Hands-On: EMG/HKED Nemo Diver

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EMG is a young, enthusiast-focused brand that successfully launched their first watch, the neo-vintage DL63 chronograph, last year. Their second watch was another retro-inspired chronograph dubbed the Horizon. For their latest project, however, EMG is trying something a little different. They’ve teamed up with forum watch specialist Eddy Tse (HKED), who has in the past brought several Watchuseek project watches to fruition, to create the Nemo, the brand’s first dive watch. Another vintage-inspired offering from the brand, the Nemo is a reference to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (and not Pixar’s favorite fish), but you might think otherwise with the wide range of color choices available here.

The path of the vintage-inspired dive watch is one that is fairly well trodden, but there are some nice touches here that make the HKED/EMG Nemo worthy of consideration.

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$450

Hands-On: EMG/HKED Nemo Diver

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Miyota 90S5 (no date)
Dial
6 dial options
Lume
C3 X1 Super-LumiNova
Lens
Domed sapphire (Internal AR)
Strap
“Beads of Rice” bracelet
Water Resistance
200 Meters
Dimensions
40mm x 47.5mm
Thickness
13.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw down
Warranty
Yes—1 Year
Price
$450

Right off the bat, the dimensions look good for this style of watch. A diameter of 40 millimeters might sound too small for some dive watch fans, but a watch inspired by 1960s and ‘70s skin divers shouldn’t dominate the wrist in the way that some modern dive watches do. The lug-to-lug length of just under 48 millimeters is in keeping with the diameter, and it results in a solid and compact case.

The Nemo comes in at 13.5 millimeters tall, which is a little on the thick side. Viewing the watch in profile offers some explanation of where a lot of that height comes from. First, the sapphire crystal is heavily domed, rising out steeply from the bezel before flattening out quickly across the dial. Second, the case back protrudes more than you might expect. This leaves the watch with a slender mid-case that flows from lug-to-lug and is enhanced by the polished case sides. This flow is only interrupted by the drilled lugs, which I am very happy to see here.

The bulging case back here could be a point of contention for some.

The thinness of the case would have been a feature of the skin divers that the Nemo looks to emulate, though in this case it is a balancing act between having a visually thin case or mitigating the swelling of the case back beneath. I’m left wondering whether a slightly better compromise could have been reached.

Overall, the mixture of brushing along the top of the lugs and case, paired with the polished sides, feels about right. Under macro scrutiny, the brushing looks reasonable; it’s not outstanding, mind you, but it’s about what one might expect at this price point.

The crown, notably free from any beefy or out-of-place crown guards, looks large (though not oversized) and is easy to use.

There are six dial choices for the Nemo, which is quite a bit for a single model, but I’m all for variety if it means that someone might find their perfect configuration. Three of the dials are fairly tame (Denim Blue, Green, Black), while three are a little more conspicuous (Yellow, Powder Blue, and White). It’s worth noting that both the Green and Denim Blue dials are not overly saturated, nor are they too dark as to go unnoticed. The dials all have a matte finish, which soaks in the light (I found this to be especially true on the Green version). I had the chance to look over two colors for my hands-on here—Black and Green.

Th Green variant here is a touch subdued, making it a much more versatile option than one might expect green to be.

Each of the dials has applied baton indices and an applied “trekkie” logo, which is a nod here to the collaboration with Eddy Tse. All dials are kept clean by the absence of a date window, which feels like the right call here. The vibrant touches of red in the model name and on the framing of the second hand’s lume plot are small but significant, helping to elevate a plain dial into something a little more fun. With all hands, indices, and bezel markings receiving a generous helping of C3 X1 Super-LumiNova, nighttime readability is excellent here.

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Around the perimeter of each dial is a white chapter ring with sub-seconds markers in fine red print and black hour numerals sitting just outside each of the applied indices. That white ring helps to break up the watch and, along with the distortion created by the crystal dome, acts to form a barrier between the dial and bezel.

The insert of the 120-click bezel is a matte black ceramic. The choice of finish is deliberately reminiscent of the old Bakelite bezels, but the choice of material will be much more durable. I really like the harmony between the texture of the dial and the finish on the bezel, which is probably most noticeable on the black dial.

Underneath the dateless dial is a dateless movement—a very welcome find. The automatic Miyota 90S5 is related to the more commonly used 9015 caliber (42 hours of power reserve and 28,800 bph), but it has no date wheel and therefore no date-setting position through the crown. As with other movements in the Miyota 9000 series, the rotor moves freely here, which has the positive of winding the mainspring easily and efficiently, but the potential drawback of one often being able to feel the rotor spinning after you move your wrist. All in all, it’s a great choice for this watch.

Fret not, lume nuts—this one’s a torch.

The “Beads of Rice” style bracelet that the Nero arrives on is very comfortable, and I say that even though this type of bracelet isn’t necessarily my style. Personal preferences aside,  it suits the watch perfectly, and if you do happen to like these types of bracelets, then you may well never want to take the bracelet off the watch. Tapering from 20 millimeters at the lugs to 18 millimeters at the clasp, the bracelet offers old school looks as well as the flexibility and comfort those older bracelets provided. The clasp is a basic flip-lock with a couple of extra micro-adjustments to get the right fit.

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As I wrote above, the case sides sit slightly high on the wrist due to the bulge of the case back beneath. This isn’t a problem for comfort as a relatively smaller area is in contact with the wrist, but when viewed from some angles the contributing factors for the thickness become noticeable—ever more so with a pass-through strap where the case is lifted further above the wrist. That’s a shame because the watch is well suited to a mil-strap, even if the Green dial is going to be tough to match exactly.

If you’re a fan of vintage-style “Beads of Rice” bracelets, then you won’t be disappointed here.

The drilled lugs make strap changes a doddle, and 20-millimeter lugs should be easy to find a great strap for. I found both dials took very well to a slightly distressed leather strap.

The Nemo nails lots of details well. The diameter, dial design and color, bezel, and movement choice are hard to find fault with. As a package, the Nemo comes with a decent quality watch roll in a strong cardboard cylinder, and I like the utility that it provides (I’m rather tired of generic boxes that take up too much space, offer little utility, and ultimately get tossed).

The only real negative surrounds the height of the watch—not the absolute millimeter number, but how that number is broken down between the crystal, mid-case, and case back. That said, it isn’t a deal-breaker. It might start nagging away if this were an everyday watch, but the Nemo feels more like a fun addition to add to a collection, and with the current pre-order price at $450 (including shipping) it’s easier to swallow. Delivery is expected from January next year. EMG

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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