Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Preview: Maen Skymaster Chronograph

Maen Watches is back. This time, the brand is releasing its first chronograph, the Skymaster. We reviewed the brand’s first automatic offering, the Maen Hudson 38 diver, early last year. That watch was well received, with over 700 backers bringing funding Kickstarter campaign to over 600% of its initial goal. The Skymaster is a natural progression for a brand that started out offering solid but generic quartz dress watches and now seeks to establish itself in the watch community with more robust, better designed timepieces. While this is just the basics, rest assured that we’ll have a full review soon after the campaign starts!

Presented as a tribute to the Dutch pioneering mentality and, more specifically, KLM’s first flight between Amsterdam and New York City, the Maen Skymaster continues the brands vintage-inspired trend that it started with the Hudson. The Skymaster comes in a 38mmx12.9mm case reminiscent of classic Heuer Carreras and features a 12-hour bezel for tracking a second time zone (appropriate given the inspiration). Furthering the vintage feel is a box-domed hesalite crystal. Curiously, they’ve decided to offer a sapphire crystal option, and while I understand wanting to cater to the widest audience possible, a part of me would prefer they had chosen one (the hesalite) and stuck with it. Completing the package, the watch will come on a leather strap, though a reengineered version of the Hudson’s bracelet (which is spectacular) will be available as an option, as well.

The watch is offered in a choice of five dials: Jet Black, Panda, Inverted Panda, Midnight Blue (blue panda), and Thunder Grey. While it may not be for everyone, I think the Thunder Grey is the clear winner, with its orange, black, and maroon accents. The layout is classic, with subdials for running seconds, 30-minute totalizer, and 12-hour totalizer. The chapter ring features simple second demarcations in lieu of a graduated scale of some sort. The handset is nothing extravagant, but appears to keep with the restrained design of the watch, and I’ve been assured that the lume issues that plagued the Hudson upon its initial release have been fully resolved—so no need worry about timing your midnight drag races.

Powering the Skymaster is the Swiss ETA 2894-2, a modular automatic chronograph movement based on the venerable 2892. The movement is visible through a sapphire caseback, which is nice if you want to ogle the mechanics instead of timing something. Maen is up front about the fact that they have removed the date display and this will leave a ghost position on the crown. While I never like a ghost position, it’s tolerable on a chronograph at this price point, and I appreciate the candor.

The Skymaster has all the makings of an able offering from a maturing brand, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t do as well as the Hudson. You can get yours right now via the Kickstarter campaign, starting at about $710 (639) for non-EU backers, a nice discount off the full retail will of around $1055 (949). Whether via Kickstarter or at full retail, you'll be paying an exceptionally fair price for what appears to be well-designed chronograph with a solid movement. Full specs are below, and don't forget to check back for our full review!

THICKNESS: Case 10.9mm (12.9mm including crystal)
LUG TO LUG: 46mm
CASEBACK: Screw down with sapphire glass
MATERIAL: 316L Surgical grade stainless steel
BEZEL: 60 click bi-directional stainless steel bezel with aluminium insert  
CRYSTAL: Box domed hesalite glass (with sapphire option)
LUME: Applied C1 Superluminova on hands and markers, Printed at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock
MOVEMENT: ETA 2894-2 Swiss Made Automatic Movement ( ElaborĂ© Grade )
POWER RESERVE: ~48 hours
STRAP: 20mm Arizona top grain black leather with white contrasting stitching (with bracelet option)

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