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hked has been kind enough to send over a prototype of the f71 Emperor dive watch.

First up, I’m not actually backing this project so hopefully the words and photos that follow can be seen as an honest assessment of the watch rather than having a large helping of confirmation bias. That said, when Ed asked about sending over a watch to take a look at I was secretly hoping it would be the brown dial. It’s a bold choice, and not one I would ever normally choose, but I really wanted to check it out in person. So here it is…


Ask you can see from the photos, the dial came out a treat. The brown is dark enough that it doesn’t stand out as an oddity from across the room, but the sunburst effect will bring out flashes of the colour as the watch moves on your wrist. The light also catches the polished frames of those large indices. Fumé dials are all the rage the minute, but this dial shows that you don’t need to go down that route to achieve something with a real vintage charm. The chocolate brown and Old-Radium lume perfectly bring to mind the wallpaper and curtains from my childhood – I’m not old enough to remember the ‘70s you understand, but when we moved house the early 1980s the previous owner was slightly behind the times. Those tones seemed so old fashioned compared to the brash sportswear of the 1980s, but we tend to look back on them more fondly now.




Without looking in too much detail at exactly what retro hints the Emperor is trying to pick up on, I’m going to comment on both the 1970s vibe that the dial is sending my way as well as the Skindiver feel of the case and bezel that probably harks back to an era slightly earlier than that. I’m not too bothered if two different decades are referenced, and to be honest I expect there was plenty of overlap between the Skindiver and those curtains anyway.




Whereas some of those early Skindivers would have had a Bakelite bezel unlikely to stand the tests of time, the PVD coated stainless steel bezel on the Emperor is better for the job even if it might not have the same tone and feel. Ed tells me that the final version will see circular brushing on the bezel rather than the sunburst type brushing that the prototype has, and I think that’s a good thing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first, but the finish on the bezel looked slightly odd. Not bad, just odd – probably due to dome and distortion around the edge of the sapphire crystal. The crystal is excellent, and the dome gives a great vintage look – especially at the edges where it really catches the light. I guess the sunburst from the dial is completely halted by this point, so the shape and flow of the bezel would be better to be more in keeping with the crystal than the dial. I think the change in brushing will cure that. Another change to the final production version will be slightly more refined bezel markings to make it closer to the original renders. Again, probably a good move.


One of the other vintage styling elements that’s probably a big draw here is the Beads of Rice bracelet. Here’s where it gets difficult for me. I may be in the minority here, but I hate them. Any watch is immediately made worse by the attaching of a BoR bracelet for me. Same with an awesome vintage Doxa – beautiful watch as long as it’s not on that awful looking bracelet. However, I’ve tried to put my own hostility aside and give it a go. As bracelets go it’s pretty comfortable – especially for a watch at this price. The clasp feels a little bit ‘tinnier’ than the bracelet and end links (and the watch head itself) but it’s adequate and secure.
There is lots of flexibility in the bracelet to mould around your wrist as well as a little sideways give too – it’s not as bad as the old Rolex ‘Jubilee droop’ but it’s not going to be like a nice, tight oyster bracelet either. I guess that’s part of the vintage charm of Beads of Rice. This watch immediately looks better (disclaimer: individual opinions may vary) on a nato, though the brown dial may prove a difficult match. A rich brown leather is much easier to match, and looks great too.




The size is just about perfect for my 7 inch wrist. As a vintage styled diver it shouldn’t really look too big, but at 40mm with 20mm lugs it’s a good modern size. With the heavy dome on the front and the back extending a little way beneath the visible case sides, the watch is slightly thicker than it sometimes feels or looks so won’t always fit effortlessly under a cuff. If this thickness generally works for you though then it’s versatile enough to wear with pretty much anything.




One slight quirk that I’m still unsure whether I like or dislike is the different lumes used on the dial and bezel. In daylight it’s not an issue – the bezel would look wrong with the colouring that goes with Old Radium lume so it works as it is. When the lume is charged up and shining bright, the difference is quite noticeable.


Overall, I quite like the watch. I think it achieved what it set out to do pretty well. There are plenty of retro styling aspects of the watch and they’ve all been brought together fairly congruously. That brown dial is something else!
 

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I've been backing the brown since the very beginning. I appreciate your review and some great pictures too! Thanks for the review!

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
 

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Good review. |>
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Stunning photos as usual Brad! Thank you for taking the time to give an honest review our baby.

Now, where did you buy that brown strap please? Lol....
It was an ebay purchase from years ago. A quick search for distressed brown leather strap shows plenty similar, but not quite the same one I'm afraid.
 

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Please email me [email protected] if you would like to review our Emperor watches. I'm afraid this offer is limited to members who have paid their deposit and is willing to ship to the next reviewer on the list. A few photos and a brief review would be much appreciated.

Brown dial - Europe
Black dial - USA / Canada
Blue dial - USA / Canada
 

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Hey Ed... just stumbled upon this thread and your new (to me) project... all I can say is "You Killed It Brother" damned beautiful watch

Congratulations to everyone that jumped on this one

Would anyone else like to review our Emperor watches? Please send me an email [email protected] if you are interested.
Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 
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