Hemel has expanded their line of watches dramatically since I reviewed one a couple of years ago. They specialize in classic military themed men’s watches. Currently offered are the HM for Hemel Military, HF for Hemel Flight and HD for Hemel Diver. There is also a fourth line called Swiss HM. All of these watches are thoroughly modern in terms of materials, movements and technology. For this review I have the quartz 60 minute chronograph, known as the HFT20/VK64. The same watch (at a much higher price point) is also offered with the Seiko automatic NE88, for people that must have an automatic movement.
VK64 refers to the TMI/Seiko quartz movement that is gaining popularity for it’s automatic like chronograph operation. This allows the occasional wearer to not constantly having to reset the time after a day or two of the watch not being used. The movement, according to the manufacturer, has a 3 year battery life with +/- 20 seconds per month accuracy. The chronograph function operates with ⅕ of a second movements and completely looks and operates like an automatic movement. This particular movement does not have a date window, but it is offered on the VK64A version, which is not offered by Hemel.
What really caught my eye to this version of the HFT20 is it’s face and bezel. The watch is offered with this 60 minute bezel, a GMT bezel or even a plain bezel with just the orange triangle and a lume pip. The solid 120 click gear edge 60 minute bezel in this example is a great choice with perfect markings, ceramic insert, C3 lume and a neat orange triangle at 0 minutes. The matt black face is printed in white. The 10 Arabic numerals on the face, also in white, appear slightly raised. White subdial and white filled stainless steel pointed tipped stick hands along with the 60 minute bezel give the watch the perfect military tool look. The chronograph uses a orange with white filled arrow tipped second hand that matches the orange triangle on the bezel. Face advertising is limited to the Hemel name below 12 o’clock and the word “CHRONOGRAPH” in discrete lettering above 6 o’clock. The 3 o’clock subdial is a 24 hour counter and the 9 o’clock subdial counts minutes when the watch is used as a chronograph.
The slightly raised, flat, beveled edge sapphire crystal is A/R on the inside, and the watch is W/R rated for 100 meters. All lume on this watch is Superluminova C3. Combined with an all brushed stainless 316L 42mm case, 20 mm lug width and 49 mm lug to lug dimensions, and nicely downturned lugs, this watch wears well. The screw down engraved and blasted case back looks great and it includes all of the important details about the watch. The crown and pushers are very well done. The push pull crown tapers like a diamond with a beveled gear edge with engraved brushed and blasted face logo detailing. Both of the pushers have a neat waffle or grid pattern engraving on their faces, that really make the watch look like it means business.
My example has a very nice fully stitched six hole saddle color leather strap with a brushed stainless double signed clasp and two slotted head rivets on both strap pieces adjacent to the lugs. Currently the watch is being offered with an additional French NDC strap that is made out of the same kind of parachute cord used by the French military. Apparently this strap material was chosen by soldiers as the best strap material when French military watches were issued to soldiers without a strap. The watch comes with a 2 year limited warranty and 5% of the purchase price goes to one of three non-profit organizations at time of purchase. I have not reviewed a better watch of this type. I highly recommend checking out the Hemel HFT20/VK64 for your next classic military flight type chronograph. $449.99 ($999.99 for NE88 version) hemelwatches.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.