Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review of Rotary Super 25 Limited Edition Swiss Automatic

Model # LE90000/02

At a glance:
Brand/Model:  Rotary Super 25 LE
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap with deployant
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP $820 USD



Plenty of photos follow the review!  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

As my watch collection continues to evolve and eke its way upward in quality, I continue to seek out unique, different or somewhat unusual watches that still have elements of classic styling, good build quality and lately, Swiss-made mechanical movements.

After purchasing my second Rotary watch late in 2010, I started to investigate what other offerings this company had.  Rotary proudly claims to be “the third oldest dedicated watch manufacturer that is still owner-managed by a direct descendant of the founding family.”  Quite a statement.  The company was originally established in 1895 in Switzerland, and yes, quite a few of their watches still have true Swiss heritage.

Rotary is one of those brands that offers two distinct levels of watches at distinctly different price points.  They have a wide assortment of quartz and mechanical watches priced below about a $200 street price that are presumably assembled off-shore and have Chinese or Japanese mechanical movements or Japanese or Swiss quartz movements in them. 

Rotary also offers a complete line of true Swiss-made mechanical or quartz timepieces under their ‘Les Originales’ line, which are of course, priced commensurately higher.  The company also has a line of ‘Dreyfuss’ watches, named after the founder Moise Dreyfuss, and of which descendant Robert Dreyfuss is the current Rotary company chairman.

There are two things I wanted to cover and get out of the way before beginning the formal review of the Super 25.  First is Rotary’s use of the term ‘waterproof’ instead of ‘water resistant.’  I’m not going to embark on a lengthy discussion of why this term is used.

Suffice it to say that  Rotary’s term of waterproof is their way of saying the watch bearing this wording (they also use the term ‘dolphin standard’) is capable of ‘Swim and Dive All Day,’ and ‘suitable for swimming, shallow diving, yachting, water sports.’  I interpret this to mean the equivalent of 100 meters of water resistance.  It’s really a moot point for me anyway, because I do not get my watches wet.  I actually admire their deviation from the standard wording.

Secondly, Rotary has a Lifetime Warranty on their watch movements, but I really feel this warranty is misleading because in order to have the warranty remain valid, you have to have your watch serviced by a Rotary Dealer every three years and you have to pay for the service. 

In my interpretation, this is not really a warranty.  If you have the watch serviced and any parts cleaned, replaced, etc. it seems natural to me that the movement would work indefinitely, i.e., for a lifetime.  So where’s the value here?  You are paying for it.

The only thing I can think of, and their wording doesn’t go into detail to any degree, is that in the first three years before the first service, if the movement were to malfunction, I would believe it would be covered at no charge, but again, who really knows? 

To me, all this warranty stuff is rather superfluous, as I have no intention of having this watch serviced every three years and the movement should be fine for the first three years anyways.  Again, let’s not start a big discussion about this, suffice it to say that I believe this ‘warranty’ leaves something to be desired.

Okay, now onto our feature presentation!

When I discovered this Super 25 limited edition, I was pretty much smitten from the get-go.  Based on a Rotary Super 41 (41 jewels!) watch from the 1950s, the modern interpretation comes in four flavors, stainless with white dial and gold tone markers and hands; rose gold with white dial and rose gold tone markers and hands; stainless with black dial and rose gold markers and hands and stainless with black dial and gold tone markers and hands. 

Each of the four colors is limited to 1895 numbered pieces worldwide, so with 7,580 total Super 25s as a limited edition, I’m not sure how ‘limited’ this edition truly is, but at least you have an individually numbered piece to prove it.

I felt the stainless with white dial and gold tone looked the best and it’s the model that is truest to the original.  The dial markers are remarkably faithful to the original model.  I would love to find an original Super 41 to compliment the Super 25, perhaps that will be my next quest.

The Rotary Super 25 LE 90000/02 starts with a fully polished all stainless steel case with matching polished stainless steel bezel.  The case measures 41.8mm without the signed screwdown crown; 45.3mm with the crown.  Lugs are 22mm, thickness is a slightly stout 12.5mm, due to the hunter caseback design. 

Of course, in this modern interpretation of the original Super 41, the dimensions are larger in keeping with today’s taste for bigger watches.  The size is just about right, it could be a tad smaller, but definitely no larger. 

The crown is signed with a large ‘R’ on a grid-pattern background.  The crown measures about 6mm on its own and screws down smoothly to lock in about 2.5 turns.

The caseback is what really helps sell this watch.  The Super 25 sports a ‘hunter style’ caseback, which flips open to reveal the display back showing the 25-jewel ETA movement.  The outside of the caseback is polished, with a beautifully embossed Rotary medallion in the center.  There is a small tab on the caseback just below the crown that is used to open the caseback.  There is no pushbutton as with some designs.  The caseback is not spring loaded and just click-locks into place.  I rather prefer this method of closure.

The inside of the hunter caseback is plain unadorned matte finish stainless steel, with just the watch model number etched into the lower portion.  It would have been nice if the inside of the caseback was decorated with perlage or engine turning or maybe had the Limited Edition numbering on it.

The display caseback underneath the hunter caseback is secured with four fine screws and has engraving with the limited edition number, the cursive wording ‘waterproof,’ ‘Swiss Made,’ ‘Limited Edition,’ ‘Les Originales,’ and the ‘Rotary’ logo surrounding the display window. 

The hinge for the caseback is actually part of the screwed down display caseback, so presumably, one could install a non-hunter style caseback if desired.  I was concerned with how much the hinge would protrude on the case side and how much bulk it would add to the watch.  Aside from making the overall case slightly thicker, the hinge is very unobtrusive and doesn’t interfere with the wearability of this piece or look like a tumor growing on the side of the watch.

Online pictures at the Rotary web site showed a decorated movement, perhaps it was a prototype, because while this movement is the higher grade ETA goldwash movement, it is disappointingly not decorated.  I would at least have wanted the rotor to be proudly signed.  Regardless, the entire caseback presentation of this watch is unique and very cool.

The other design feature of this watch that caught my eye was the great looking dial.  The dial is covered by a proper sapphire crystal with a very slight dome to it and what looks to be a light anti-reflective coating. 

The dial itself is a white color with a slight silver tinge to it.  The dial has a patterned circle that intersects a nifty diamond or triangular pattern that runs to the edges of the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions and is textured in opposite angles to the patterned circle.  This detail is quite subtle but mesmerizing to the eye and really pays homage to fifties watch designs with their classic patterned dials.

Simple gold markers are raised and angular, with the markers at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 being larger, more multi-dimensional and ever so slightly extended above the dial on their ends.  Please study the pictures and you’ll be equally entranced with this design.  There are also small gold dots on the chapter ring track behind each smaller marker and double dots aside the 12 marker. 

The hands are gold skeleton dauphine style with a simple gold second hand.  Classic script lettering on the dial adds another true retro touch.  There is no lume on this watch, but it doesn’t need it, as the design is so illuminating in its style that it stands on its own.  A superb job from Rotary!

A black on white quickset date is located at the 3 position.  The window is generously sized and makes for easy reading of the date.  Hand and date alignment is perfect and the date clicks over authoritatively just a tick past midnight.

Examined under an 8X loupe, the dial and hands exhibited no defects or dirt.  The entire build quality and finish on this watch is excellent and worthy of its Swiss made heritage.

Powering the Super 25 is the tried and true ETA 2824-2 25 jewel automatic that hacks and manual winds.  As mentioned previously, this is the goldwash version, which is considered higher grade.  Accuracy out of the box has been fine, running +7 seconds per day, in the dial up position. 

Power reserve was clocked at a strong 44.5 hours, although incidental handling during the power reserve test probably added an hour or two to the total, so suffice it to say that power reserve is the expected 42 + hours.  The rotor on this example seems to be a bit loud, but I am not concerned about it at this time.  The watch has been performing well and nothing out of sort has been noticed.

The strap is a signed croc-look dark brown leather with medium padding and matching stitching.  The shade of brown is just about perfect to me.  The strap is 22mm at the lugs and tapers to about 17.9mm at the double butterfly pushbutton deployant. 

Whilst the deployant is nicely polished and double signed, curiously, it is the same quality as the one on my lower-end Rotary 702C.  It would have been nice if Rotary saw fit in upping the deployant ante here and maybe signing it ‘LE’ or something announcing the Limited Edition nature of this watch.  Conversely, the quality of the strap itself is quite fine and a step above my other Rotary.

The presentation on the other hand befits that of a Limited Edition timepiece.  A black cardboard outer box opens to reveal a beautifully polished solid oak wood inner box with a large Rotary emblem on the top.  The inside of the box is emblazoned with Limited Edition script.  A lovely box by any meaning of the word.

This Super 25 is pretty much available only in Europe, not domestically in the U.S.  I shopped around online and settled on RotaryWatchShop/Designer Time in Bridgnorth, England.  They provided a good price, excellent communication and fast shipping via registered Royal Mail.  The package took 18 days to reach me and it came in perfect condition.  I have no affiliation with the seller other than being a satisfied customer and would recommend them to others.

Rotary has an MSRP of $820 USD on this watch; the sticker on the back had a price of £399  GBP.  This is close to the street price.  Given the somewhat exclusive nature of this piece, the unique style and overall quality, it is probably worth these prices.

Overall, this Rotary Super 25 Limited Edition presents itself as a classically styled retro watch with enough modern influences to hold its own in today’s rough and tumble world.  Despite a few hiccups in certain design elements, it’s still a stunner from Rotary.  As the British might say, Jolly good!

Pros:  real Swiss heritage, great build quality, unique hunter style case back, outstanding dial details, reliable Swiss engine

Cons:  movement should be signed and decorated, inside of caseback could benefit from some decoration, lack of lume could bother some people

Verdict:  a smashing effort from Rotary in a retro-inspired design that keeps the past alive with the future firmly in sight, definite panache for the watch lover that likes an understated but classy design, this Super 25 speaks of quality, value and exclusivity all at the same time.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!

-Marc


6 comments:

  1. Great review a lot of valuable information. Very grateful. As for the warranty issues - as knowledgeable person you know that watch is a mechanism - it does require maintenance - if it is left out - it will break - so no one can give you a lifetime guarantee if you don't maintain it properly. Of course, it's another story how much it costs, what is the Rotary's pricing policy etc. Again, many thanks indeed!

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  2. It sure is thanks 4 the great review!

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  3. Lovely dial, thanks for the review !

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  4. great review ... I suspect it might be a tad over-sized though.

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  5. great review ... I suspect it might be a tad over-sized though.

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