Review: The AGT Automatic from MHD (Matthew Humphries Design)

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Racing inspired watches are nothing new. What is less common is a watch that has some real automotive pedigree, and the MHD AGT is exactly that. Matthew Humphries (the “MH” in MHD) started his design career while still at University, securing a placement at British car manufacturer Morgan. Not long thereafter,  he saw his first car design become a reality. He climbed the ranks quickly, and at 21, he was hired as Morgan’s new Head of Design.

He first turned his long-standing enthusiasm for watches into a business by marrying customized dials—often with a sporty and retro vibe—with Seiko cases and movements. It seemed inevitable that this would lead to the creation of something from a blank canvas. And with that, MHD was born. MHD launched with two quartz models, which we reviewed here.The AGT is the first mechanical watch from the brand. It’s produced in association with British Alcraft Motor Company (the Alcraft GT was also designed by Matthew Humphries). A high performance electric vehicle does seem rather an odd bedfellow for a young brand’s first mechanical watch, but the MHD AGT is a thoroughly successful take on an automotive design.

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$720

Review: The AGT Automatic from MHD (Matthew Humphries Design)

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Miyota 9015
Dial
Brushed steel
Lume
Super-LumiNova
Lens
Sapphire crystal
Strap
Calf leather
Water Resistance
50m
Dimensions
42mm x 50mm
Thickness
12.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$720

The case of the AGT is a construction of four separate pieces, which come together to form a polished and knurled mid-case sitting within an aggressive looking frame. In profile, the case frame invokes a sports car with an exoskeleton chassis. In combination with the bold amount of knurling, the mixture of brushing and polishing really accentuates that sports car feel of the design. Elements of luxury dashboard instruments and performance car architecture intermingle successfully without seeming overly contrived.

The case has plenty of presence with long arcs and heavy lugs, measuring 42 millimeters in diameter and 50 millimeters lug-to-lug. The height of 12.5 millimeters sounds slightly on the tall side, but that thickness is incorporated into the design by way of steps and layers differentiated by material or finish. The bezel alone features a knurled edge with a highly polished bevel leading to a brushed top surface, and the sapphire crystal also has a shallow lip as it rises slightly from the bezel. Make no mistake, there is a lot going on here.

Although largely successful, there are a couple of elements where I would have preferred a slight change. Viewing the watch face-on, all of those layers disappear and the case and lugs take a lot of real estate without much in the way of interruption or relief, which is a shame. That said, this stops being a problem as soon the viewing angle changes slightly. Additionally, the crown is recessed within the case cutaways and feels a little awkward to operate. Thankfully its usage is going to be fairly limited as it is a push/pull crown rather than screw-down, there is no date to set, and the Miyota automatic movement inside starts running effortlessly without any hand-winding.

The AGT’s dial is modern and striking with unique and structured hands sitting above a clean and sparse surface. The steel dial has prominent radial brushing with minimal clutter. Both small in sizing and weight, the only writing on the dial is MHD in the upper half, and GBD, signifying Great British Design, in the lower half. The hour indices are cut out from the sandwich dial to reveal the Super-LumiNova beneath. These markers are accompanied by a cut-out for the red-line marking that is a trademark of all MHD models to date and a nod back to the brand’s automotive roots.

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The hour, minute and seconds hands all follow one common structure with a slender black frame extending from the center stack, which in turn extends into a slimmer lumed section. All three hands differ only in their sizing, becoming both thinner and longer as you go up the stack, with the second hand also receiving a vibrant red coating at its tip. This is the only splash of color anywhere on the watch. Such slim hands offer great precision but aren’t ideal if instant and absolute legibility is a primary requirement. Low-light visibility also suffers with the larger lumed dial markers taking the initial focus rather than the hands.

The AGT is now also offered with a black dial which looks to have better immediate readability with the lumed area of the hands standing out against the dial.

Beating away inside the AGT is the widely used Japanese automatic caliber, the Miyota 9015. This is a popular choice in this segment of the market, having proven to be fairly robust and reliable, beating at 28,800 bph with hacking and hand-winding.

The movement isn’t anything special to look at save for some nice perlage, but it is visible through the sapphire exhibition case back here.

The supplied calf leather is of reasonable quality and is well matched to the polished areas of case, but I would be inclined to switch it out for something a little sportier. With 20-millimeter lugs there should be plenty of options. A rubber strap or a nylon mil-strap suit the aesthetics well, though the watch will obviously become even taller when paired with the latter.

As mentioned above, the watch has a lot of presence in terms of visual real estate. There is very little downward curve to the lugs, so it might not wear too well for those with smaller wrists. For reference, my wrist measures just under seven inches and I feel it works for me, but it’s right on the edge of my comfort zone. Despite the sheer amount of stainless steel that appears to be present, the watch is surprisingly light and comfortable on the wrist. The relatively small protrusion from the crown is a positive here.

The AGT shares a lot of the case outlines and aesthetics from its quartz predecessor, the SQ1, but it feels like every part has received the upgraded package. We’ve now got a mechanical movement; great finish and depth to the dial; unique and technical hands; and most notably an updated case that has been sculpted, cut away and embellished with a high level of detail. Tricking out a car in as many ways as possible is never going to yield something tasteful, but in the case of this watch I think MHD have got most things right.

It’s easy to find an automotive themed watch with another panda dial or tachymeter scale, but if you hunger for one with the credentials to back it up, then the AGT is well worth a look. MHD Watches

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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