Owner Review – Roue Watches TPS

The Skinny

  • Movement: Seiko VK63, meacquartz
  • Dimensions: Ø 40mm, lug-to-lug 48mm, thickness 13.5mm
  • Lug Width: 20mm
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Strap: 1 perforated leather & 1 rubber
  • Price: $295

I took note of the Roue watch company when it launched in 2017 and made a mental note to check out the watches more closely sometime in the future. As a vintage enthusiast, I was drawn to their vintage-inspired designs which at that time featured tonneau-shaped cases with a few design nods to vintage Heuer and Omega chronographs from the 1960s and 70s. 

Now, I am wary of micro brands in general. In the past, I have fallen for the slick Kickstarter videos and new watch renderings only to be disappointed when the watch finally appeared months after my ‘support’ was duly pledged. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” goes the old adage and I did not intend to be fooled twice. So while I gave budget micro brands a wide-berth, that mental note remained to check out Roue’s watches at some point in the future. So here it is, a review of my newly-acquired Roue TPS 3.

Roue is a Hong Kong-based independent watch manufacturer combining off the shelf quartz movements with vintage-inspired designs that have an automotive slant modernized for the 21st century. The TPS, standing for Tachymeter – Pulsometer – Seconds, is a second generation model for them. The first generation models all had the same tonneau case whether the watch was a three hander or a chronograph, or whether it was finished in stainless steel or black PVD. The newer TPS cases are completely new and a little more conventional in style and broadcast a high quality feel. The perceived quality extends to the dial which is multi-layered and comes in 5 differently colored designs on the TPS. There is an all-black dial, a silver and black panda, a black and silver reverse panda.

Each watch comes in modest, yet well designed packaging and can be bought directly from the website at rouewatch.com. Delivery is direct from Hong Kong and mine made it to the US in around 4 days. Two straps are included along with the two-year warranty card.

First Impressions

The TPS is clearly inspired by the Heuer Carrera of years past. The pushers and crown could be modern copies from those vintage racing chronographs. The internal tachymeter scale with no external bezel also brings to mind a Heuer rather than a Speedmaster. The dial is also inspired by those vintage models but pulls up short of being a full-on homage. While the overall impression is of the vintage Heuer dials, in the details, the Roue is more modern. We have more modern colour treatments, particularly the two blue models and the Roue’s chronograph hands are like nothing that can be found on a vintage Heuer.

A Mix of Case Styles

The TPS case shape is vaguely reminiscent of the early round-cased Carrera’s but with a slightly different lug treatment, not extending as far from the watch body as the Heuer originals did. While the Roue lugs give the indication that they turn down from some angles, in reality, they never quite make it, chopping themselves off prematurely. In shape, they remind me of the aggressively cut back lugs of the 45KS and 56KS King Seikos from the early 1970s. It is a design style that I enjoy and I feel it gives the budget case some much appreciated character but possibly at the expense of a wrist-hugging fit.

The TPS is apparently inspired by the Porsche 910 – a stunningly sleek and beautiful prototype race car that was campaigned in the World Sportscar Championship, coming 1-2-3 in the Nürburgring 1000 km in 1967 giving Porsche its first-ever win at its home sportscar event. An embossed image of the race car appears on the case back and it’s all done rather well. Actually, exceptionally well given the price point. At 40mm across and 48 lug-to-lug, the TPS has perfect modern dimensions.  Overall it is very well finished with fine circular brushing on top, leading to a polished chamfer, transitioning to the horizontally brushed side sections. There are no visible flaws and I would not blink if this was the case of an $800 watch. A signed, polished, antique-shaped crown and pump-style pushers complete the case design

Porsche 908 successor to the 910
A painting of a Porsche 910 derivative racing in the 1968 Targa Florio hangs in my stairwell

Mecaquartz… Of Course

Inside the TPS is the popular Seiko VK63 mecaquartz movement, instantly recognizable by the dubiously-useful 24-hour register at 3 o’clock. Accepting the risk I may be informing the informed, a mecaquartz movement is a quartz movement with two oscillating crystals. The first drives the running seconds, minutes, and hour hands. The running seconds on the 9 o’clock sundial moves with the familiar one click per second of a regular quartz movement. The second oscillator circuit controls the chronograph seconds and moves the large sweep hand on 1/5 second increments giving the illusion of a hand-driven by a mechanical escapement.

The center seconds (chronograph) wheel uses a heart cam to provide the instant reset to zero of a mechanical chronograph rather than relying on accelerating the stepper motor to fast forward the hand. Starting and stopping is also via levers within the watch giving a more mechanical feel than a regular quartz chronograph.

Created simultaneously by Frédéric Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre in the 1980s, and utilized by Swiss manufacturers including Breitling, Omega, JLC, and IWC, the mecaquartz movements found little popularity in the luxury Swiss brands back then. However, the technology is having a resurgence of late however, with the Seiko hybrid movements proving popular with third-party chronograph manufacturers.

Given the price point, the choice of a Seiko mecaquartz movement is completely understandable. There really are not many choices for budget chronographs these days. Roue joins the list of other independent watchmakers choosing these movements. Companies such as Autodromo, Dan Henry, Yema, Belmoto, Brew, and Stratton all choose the VK63 for their chronographs at price points from $200 up to around $800. The hybrid movement provides good value for money and appeals to many watch enthusiasts with a sweep that is equivalent to an 18000 vph second hand.

A Mostly Impressive Dial

I’ll start with what I don’t like stylistically about the dial, and it’s really just one small thing. The lume plots. The colour choice of pale green lume does not suit any of the dials, in my opinion, clashing with the warm yellow and orange tones found on all 5 dial colorways. White would have been a more elegant choice. Hell, even fauxtina would have complemented the dials better. 

In all other respects, the tri-compax layout dial is excellent for this price point. We have both dished and stepped subdials that give the dial a more luxurious feel.  The curved vintage style crystal is not overdone and makes its presence known more by the dynamic motion of the highlights rather than any significant distortion of the dial. The outer ring is marked with both a pulsation scale and a telemeter scale differentiated by color and while I doubt I will ever use either, I appreciate that they are there.

The bezel outside is quite thin meaning the crystal alone is 38mm across which could easily overwhelm proceedings and make the watch look large but the large recessed outer ring of the dial picked out in a contrasting colour in my example restores the balance and does disguise the size well. For people wanting more wrist presence, the all-black model will provide it, lacking this mellowing contrast effect and looking larger on the wrist. Those wanting a more restrained look should consider the two-tone models.  Being able to choose different dial designs that alter the perceived size on the wrist is a really useful option to have.

The hands are colour-coded and on the model 3, the chronograph sweep and minute counter are orange while the hands on the running seconds and 24-hour subdials are white. Again, they are executed at a higher level than is necessary at this prince point and that impresses again. 

Conclusions

In short, the Roue TPS is a mecaquartz chronograph with plenty of vintage vibes in a modern package. It exists in a crowded market place, with other brands such as Dan Henry, Autodromo, and Belmoto providing similarly automotive-inspired watches at similar or just higher price points. Of all, I suppose the Dan Henry is closest to the Roue in terms of pricing but the Roue simply feels like a better finished, and higher quality watch than the Dan Henry models I have handled. Right now I don’t know of a better sub-$500 watch in terms of dial and case finishing. I thought that when I bought my example, and now almost a year later, I still think that statement is true.