Dan Henry 1939 Chronograph Video Review

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It’s been just a few months since the Dan Henry watches made their debut, which we wrote about here, but they’ve already made quite a name for themselves in the affordable watch market. Vintage-inspired homages to classic and sometimes obscure references, they are remarkably finished, stylish and well-priced. Sure, the low cost comes at the expense of the movements and crystals, which are largely quartz save the 1970 diver and mineral crystal all around, but the overall look and sheer fun of the pieces are in a class of their own at the price.

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Following the initial launch of four models, each with two versions, DH has brought out a new pair of chronographs, the 1939s. These multi-scale chronographs are based on the highly technical models by the likes of Tissots, Omegas, Breitlings, Eberhards and many others that featured spiral tachymeters, telemeters and even pulsometer all on the same dials. Unlike with previous models, the two 1939s aren’t the same watch in different colors, rather they are two totally different takes on the concept with one in a gloss black dial, the other in a matte silver, both for $220.

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$220

Dan Henry 1939 Chronograph Video Review

Case
Steel
Movement
Miyota 6S21
Dial
Black or Silver
Lume
NA
Lens
Domed Mineral
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
50M
Dimensions
41 x 49mm
Thickness
13mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
Push-Pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$220

Before getting to the dials, the case of the 1939 is visually similar to that of the 1947 model that I took an in-depth look at here, coming in slightly larger at 41 x 49 x 13mm, and with a different crystal shape, which is domed rather than boxed. That said, the general form is still the same, and emphasizes the high quality machining and finishing that makes these watches much feel costlier than $220. Obviously, you then have wide-topped pushers at two and four, which supply a great surface for pushing, and a flat onion crown. Rather than the more dramatic stamped case backs found on the original models, the 39 features temperature, fuel consumption, pressure and speed conversions tables, emphasizing the history of the chronograph as a tool for pilots.

The black dial version is really something to behold, with an enamel-like sheen and highly detailed mix of colors, applied markers and over prints. It’s based closely on an Omega and like the dials of the 1947, just has a quality you don’t typically find at the price point. The use of color brilliantly divides up the information. The tachymeter is both on the outside edge of the dial and in the center of the dial, presented in a dark red that somehow stands out against the black surface. Then you have metallic gold print for the chronograph functions and telemeter. Playing off of this, the hour index is then a series of applied markers in gold, adding some depth to the dial. Lastly, you have the pulsations index printed on a wide ivory white layer that is clearly overprinted on the black, standing off the surface. This sudden break divides the dial between time and chronograph functions, and is simply very cool looking. The printing all around is crisp and clear, which is all the more impressive considering the small size of some of the type.

The silver dial is more straightforward, but equally impressive in its execution. As mentioned, its actually a totally different design, not just a different color. It’s a bit simpler, with just black print on the steely-silver dial, and only two scales, a telemeter on the outer edge and a spiral-tachymeter in the center. The primary index is then a bolder, more pilot/military style with large arabic numerals alternating with fence-post shaped markers. Perhaps the detail that impressed me the most on this version was the blued hands. At the price, it’s very unlikely these are heat-tempered blue, but they really look it. Often faux-heat blue hands are too blue, almost sapphire colored. Real heat-blue often appears black in some light, blue in others, which these hands get very close to.

On the wrist, the 1939s wear well. The 41mm size actually suits them, if larger than the originals. There is so much going on on the dials that the added size helps things breathe and be legible. That said, they do read on the large size as the dials are also quite wide. So they have a lot of wrist presence. Aesthetically, they are very successful as well, really getting across an early 20th century style in a modern package. Both are a pleasant mix of classic, formal styling, with the complexity and fun brought by the layers of scales. The black model in particular is quite striking on the wrist, and will definitely garner attention.

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In a world where a lot of fashion watch brands play in that $100 – $300 territory, a brand like Dan Henry can really shine. These are simply better than the competition, with more more intricate designs and higher-end executions. As said, that does come at the expense of the movement being quartz, but with what’s available these days, mechanical chronographs are priced so much higher than these that its excusable to make something fun and affordable. The 1939s are another great offering from the brand, adding that classic multi-scale chrono style to the line-up. So, if you’ve found yourself eyeing those old beatup watches from the 30’s on eBay and the like, but never wanted to pull the trigger because of the price or the condition they were in, the 1939’s will get you part of the way at a very reasonable price.


For more on or to purchase the 1939, visit Dan Henry Watch

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.

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  • Porter Hudson

    That black dial is KILLER!

  • Richard Baptist

    love these, I love vintage Chronos, but the problem is most are too small for me. To get something in the 40mm range that looks great would be very expensive. These are amazing watches for the price. I think I want one of each, because they’re two different watches and not different models of the same watch. I would be open to picking these up and trying to find a manual movement that would fit in the cases. Again the machine work on the case and the dials, crown and hands would be at home in a much more expensive watch. Great work Dan Henry!!

  • Julian

    Thanks to w&w Instagram pic I bought this watch. Good to finally see a review on it! It’s being shipped as we speak! 😉

  • Michael O’Donnell

    Thanks so much for showcasing watches like these. I love watches but am not about to drop five figures on a timepiece. I really appreciate being made aware of value-driven standouts like this brand.

    • DanW94

      Exactly what I was thinking. There’s recently been some really nice and affordable vintage inspired offerings from some other micro-brands too. Check out Undone and Straton (if you haven’t already). The black dial Dan Henry here just made my list.

  • Jason Mirabello

    This beauty and a quartz just don’t sit right with me…show have been an auto

    • Adam

      An automatic for a piece like this? Manual wound would have been more like it. Only a Seagull movement would have given near this price point. I could have seen that. But the quartz movement was modded in a convincing way.

  • Beefalope

    I bought the Dan Henry 1947, and the finishing for the price point is astonishing. In comparison to the finishing on that watch, far more expensive watches should be ashamed of themselves.

    I just ordered the black-dialed 1939 after seeing this review.

    Really good offerings from this brand, even though I’m generally not a fan of quartz. Yes, I’d love for these to be mechanical, but then of course the price point would be much higher.

    • egznyc

      Great to get these kinds of comments. There’s nothing like hearing from those who’ve made a purchase and can offer their unvarnished views.

      I, too, am generally not a fan of quartz but for the design and quality on display here, I might want to make an exception.

  • Sean Kim

    Mechanical (hand-wound) movement, sapphire glass, and 38mm case would have made this watch perfect for me.

  • Adam

    Despite the quartz movement, it should be noted the the sweep chrono seconds hand has a slightly jerky (not tru-beat) motion that nicely simulates that of a slow beat mechanical movement. And this is a flyback chronograph, although not described as such. My only criticisms are that the leather strap doesn’t equal the quality of the watch, and that, despite the 41mm size, I still have trouble deciphering the text of the scales. But perhaps that’s because my eyes are over 50!

    • Adam Dubin

      By the way, I just purchased the silver dial version as well and am pretty convinced this uses genuine blued steel (heat tempered) hands. I have a number of vintage watches with these and they are the same in their light-reflective properties. The legibility of this particular dial is easier on my eyes…I did decide to wear these on different (oil tan leather) straps, however, which are much more comfortable (and tapered).

  • Andrew Hughes

    Hats off to Dan Henry for NEW watches at this price point. These are very affordable so they are fun. We can wear them just for the joy of it… and not worry about breaking irreplaceable parts on a true vintage watch. However, I had a Dan Henry 1963 and returned it because I could not get over the bezel that clicked only on the 5s. That drove me nuts.

  • loydb

    Just got my black dial yesterday (discovered because of this article). I love it, and the price point is really nice. I’m going to replace the strap with something that looks a little more vintage, but I have no complaints about the level of finish on the watch. It was a pleasant change to click on a watch that I like and find out it wasn’t $10,000+.

  • Sydney Dong

    Nice watches inspired by vintage & I like the white dial very much! However, I think if using hand wind or automatic movement is much better. Anyway, nice watches at affordable price!

  • Bald Steve

    This guy makes killer watches. I just got the 1963 and couldn’t believe the quality when I opened the box. I’ve got it on a black and white nato to evoke that recent reverse panda “Speedy Tuesday” Omega Speedmaster vibe and it looks fantastic. One of the few watches I’ve ever bought and not thought, “Cool, but what’s next?” In other words, it’s a keeper. Really want to snag a black 1939 now.