Introducing the Hemel HFT20 Collection—Now Available for Pre-Order at a Special Price

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Hemel Watches first came onto the scene in early 2016 with the field watch-inspired HM series launched on Kickstarter. The four-watch collection utilized the same case with different dial and hand combinations to capture several field watch styles, pulling from some obvious historical references in the design. Hemel is back with another military-inspired collection—the HFT20 chronograph series—this time borrowing from Type 20/21 watches produced around the ‘50s for the French military by brands like Dodane and Breguet.

The HFT20 is a two-register chronograph with a clean and highly-legible dial, a rotating bezel available in two distinct variants, and it comes with one of two Seiko power plants: an automatic NE88 caliber, or a VK64 Meca-Quartz. The two models are distinguished primarily by their bezels, with the HF1 featuring a ceramic insert with a diver’s scale, and the HF2 fitted with a milled stainless steel bezel with a 12-hour index for tracking an additional time zone. Both will be offered with either movement.

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Beyond that, both models are fundamentally similar. They share a brushed stainless steel case measuring 42mm wide by 49mm lug-to-lug. A large diamond crown is positioned at three, and it’s flanked by two pushers with deep-cut treads for some added tactility. A sapphire crystal on top and a solid screw-down case-back (adorned with the designation and specs) sandwich the mid-case.

 

Logo and treads.
The pushers give this a real tool-watch vibe.

Aesthetically, the HFT20 series is a largely faithful representation of the historical source material. The matte black dial features registers at three and nine o’clock and bold Arabic numerals at each hour except where the sub-dials are located. The hour and minute hands are simple swords, done in a brushed-metal finish, and they’re filled with C3 Super-LumiNova for nighttime legibility. A splash of red on the central chronograph hand and on the bezel at 12 (for both models) make these feel a bit more contemporary.

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As I noted above, the HFT20 series will be available with two movement options. One is the VK64 Meca-Quartz movement. Due to the specifications and layout of this caliber, these watches will feature a 24-hour register at three and a 60-minute counter at nine. The text “CHRONOGRAPH” will appear above six. To learn more about these hybrids from Seiko, read Chronography 8: Meca-Quartz—Is It Really the Poor Relation?

The Meca-Quartz option will cost about half of what the mechanical version does, giving those with tighter wallets (or even those with a preference for quartz) an alternative.

The other option is the mechanical NE88 caliber with the sub-dial at three displaying the active seconds and the register at nine running a 30-minute chronograph counter. The NE88 is a column-wheel (rather than a cam and lever) chronograph that uses Seiko’s triple-tipped hammer for reset and features a vertical clutch. It’s a 34-jeweled movement that hacks and hand-winds and it boasts a power reserve of 45 hours with a frequency of 28,800 bph. Watches with this movement will feature the text “AUTOMATIC” above six on the dial. To learn more about the NE88 and its history, read Chronography 12: Seiko’s Modern Mechanical Chronographs.

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The final production model will remedy some of the finer inconsistencies, like the askew luminous pip visible here on the stainless steel bezel.

If you are a fan of military or pilot watches, the HFT20 series should be right up your alley. Hemel has captured the look of these classic designs and placed it inside an affordable package. These watches can be pre-ordered directly from Hemel’s website starting today at 40% off retail, so the NE88 version, which retails for $999.99, will be $599.99 at pre-order; and the Meca-Quartz version, which retails for $449, will be $269.40. Both are outstanding deals, especially so for the NE88-powered version.

Furthermore, a portion of the proceeds from each purchase will go to one of three charities as directed by the buyer: Toys for Tots, Wounded Warriors and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.


To purchase, visit Hemel Watches.

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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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