Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Seven Days with the Hemel HFT20 / VK64

Courtesy of Hemel
As I sprint to get caught up before winging off for a foreign factory visit (more to come), I am rushing to get caught up on everything that has been going on here at Tempus Fugit.

And one of those things is this review of one of Hemel's latest offerings, the HFT20/VK64 Configuration.

The HFT20 / VK64 is a unique proposition - a classically designed chronograph that is affordable without sacrificing on performance by using a dodgy movement.  Brands, both micro and mini, will often give you the "vanilla or chocolate" choice - i.e. affordable = quartz, and expensive = automatic.  But Hemel, in their wisdom, figured that there might be some people out there who like strawberry - i.e. a meca quartz movement.

Just what is a meca quartz movement?  I'm glad you asked!  Essentially, a meca quartz movement is quartz, ensuring pretty much the most accurate time keeping possible.  But it goes a step further, incorporating a mechanical module for the chronograph function which gives it a lovely "sweep" effect.

So back to the review  -

The watch case is substantial and sturdy.  It measures 42 mm in diameter, of stainless steel, and is equipped with a unidirectional stainless steel bezel that is engraved with a 12 hour scale that can also function as a second time zone or GMT feature.  The fit of the watch will be good for most wrists, and while the watch has presence, it is not overwhelming.

The dial is clear and legible.  It is bicompax,  with a 24 hour indicator on the right (at 3 o'clock), a sixty minute counter on the left (at 9 o'clock), with the orange 60 second chronograph hand mounted at the center.  And yes, the sweep function of the chronograph function is very, very smooth and impressive.  The pusher buttons function cleanly and engage without any hesitation or "jumpiness".

The case back is solid steel and engraved on the back.  I have seen mecha quartz equipped watches with display backs, and I have to say that while these movements provide a wonderful look and feel due to the smooth effect with the sweep function, the movement itself is not going to win any contests for artistic execution.

My one piece of feedback is to make sure that all of the case backs are centered when the watches are assembled.  In fairness, I have seen plenty of watch case backs where the logos, engraving, etc., are not centered either.  But having said that, when you go to that much trouble with the design and engraving / decoration of the case back, it detracts a wee bit from the overall feeling when it is not centered.  And in fairness, this might be a one-off.

The HFT20 comes with a solid, thick and tactile leather strap.  The strap is quite comfortable, and adds a nice touch to the watch.  It is paired with a very well executed stainless steel buckle -

The buckle has a nice engraving, an added little touch that truly adds to the overall feel of the watch, and the crown is another nice flourish -

Overall, this has been a very enjoyable watch to wear.  Hemel has cracked the code of making a more affordable chronograph that does not look cheap and tinny.  This one is solid, tactile, and performs exceedingly well.  And it looks very, very good.

Priced at  $449.99, this is a great watch at a great price.

Here are the pertinents, straight from Hemel -

Reference HF Series                                                                                                                  
• Movement: VK64 mecaquartz. Quartz caliber incorporates gear architecture for smooth second hand sweep.

• Case: 316L Stainless Steel, brushed

• Case Width: 42 mm

• Lug Width: 20 mm

• Lug to Lug: 49 mm

• Caseback: Screwdown, engraved

• Dial: Matte black w/Superluminova C3

• Front Crystal: Flat sapphire

• Water Resistance: 100 meters

• Crown: Signed, push / pull                                                                                                        
• Bezels: 60 Minute bezel, ceramic / GMT bezel, stainless steel

• Straps: Vintage cognac leather, two piece with signed buckle and steel rivets. Now shipping with an additional strap, the NDC (while supplies last).
And one last little nice bit, Hemel is directing a portion of the proceeds to charitable organizations:

Indicate at checkout which non-profit organization you'd like a 5% portion of your purchase proceeds to go to: Toys For Tots, Wounded Warriors or the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

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