When considering Hexa’s dive watches, you immediately have to decide whether or not you are down with the crown being located between the 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock markers. It’s not a conventional placement, but it’s also not on the part of the watch that might dig into your hand — a bonus in my book. It’s a bold design decision and since I applaud messing with convention, count me in.
But if you are that sensitive in general, the Hexa probably isn’t for you. These watches definitely go better with the guy who drives a F150, not for the guy who carries a copy of “Pride and Prejudice” in his back pocket. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Now that the elephant in the room has been addressed, let’s get to total package. Hexa’s automatic K500 and its quartz sibling the Q500 are utilitarian tool divers that borrow visual cues from the Sinn U1. There are lots of sharp angles throughout the watches, which share the same case shape. If these watches were a human body, they would have a low body fat percentage.
Rated to 500 meters, Hexa offers a highly functional dive watch that will appeal to people who are ready to backpack the globe — or those who want to get the adventurer look. My outings with both watches involved playgrounds and swing sets instead of the Great Barrier Reef, and the Hexas served me well in the unspoken contest of dads who still want to look cool. And there would be no doubt the Hexas would be conversation pieces on a group dive.
Case: Brushed or Matte Steel
Movement: Seiko Instruments NE15 for $750 or Miyota quartz for $350
Dial: Black (automatic version), Grey (quartz version)
Lume: Lum-Tec C3
Lens: Sapphire (flat)
Strap: In-house Italian rubber and 5-link engineer style bracelet
Water Res.: 500M
Dimensions: 44 x 51mm
Thickness: 14.75 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6 x 6 mm
Warranty: 2 year
Price: $663 rubber only/$738 w/bracelet option added (automatic), $350/$424 (quartz)
Made of 316L surgical steel, the chunky case is unapologetically modern. It’s a piece of metal that only has curvature where it needs to. The 45 x 51mm case diameter fits modern sport watch standards and definitely takes up most of my 6.5-inch wrist.
The before-mentioned crown on the upper left hand side uses integrated crown guards that seamlessly match the lines of the rest of the case. Functionally, you can set your watch off the wrist pretty easily. However, the crown guards are sharp, so it doesn’t make for the most pleasant crown turning experience.
Hexa offers several bezel finish options including bead-blasted and PVD. It has an easy-grip design (5mm thick) with protruding squared edges. The look really pops and from a far away glance, it’s clear it’s a serious dive watch. The 60-click bezel rotates with strong positive clicks that inspires confidence. The numbers around the bezel sit on the outside of the bezel, making it easy to read elapsed times.
The K500 came with a black PVD bezel that contrast nicely with the case and matches the dial, which is accented with a red minute hand and 500m on the dial. As Michael Jordan proved, red and black go quite well together. As sharp as the K500 looks, the grey dialed Q500 combined with a bead-blasted case is a standout color combo that is dramatically subdued. It’s a particular hue of gray that gets noticed without any need to shout.
It’s a bit of a cop out to not state a preference for case finish style, but I truly enjoy both finishes equally. Also adding to the functionality of the watches, drilled lug holes make strap changing a pleasure.
Hexa lets us know that its dial designs employ “numerical letterforms based on interstate signage – designed to be absorbed at quick glance.” Well, it works — very well. In fact the sweeping seconds hand with a rectangular tip and straight edge hands and markers all add up to an easy-to-read dial. The Lum-Tec branded C3 Superluminova is no joke as a quick night run to my local bodega lit up my entire walk home on dark streets.
Everything about the dial is straightforward and designed with a commendable minimalism. The date window just below 4 o’clock is a smartly placed out of the way for maximum time telling ability.
I must gush about the grey dial on the Q500. The particular shade of grey Hexa chose is so classy and gives the entire piece an elegant air. As much as the interplay between the PVD and brushed surfaces works on the K500, the grey dialed quartz watch, which employs a vertical 500m signifier at 6 o’clock, is a scene stealer. It’s really different without trying too hard to stand out.
Both watches come equipped with a flat 3mm sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating that matches the functional esthetic. No complaints in this department.
The choice of the 6R15 movement is solid. Hand-windable and hacking, it’s been proven in the field and is known to be reliable as far as timekeeping. Fans applaud its stated 55-hour power reserve. The Miyota quartz had no issues and at the below $500 price point is a reasonable spec.
Hexa regulates its autos in 6 positions before shipping. That little bit of extra effort will certainly earn an allegiance for this small brand.
Straps and Wearability
First off, the bracelet is superb, a bit difficult to adjust, but once it’s on it wears well with on-the-fly adjustability through a solid ratcheting clasp. I happen to like the small five-link (engineer) style for its tough looks and heft. If you are a bracelet guy, get the bracelet.
That said a nice rubber such as the Italian straps Hexa provides fit the serious-business motif better. These are thick, durable vanilla-scented numbers, available in rich black, red, dark grey and olive green. While not everyone can pull-off a red rubber strap, the grey and green versions offered a subtle pop and contrasted well with the watch head.
Paired with rubber was also the most comfortable setup for me as I have smaller wrists with flat tops (for your reference). I never really noticed the weight of the watch on my wrist, but I would not give these watches any extra credit for comfort. Like most aspects of these 500s, the job gets done.
The black Pelican-style case is a highlight of purchasing from Hexa. I don’t get excited about how a watch is presented very often, but these watches are packaged to look like something Q would hand Bond. With dual latches that flip open and a bombproof construction, Hexa’s presentation lets its buyers feel like they are about to unleash a purpose-built piece of machinery.
Like the Cubism movement in art, Hexa is challenging conventional forms of representation of what a dive watch should look like. For those who value precision and modern-looking shapes, the Hexa is a match for your wrist. Both watches are defiantly distinct in appearance.
In the very-competitive $700 dive watch market, I must commend the company for not doing things the safe route. The Q500 for $350 may be priced on the higher end with a conventional quartz movement, especially with Citizen’s Eco-Drive (solar) quartz technology offerings that often are priced below the $200 range. For its unique design and dial color, the Hexa quartz makes a lot of sense for those want the look, but aren’t willing to pony up for the K500‘s asking price. Considering it keeps the water resistance and build quality of its mechanical sibling, $350 actually makes quite a bit of sense.
Behind the scenes I can picture these guys deciding to create a dive watch they would want to wear–not what they think people would want to wear. Both the K500 and Q500 represent that new breed of small batch productions that pack in a lot features at a fair price point. Now whether you can live with that crown position is a very personal choice.
by Li Wang