Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Maen Hudson 38

I have often complained that when brands attempt to emulate retro designs, they almost invariably inflate them to a much larger size, thereby ruining the very proportions that made those older watches so appealing. I understand the reason why, after all, not many modern men are shopping for 36mm watches and watchmakers don't last long if they sell watches that people won't buy, but it still makes me a little sad. Surely, there must be a way to do both, right? The folks at Maen sure think so.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Maen Watches was founded by two Dutchmen with an affinity for New York City. Their model range has thus far consisted of attractive quartz dress watches named for places in The Big Apple. Their latest watch, the Hudson breaks that mold in that it is their first sports watch, and their first automatic. Most curiously for me, they are producing it in two sizes, a 42mm for the buyer with contemporary sensibilities and/or a larger wrist, and a 38mm model for those of us who are small wristed or merely vintage obsessed. This is the third big/little combination I have reviewed (see the 40/36mm Toc Watches Ulysses and the 43/38mm Spinnaker Cahill), so I am officially declaring that this is a trend and one of which I wholeheartedly approve. Maen sent me the Hudson 38 prototype to try for a week

The Hudson deftly evokes 1960's military watch design without looking like a clone of any watch in particular. The red triangle on the bezel may remind you of the Rolex 6538, and the white chapter ring brings a certain Breitling flair into the mix, but the Hudson definitely stands on its own. I love the way the center sections of its polished, faceted hands extend beyond their bodies. Polished, applied bar markers are elegant and straightforward. The bright blue details in the index sneak just the tiniest spark of additional color, creating yet another point of interest without competing with the red that is repeated in the tip of the hour and second hands. Currently, the Hudson's dial is matte black, but there are other dial colors in development. 

I don't have a lume shot because the glow on the prototype was frankly awful and not representative of what will be on the final. This watch had a thin application of C1 SuperLuminaova that faded almost as soon as I pulled out my camera. The finished product will have a healthy coat of C3 SuperLuminova and much sharper application. If this is done, nighttime visibility will be greatly improved, but a handful of issues will remain. The red accents are just plain old non-luminous paint, so the second hand and bezel will still be invisible in the dark, as will a portion of the hour hand. This may not be a deal killer, but it does limit the watch's utility.

On my wrist, the 38mm case was perfect. Measuring just 46mm long and 12mm thick from the caseback to the top of the crystal, it settled perfectly between my wrist bones and felt as if it were weightless (it actually weighs 135g). The case sides are polished right up through the bevel running along the upper edge. The top surface has circular brushing, providing a visual break before the polish continues on the 120-click coin edged bezel and 6mm signed crown (both of which functioned smoothly on the prototype). The double-domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal really brings the retro vibe home. True, a real 1960's watch would have had acrylic, but the Maen's tall box and trippy edge distortions maintain the look while also providing unparalleled scratch resistance. 

Flipping the watch over finds a screw down caseback and sapphire exhibition window offering a look at the Swiss made, 25 jewel ETA 2628-2 automatic inside. Water resistance is 100m with the glass back, and that is not bad at all, but if you can live without seeing the neatly finished but otherwise prosaic movement, you can ask for a solid case back to enjoy water resistance of up to 200m. 

The Hudson will come with a bracelet, a black nylon NATO, and a strap tool. I only sampled the bracelet and was quite satisfied. It tapers from 20mm fitted solid end links to a signed, 18mm push-button butterfly clasp. Usually, I prefer flip-locks to butterflies, but this one is vanishingly thin, fitting seamlessly into the links. My only criticism is that the link bushing is longitudinal while the case has circular brushing. I would have preferred they both be brushed in the same north-south direction. It is a minor issue, but it bugs me. Of course, the simple solution would be to fit a strap instead. The Hudson is rather sharp on the black NATO pictured on the site, and I have no doubt that a tapered leather two-piece would look the business too. 

All in all, the Maen Hudson 38 is a delightful watch with proper vintage proportions. The fact that buyers can choose from two sizes and levels of water resistance is icing on the cake. It launches on Kickstarter May 1, 2018, at 2:00 pm CEST (8:00 am US EST) with an early bird pre-order price of €349 (about $430 USD). You can sign up for launch information at MaenWatches.com. ⬩

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