*Check out our full review of the Techne Sparrowhawk II here.
The Techné Sparrowhawk II is a watch that we’ve had on our radar for sometime, starting when the brand showed an early video of the watch’s unique meca-quartz movement in action. A movement that combines quartz based time with a mechanical chronograph. So when they were fully unveiled not too long ago, we had to jump on getting a review model, which Franck J. of Techné kindly provided. There are a few reasons why we were so enthusiastic about the watch that we think our readers will be enthusiastic about it too.
For one thing, the brand itself is fairly young, having been founded in 2009, and has a very different philosophy from other brands out there, a philosophy that worn&wound can certainly get behind. They believe in smart designs that blend function, history and strong aesthetics. They use movements and manufacturing processes that demonstrate a passion for innovation. They promote sustainability and good labor practices, and the watches are an exceedingly excellent value. At $269 (for the PVD model) this watch is a truly great deal.
The watch arrives in a Swiss Mail box containing a smaller box made of brown cardstock and fairly large sized manual. At a glance, the contents are very unassuming, but upon further inspection one sees the performance, so to speak, that the packaging is putting on. The utilitarian design of the box, being made of unbleached cardstock with minimal printing, feels like military spec packaging, as though the watch was issued and not purchased. The text reinforces this by stating the contents in the most objective way possible, listing the various ISO standards the watch meets and the company name. Inside the box is a more typical watchcase, perhaps a repurposed sunglasses case, with foam inside that can certainly be reused for travel or storage.
The manual that Techné has devised for their line is a stroke of genius. I don’t think I have ever seen a watch manual before that looked like someone had a lot of fun designing. It measures 8.5″ x 5.5″, but is relatively thin. Keeping with the military spec look, the manual has a simple one-color cover of black printed on unbleached cardstock, has very straightforward text and clearly calls itself a “field manual”. The pages of the manual are printed on an off-white, light-weight newsprint that has an antique feel to it, and gives everything a lo-fi quality. The first page of the booklet is a certificate of authenticity that is stamped and signed and also contains a warranty statement for the customer to sign. The manual itself features a rundown of the various models the brand has made, instructions on using and setting the various movements in their watches and then some awesome an useful information that is sort of esoteric, such as how to use the military time dial of the watch as a compass, how to use an analogue computer (slide-rule bezel), and even a world map of time zones. Getting a document like this with the watch was a great and unexpected bonus that really demonstrates Techné’s commitment to good design and helps build a connection to the watch beyond simply owning a cool object.
And as for the watch…Techné specializes in aviator styled watches, and the Sparrowhawk II stays true to this. The PVD model with khaki strap has a vintage quality to it that aesthetically puts it with the watches Blake discussed here, and looks great. The black case and khaki strap simply work perfectly together, and the strap works to emphasize the markings on the dial. The 41mm case is very well proportioned and feels sturdy, as do the screwdown crown and chrono-pushers. The watch is relatively light, because of the Seiko Meca-Quartz movement inside, but certainly does not feel cheap, and is very comfortable to wear for prolonged periods.
As for the movement, the Sparrowhawk II is one of, if not the only watch, currently powered by the Seiko VK63 Meca-Quartz Chronograph movement. This movement combines a mechanical chronograph, with 1/5th second accuracy and instant snap back, with a quartz watch. Being that mechanical chronographs typically start at around $1000 (for a Valjoux 7750 in particular), this movement provides a more affordable alternative. It is also a unique offering that makes the watch standout. I’ll be sure to give a more in depth explanation of the movement in the full review to follow.