Everything changes when you grow up, I always remember how good complicated cars and watches made me feel, the first time I looked the photo of a Lamborghini Diablo my heart stopped, it was amazing, I had no idea how fast or how it handled, I just knew that it look awesome.Car magazines were a great escape to imagine yourself using these beautiful machines, I couldn’t wait to look at the main article where the performance stats were described, these magazines also contained numerous advertisements which included (naturally) chronographs. Tag Heuer was everywhere, as I started to fall more and more for watches, I remember studying the case lines and pushers of the Carrera chronograph, I did not know how the watch worked or how to use it (just like the Lamborghini) but that did not stop me to fall for it. Much later in life is when I discovered that there was a great difference on watch movements, the purist talked about manual wind chronographs while other were talking about the simplicity of quartz. I love a quartz chronograph, they are easy to maintain and very robust but I agree with the purist, they lack a bit of charm.
Coming to the present I discovered Meca-Quartz watches, this is not a new concept, I owned a beautiful IWC Flieger which had a JLC movement with this characteristics, the only issue is that at that time this was quite pricey. So what is this movement? It's very simple, it's a watch with a quartz oscillator and a mechanical gear train for the chronograph which mean is actuated and controlled mechanically, in other words is a hybrid. Fast forward to 2020 and the amazing VK63 from Seiko has giving many microbrands the chance to create something more special than just a quartz chronograph,
here is where I found out about Imperial and it's beautiful Wayfarer. When I saw the pictures my hear raced like I was a kid, perfect proportions and a lovely layout, not too big and not to small, I had to try it. We reached out to Imperial and they agreed to send us a sample and below are our impressions.
The imperial Wayfarer is one of those watches that can blend on any situation, it can be elegant but also sporty. The case measures 42 mm with a thickness under 12.5, you don’t need me to tell you that it's a crowd pleaser.
The bi-compax layout makes everything visually striking and that sunburst blue looks is one of the best ones we experienced, very Breitling Transocean in my opinion, is a blue that changes with light, that looks expensive and that makes the whole package irresistible. The pushers are square giving that racy modern vibe and with the Tachymeter scale starting with red letters together with the red chronograph tip, the Wayfarer looks like is ready to run, fast even standing. The engine powering the Imperial is no other than the reliable Seiko VK64 which has become a bit of luxury item among micorbrands, people get surprised when they see this movement on a sub 300 GBP watch as brands like Autodromo are also using it. The movement is a delight to use especially when you hit the reset pusher and the chronograph hands snaps back to zero, it's precise, it's mechanical so it has a soul.
On the wrist:
The watch sits like a dream on my 6.25 inch wrist, the lug to lug distance is 51mm which might be large for some but to me it just feels right on a chronograph, the Wayfarer is big bot not loud, sporty but subtle and this is a really hard effect to create.
The watch comes on an Italian vintage leather strap which just oozes sophistication, is very soft and comfortable, the deployant clasp completes that luxury feeling to perfection and making you think how on earth this watch can be offer at this low price, there got to be a catch, well my dear readers there isn't one, I couldn’t find any indication of cutting corners, the watch even comes on a piano lacquered box with a glass circle on top showing you the watch, a great touch.
Our time with the Wayfarer was short but great, the watch ticks all the boxes that an enthusiast could ask for, a mechanical feel with quartz precision which brings us to the tittle, it's meca-quartz the best of both worlds? I think it is,
we have seen that Seiko is pushing for hybrid technology from their Spring Drive to the VK64 and it seems that the 2 technologies (quartz and mechanical) are meant to coexist, precision is key to an instrument but the feel of a mechanical object is also important for collectors, when you have these characteristics and all wrapped up on a package like the one the Wayfarer is offering you cannot think why not to add this watch onto your collection. I can wait for the next pieces coming out from this brand, they understand what is needed to create a beautiful object.
More Info at www.imperialtimepieces.co.uk
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