Maen Hudson MKIII 38 Review - We Need More Dive Watches Like This!
I wonder if we’ll be in for a Déjà vu today? Last time I reviewed a watch in this price range, the brand cut me off and never spoke to me again. Yeah, that Sternglas Kanton (review to that watch here) had the Swiss-made label on it and cost a pretty penny, but was (in my eyes) a £300 watch marked up to over £700 for no measurable reason. As a result, that one was made obsolete by a far more affordable option in their lineup.
Therefore, I was simultaneously captivated and hesitant when a different micro-brand called Maen got in touch via email. On the surface, the proposition was quite similar. A premium-priced mechanical watch, with a Swiss-made stamp on the dial; from a brand with some obscure European connections. The brand is Swedish, the founders are Dutch and the watches are named after American places. Pretty confusing, right? This brand even began through Kickstarter. A platform where many dubious watch brands have also been birthed.
Nevertheless, the watch itself looked very promising. An attractive and well-specced Swiss-made automatic diver, that came in at just 38mm; making it too tempting to ignore. So, I did some quick research on the brand and from what I can gather, they don’t appear to be out to steal your cash and then run for the hills, which is refreshing.
In fact, the feedback on Maen was great, so I accepted their invitation to review one of their watches. I’ve been trying it out for the last couple of weeks but how does it perform for around £375? Is most of the retail price a result of the Swiss-made label? Or is this actually a viable option for those looking for a smaller diver?
The watch arrived in some slick packaging, which tightly squeezes everything in without much junk. It’s pleasant enough to leave a good impression and protect the watch, without being a resource hog.
With my callipers, this Hudson Mark III measured in at exactly 38mm wide, with a depth of 12.5mm (including the domed crystal) and a modest 45.5mm lug to lug size. After having had so many larger dive watches in the studio recently, it’s sweet having something that fits me very nicely. Here’s the watch on my slim 15.5cm wrist and I think it looks fantastic. The relatively slim case allows for good weight distribution around the whole wrist and the watch doesn’t slide about, as is often the case with larger, more top-heavy dive watches.
Out of the box, first impressions were excellent. When you’re spending a fair chunk of change on a watch, you expect the watch to feel premium and that’s certainly the case here. The level of fit and finish is the highest I’ve seen since the £1000 Ginault Ocean Rover; which in itself wasn’t far from a Rolex in terms of raw build quality. I don’t think this stainless steel Maen is quite on that level, but for around £400, it’s surprisingly close.
The flanks of the watch have a true high-polish mirror finish, that while a fingerprint magnet, look very slick indeed. Sandwiching the slim chamfer is a brushed upper, which is very finely done and integrates seamlessly with the finishing on the bracelet. The most impressive part is how sharp the transitions between each of these sections are. When you put it side by side with a more affordable alternative from my recent dive watch roundup, it’s immediately apparent that the Maen is a tier above.
This Hudson also has a very secure bezel action, with good alignment and zero back-play, whilst the crown is easy to operate thanks to the highly grippy grooves. As you’d expect, the diver design boasts a high water-resistance of 200m, partly thanks to that screw-down crown. You also get a screwed exhibition case-back, which allows you to view the decorated movement within.
I’ve covered other watches with this STP1-11 Movement before. It’s essentially a direct clone of the ETA 2824-2 and, as such, is a very reliable companion to a watch in this price bracket. 28,800 beats per hour are the norm here, which makes the second hand noticeably smoother than cheaper movements operating at a lower beat rate. This unit is decorated to a good standard, with delicate ribbing forming the backdrop to the Maen branded rotor, along with perlage circular brushing across the surface of the support plates.
Overall, this creates a multi-textured look, near-holographic aesthetic that makes a statement when revealed under bright lights. This embellishment doesn’t add anything to the functionality of the watch, but it does look great; which is what you’d want when spending out on a wristwatch.
The only caveat here is that this movement has a ghost position, due to the lack of a date window on this particular model. Other variants do have a date window, though I like the cleaner lines of this one.
Watch Dial & Crystal
This particular pre-release version comes kitted out with a black sandblasted dial, the tone of which is somewhat colourised by the crystal above. This darker tone contrasts nicely with the white baton markers around the circumference, enhancing visibility.
Thankfully that’s the case, as the domed sapphire crystal naturally induces some reflections. The shape does enable some gorgeous vintage-looking distortion when viewed from steep angles and you’ll also notice some blue hues emanating from the anti-reflective coating, which neatly complements the dial beneath.
One of the more unusual aspects of this watch is the handset. Here, Maen has opted for hybrid baton-syringe hands, similar to those we’ve seen crop up on some other more expensive dive watches. I’m unsure who was first to introduce these, but they fit the bill and the central luminescent slice perfectly matches those on the markers. They’re also finished very nicely, with a glossy, faceted appearance and no notable imperfections. As a whole luminescence is reasonable, though not impressive. The C1 Superluminova does make the watch readable at night but it fades to a low level rather quickly.
The printed text is precise throughout, including that on the rehaut. Unlike some alternatives, I like the restrained approach here, with very little wording present, so as not to diminish the overall appearance. One of my favourite parts of the watch is the second hand, which houses a circular pop of lume above the narrow tip.
Something I’m more 50/50 on is the 20mm bracelet. Now, with its solid steel links and excellent finishing, this should be a no brainer. However, rather unexpectedly, I’ve found that this one has repeatedly pulled hairs on my arm. By no means is this a constant occurrence, but it’s happened often enough for me to bring it up in this review. I anticipate that the segmented central links have played a part in this, as they create more spaces for hairs to get caught in.
When the bracelet isn’t tugging, it wears very nicely on-wrist and the fully-articulating end links mean that various wrist sizes will be easily accommodated. There’s also a nicely cut clasp, with the same brushed finish and a couple of micro-adjustment holes, which should suffice, given the small size of the links.
On-wrist, I think it looks gorgeous and oozes class. It both looks and feels like it justifies its price-point; which I never thought I’d be saying about a brand originating from Kickstarter.
Of course, I have some ‘moans and niggles’ as Just One More Watch would say. This time there are a couple of minor alignment errors. Firstly, the M logo on the crown seems to be sitting just left of the centre. Additionally, the 12-o'clock marker doesn’t appear to be perfectly square with the 60 on the chapter ring. I think it’s also positioned a touch to the left, though that could be my deteriorating eyes playing up!
Either way, there’s nothing glaringly wrong with this unit and I’m happy to say it appears the Swiss-Made label hasn’t been thrown on there in a poor attempt to justify the cost of the watch. Personally, I’ve never been fixated over Swiss-Made watches; there’s some debate over what that even constitutes any more. However, I feel confident in saying that this is a great watch outside of any designation.
BEN’S WATCH CLUB RATING (4/5):