Hemel Stratus

I've reviewed a few iterations of the Hemel HF Series, all of which were chronographs. I have enjoyed them all. Today, I have the Stratus, the first HF three-hander. While the Stratus may have dropped a couple of functions, it gives up none of the collection's appeal or value. 

Hemel Stratus HF6 quartz and HF7 automatic
I've liked the HF Series case from day one. Fashioned in brushed stainless steel, it is 42mm wide, 49mm long, and 13mm from the engraved case back to the flat, AR-coated, sapphire crystal. These proportions create a stout, tool watch wrist presence in a surprisingly compact space. Gently curved, tightly tapered lugs seem to shrink it even more. As such, it wears particularly well on my 6.75" wrist.

Hemel Stratus HF wrist shot

A pilot's watch needs a generous crown (the better to grip with those flight gloves, amirite?), and the Stratus delivers with a fluted and signed diamond-shaped crown - a lovely unit that has long been one of my favorite features on these watches. It is a push-pull unit that is sealed for 100m water resistance - a welcome touch as many pilot's watches tend to go light in this department. I'll always opt for a little extra protection. You never know when you might have to go all Capitan Sully and ditch your bird in the drink. Or maybe just fall into a swimming pool. Whichever.

Hemel Stratus HF case back

Given that the Stratus is a three-hander, its dial is considerably simpler than those of the chronographs, but it is no less a military design. In classic aviator style, four big Arabic numerals dominate the view, balanced by the fat hash marks of the index. The handset is the same as before, long, lume-filled, and capped off by Hemel's signature orange second hand. Like previous HFs, the Stratus comes with a choice of movements. This time, it's a smooth, 1/4 second sweeping Seiko VH31 quartz or the even smoother, 28.8k bph, Miyota 9039 automatic. The only distinction between the two models is labeling on the dial: "Automatic" or "Electronic," which just sounds way cooler than "Quartz."


Hemel Stratus HF6 quartz and HF7 automatic

Bezel action is excellent, as usual, moving smartly through its 120-click rotation. The insert is glossy black ceramic and appears to be identical to that on the HF Brabant. C3 SuperLuminova brings the hands, markings, and bezel index to life at night. It looks almost perfect - I say almost, because like every other HF, the triangle is just orange paint, so it looks cool in the daylight and then disappears at night. 

Hemel Stratus HF lume

The Stratus comes on the same thick, leather, 20mm riveted strap as earlier HF Series watches. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Its Cognac color exhibits a lovely pull-up effect, and it secures with a smart signed, square buckle. If this isn't your style, Hemel offers ballistic nylon and Marine Nationale straps as accessories. If you use code NDC at checkout, you can score a free strap too. 

Hemel Stratus HF strap

The Hemel Stratus is a fine addition to an already immensely satisfying line of watches. The quartz sells for $449.99, the automatic for $549.99, and a portion of the profits on each watch will go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation. For more information or to buy your own, see HemelWatches.com. ⬩

Hemel Stratus HF6 quartz and HF7 automatic



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