There are numerous watch brands that have been around for decades yet seem to feel brand new. This phenomenon can be traced to brands that did not survive the quartz crisis or have undergone restructuring for other reasons. Even when these brands die off, their heritage and name remain. Sometimes these brands are resurrected and brought back into production.
Rotary Watches was established in 1895 and became prominent enough to be the official watch supplier to the British army in the 1940s. While Rotary didn’t disappear from the watch world as some brands did, it almost died during the quartz crisis. Rotary’s resurrection and rise in recent years is more akin to brands such as Doxa or Eterna.
Rotary has been making a name for itself again in the 2000s with a slew of releases and watches that harken back to their 20th century heritage. They have also been releasing watches for those looking for something more modern and fashionable like the watch we will be looking at today, the Rotary Regent. The skeletonized dial that reveals the movement below is undoubtedly modern in its execution and appearance. Let’s take a closer look.
On the Wrist
If you want an instant crowd-pleaser in 2021, the two trends winning the hearts and minds of watch buyers are Genta-inspired cases and integrated bracelets and straps. The latter almost seemed to be a faux pas until recently. Watches with integrated bracelets were seen as unfriendly to consumers as the straps couldn’t be changed without custom work. Watch manufactures have got past this by offering options. Even though the Regent requires an integrated strap or bracelet, Rotary offers various straps to suit any occasion.
One of the benefits of offering an integrated strap setup is how it wears on the wrist. There are no awkward lug gaps to trifle with or clashes in color options. The manufacturer is going to pick what pairs best with the watch. The downside to this is that you need to like one of the options offered.
The 40mm case of the Regent is paired with a 48mm lug-to-lug but because of the integrated strap, it doesn’t feel that large. The seamless look slims down the lug-to-lug. Looking at the Regent from the side, I was concerned it would wear flat on the wrist as the lugs are angular yet don’t turn down much. However, I found that it didn’t sit flat on my wrist and because the strap falls off the watch right at the lugs, it conformed well to the shape of my wrist.
Shiny alligator straps aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but objectively the Regent’s looks smart on the wrist. If the Regent didn’t feature the integrated strap, I feel the on-wrist look of the watch would be completely thrown off. It manages to walk the line between dress and sport watch rather well. With that said, I would likely choose the integrated bracelet over the strap if I were buying this for my own collection.
We can skip this section as there is no dial! I’m kidding of course, but because of the skeletonized dial, the Regent takes on a completely different appearance than standard-dial watches. Rotary added areas of the dial that are filled in to help create contrast between the markers, hands, and the movement below. If the various plots of blue dial weren’t present, the Regent would be unreadable. Thankfully, this isn’t the case.
The handset is straightforward and simple. The hour and minute hands remind me of the handset from the Oris Aquis; however, the seconds hand is a simple tapered stick hand. The markers are all batons with the 6, 7, and 8 o’clock markers being slightly cut off to show the entirety of the escapement.
The Miyota 821A is visible through both the front and the back of the watch thanks to the skeletonized dial and exhibition caseback. While there isn’t anything noteworthy to look at on the 821A, it is always fun to watch the movement beating away inside the watch. The Regent gives you the luxury of viewing it while it is on the wrist. I would have preferred to see Rotary use a higher-tier Miyota movement in the Regent. Plenty of brands are using 9000-series Miyota movements and keeping competitive price points. Surely Rotary can do the same.
Case & Strap
I was pleasantly surprised at the level of finishing offered on the Regent. For a $439 watch, the brushing, polishing, and the transitions between them were all crisp and indicative of a watch costing more. The straight brushing on the top of the bezel with the polished sides creates a smart look for the Regent.
There is a very thin chamfer that runs the length of the watch and it does a nice job of softening the case. The octagonal-shaped bezel isn’t sharp and the corners are rounded so combined with the chamfer it keeps the watch from looking too aggressive.
The crown is a decent size and easy enough to operate. There were no problems winding the watch or popping out the crown to set the time. Rotary got the size just right; if it were any smaller it would be too difficult to use, and any larger would throw off the proportions.
There is a small center link at the lugs which joins the case and the strap together. As I mentioned before, the alligator leather strap isn’t for me but it is an objectively good strap and it broke in easily after a day or two of wear. There are lug holes on the sides of the case which I assume would be used to change out the strap for one of the other integrated options offered by Rotary. I didn’t try to force them out but it seems like a bracelet tool would be needed to remove the pin holding the strap on.
The bottom line for the Regent is that it is a smart-looking watch that is comfortable on the wrist. Of all the watches someone can buy, a skeletonized watch is likely to garner the most attention from others. People love looking at the mechanical insides of a watch whether they are watch people or not.
The Regent offers a solid value at $439 on the strap and $509 on the bracelet. If skeletonized dials aren’t your thing but you like the overall design of the dial and case, Rotary offers non-skeletonized versions that are $50 cheaper respectively.
There are tons of options in the ~$400 price segment these days, but not many that offer the history and heritage Rotary does. Heritage is something that gets thrown around quite a bit by a lot of people in the watch community as a justification for buying a watch. When it comes to the Regent, you can have both the heritage and an affordable price.
Check out more reviews at the Watch Clicker
Check out the Rotary website
Rotary Regent Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal