Review: Mk II Cruxible-Hellion

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Going down the rabbit hole of vintage military watches can be a hefty undertaking. There are so many little variations on the specs — with subtle differences between similar models — and often times the same spec is produced by several different watch manufacturers. On top of picking out the model you want, finding a clean example can be an uphill battle. Even if you do your research and manage to find the best possible watch out there, it’s still a gamble putting something with old seals and gaskets and potentially leaky crystals through the wringer. That’s where Mk II comes in.

Some may dismiss their watches as “homages,” but I think that’s a bit unfair. While designing something that looks just like a watch that’s currently in production is clearly in homage territory, making a modern interpretation of a watch that’s no longer available is something different altogether. Today, we’re taking a look at Mk II’s Cruxible-Hellion — a Japanese-made field/aquatic watch inspired by the WWII-era Elgin Canteen watch. The original Canteen looked just like the A-11 field watch, but with a crazy obtrusive crown sealing system that looked just like the tethered, screw-down lid to a canteen (hence the name). Mk II’s Hellion doesn’t go as far as the unwieldy crown system, but the watch is clearly based on this obscure, hard-to-find piece of military history. 

Modern manufacturing methods and improved technology have allowed for a re-imagining of the watch by Mk II. The one we’re looking at today is a mirror-polished, 39mm watch with an oversized screw-down crown that’s good for 100 meters of water resistance. Do the thoroughly modern specs blended with a vintage design translate well to an every day watch? Let’s take a look and find out.

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$649

Review: Mk II Cruxible-Hellion

Case
Mirror-polished stainless steel
Movement
Automatic SII NE15
Dial
Matte black
Lume
BGW9
Lens
Double-dome sapphire crystal with AR coating inside
Strap
Haveston M-1944C canvas, mil-style nylon, or Mk II two piece rubber
Water Resistance
10ATM / 100m
Dimensions
39 x 48.5mm
Thickness
13.55mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$649

Case

Polished to a mirror-like shine, the 39mm stainless steel case of the Hellion is a departure from the brushed and blasted field watches of the past. It almost adds a pseudo-dressy style to the watch, bolstering its already versatile nature. While I wouldn’t go wearing a military-style watch with a tux, throwing the Hellion on a nice leather strap dresses it up considerably. The edges of the case are crisp and clean, giving it a premium feel. Since the entirety of the watch features the same polished finish, it is uniform throughout with no blemishes. I’m glad I snapped the photos for the review before wearing it, since the case does attract a fair amount of smudges and fingerprints.

The proportions of the case are well-balanced, with an emphasis on the top and bottom. In profile, you’ll notice a gently domed sapphire crystal with a generous sloping bezel that terminates at the mid-case. The mid-case is slim and curves downwards towards the tips of each lug. They have an interesting “scroll” shape that’s inspired by mid-century Patek Phillipe design, but looks right at home on the Mk II. Another great feature is the drilled lugs, which make quick work of changing out straps. Finally, the bottom of the case bubbles out a bit, which allows the watch head to sit comfortably on your wrist without sticking out too much. While the 13.55mm height of the case sounds like a lot on paper, it does wear significantly thinner in practice thanks the case back and domed sapphire making up a significant portion of the total width. Lug-to-lug, the Hellion measures in at 48.5mm, which is long for a watch housed in a 39mm case. The longer lug-to-lug is noticeable on the wrist, but I’ve found that during wear that the length is balanced out by the large screw-down crown.

The large crown is easy to manipulate with the watch on or off.

On the right side of the case, there’s no missing the generously-sized crown. While it’s not quite as over-the-top as the screw-down canteen style crown on the Elgin, it still has some serious presence. Throughout my time wearing the watch, I never found the crown to dig into my wrist or get in the way, something I was genuinely surprised by. The ample texture makes it easy to operate and I found myself appreciating its size when making adjustments to the time both on wrist and off.

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Dial and Hands

Clear,  concise, and easy to read, the Hellion’s dial is about as legible as they come, and nearly identical to the Elgin canteen watch on which it is based. A matte black dial with contrasting white printing makes telling the time an easy task. There are simple 1-12 numerals running around the dial, with a small dot of BGW9 lume for each towards the outside of the dial. At 12, there’s a double dot to help with orientation. One of my favorite parts about the dial is the small numbers at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 just around the outside of the chapter ring. It makes it a little easier to reference the minutes while adding some flair to an otherwise plain dial.

Logos have been blacked out, as per military spec.

Pointing to the time is a set of polished hands rendered in a modified syringe style. They’re a bit curvier and more delicate than a standard set of syringe hands and they look great on the watch. The seconds hand is white, really popping out from the matte black dial. You’ll find a small, leaf-shaped counterbalance on the end of the seconds hand that’s true to the original Elgin Canteen. Like the small dotted indices, the hours and minutes hand are treated with BGW9 lume that glows with a bright teal-green hue.

As per military spec, the logos on the watch are completely blacked out. Just under 12, there’s the Mk II logo printed in glossy black, balanced out by the water resistance rating at 6 rendered in the same style print. It’s a cool, stealthy look that keeps the watch looking anonymous and low-key on the wrist. You can really only see it at the right angle when the light reflects off the logos.

Movement

Inside the Hellion there is an automatic Seiko SII NE15 movement which is technically identical to Seiko’s 6R15 caliber, just made available to customers outside the Seiko ecosystem. Although it’s being guarded by a solid steel case back, the NE15 features Côtes de Genève on the rotor for some added decoration. There are some great features packed into this cost-effective, Japanese-made movement, like a quickset date, hacking seconds, and the ability to manually wind the watch. Mk II went the extra mile by timing the watch in three positions, ensuring its accuracy throughout all types of wear (and nightly storage).

Straps and Wearability

Stainless steel paired with a black and white dial pretty much gives you carte blanche to wear the Hellion on whatever strap you choose. Luckily, Mk II makes things a little bit easier for you to narrow your choices down with their three offerings. The most true-to-period option possible is the Haveston M-1944C olive canvas strap. Modeled after a military strap from 1940s, this single-pass canvas strap both looks and feels the part. There’s a floating strap keeper to keep the slack from flapping around and reinforced adjustment holes to ensure long-term durability. The strap is comfortable right out of the box and is sure to soften up even more with regular wear. High polish on the buckle and keepers pair well with the finish of the case.

In addition to the Haveston strap, there’s the option for a smooth and flexible two-piece rubber strap and an MoD-style black nylon strap. My preference leans towards the Haveston strap, as it really completes the vintage military look.

I personally prefer single-pass straps, as they help keep the watch as close to the wrist as possible, especially in the case of the Hellion. Since the lugs are on the longer side at 48.5mm on a 39mm case, having it wear closer to the wrist is more comfortable for me. My wrist measures in at 6.75” and the Hellion is well-balanced and comfortable to wear. The watch head weighs in at 78 grams, giving it some nice heft. The balanced shape and bubbled case back really do wonders for the balance and stance of the watch when on your wrist. It’s comfortable, low-profile, and effortless to wear all day long.

The Cruxible-Hellion is well balanced and can suit a variety of straps.
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Conclusion

My time with the Mk II Hellion was a bit like taking a look back in time. While it’s clear that the Hellion is a modern watch utilizing modern manufacturing, it really does look and wear like something straight out of military history. If you want the look and feel of a vintage military watch without the hassle and second-guessing its durability, then a Mk II might just be the watch for you. The solid construction, attention to detail, and handsome design stack up to a great watch that’s sure to stand up to whatever you can throw at it.

Since it’s so versatile, it makes picking up the Hellion as your daily watch a no-brainer. At $649, the Hellion has some competition (the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical and CWC W10 come to mind), but the excellent finishing and construction can speak for themselves. Considering a vintage A11 in questionable condition can run up to $350, having a brand new, water-tight watch with lume treated hands seems like a deal. Mk II

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.