Fresh from winning our award for best watch of 2020, Rotary is back with a Genta-style skeleton watch. Is the Rotary Regent another hit?
Rotary Regent Review
Rotary provides utilitarian but perfectly adequate packaging, with a canvas inner within the cardboard box protecting the watch well in transit. The instructions are thorough, but as with other high street watches, there are no extra goodies bundled within. For a £300 watch, you cannot expect any more than this, and it is both gift-worthy and suitable for storage if this were your only timepiece.
The Genta style case is unusual in lower-priced watches, but we did see something similar recently with the Swan & Edgar Sovereign. This watch is in another league: the finishing is better, especially when it comes to the edges where brushed surfaces meet polished steel. The smaller size makes the Rotary a lot more wearable, and the polished metal piece where the strap meets the case looks superb under the light.
The Miyota 8 series movement is visible through the case back, and Rotary has chosen a rather nice cutaway rotor that gives a good view of the mechanism. It is not the best movement in this price range, and I would have preferred either a budget Seiko NH35 or a premium Miyota 9 series when it comes to timekeeping. Another downside is that the crown is completely plain, where I would expect at least a laser-etched signature if not a proper engraving. It lets down the watch somewhat when viewed from the side. The issues are not deal-breakers, but are areas where the Rotary falls short of the high standards set by brands such as Spinnaker.
Dial and Hands
The dial is what is going to sell the Rotary Regent, and despite my preference for solid-dialled watches, I could not help but be impressed by this particular skeleton. The “proper” brand name helps set this aside from the many no-name watches that are available, and the finishing of the markers is top-notch – again, significantly better than the Swan and Edgar Sovereign I covered last month.
The trouble with all those exposed cogs and gears is that even with a smattering of lume on the hands, it is nigh-on impossible to read the time at a glance. It’s not particularly a Rotary Regent problem so much as a feature of the style, but must be pointed out.
Strap and Buckle
I always say that the strap is the first place brands look to cut costs, and a good strap can make a good watch great. Unfortunately, the Rotary Regent has a standard leather strap that is not horrible but well below the standards set by the likes of Spinnaker. The problem here is that you can’t just swap it out: the lug has a custom design, so you need a strap with the right kind of cutout to fit around the end piece, rather than between the lugs.
Rotary Regent – Video Review
What I Liked
- The Genta-inspired design stands out as something different at the price point.
- The skeleton dial looks very intricate and makes the watch feel more expensive.
- The price and specs are great for a watch from a high street brand.
What I Didn’t Like
- The crown would benefit from some kind of engraving.
- The strap feels quite stiff and plasticky – and is not straightforward to replace
- It can be quite tricky to read the time at a glance.
Rotary Regent – the WRUK Verdict
Overall, the Rotary Regent is a good looking, well-made watch that will attract a lot of plaudits. For me, it doesn’t quite match the standards of the Super 7 Scuba, but it still shows that Rotary has ambition, and is on the right trajectory to move away from fashion-watch also-rans into a serious competitor for the big Asian brands like Spinnaker that produce high quality watches at a sensible price.
You can, of course, pick up an automatic skeleton watch on eBay for £20, but you won’t enjoy this kind of build quality or get a guarantee. If you want a watch that looks like this and are considering the likes of the Swan & Edgar Sovereign, then I would not hesitate in recommending this Rotary above anything else in its price range. I can see this proving popular with people moving onto their first “proper” watch, and look forward to seeing what Rotary does next.