Hamtun Neon

British microbrand Hamtun is returning to Kickstarter with the Neon, a stylish tool watch accented in bold colors and powered by a Swiss automatic movement. Twelve variants are on the way, including the PVD black and yellow “Dark Sun” I am reviewing today. Although this particular unit is a prototype, it more than adequately demonstrates the watch’s appeal.

Despite its name, the Neon is in no way garish. Its 42mm stainless steel case wears a brushed or matte PVD black finish, and the dials are black except for the black-on-white, full-lume version. Hamtun reserved the bright colors for SuperLuminova hands and markers, and for a matching anodized aluminum ring sandwiched between the barrel and the bezel. The result is an intriguing pop of color as opposed to an arresting splash.


Dial layout is clean and straightforward, consisting of stylized numbers at 3, 6, and 9, the Hamtun logo at 12, and batons for the remainder, all printed in a healthy dose of vibrant SuperLuminova. The minute and hour hands are lumed but their dark frames almost vanish against the black dial. Look closely and you can appreciate their thin stems and rounded ends. All hands are long enough to brush their markers. The chapter index is printed in white, as is the decorative circle just below the markers. I love the way “Hamtun” and “Automatic” are incorporated into this ring along with white dots for the hours and how the dark, needle-tipped second hand has just a single spot of lume that that floats directly over it.

Six screws affix the bezel to the case and their exposed, recessed heads underscore the Neon’s sporting nature. It is made of black ceramic so it has more presence against the brushed case than the black case. In fact, at a glance, you would be hard pressed to tell it apart from the PVD coating. It almost seems a shame that the different material is not more apparent, but while I generally favor polished ceramic’s deep color and high gloss, it would look out of place on this watch. Finish aside, the ceramic bezel has the advantage of being nearly scratchproof, do it will maintain the Neon’s good looks for years to come.


I found the watch appeared smaller than its 42mm width might suggest. The stealthy bezel and 51mm length help in this regard, but the layered structure of the case goes even farther. The rounded edge of the bezel, the contrasting color ring beneath it, and the way the case tucks inward to meet the caseback all help to break up the profile, while the crisp edges on the lugs draw your eye to their arc making the 13mm height look even slimmer, which is a very good thing on my 6.5” wrist.


A signed and deeply fluted crown screws down to nestle deep between the crown guards. The case back fastens with six screws, mirroring the bezel (rest assured, “British” will be spelled correctly on the final). Water resistance is 100m, which is more than adequate for most adventures. The watch wears two sapphire crystals, both of which are triple AR coated on the inside. Through the rear one, you can see the STP 1-11 automatic movement and custom rotor. This 26 jewel Swiss movement is based on the ETA 2824 design. As such it shares that movement’s smooth 28.8k bph vibration rate, hacking and hand winding capabilities, and 44-hour power reserve. Unlike many budget-priced mechanicals, this one is nicely finished.


The Neon comes on a 22mm bracelet with solid, fitted ends. The links are secured with screw pins. Sizing was no problem, even on my smallish 6.5” wrist. I liked the ratcheting clasp with its raised Hamtun logo, but I could live without its sharp corners. They don’t contact your skin but would wreak havoc on a tabletop or armchair. This is a problem I have encountered with ratcheting clasps from other microbrands as well. I know the folks at Hamtun plan to narrow the gap between the clasp and the bracelet. I hope that they will address those corners while they are at it.


If you would prefer a strap, Hamtun will offer one that is custom made for them by Di-Modell of Germany. It is aviator style, lightly padded and flaring over the lugs with a flap below the pin buckle. The matte black leather has a pronounced grain similar to buffalo hide and two rows of stitching in black and yellow to match the dial. As you would imagine, it was impeccably made. It will be available as an extra cost option.


The Hamtun Neon looks like a winner. It has a distinctive look, great use of color, and quality materials. I enjoyed the Dark Sun prototype, but the full lume Dark Night looks pretty tasty too. Early Bird pre-orders will be around £260 (about $370 USD). That’s a nice price for a watch with these features and a Swiss automatic movement. To keep informed of launch dates and other information, visit hamtun.co. ⬩


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