MK II Hawkinge Review

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MK II is an American boutique brand focused on producing tool and military-inspired watches with designs honoring some of the greatest mil-spec timekeepers ever created. Among those watches are the Blackwater and Paradive, two takes on the Benrus divers worn by American special forces in Vietnam; the Sea Fighter, a modern recreation of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms; and most recently the Fulcrum, a robust 300m diver that conceptualizes the “American Milsub.”

Those who know the brand and its owner Bill Yao are keenly aware of the care and attention given to every single MK II watch. Mr. Yao has a reputation for being incredibly meticulous, with some of his watches first being assembled in Switzerland, then shipped to MK II’s workshop in Pennsylvania to be disassembled, QC’d, and assembled once more. He would tell you himself that his commitment to quality is often a double-edged sword—it’s great for someone buying a MK II watch, but it’s also the reason why entire lines are often out of stock for long stretches of time. Nevertheless, it’s why MK II boasts such a loyal following in watchdom, and even his detractors would agree that he puts out a damn fine watch.

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The Hawkinge is MK II’s latest release, and it’s the first in the brand’s burgeoning ready-to-wear collection. That is, the watch is entirely made in Japan (to Mr. Yao’s strict specification, of course), and then shipped back to MK II HQ ready to be sold (there is some in-house QC, but more on that later). As one might expect, this new line comes at a more accessible price point than the rest of MK II’s current catalogue, with the Hawkinge retailing for $595.

MKII_Hawkinge--62Before we get to the review, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, the Hawkinge is an homage to the Mk. 11, a watch produced by JLC and IWC for the British MoD (read our historical overview here). That alone may end all interest for some of you. Understandably, homage watches can be a sore point among collectors, one that is undoubtedly exacerbated by Canal Street fakes and low-quality reproductions seemingly made from parts out of a bin with little consideration. I too have struggled with my feelings on the matter, but I’ve come to the conclusion that thoughtfully executed homage watches—and MK II watches are certainly that—allow collectors of all means to enjoy certain styles of watches they may otherwise be unable to afford. That’s especially true of hard-to-find vintage military pieces like the Mk. 11, a watch whose design technically belongs to the MoD, and not to IWC of JLC who simply built the watches following military guidelines. Purists may scoff, but then again, these watches aren’t for them.

I should also note the Hawkinge pays homage to another watch from MK II’s own history—the QUAD10, which was MK II’s first branded watch. So in a way, the Hawkinge is also an homage to an homage. That’s sure to get someone’s blood boiling.

With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the watch itself.

$595

MK II Hawkinge Review

Case
316L stainless steel (brushed)
Movement
SII NE15 (Seiko 6r15)
Dial
Matte black
Lume
BGW9
Lens
Double domed sapphire (internal AR)
Strap
Leather or Nylon
Water Resistance
100m
Dimensions
37.8 x 48.5mm
Thickness
12.75mm
Lug Width
18mm
Crown
6 x 4mm screw down
Warranty
1 year
Price
$595

Case

The case of the Hawkinge comes in at 37.8mm wide (excluding the crown), 48.5mm from lug-to-lug, and a height of 12.75mm. On the numbers alone, one might conclude that the watch has overly long lugs and that it’s too thick relative to the diameter. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The case is ideally proportioned both off and on the wrist. The case back dips a bit into the wrist, negating some of the height, and the lugs feature a rather dramatic curve, which helps plant the watch securely against the wrist.

MKII_Hawkinge--20The case is 316L stainless steel with a fine brushed finish. This includes the case back, which features concentric brushing, and the head of the hearty 6x4mm crown, which is left unsigned. The crown screws down and is fitted with two gaskets to aid with water resistance, which is 10 ATMs (100 meters). The crown operation is incredibly smooth and its size allows for a comfortable grip. The case back features six notches along its perimeter, as well as some of the specs etched below each notch. The lugs are 18mm wide, which feels right and harmonious with the proportions of the case, and they’re drilled.

MKII_Hawkinge--25The movement is fitted within a Delrin holder. Though some might see this as a negative, Delrin is actually a very durable long-polymer thermoplastic with loads of industrial applications. In fact, Speedmasters fitted with 1861 movements feature brake parts made of Delrin. With the Hawkinge, the Delrin movement holder aids in the absorption of shocks, and it contributes to the overall lighter weight of the watch.

Being that this is an homage to the Mk. 11, I should note that the case has been upsized a bit, which to me feels like the right call. Despite the slight inflation, the watch still gives off the small-and-chunky vibe that the original is known to have. Aesthetically, the case is an amalgam of cues, with a profile closer to that of a JLC Mk. 11, and a case back more closely resembling that of an IWC. Overall, it’s really well executed.

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Dial

The dial is a nearly identical recreation of the later RAF-issued “Circle-T” variants. It’s matte black with white printed markings and serif-free Arabic numerals, except for the 12 o’clock position where there’s a triangle. There are markers to denote every minute, with large rectangles at 15, 30, 45, and 60, thin long lines at all other intervals of five, and shorter thin lines for the remaining minutes. The MK II logo is printed below the 12 o’clock marker, and a Circle Y (for Yao), a riff on the Circle T (which was used to denote tritium), is positioned right above six. There are currently two dial variants: date and no-date.

MKII_Hawkinge--15The handset borrows from some later Mk. 11 models as well as future iterations of the Mark series from IWC. The iconic squared-off hour hand and sword minute hand offer a great, understated look that is immediately legible; there’s no confusing the two, even at a glance. The second hand is a long needle with a small counterweight, and it’s painted white.

There’s an immediate clarity to the dial, largely thanks to the spartan military design, but one that is also aided by some of the finer details Mr. Yao incorporated into the piece. The hands are plated, polished, and finished with a slightly curved surface. Unlike hands that are completely flat, curved hands better pick up the light, which means they won’t “black out” the way flat hands do at certain angles when facing a dark surface. It’s a seemingly small detail, but one that packs quite a punch on the wrist and goes a long way toward readability.

MKII_Hawkinge--12Another detail aiding dial clarity is the double domed sapphire crystal, which means that both sides of the crystal are convex. It’s a costlier type of crystal to manufacture, but it’s also one with some very obvious benefits. Curving both sides of a crystal results in significantly less optical distortion of the dial, especially when the watch is viewed at more extreme angles. Double domed sapphire glass is more common among costlier mid-to-high range watches, so it’s a real treat to see it here.  Furthermore, the underside is coated with AR, resulting in a clearer view of the dial.

Nighttime visibility is another thing worth noting. Under low light conditions, the contrast dial and reflective hands are very easy to read. In the dark, the BGW9 Super LumiNova—which is present on the hour and minute hands, the four rectangular markers, and the triangle at 12—performs adequately. It’s no torch, but I’ve worn the watch to bed and have had no issue reading it in the middle of the night.

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Movement

At the heart of the watch is the SII NE15, otherwise known as Seiko’s 6r15 caliber. It’s a solid, Japanese-made movement that hacks, hand winds, and features a quick-set date at three. It’s also capable of impressive accuracy with some calibration, and it’s used in many of Seiko’s mid-range lines. The Seiko factory regulates the movement to three positions, but MK II goes the extra mile and tests the movement to six positions in-house. The results are included with the certificate of guarantee.

Straps and Wearability

As previously mentioned, the watch wears extremely well. It’s an incredibly discrete piece, and one that’s light, too (80 grams). The watch can be purchased with one of two straps: a leather two-piece, or a Maratac-branded nylon mil-strap. The leather strap is quite nice. It’s straight cut and thick, and it’s comfortable right out of the box. The leather is vegetable tanned and given the light tannage, it should age beautifully over time.

MK II Hawkinge on a 6.75inch wrist
MK II Hawkinge on a Phoenix strap
MK II Hawkinge on a worn&wound Model 2 Premium strap

Of course, the Hawkinge is ideally paired with a nylon mil-strap, and that’s primarily how I’ve worn the watch–on a grey/olive Phoenix-branded strap. I’ve also tried it on several of our new Model 2 Premium straps and cordovan single-pass straps. They’ve all worked great.

Packaging

The MK II Hawkinge is secured and delivered in a pelican-style hard case with an integrated handle and internal foam padding. There are three large cutouts that can be used to store watches, so this isn’t your typical throwaway packaging. There’s some utility here, and I appreciate MK II going above and beyond and providing their customers with something that’s actually practical. Beyond that, there are two extra sets of spring bars (one set is shoulderless), a spring bar tool, and a two-sheet certificate of guarantee with pertinent information about the watch and the aforementioned timing test results.MKII_Hawkinge--49

Conclusion

Before I wrap up my thoughts, I should first say that I am a huge fan of the Mk. 11. Aesthetically, it’s a perfect watch.  It’s a watch that, given the means, I would love to own. But the reality is I am unlikely to have one in my possession anytime soon, but to be perfectly frank, that’s okay, because the Hawkinge more than fills that void. MK II really nailed it with their latest, and from the proportions to the overall aesthetic, it’s a watch that does right by its historical counterpart.

MKII_Hawkinge--61But beyond the homage aspect, the Hawkinge is a great watch in its own right. It’s simple, legible, and it has all the right specs and hardware to ensure long-term wear. It’s seldom left my wrist since we got it in for review, and I think that’s saying something.

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Ilya is worn&wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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  • TheTRUTH

    Ordered mine 2 weeks ago when they were released. Just patiently waiting now…

  • chenpofu

    Great looking watch. I would get one if I don’t have the Seiko 4s15 SUS. Well, I might just get one anyway.

    • Huge fan of the 4s15 SUS! Throw up a pic if you can.

      -Ilya

      • chenpofu

        I have the silver dial version, which doesn’t have the same classic military watch look as the black dial one, but I like it a lot. Been wearing this on a Model 2 strap lately (great stuff). I have the original buckle, but it is 18 mm, so doesn’t work on the Model 2; would like to find a nice 18 mm straight cut leather strap, appreciate any suggestions you might have.

        • That looks great. Really love the SUS series. I generally prefer tapered straps so I’m not too knowledgeable on straight cut ones. Maybe consider going custom?

          -Ilya

    • dpf749

      The Seiko SUS second hand traverses the dial at 8 beats per sec which means a much smoother operation than the MKII. That is one thing you pay for in a premium watch. I am doubtful about paying the Hawkinge price only to watch the seconds hand skip forward at a slower beat rate, an obvious and ubiquitous reminder of sacrificing quality for economy.

  • Никита

    Purest military handsome watch. Mk II did great job on this.

  • W.B.

    Really great looking watch, but I’m not sure I buy the explanation for the Delrin movement holder. Still seems like a cost cutting measure. And it would have been great if they had designed this with a soft iron dial and anti-magnetic cage, in keeping with the historic watches it pays homage to. Timefactors’ Smiths PRS-29 military watch has these features and retails for about the same price.

  • ollywho

    I was ready to pull the trigger on this one when I first saw a pic on w&w’s Instagram, but I decided to hold off until this review was published. Now that the review’s out, ordering’s closed on the non-date version. Any idea if this is indefinite, or if not, when they might reopen ordering?

    • Hey ollywho:

      Bill informed us that the no-date is temporarily out of stock, but that he expects more before the end of summer.

      -Ilya

      • ollywho

        Thanks Ilya! Having reviewed the Stowa Flieger before, how would you compare the Hawkinge with it? I realize that the two watches are based on entirely different designs, but I was wondering how the two pilot-inspired watches compare in terms of quality and craftsmanship (as well as functionality), especially given the Hawkinge’s lower price point and Japanese manufacture, but also Bill Yao’s meticulous attention to detail.

        • It’s actually kind of tough to compare the two. Despite both being pilot’s watches, as you said they are quite different in both look and feel. The Hawkinge definitely feels more like a tool watch; the Stowa is a bit dressier. The other thing to consider is water resistance. At the end of the day, I would say go with whatever speaks more to you aesthetically. Hope that helps.

          -Ilya

  • Mark Busam

    Thanks for the thorough review. Is the Phoenix strap the Admiralty Grey and what color Model 2 strap is that in the photos? Thank you.

    • Hey Mark:

      I’m not entirely sure since I acquired the strap in a trade, but based on some photos I found online, I think it may be Admiralty Grey #2. The Model 2 Premium strap is Color 8. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/28NsHsH

      -Ilya

  • Dave Ryan

    I’ll be buying one at the end of summer. I own one mkii already and am glad to see one that will be ready made, So I can work it around my budget rather than my budget around it.

    One question though. I’ve never seen a “blackwater” model from mkii. That name belongs to MMT. Were you referring to the MMT watch, or did you mean the graywater by mkii which shares a case with the paradive?

    • Hey Dave:

      The Blackwater MMT was, as I understand it, the full name of the watch manufactured by MK II.

      -Ilya

      • Dave Ryan

        Right. my bad. Thank’s. great review!

  • When it comes to military styled watches, there is so many to choose from that I find this Hawkinge not a particularly interesting offer. It seems to be overpriced by a good $200 IMO. It looks like MK II wanted to go a short way and collect some easy money. Maybe I’m wrong though.

  • Alastair

    It looks like a well made, nicely finished watch. And the price for what you get is very reasonable.

    But I just can’t understand why someone who can craft such a well made watch would stick to homage designs?

  • Cary

    Ilya, thanks for the detailed review (more wrist shots please!). Dial aside, how do you compare the Hawkinge to the fit and finish of the Sinn 556i?

    • Hi Cary:

      You are very welcome.

      Interesting question. Let me begin with a little disclaimer–it’s hard to compare the two in terms of fit and finish given the price difference, which in this price bracket often means a large difference in quality. I know you’re not asking about price, but it’s nearly impossible to avoid when comparing these two. That said, I think the 556i is a bit more refined than the Hawkinge, but that’s more a statement on just how nice the 556i is for a German-made watch just north of 1k.

      Hope that helped!

      -Ilya

  • Choppers

    i would say the MKII has the nicer proportions, but the Speedbird has the 80000 A/m with anti-magnetic movement cover, which makes it still a true pilot’s watch. The top grade of ETA2824 movement plus the addition of a very nice bracelet make it a very good deal indeed. However i would still probably go for the MKII. The Speedbird logo isn’t a nice addition in my opinion and the 8 on the dial looks as if it’s floating to the centre in comparison to the other numerials.