Regia Armour Fish

Regia Timepieces launched their first watch, the Amare Regatta, in early 2015 and I liked their quirky brass spin on a Panerai style diver enough to buy one for myself. Since then, Regia has turned out a wide range of inventive dial options for the Amare, including bold colors, gritty patina, and hand painted skulls. With such a creative, offbeat range I was surprised when they announced the relatively conservative Armour Fish. They loaned me a silver prototype for this review.
Regia Armour Fish Brass
My initial impression was that this was a fairly safe design. Now, do understand that "safe" is a relative term here. By most objective measures, the Armour Fish is outrageous. Its removable shroud measures a full 50mm across and lug-to-lug, and the watch is 17mm thick. An enormous crown sprouts from the 2 o'clock position. The dial has big, toothy markers and fat, striated hands. It should be shocking, and no doubt it will be to those new to our hobby, but die-hard watch nerds will recognize the shrouded case as an homage to one of the most iconic dive watches, the Seiko "Tuna" diver. That dial is highly familiar as well; almost a dead-ringer for the Stevral Megalodon. So, yes, it is big and weird, but in a fairly well-established fashion.
Regia Armour Fish
Like the Amare Regatta, the Armour Fish runs a Seiko NH35 automatic. This sturdy, 24 jewel, 21.6k bph unit should be familiar to all micro brand fans by now. It hacks, hand winds, and is a very safe bet. It lives behind a screw-in case back decorated with a cartoon fish wearing a Renaissance jousting helmet and visor -- literally an armored fish. It's cute. Maybe a little too cute.
Regia Armour Fish case back
The Armour Fish is rated for 600m and outfitted to be a serious diving watch. It features a screw-down crown, unidirectional 120-click bezel, helium release valve, and a domed sapphire crystal. The removable shell serves the same protective function on the watch as it does on a mollusk or crustacean, and the Armour Fish comes with two: one is stainless steel with a black PVD coating, the other is brass. Both are attractive, but I am most interested in the brass. It didn't look as raw as any of my other brass watches. Instead, it had a matte finish without a trace of oxidation. The surface was so even, I checked with Regia to be sure it was not coated. They assured me that it was just brand new. I will be curious to see how it ages. A weathered patina on a Tuna case would look amazing. That could be the feature that really sets the Armour Fish apart from the crowd, but right now, it is too soon to tell.
Regia Armour Fish shroud removed
Swapping is easy. Just remove the four retaining screws and the spring bars and the watch module comes right out. The naked watch barrel looks pretty cool in and of itself, but because the lugs are incorporated into the shroud, it is not possible to wear it that way. You could wear the shroud. I'm not saying this is a good idea, but it is possible. The stubby, almost hidden lugs contain the overall length, so the large watch is easy to wear, even on my 6.5" wrist. The lugs are drilled and fitted with fat, shoulderless spring bars.
Regia Armour Fish wrist shot
The bezel has positive action and no wobble, but that big honking shell gets in the way. Like the Seiko, it is only open on the upper half of the bezel and on only two sides. It is an effective shield against accidental movement but affords little surface area for your fingertips. In fairness, I've had the same problem using similar Seiko designs. A more aggressive edge with teeth or deeper scallops would have helped immensely. The chunky crown, on the other hand, was a breeze to operate.
Regia Armour Fish crown
Legibility is not a problem on this watch, day or night. The blocky polished hands are sufficiently long and have fine needle tips that touch their markers. The bezel insert is engraved and the whole index is filled with lume. This is a welcome touch that is at once more attractive than a printed index and more useful than a single lume pip. You will notice a generous glow on the dial too, as the oversize hands and markers provide tremendous surface area for the C3.
Regia Armour Fish lume
It is certainly an attractive face, but it is not without its flaws. the text is rendered in the same painfully generic sans serif typeface as dozens of other microbrands. For some reason, the model name does not appear on the dial, just the word "Diver." I'd say it might be because they settled on a name late in the process (the press release referred to a "code name" and the website still calls it "Diver") but they obviously had the idea when they sketched the case back design. Finally, while the markers are certainly attractive, I cannot get over the fact that they look exactly like those of a well-known competitor. I like that Regia chose something other than the common diver dots layout, but I really wish they had done their own thing.
Regia Armour Fish strap
The Armour Fish ships on a 24mm Zulu with rectangular adjustment holes and a smoother, more pliable weave than most heavy weave nylon straps. Its thick stainless steel buckle is signed and removable, which will come in handy should you ever decide to fit your watch with an aftermarket strap.

So is the Armour Fish too much, or too safe? I'm going to say too safe. I don't mind the fact that it mimics the Seiko Tuna because Seiko will most likely never make a brass Tuna. On the other hand, the dial is disappointing. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but Regia has done so many fun variants for the Amare Regatta that this derivative face is a letdown. I only hope they are willing to push the envelope in later versions. Regardless, the Armour Fish is a solid, well-equipped diving watch and a good value for its $520 list price, let alone the $420 pre-order price. If you want one for yourself, head over to Regia Timepieces and do it soon as that $100 discount only lasts until May 17, 2017. ⬩
Regia Armour Fish helium release valve

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