Watches are sometimes born in unexpected places, but Transylvania is unusual, to say the least. Known more for Dracula and vampires than timepieces, it’s the home of small watchmaker Peren. We recently went hands-on with Peren’s Hintz, inspired by the Wyler/Hintz pocket watch from the early 20th century, and we’re now looking at the Nera Rogue that pays homage to a legendary Blancpain dive watch. The Tornek Rayville TR-900, a Fifty Fathoms through and through, had “Tornek-Rayville” deviously added to the dial to circumvent American laws prioritizing domestic watches for the military. The Peren Nera Rogue is a modern interpretation.
1,100 of these Blancpain watches were ordered for the U.S. Navy Seals in the 1960s and only around 30 exist today. Peren is a brand of five years and often finds inspiration for its collections from the past. It doesn’t produce clones or rip anything off, however, but reimagines designs in a contemporary way. The Nera Rogue does have a bit of the Fifty Fathoms vibe to it but strays far enough from the original to clearly separate itself.
The 39mm diameter of the stainless steel case is restrained for a modern diver, but also a refreshing, universal size. The height is 12.8mm with a lug-to-lug of 48.8mm. Three case finishes include bead-blasting, brushing and hand polishing. The rotating, unidirectional conical bezel has a black PVD coating with bold white indices every five minutes. There isn’t a detailed scale, but the simplicity maintains a modern vibe. The mid-century Tornek Rayville TR-900 was similar, but with Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45. There’s also a second Peren model with a silver bezel and detailed 60-minute scale, the Nera Rogue X. The screw-down oversized crown is easy to manipulate and has Peren’s logo embossed, which is fittingly a set of fangs. Transylvania, folks.
The crystal is sapphire with three anti-reflective layers and the case back is solid with an interesting engraving – “IF FOUND CONTACT PERENWATCHES.COM.” This echoes the original that had concerning amounts of radioactive Promethium 147 as lume – “IF FOUND RETURN TO NEAREST MILITARY FACILITY.” Water-resistance is rated at 200 metres, so it’s a capable diver for sure. Strap options include a black nylon/leather NATO, three-link steel bracelet, ZULU leather and vintage brown leather.
The dial continues the modern look with a black chapter ring and white square indices sitting within shallow indentations. The dial comes in a “Nera” blue/green and contrasts well against the white hands and indices. The colour can be seen in the water of Devil’s Lake in the Nera gorges in Transylvania. A date window with a matching blue/green background sits at 3 o’clock and complements the design well (a white background would’ve been disruptive). The sword-style hour and minute hands are coated brass and have Super-LumiNova BGW9 inserts, as does the triangular tip of the seconds hand. The indices and triangular bezel mark have lume as well. The overall aesthetic is simple, stylish and modern with excellent legibility.
Powering the Nera Rogue is a Sellita SW200 that Peren regulates in-house. This ubiquitous workhorse is an alternative to the ETA 2824 and comes with 26 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 38-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and date. Although based in Transylvania, Peren watches are assembled in Switzerland and officially Swiss made.
Peren has an intriguing diver with the Nera Rogue and it’s a great follow-up to the (very different) Hintz. It brings a modern interpretation of a rare classic without falling into the traps of copying. If you can’t afford a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, this is a cool substitute at a very affordable price. Preorders start at just CHF 449 and the watch is limited to 300, as is the Nero Rogue X. Deliveries are expected to start in November 2021. For more information, visit Peren’s website.