially in the 60s and 70s. The BOR style itself is a bit divisive, some will love it, others won't. I will admit I am now a bit of a convert. Prior to the Emperor's arrival I was able to review its cousin, the HKED/EMG Nemo, which shares the same BOR bracelet. Through that review I came to have a greater appreciation for the BOR and a more open mind on its benefits. I assumed I would have the Nemo on a strap right away but i started to enjoy the BOR more and more on that watch. It is just so very comfortable and has great texture and character. However, I found when paired with the steel bezel of the blue dialed Emperor, the BOR bracelet feels like too much shiny and busy metal for me. I do appreciate its vintage ties to the Technos, how comfortable it is and how fun the play of light is, but I think the blue Emperor is best paired with a simple strap to tone it down a bit. The bracelet may look better with the darker bezel inserts of the black and brown dials. I imagine the Emperor would also have looked great on a 3-link oyster style or H-Link bracelet. The BOR bracelet does make the Emperor standout and gives it lots of character and interest. It is always great to get a fitted bracelet when you can for a watch as it adds a lot of value and can be hard to find later if desired. Most of the above critique is a result of my personal aesthetic preferences though as the quality of the bracelet is very good. At the Emperor’s price this bracelet is a great value.







STRAPS





If beads of rice isn't your thing, don’t worry! The Emperor will look great on pretty much anything.





Taking advantage of the drilled lugs it was easy to swap between straps. I was excited to try the Emperor on a black Eulit Kristal Perlon and black tropic rubber. I think both looked great and that they drew out the vintage elements of the Emperor’s design.









The Tropic Rubber had a sportier feel to it and filled the lugs nicely. The spring bar holes are in a sweet spot to allow straps to fit easily without creating an unsightly gap with the case.









The perlon also looked fantastic and suited the Emperor very well, providing a comfortable and versatile look.









I spent most of my wrist time trying to bond with the BOR bracelet on the Emperor, but my personal preference would be the perlon strap.





I imagine the Emperor will also look good on other rubber straps, leather and mesh. Though it may wear rather tall on a thick NATO with how the case is designed. The blue dial with its purple undertones may make it challenging to pair with coloured straps.







WEARABILITY



The Emperor is an excellent sized diver for my 6.75-7” flat-ish wrist. The dimensions are just spot on at a hair under 40mm diameter and 47mm lug to lug. I am really excited that this size is making a comeback and it's great to see it embraced by F71 in the Emperor. I would say the Emperor wears true to its size of just under 40mm.



The curved lugs minimize the taller case back and the 13.8mm total height appears much closer to the 8.6mm apparent case height from lower case bevel to bezel top. The case, crystal and bezel shape allow the Emperor to slide under even my tightest shirt cuffs. As mentioned earlier, I did wish it hugged the wrist a little more, but it is still very good feeling closer to a 12mm thick watch.











The Emperor was very easy to wear and was very comfortable on the BOR bracelet. It was an easy-going companion on the wrist all day for work or play. It was unobtrusive on the wrist, yet still had enough wrist presence to be enjoyable with its bold dial and size.







The Emperor is a bold dive watch that can still slip into dressier situations. Much like the ungainly penguin on land becomes an agile diver once in the water, the Emperor watch can draw on its polished elements, sleek case and bracelet to be a versatile daily wear piece when needed. When paired with a tropic rubber or perlon it takes on a more rugged sports diver persona. I could easily see myself wearing the Emperor as a daily watch, swapping straps to suit the occasion. Like the penguin it will still be most at home in the water and on the beach but will get bye on land just fine too.









CONCLUSION



The WUS F71 Project Emperor watch has come out of the maelstrom of a community collaboration as a cohesive design that is a successful tribute to a vintage skin diver. The quality is very good with an exceptional amount of value packed in to the Emperor. Everyone who has contributed to the project should be very proud of the result. The Emperor is a great wearing, well-designed watch that is nicely executed and packed with details and value. It is a tough and versatile diver that blurs the line between vintage and modern. Great job to the WUS community!



Thank you to the Project Emperor Watch Team for the loan of the piece for review and thank you for taking the time to read this. Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.

Cheers!

Boatswain
























@boatswainwatches
 

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Thanks for the great review and photos John. My computer is still reeling from information overload!

We are only making 150 of these watches in blue, black and brown, so hit me up [email protected] if you want to join our pre-order.
Thanks Ed! You are most welcome! It was fun and i appreciate the trust to review the watch.
 

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Nice review. Nice pics too. Very surprised to see that many of them were taken with a smartphone cam.

I stand by the idea, that this watch could very well be the best go-to 'beater' : average size (not huge, not small), decent but not super-fancy finishing, very legible, rock-solid movement, no compromise for thinness' sake (so plenty of wiggle room in the case), drilled lugs, and priced right between the turtles and the sumos. The f71 ltd.ed. aspect is just icing on the cake.
 

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Nice review. Nice pics too. Very surprised to see that many of them were taken with a smartphone cam.

I stand by the idea, that this watch could very well be the best go-to 'beater' : average size (not huge, not small), decent but not super-fancy finishing, very legible, rock-solid movement, no compromise for thinness' sake (so plenty of wiggle room in the case), drilled lugs, and priced right between the turtles and the sumos. The f71 ltd.ed. aspect is just icing on the cake.
Thanks!

Surprised about the pics in a good way?

I don’t know much about the behind the scenes workings of the watch business but I imagine when you do a forum project watch it shaves a lot of cost. Clearly the factory is excellent and probably makes stuff for brands we are familiar with (im only guessing there).

You’re right though, at the price I am not sure it can be beat and the community aspect is very cool. It checks a lot of boxes.

Did you order one?


@boatswainwatches
 

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Yeah, the black variant (originally wanted the brown, but tbh i like the glossy enamel-like dial thing more than sunburst).

The photos look good, as always. Surprised that phone cam managed to get clean shots - all camphone photos I've tried taking almost always have terrible compression and noise-masking artifacts.
 

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Fantastic review that really gets into the details of this very interesting watch.

Three caveats:
- The purple dial tendencies
- overall thickness, though the awesome crystal is most of the culprit, is excusable.
- the possible dealbreaker to me is the movement, have too many NH35, like the blue Armida A12 I just obtained. Really wish they had 9015. I may order one anyhow.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, the black variant (originally wanted the brown, but tbh i like the glossy enamel-like dial thing more than sunburst).

The photos look good, as always. Surprised that phone cam managed to get clean shots - all camphone photos I've tried taking almost always have terrible compression and noise-masking artifacts.
The black looks sharp. I have been clearly pretty focused on the blue here but the shots I have seen of the black look really good.

iPhone 7 inside a life proof case. It has its limitations, mostly focal length and low light ability. I have learned to work within what it can do though. I like that it’s always with me for when a pic possibility comes up. Someday I may play with a real camera...


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Discussion Starter #9
Fantastic review that really gets into the details of this very interesting watch.

Three caveats:
- The purple dial tendencies
- overall thickness, though the awesome crystal is most of the culprit, is excusable.
- the possible dealbreaker to me is the movement, have too many NH35, like the blue Armida A12 I just obtained. Really wish they had 9015. I may order one anyhow.

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated

A 9015 would have been a nice option. I wasn’t part of the discussion and have not looked at how the movement choice came to be, but I imagine it was for cost savings.

It does wear thinner than it seems.

Nice A12! I was close to getting one but I wasn’t sure about the longish square lugs for my personal tastes. Happy with it? Dangerous sidetrack...


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Outstanding review! The pictures supported your observations very well....and thoroughly enjoyed your comparisons and references to penguins throughout . Thanks again! Can’t wait to get this one on my wrist!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Outstanding review! The pictures supported your observations very well....and thoroughly enjoyed your comparisons and references to penguins throughout . Thanks again! Can’t wait to get this one on my wrist!!!!
Thank you very much!

It’s always fun to have a theme for a review and I especially like when it’s an animal. The Emperor with its awesome penguin was really enjoyable.

Did all the pics help for showing the variety in the dial colour for you?


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Thanks for a great review.
Takes a keen eye to make an observation like this: "The polished case sides have a subtle curved profile that is reminiscent of the comically rotund shape of a penguin."
Enjoyed all the photos and in particular those of the watch in the ice block.
I have a black one on order... so looking forward to seeing it on my wrist.
 

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Thank you very much!

It’s always fun to have a theme for a review and I especially like when it’s an animal. The Emperor with its awesome penguin was really enjoyable.

Did all the pics help for showing the variety in the dial colour for you?


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Absolutely! I must admit that all the pics of the Black Emperor by @fazfrench shook my resolve to get a Blue steel....You have fully restored my confidence in my initial choice of getting a Blue Emperor


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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for a great review.
Takes a keen eye to make an observation like this: "The polished case sides have a subtle curved profile that is reminiscent of the comically rotund shape of a penguin."
Enjoyed all the photos and in particular those of the watch in the ice block.
I have a black one on order... so looking forward to seeing it on my wrist.
Thanks kindly!

I’m glad you enjoyed some of the nuggets hidden in there .

The ice block was a lot of fun and a little scary to do. Worked out really well though and the Emperor survived without a scratch


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Discussion Starter #15
Absolutely! I must admit that all the pics of the Black Emperor by @fazfrench shook my resolve to get a Blue steel....You have fully restored my confidence in my initial choice of getting a Blue Emperor


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Awesome. I’m glad you got a good feel for it. I think with the refined bezel insert it will look really crisp.

I should check out the black photos.


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Excellent review as usual, Boatswain! I just love looking at your pictures.

Is it even possible to have a comparison shot of both the HKED Nemo and the Project Emperor? I'd like a comparison of the dials. But if that's not possible, that's fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Excellent review as usual, Boatswain! I just love looking at your pictures.

Is it even possible to have a comparison shot of both the HKED Nemo and the Project Emperor? I'd like a comparison of the dials. But if that's not possible, that's fine.
Thanks my friend!

Sadly I don’t have the Nemos anymore. There was a a small window of overlap and I should have taken a comparison shot, but I didn’t.

Today is the last day with blue emperor before it’s off to its next adventure.




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