Hoffman Racing 40


I have been known to indulge in an impulse purchase every now and then. The Hoffman Racing 40 was my latest. When this chronograph popped up on Kickstarter, I looked past the cringe-worthy, “reinventing the sports watch” pitch, and instead focused on its clean design, interesting color options, ceramic bezel, and tempting Super Early Bird prices. “Why not?” I thought and put my $169 down for a yellow dial, Seiko MechaQuartz model.

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow

As you might have guessed from its name, the watch has a 40mm wide stainless steel case, although the stats more salient to wearability might be its 48mm length and 12mm thickness, which place it right in the sweet spot on my 6.75” wrist. The case sides are polished and ever so slightly bowed. The crown, buttons, and bezel all follow suit. The crown is signed and screws down, although I have to wonder why as the Driver is only rated for 50m water resistance. Surely a push-pull would have sufficed. 

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz side view

The tops of the lugs are brushed and that simple feature is the most polarizing element on the watch. I generally love a combination of finishes but on this one, that brushing is rough. I mean, really rough. You could grate cheese on those things. A look back at the Hoffman’s Kickstarter page shows that this is not a mistake, but a deliberate design decision. That heavy texture was present right from the start. It is a sharp contrast against the otherwise smooth surfaces and certainly imparts a degree of character, but I would have preferred a smoother, more conventional finish. To me, it just looks raw.

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow

That quirk aside, the Racing 40 is a rather well-resolved design. The glossy black ceramic insert and engraved tachymetre scale go a long way to making it look more expensive than it is. A flat sapphire crystal rises high over the bezel. Normally, I’d have preferred it flush, but here I like the way that pronounced edge accentuates the crystal’s thickness.

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow

Of course, it was the dial that drew my attention in the first place. It is a two-layered affair with a yellow disk over a black base that shows at the minute index and subdials. It is a curious yellow, changing from golden mustard to a bright chrome depending on the light. I dig it with the black. Dial text is understated, printed in a sparse, modern sans-serif with generous tracking. 

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow

Polished and faceted hands show only a slight taper at their flat tips, lending a subtle streamlined touch. Their lumed channels accompany dots of lume that form the hour markers. I like the openness it affords, keeping your focus on the seconds and subdials. Where it fails, is in nighttime legibility. I don’t know what kind of luminous material they used but is pretty weak, losing its useful glow in no time flat. Even after zapping it with a UV light I struggled to snap my picture before it started fading.

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz lume

The case back is engraved with the Hoffman brand, the watch’s serial number, and other key facts, but it is otherwise fairly plain. Behind it lies a Seiko VK64 MechaQuartz movement. A darling of the microbrand world, the MechaQuartz marries a quartz timekeeper to a mechanical chronograph module. The result has a smooth 1/5th-second sweep, snap-back reset, and a mechanical click to its actuators. 

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz case back

If there is one thing on this watch that screams “lowest bidder” it is the strap. A 20mm black crocodile-embossed leather strap should be easy to get right, but this one is stiff, shiny, and it just looks cheap. I took advantage of its quick release spring pins to get it the heck off of there. I replaced it with this excellent Quilted Black Leather strap ($24 from Manchester Watch Works) and I couldn’t be happier. 

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow, Manchester Watch Works strap

So how did this impulse buy work out? Well, the lume is weak and I’m not crazy about the brushing but I can easily live with both. The strap was a loser but easily swapped for something that better complements the Racing 40’s positive aspects like its eye-catching face and tidy proportions. After sitting for a few weeks while I had review samples in my rotation, I have found myself grabbing it on a regular basis. All in all, I’ve come to really like this sporty little bumblebee and I suspect it will be in the collection a long time.

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow, wrist shot

You can still order a MechaQuartz Racing 40 from the Hoffman Crowdox site for $219. At that price, it is not quite the bargain it was on Kickstarter, but still pretty tempting. If you prefer a mechanical, they also offer a Seagull TY2901 model for an additional $199. For more information, visit HoffmanWatches.com. ⬩

Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow
Hoffman Driver 40 MechaQuartz yellow




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