Hands-On: the Peren Regia and Regia X

Close your eyes and picture a watch. It probably has three hands and a round case. Watches come in all shapes and with any number of hands, but for the most part, they stick to these two staples. In fact, these standards are so expected that we don’t even discuss them. Never have I written a review that noted a watch having a round case or the number of hands unless it was a GMT.

For the average person, the visual likely stops with a round case and three hands, but your enthusiast-driven imagination probably dug deeper to include a dial. But even with all the variety and possibilities a dial can hold, we again have a few design staples that aren’t often deviated from. Indices are usually some sort of circle, triangle or square. Date windows, if they exist, are probably found at the 3:00, the 6:00, or maybe even placed at 4:30 if brands feel tempted to be more divisive than your Uncle Dan when he brings up politics at Thanksgiving dinner.

I often find myself torn between loving these staples of design, while craving watches that dare deviate from them. There is a strong argument to be made not to deviate. Tried and true designs have reserved admiration in our hearts, and sometimes deviating can just look plain wrong. Shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars makes for a wonderful motivational poster to hang on a classroom wall. But when it comes to watches, shooting for the moon can land you with unsold inventory and shockingly harsh comments on your social media platforms. 


Hands-On: the Peren Regia and Regia X

Stainless steel
Sellita SW200
Water Resistance
200 meters
39 x 45.3mm
Lug Width
Screw down

Thankfully for us consumers, the watch industry attracts ambitious minds. And sometimes, they land exactly where their middle school math teachers promised they would. I’m picturing modern gems like Arcanaut’s Havender made from Scandinavian mussel shells and classic hits such as Hamilton’s triangle-shaped Ventura. With the release of the Regia and Regia X, I’m adding Peren to the list of creative brands aiming high and reaching their destination. And honestly, I’m probably late to the party. The Regia and Regia X follow the release of 2021’s  Nera Rogue, which set a high bar for Peren’s ability to deliver modern interpretations of classic designs at an approachable price.

Modern Design With An Ancient Twist

The mail truck tends to arrive during the busiest times, so whenever I receive a watch for review, I have a routine of promptly putting it on my wrist and then carrying on with my day. Following this habit, I unboxed the Regia and Regia X while searching for the bottom of a laundry basket. I took a brief moment to observe that these 39mm divers were distinguished only by the layout of their aluminum bezel inserts: the Regia featured an AM/PM GMT bezel, while the Regia X used a dual time/60-minute combination. I was surprised by how much of a difference the bezel insert made on these watches, which looked quite different but somehow nearly identical. I decided to test drive the Regia X first (I’m not cool enough to double wrist) and then continued with my chores.

When I’d hastily strapped it on, the Regia X looked and felt like your standard $1000-ish dollar black dialed dive watch with good finishing, a crisp bezel, and a comfortable FKM strap (it also comes on a nylon or a bracelet). All things I love, but also specs that could describe any number of watches. It wasn’t until I sat down to watch a movie that I truly took a moment to admire the new timepiece on my wrist. But instead of watching the movie, I just rolled the Peren around in my hands, increasingly impressed as this minimalistic monochrome diver unveiled one surprise after another.

Each new detail transformed it from just another black dial diver to a watch worthy of excitement- starting with a 12:00 date window. Yes, that’s right, the date is tucked right at the top of the dial- something none of us pictured when we closed our eyes. And honestly, it looks pretty darn good here- naturally at home thanks to an indice-shaped window with a color matched date wheel. And the fun doesn’t stop there. The unexpectedly tall (and lume packed!) five-minute markers add depth to a laser engraved dial already steeped in dimension, including subtle and lume free depressed minute markings around the periphery of the dial. 

The case of the Regia is surprisingly subdued compared to the adventurous dial. Uniform bead blasting throughout is only broken by hand polished edges. The bezel and crown are the most prominent features, both with a unique combination of step-like sections leading to concentric circles. The caseback is strangely plain and void of text (except for a serial number) with only a shield-shaped-symbol directly in the center. Nowhere on this caseback will you read that the Swiss made Regia has a sapphire crystal, 200 meters of water resistance and is powered by a SW-200 that was regulated in house. As someone who has been known to rant about watches that litter their watches with boastful text, the Regia’s caseback had my appreciation and attention. 

By this point, oblivious to the movie playing in the background, I began to wonder about the backstory of the design. The unexpected yet well executed package felt inspired, rather than just the result of a few unconventional design choices. This is when I poured through Peren’s website and learned that the Regia and Regia X were inspired by the Sarmizegetusa Regia calendar, an ancient calendar used by the Dacians in Transylvania. Based on a lunar-solar cycle, this stone calendar had a shield shaped center, and dense outer ring. With this backstory, the caseback and the dotted minute markers seemed less mysterious.

The Difference a Bezel Makes

With identical cases, both versions of the Regia offer a comfortable wearing experience thanks to a compact, mid-size case. A relatively short lug to lug distance of 45.3mm paired with a respectable 12.8mm thickness complements the 39mm diameter, allowing the Regia to wear true to its mid-size dive watch aesthetic. Sometimes steel watches with similar dimensions can feel top-heavy, but on the stock FKM strap, the Regia felt secure and unobtrusive while maintaining an appropriate presence.

When I made the snap decision to try the Regia X over the Regia, I was subconsciously drawn in by its practically. I appreciate creative designs, but a tool watch is a tool. With personal preferences that favor realistic application, I was intrigued by the dual purpose functionality the Regia X offers, capable of tracking either elapsed time or a different time zone with the simple twist of a bezel.

While the Regia X may be the practical choice, those who prioritize aesthetics may be drawn in by the Regia’s AM/PM bezel with dual-colored 15 minute markers. Again finding ways to challenge norms, Peren elected to use shapes we commonly find under the crystal for these markers, instead opting to utilize them on a numeral-free bezel. Are these dual-colored circles, triangles and squares as practical as a simple 12 hour dual time bezel for tracking a second time zone? Probably not. But they look cool, fit the mysterious minimalist aesthetic, and would be perfectly functional in a pinch. 

As an added bonus for those opting for the Regia over the dual-purpose Regia X, I found the step-like details on the crown and bezel to enhance the experience especially well on the Regia. Afterall, what’s cooler than tiny steps leading up to a bezel that embraces an unconventional design? While the Sarmizegetusa Regia calendar these watches pay homage to doesn’t have steps leading up to it, the steps add welcome Indiana Jones-esque explorer vibes. On both watches, I was pleasantly surprised these unconventional bezels are just as grippy as any coin edge bezel I’ve encountered.

Final Thoughts

There are two ways to approach a review of a watch that offers indisputable value: There is the physical watch itself, which in the case of the Peren is nothing short of impressive considering it offers a regulated SW-200 housed in a hand polished case for about $1000. Is the execution perfect? Maybe not, but taking risks has a high probability of downsides. The Regia’s crown is a flat topped cone as opposed to the standard cylinder shape. It looks great and compliments the conical bezel. But cones aren’t designed for maximum grippiness, and the crown’s slope results in a slightly slick (but still perfectly workable) experience. And remember those impressively thick markers? Sideways, as found at the 9:00 and 3:00, they are aesthetically adventurous and aid legibility. But vertically, as found at the 6:00, this marker looks like a zero. It’s not a huge deal if your brain can remember (I hope it can) that the bottom of the watch is 6:00. But when there is a pseudo zero at 6:00 and a date window at 12:00, the result is a slightly disorienting experience. 

And that brings us to the second, and more appropriate, way to approach a watch that prioritizes creativity: evaluating its uniquely inspired execution. Frankly, in the case of these two new Perens,I could care less about a slightly slick crown and a dial layout that challenges expectations of where a date window belongs. These are worthwhile tradeoffs to experience a dive watch that breaks the standard design elements inherent to the genre. It’s bold while somehow remaining understated. It’s legible and practical, while having quirks that might make your head spin. All combined, the Peren Regia and Regia X expertly use modern design elements to pay homage to an ancient calendar, creating an approachable design that offers unexpected variety to an often repetitive dive watch market. Peren

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Nathan Schultz is a New Hampshire based writer, equally obsessed with watches and outdoor gear. He specializes in dad jokes, breaking NH35s while modifying watches, and testing the limits of recreational equipment. Micro brands hold a special place in his heart, and he aspires to stop buying and selling so many darn watches.