Published by Weston Dakin on 29 Apr, 2020.


Founded in 1895 by Moise Dreyfuss, Rotary is currently celebrating 125 years of watchmaking. To mark the occasion, Rotary – still owned by the Dreyfuss group has released two limited-edition Heritage watches, one in Gold and the other being Rose Gold. Both are limited to 300 pieces each though we feel 125 would have been more fitting. We were lucky enough to be provided with no 243/300 of the Rose Gold Variant.

Upon looking at the listing for the Heritage, we noticed that it’s mentioned the design of this watch is based upon a previous model that Rotary had released decades ago. After some digging in the archives, we uncovered a watch made in the 1950s that bears a striking resemblance to the modern Heritage. It features the same handset, similar markings, an identical font for the numerals and a case akin to the new release. Learn more about it here.

SPECS

Given the diameter and style of the Heritage, one would assume that it would wear nicely on most wrist sizes, however, with the longer lug-to-lug measurement of 50mm that is unfortunately not the case. The lugs do slope down in typical vintage fashion though it doesn’t help on a wrist as thin as mine – six-inch to be precise. Because of this, we can’t recommend this watch if you have thin wrists unless you don’t mind a slight overhang from the lugs. Those with larger wrists could accommodate this better, and it would have a nicer wrist presence as a result. I would have liked to have seen a watch with a diameter and lug measurement that was more in-keeping with vintage dimensions though given this watch is new, this is is just how most watches of this style are now. The thickness of the watch is also slightly more than you might expect, coming in at 12.5mm it is thicker than most watches of this style. We can attribute that to the period-correct bubble mineral glass and the automatic movement.

There’s no question as to where the Heritage draws it’s inspiration, the aesthetic is undoubtedly vintage. From the slender tapered handset to the Arabics, this exudes vintage charm but with a modern twist. Around the dial, you’ll find a mix of polished Rose Gold numerals and circular markers that beautifully contrast against the Silver White sunburst finish. This all fuses in a fashion that is very pleasing to the eye and is remarkably legible too. Around the perimeter, you’ll find a simple minute track done in a style similar to the watch upon this is based. Under the twelve you’ll find the cleanly printed Rotary branding with the model name printed in Red underneath. Above the six – again printed, you’ll see it simply says ‘Self-winding’ and ‘21 Jewels’ referring to the movement. Surrounding the six numeral are the words ‘Limited Edition’ rather than Rotary’s usual ‘Since 1895’.

The case of the Heritage is made from Stainless Steel though there is no mention as to the grade, however, given the £249 price tag, we can assume it’s likely to be 316L. The case is then specially coated with a Rose Gold PVD finish which is very well done. The case profile and shape invokes that of a vintage watch with the three-tier design and lugs that are a perfect match. The lugs I have to say are often overlooked, but I appreciate the extra craftsmanship that has turned ordinary into something far elevated. The twisted nature of them is not only elegant, but it also blends with the aesthetic so seamlessly and adds to the appeal. I do, however, wish that they weren’t stepped and flowed from the mid-case in a more refined manner, that would be the icing on the cake. The fit and finish are great with very nice thanks to tight tolerances and a solid well-constructed feel.

Travelling to the right-hand side of the watch you’ll find the crown; this is a standard push-pull affair though the texture is well done and provides plenty of grip. The size is well proportioned and fits the design to a tee. On the crown, you’ll find that it is signed with the Rotary logo, which is a nice touch.

The caseback of any watch is where you can tell that corners have been cut, many will leave this area blank, some will have their branding and the specifications, whereas some will go the extra mile and decorate it. Rotary has gone down a different route and opted for an exhibition style caseback to expose the movement. This area is high polish and has the specifications subtly engraved around the window. The caseback is a simple press-on which is perfectly acceptable as watches of this design are not meant for adventures near water. Given that, the water-resistance is 50m which is more than some in this field.

At the heart of the Heritage you’ll find a Miyota 821a which is a modified variant of the Caliber 8215, this was not mentioned in the listing which is an inconvenience for those that like to know the inner workings of their watch. We discovered it was a Calibre 821a after researching into the 8215 and uncovering this modified variant.
As for the movement, we do wish that Rotary had gone the extra mile and added a custom rotor, though the original one does allow you to see the extra detailing done. So it’s a swings and roundabouts thing meaning it’s down to personal preference.

In terms of specifications, the 821a has a power reserve of 42 hours which is approximately what I uncovered during testing. The accuracy is stated at between -20 to +40 seconds per day which is broad, and I would say that the Heritage has been better than this as it is keeping time very well. Unfortunately, I can’t measure the accuracy to a high degree, but I know that it’s a few seconds behind my phone and easily within the tolerances. The beats per hour is 21600 giving it a nice sweep, though not as smooth as higher beat movements. We are okay with this as higher beat movements tend to need servicing more regularly due to the extra friction. The 821a also hacks meaning it’s a lot easier to set the time to a higher accuracy as the seconds hand stops once the crown has been pulled. The movement is also handwinding and it takes approximately 40 turns to give it a full power reserve.

We’d also like to note, this is a movement that has a date complication meaning it does have a ghost date which can be heard engaging, though not a deal-breaker, it makes me wonder why they didn’t opt for a no-date movement.

The Heritage arrives on a genuine leather strap with a croc pattern, this I think was the right call as it fits the watch perfectly. At the top of the long side of the strap, it starts at 20mm and then gently tapers down to 17mm at the end giving a classy look. It measures in at 124mm length and has 8 adjustment holes that have been very well done and look clean. The croc pattern is slowly starting to wrinkle and is ageing quite well. In terms of comfort, the strap has a soft inner side that feels nice against your wrist, it’s also reasonably supple and isn’t too rigid. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough adjustment holes for me to get a perfect fit, though it was still comfortable to wear.

The top part of the strap is around 85mm and houses two leather keepers, one of which is free-floating and both are well made. The stitching throughout looks uniform, neatly done and is colour matched to the strap as to not detract from it. The buckle design is very elegant and features some prominent branding that is still tasteful. The buckle feels solidly made and is nicely secured in place. I appreciate that they haven’t simply gone with a standard ‘off-the-shelf’ buckle as it shows care and thought has been applied.

As a whole the Rotary Heritage is a timepiece befitting of the name, the design is classy, elegant and refined which is further bolstered by the strong build quality and extra flourishes like the beautifully done lugs and dial. One of the slight drawbacks is the use of the Miyota 821a as it has a ghost date position, here we would have liked to have seen Rotary opt for something different just to add that extra fine touch to the watch as a whole. However, given the choice, we are glad they opted for the 821a over the 8215 as it is far more attractive movement to look at through the exhibition caseback and it has the hacking seconds function. I am also personally not a fan of how the red on the second’s hand and dial work with the colour scheme, though that is a personal preference, and you might have a differing opinion as this is how it was done on the watch it is based upon.

One other minor complaint is the extra-long lugs, yes the design is striking and stunning to look at, though it means that it sadly wears too big on my slimmer wrist and could likely on yours if you have a similar wrist size too. To combat this we would have liked to have seen a variant with dimensions more in-keeping with that you’d expect from a timepiece from that era – though that is not what was delivered.

So, even with all the above in mind, this is still a well-done timepiece that almost perfectly blends its vintage elements with its modern design traits into a compelling well-done watch.

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