Formally launched final yr in 2022, Imperial Watch Co. was based by lifelong fanatic Ben Berkow, who after years of modding watches as a passion, determined to start out his very personal model. From his work throughout the modding scene, Berkow had already gathered some expertise when it got here to speaking with manufacturing companions and having customized dials produced, and so he finally determined to take issues one step additional and create a whole watch that could possibly be offered to the general public. For his firm’s inaugural mannequin, Berkow selected a vintage-inspired diver, and the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200 provides a totally retro-leaning design that pulls from quite a few totally different dive watches from the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, with out being a recreation of anybody particular mannequin.
The case of the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200 provides an total form and profile that’s considerably just like what may be discovered on a classic pre-crown guard Submariner, and it measures 38mm in diameter by 14mm thick, with a lug width of 20mm and an total lug-to-lug distance of 47mm. A part of its whole thickness is as a result of domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating that sticks up above the rim of its bezel, whereas the reverse facet of the case will get fitted with a strong screw-down chrome steel caseback. On the 3 o’clock location is a signed crown, which has a form that’s considerably harking back to the model fitted to a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, and it screws down to assist create 200 meters of water resistance. Moreover, simply as you’ll count on from a vintage-inspired diver, the lugs function a skinny polished bevel, together with drilled springbar holes to allow straightforward strap adjustments.
Surrounding the sapphire crystal is a unidirectional rotating bezel that includes a coin-edge model rim and an aluminum insert in a light blue/grey shade. The bezel motion is strong and springy with a tiny little bit of pure play, and it rotates with a satisfying metallic click on sound. With that in thoughts, the bezel somewhat unusually turns with a 90-click movement, somewhat than being the extra commonplace 60-click or 120-click selection. Personally, I’d have most popular to see both 60 or 120 clicks used for the bezel, as these numbers higher correspond with the variety of minutes in an hour. Nonetheless, since this can be a timing bezel and you’re finally aligning the inverted triangle with the minute hand, it’s far much less necessary for the variety of clicks to correspond with the variety of models, in comparison with one thing like a GMT bezel that must be rotated to precisely align with the variety of hours offset from the reference time zone. Though a 90-click bezel is a bit uncommon in terms of really having the ability to align the bezel with the ever-changing place of the minute hand, 90 clicks finally does supply extra exact alignment talents than a bezel that rotates with a extra commonplace 60-click movement.
Relating to the dial and palms of the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200, there may be undeniably a reasonably heavy Eberhard affect, and even the model’s brand is barely harking back to what you’ll discover on classic Eberhard divers from the Nineteen Sixties. That includes a gloss black floor with golden yellow textual content and vintage-colored lume to emulate the looks of an aged gilt dial, the general design and structure of the Royal Guard 200’s dial are similar to what you would possibly discover on an early Eberhard Scafograf. Consisting of a time-only show with massive triangles for all 4 of the cardinal factors and round hour markers positioned between them, the dial provides a definite look in comparison with most different classic divers on account of the truth that its triangular markers are oriented outward, somewhat than pointing in direction of the middle of the dial. Moreover, though the luminous pip on the bezel seems white within the daylight and the lume on the dial and palms is a creamy yellow shade, all of it glows inexperienced at midnight, and whereas it doesn’t supply the torch-bright glow of one thing like a Seiko Monster, the big shapes of the palms and markers themselves finally supply loads of low-light legibility.
Much like the dial, the gold-finished palms on the Royal Guard 200 are harking back to what may be discovered on a classic Eberhard diver; nonetheless, Imperial Watch Co. swaps the model of the hour and minute palms and adjustments up their proportions. Slightly than having the hour hand be the one which has a big triangular tip, it’s now the minute hand that provides this distinguished function. Moreover, the handset has been designed in such a method that the triangular tip on the minute hand and the round luminous part on the seconds hand completely align with the dimensions and form of the hour markers as they cross over them. Admittedly, this might not be very best in terms of flat-out legibility, however I personally get pleasure from this distinctive element rather a lot, and it creates a novel sense of concord that isn’t discovered on any of the assorted divers that function its inspiration.
Fitted to the drilled lugs of the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200 is a stainless-steel bracelet that tapers from 20mm on the lugs to 16mm the place it meets the clasp. The design of the bracelet provides an identical total look to one thing like a classic Omega Speedmaster flat hyperlink bracelet, with its massive brushed middle hyperlinks flanked by thinner high-polished facet hyperlinks. That stated, the bracelet on the Royal Guard 200 provides fashionable construct high quality, with fully strong hyperlinks (together with properly becoming strong end-links) and a folding clasp with a double push-button launch and extra signed security latch. Two minor drawbacks are that the detachable hyperlinks are secured by friction-fit pins (somewhat than screws), and apart from 4 micro-adjustment sizing holes, the clasp doesn’t supply any kind of built-in extension system. Even nonetheless, sizing the bracelet was a comparatively painless course of, and as soon as correctly fitted to my wrist, I personally discovered it to be fairly comfy.
Powering the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200 is the acquainted Seiko NH35 computerized motion, which runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz) with an influence reserve of roughly 41 hours. The definition of a workhorse motion and universally thought of to be a confirmed design, the Seiko NH35 is an ideal choice for an inexpensive mechanical dive watch. Nonetheless, for the reason that NH35 is a date-displaying motion and the Royal Guard 200 is a time-only watch, there exists the inevitable “ghost place” whenever you pull out the crown to set the time. Whereas I can’t think about that anybody is strictly a fan of ghost positions (until they plan on modding the watch and wish it to have a date show), I’m actually solely bothered after I see them on costlier timepieces, and it’s straightforward to miss this minor irksome element when coping with watches such because the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200 which are priced firmly on the inexpensive finish of the spectrum.
Arguably the only best energy of vintage-inspired watches is that they will supply entry to fan-favorite designs that haven’t been produced for years, they usually may also usually accomplish that at costs which are fairly a bit cheaper than their true classic counterparts. With an official retail value of $450 USD, the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200 actually qualifies for the attainable class, and it is usually fairly a bit cheaper than any of the assorted classic watches which are referenced by its design. Moreover, though the Royal Guard 200 wasn’t particularly created as a restricted version, manufacturing of this specific mannequin has now ended and it’s at present fully offered out. With that in thoughts, the mannequin reviewed right here was simply the primary timepiece from a very new model, and Imperial Watch Co. has since launched a follow-up collection of divers which are at present obtainable for pre-order, which construct upon the core design of the Royal Guard 200 however incorporate totally different bezel colours and the choice of a date show. Whereas this precise configuration isn’t obtainable within the present collection, the follow-up technology provides a lot of the identical total expertise, and it makes this specific design obtainable to anybody who might have missed out on the model’s inaugural launch. For extra info on the Imperial Watch Co. Royal Guard 200, please go to the brand’s website.