I’ve been waiting a long time to get my hands on this watch, so my hopes have been held in a rather heightened state of anticipation for what feels like ages. I mean let’s face it, when it comes to waiting for something, men and their watches are the equivalent to children and Christmas mornings! Well, a prototype of Hamtun Watches’ second offering is here on my wrist. It’s called the Neon and I am most definitely not let down. When I reviewed the Hamtun H1 I was very impressed. It’s a great value Seiko powered dive watch. The design was striking and unique. It wasn’t trying to homage anything, it was just it’s own thing. However there were areas for improvement from a spec and feel standpoint. With this offering of the Neon Hamtun has taken their game to the next level. Amazing build quality here.
As I mention the H1 being unique, the Neon is even more so! In fact it is so unique, I’m not sure that I’m able to quantify or classify exactly what it is yet, other than the fact that it’s a well made attractive, eye catching, comfortable wrist watch. It doesn’t fit into just one category and I really find myself loving that. I can tell you what it isn’t though. It’s not a diver, the ceramic bezel doesn’t rotate, there’s no decompression stop timing markers, and the water resistance is 100 meters. It’s not a pilot, there’s no telltale triangle at 12 o’clock, there’s no markings to assist with fuel burn timing or cross wind calculations. It’s no fashion piece, it’s far too nicely made and draws from more traditional shapes although it is strikingly good looking. It’s not a minimalist piece either, with its flashy anodized aluminum accent ring showing some bling and attitude from beneath the bezel and it’s decorated Swiss movement proudly displayed through the case back. It’s not quite a traditional field watch either, with no 24 hour time zone on the dial, although it’s definitely rugged enough with its DLC coating, domed sapphire crystal, screw down crown and ceramic bezel. So what is it? I dunno. It’s great! It’s a watch that’s manly, attractive, rugged and capable, maybe it’s starting a new sort of fusion design all on its own.
The more I wear this, the more I realize that it is a great all rounder. First and foremost it’s really legible. The dial is very well done. Ross has moved his logo to take the place of the 12 o’clock marker which is something I wish the H1 had done, it is a good looking logo and it really belongs there. 3, 6, and 9 are done in a clear and readable font, and the rest of the painted indices are all symmetrical and aligned with the chapter ring. The blue sword hands remind me of light sabres and very much look the part when that grade “A” superluminova sparks off after some sun and all of a sudden in the dark it’s lit up like a pissed off Jedi. The inner ring on the dial is interrupted by the brand name and the word automatic, but they are curved so as to not break the continuity in the slightest. Other than at 6 and 12 o’clock the ring has dotted markers at the other ten hour locations. The lollipop on the second hand and the tip of the hour hand line up with the inner ring and it’s dots with scientific precision really speaking to the attention to detail that went into the Neon. The minute hand is just long enough to kiss the indices on the chapter ring to allow for accuracy and legibility. The sweep is very smooth thanks to the Swiss made STP1-11 high beat automatic movement.
The lugs are long and slender making the watch feel large considering the case is modest by modern standards at 42mm, but with a lug to lug of just over 51mm it’s not dainty either. They curve downward nicely however and fit well on the wrist. I like the slight vintage feel the shape of them give off with the lack of a bevel on the top outer corners. And the fact that they are drilled is a huge help when removing the bracelet because the solid end links fit perfectly between the lugs with absolutely zero wiggle. The case back is a display style and done in a brushed stainless steel. This was done on purpose to ensure your wrist doesn’t have any reaction to having DLC coated metal against your skin. I’m not usually one that likes display case backs, however the decorated movement and the custom black rotor with the model name displayed on it is a nice touch and works well. The bracelet is a very impressive piece of kit. The H-link style looks great and is really comfortable, it’s also really easy to size because the links are threaded screws. The clasp is just brilliant. It’s a diver style fold over with a pinch button lock and a diver style ratcheted extension. The metal is thick and precise, none of the pressed metal rubbish that can instantly cheapen the feel of a watch. This feels forged and bullet proof, like you could run a train down it!
The other huge improvement that Ross made over the H1 is the lume. This piece glows hard! The watch also comes with a high quality black leather strap with matching blue stitching. I tried it out and it’s very comfortable and really well made however the bracelet is just so bloody good the strap only got a few minutes of wear before I swapped it back on.
So where would you wear this watch? Well here’s the great thing. There’s something like 12 different colour and finish combinations to choose from and they look anywhere from straight up badass, to quite refined, to funky and fun loving! This DLC and blue model has a rugged almost tactical feel, with a flare of fun. So it feels ready for adventure. I’d love to vacation in this Watch, enough water resistance to swim and snorkel with, the ceramic and DLC keeping scratches away, and the blue flares and accents tying in perfectly with that flowery Hawaiian Lei the pretty hostess just placed around your neck!
Here’s what I really appreciate. A lot of affordable watches you see nowadays are carbon copy cases commissioned from huge factories that anyone can order and have their own dial, hands and logo put on it. Homages of homages of homages…. and at the end of the day it’s a cutthroat battle to see who can get it done for the cheapest and sold to the lowest bidder. It’s a shame really. Those watches; and if you’ve ever owned one you’ll know what I mean, can seem like an attractive offer. The specs look great on paper, but once in your hand they feel disposable. If something went wrong with them you might as well just buy another because it cost you less than $200 bucks anyway. Not so with this one, the Neon is one you would get repaired and keep for the long run. Not that you’d have to worry about that for the first two years anyway because the warranty will cover you! Now I’m not sure why the name Neon was chosen for this Watch. Maybe simply because of the colour selection…. or maybe because it’s somewhat of a beacon in an ever cheapening sea of affordable micro brands dominated by divers and homages. It’s a bright glowing sign trumpeting its own uniqueness, quality and attention to detail. It’s it’s own thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a well made thing and it’s something you’re gonna like on your wrist.
The Kickstarter campaign goes live on January 30th and will be priced around £260GBP or roughly $370USD which is a staggeringly good value considering the quality of this Swiss powered timepiece. Hamtun’s last Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in something astonishing like 20minutes so I would advise signing up for email notifications on their Website so you are among the first to get your order in.