Hands-On with the Hemel 24 Field Watch–an Affordable Take on a Military Classic

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There is a good chance that you may have seen something of Hemel Watches come across your social media stream well before today. Prior to the start of their Kickstarter campaign–which wrapped earlier this year–the brand had begun with a strong social media push. Hashtagged posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook helped get their first watch out in front of eyes before pledges even began. Based on historic field watch designs, the first Hemel Military (HM) series was successfully funded in the spring of 2016 and is now shipping to campaign backers.

Introducing the Hemel 24/HM1 field watch.

The four watches across the HM line share the same core specs. The case is 316L stainless steel and comes in either a polished or matte bead blasted finish, the former offering a dressier look and the latter giving it more of an appropriately tool-watch vibe. The case is 40mm with a height of 13mm and a lug-to-lug distance of 48mm, so it’s democratic in its size. The prominent bezel means that the watch actually appears smaller than its given 40mm size, wearing more like a 38/39mm watch.

The Hemel 24/HM1 is a great alternative to some of Hamilton’s lower priced field watches.

The case design borrows heavily from the A-11 watch standard from the World War II era. From the top down, the bezel features a coin-edge design which is pulled from the aforementioned historical watch. It’s not quite as pronounced as what one would find on vintage examples, but it still stands out enough for  effect. On the whole, the case of the HM series feels well-proportioned.

The case back is screwed in and there’s a display window (sapphire crystal) showing off the Miyota 9015 automatic movement held in place by a brass retaining ring. The crown screws in, too, contributing to the 10ATM/100-meter water resistance of the case.  It’s by no means a diver, but a little water won’t hurt it either. A domed sapphire crystal rounds off the main case elements.

The 9015–Miyota’s proven workhorse–visible through sapphire glass.

The dials and hands offer the major differences between models. The four dial types break down into the Hemel 24/HM1 pictured here, which is a design based on the A-17 field watch dial; the Hemel Track/HM2 with has  A-11-style railroad dial; the Hemel Arrowhead/HM3 featuring even-numbered Arabic numerals and arrowhead markers; and the Hemel Spear/HM4 that pulls loosely from the WWW/Dirty Dozen standard from the Second World War. The Hemel 24 features a primary 12-hour track, and an inner hours track specifying military time in PM hours, 13-24. The handset on this variation also comes from the A-17 specification. The dial is extremely legible and the lume (C3 Super-LumiNova) is excellent; both the hands and dial charge easily, and the effect is long-lasting. The seconds hand is orange and provides a subtle pop of color.

All four share the same limited dial printing: “HEMEL” below 12 o’clock and “AUTOMATIC” right above 6 o’clock. The positioning of the text feels a little imbalanced as the Hemel logo is closer to the top of the PM hours track,  while the automatic marking sits closer to the center of the dial. It’s certainly a minor gripe, and one that likely wouldn’t bother most. Oh, and speaking of things that bother, note the lack of a date complication! It was a good call on Hemel’s part.

On the wrist, the Hemel 24/HM1 wears smaller than its dimensions might suggest. Featured here on a green nylon mil-strap.

Accompanying the watch is a black, two piece nylon strap with an orange keeper (to match the color of the second hand) and rounded ends. The buckle hardware offers a familiar military look, which is further emphasized by the metal grommets reinforcing the holes. The strap is of a sturdy weave and feels durable and strong, yet it’s not too stiff. It’s immediately comfortable on the wrist and compliments the watch nicely. The thick lugs on the HM series are 20mm to provide plenty of other strap options. For my money, I love the way it looks on a leather mil-strap.

All in all, Hemel Watches has a good first collection under their belt. Military style watches remain popular and the four current HM pieces offer a reasonable number of options to cater to different tastes. The watches are available for purchase now from Hemel for $399.99 with free shipping in the United States. And for those interested in what Hemel’s doing, they’ve teased that a military-inspired chronograph isn’t too far out. Stay tuned.

Images from this post:
Residing in North Idaho, James has been wearing a watch for over 35 years. With growth of the internet in the late 90s watches as an interest turned into an obsession. Since that time he has been a watch forum moderator, watch reviewer, contributor to Nerdist, and operates Watches in Movies in his spare time.
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  • Ralph Aichinger

    I wish one of the companies producing these field watches would make a 33mm version. Call it a ladies version if you want.

  • bcarbs

    Or get a Hamilton Khaki Field auto. Better movement, better finishing, almost identical dial, and the same price…

    • What he said. And the fact that you get a watch from a brand that actually produced military watches.

    • dpf749

      I did get a Hamilton Khaki Field auto and it was a mistake. Push-pull crown, and only 50m rated water-resistant. The crystal fogged up the first time I washed my hands with it on. Luckily I was able to return it. I would try this Hemel in a second if they offered a steel bracelet to match.

  • cword

    I backed the Kickstarter–overall, a good watch that feels solid. I especially like the domed crystal and screw down crown. However, in person, it does feel a little chunky and inelegant.

    I think at a lower price point, it would present a really good alternative, but right now at full price I’d look at other options. Also of note, the lume on the hands of the track version is not terribly strong. It might be on the others, but on mine I found it rather weak.

  • Никита

    I liked it at first, but now I feel like that the case is too chunky so the dial and hands get lost shadowed by its massiveness. Seiko SARG007 Alpinist is both cheaper and more refined for my taste: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/569a1a66b568abea072001900e596aa0c6e8b65e240ca25050add950f1553ba9.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bccf04b309b7e5685331cb83c38ec89e7fd5970f53dfcb298450cac66b130f1.jpg

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