EMG Watches Review: The Nemo Diver
By: Michael Penate
This past September – after an unbearably humid evening trek through the rainy streets of Hong Kong – I found myself crammed in a hotel elevator with about four of my peers as we made our way to a (slightly) secretive “microbrand meetup” dinner in the area. Kaz and I were exhausted after a full day at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and needless to say, we were running on fumes. From the moment I whipped out the camera, a small wave of brand owners quickly began approaching us to deliver their pitches, many of which were convoluted, unnecessary, and exactly the kind of thing that would turn me off as an enthusiast. But, that same evening I was approached by Eddy Tse – one of the gentlemen behind EMG watches – who then handed me a little yellow dive watch before asserting, “Hey my name is Ed, and this is a watch we’re working on.” That’s it. It turned out to be the EMG Nemo Diver, a watch that was sent my way shortly after returning to the States.
As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m quickly reaching a point where I’m beginning to resent the microbrand watch “scene.” There is no system of checks and balances in place and I’m finding that it’s just too easy to start one of these brands, which is hilarious when the brand owners themselves aren’t even into watches. But, much like the Nodus Contrail and the Orion Calamity, every once in a while you encounter a product that is explicitly symbolic of the passion and dedication put into it. I don’t know much about EMG Watches. They don’t have some kind of pre-fabricated heritage narrative outlined on their site and from what I can tell, it seems to be a group of three dudes that are into making fun watches. Really, that’s all I need to know and I was happy to evaluate the watch solely on build quality, design, execution, and styling.
Everything about the EMG Nemo dive watch case seems to have been constructed to adequately fit the Miyota 90S5 automatic movement without hindering comfort or wearability. It possesses a sort of “raindrop” quality to it that feels light and airy on-wrist. As our friend Random Rob highlights in this video, the small caseback protrusion simply “melts into your wrist” and the dimensions follow suit. Which leads me to an important point: just because a watch features dimensions that are attractive to you on paper, doesn’t mean that it’ll translate well on the wrist. In the case of this Nemo’s 40mm 316L stainless steel case, it almost feels as if it wears closer to a well-sized 38mm – 39mm sports watch, which is due to the pebble-like fluidity of the case construction and the curvature of the drilled lugs.
As you can see in the photo above, this watch is just about perfect for me in terms of sizing. The case edges are also surprisingly soft, without any kind of drastic bevelling or sharps transitions. The case itself integrates beautifully with the beads-of-rice bracelet and exists exactly as what it’s intended to be: a robust dive watch case. At 3 o’clock, we get a simple, sturdy fisheye-like crown that’s unsigned and easy to operate and the 120-click unidirectional bezel doesn’t really result in much overhang. Lug to lug, the watch is 47mm, it’s 13.5mm thick together with the domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal, and delivers 200m of water resistance. Oh, and did I mention the bezel is fully lumed with a nice matte finish to it?
This is really the star of the show and much to my satisfaction, the EMG Nemo Diver comes in a host of badass ’50s “California car colors” and the Powder Blue variant I tested is without a doubt, the prettiest girl at the ball. The soft, baby blue tone is a real treat and varies between a deep, icy blue to a sort of pale green depending on the light surrounding you. The faceted baton hands and applied indices also show off a trick of their own and reflect a tone of ambient color. In the photo below, we catch a glimpse of the hands and markers taking on a sort of gold tone due to the leaves changing colors on a hike here in Washington.
On top of that, we get a cool red-accented paddle seconds hand and very minimal dial text. ‘Nemo’ and ’20 ATM’ is all they opted for, together with an awesome minimal EMG logo that pretty much reminds me of the Starfleet insignia. It’s just so, Jetsons, with this color, text, and design – and I just can’t help but smile every time I look down at my wrist. As if that wasn’t enough, a fully graduated red minutes track surrounds the entire dial and brings even more variety to the color scheme. The Nemo is also available with yellow, denim blue, white, black, and forest green dial options.
For some reason, 2018 seems to be the year of the beads-of-rice bracelet (BOR) – and I’m not complaining. Upon learning that the EMG Nemo would come with this classic dive watch option, I was pretty concerned that the quality wouldn’t be up to par with what I was used to. I’ll say this once: the bracelet on the EMG Nemo is right up there with what came on my own, personal Doxa Sub 300 ‘Black Lung’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if the two brands shared a common bracelet manufacturer.
It’s entirely solid (including the end links) and conforms to the wrist perfectly. If I had to nitpick here, I’d simply ask for a basic diver’s extension of some sort. I get it though, bracelets aren’t easy to execute – but this one puts most micro brand dive watches to shame. At the base, we get a basic – but very solid – flip lock clasp with push button deployment and three micro-adjust points. I can’t ask for more and I’m totally cheesin’ over the fact that this diver would be the perfect, low-cost complementary piece to my Doxa. ::drooling intensifies::
Inside we get a Miyota 9-series with hacking and hand-winding capabilities. Specifically, it’s the 90S5, which beats at 28,800 bph (not sure why they refer to it as high-beat) and provides over 42 hours of power reserve. Accuracy has been on-spec ranging between -10～30 seconds/day. My favorite part about this? I hear ZERO rotor noise, which has proven to be an absolute embarrassment in Swiss watches I’ve tested that are priced over $2k+. Overall, I’m never going to object to the inclusion of a Miyota 9-series, and this one runs reliably, as expected.
In my own personal collection, I have a Doxa Sub 300, a CWC RN Diver, a bunch of SKX-series divers, a Seiko Tuna, and 2 badass Vostok Amphibians. I have absolutely no need to but as a wannabe minimalist, I’d still put my own personal money down for the EMG Nemo Diver. I see no need on EMG’s part to appeal to the IG watch crowd. They aren’t blasting me with ads featuring the watch on yachts with a bunch Czech babes poppin’ Cristal, they aren’t feeding me some fake story about heritage, they aren’t telling me about the adventures I’m supposed to have with this watch, and they certainly aren’t lying about what the watch is capable of. Instead… they made a cool watch, put it out there, and are hoping for the best. Even without all the cool features, this makes the watch immensely attractive and I hope the guys manage to get this in the hands of a bunch of eager watch lovers. Currently, the EMG Nemo Diver (my favorite dive watch of 2018) is available on Kickstarter for $375 + $25 shipping, and personally, I think I’ll be voting with my wallet on this one.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.