MHD Sprint Automatic 2

Matthew Humphries, famed industrial designer and former Chief of Design at Morgan Motors, shot me an email and asked me to review the MHD Sprint Automatic 2. That's right, the guy responsible for such cars as the achingly beautiful Aero and the gleefully insane 3-Wheeler wanted The Bum to share his marginally educated opinion of his work. I'm not going to lie, as a lifelong gearhead, I was more than a little star-struck, but at the same time, it set a high bar. Many of the watches passing through my hands are made by enthusiasts who are new to product development and design, and are often incremental variations on traditional formulas. I hoped that Humphries's watch would be revolutionary, not merely evolutionary. I was not disappointed. Having worn the MHD SA2 for about a week straight now, I can report that it is a stunning, unconventional, and still eminently practical timepiece.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

There are three SA2 watches: the Steel Dial, the black case/black dial Launch Edition, and the Heritage White Dial I got to try for this review. Each is limited to 100 pieces. They are water resistant to 50m, have flat sapphire crystals front and rear, and house a Miyota 9039 movement. This 24 jewel, 28.8k bph automatic is essentially the beloved 9015 sans date. You can view it through the sapphire display case back — an interesting choice given the 9039's workmanlike finishes and fact that the SA2's fixed lugs mean you will be wearing it with pass-through straps that will cover it up.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

Two high-quality, 22mm NATO straps are included. They are smooth, comfortable seatbelt nylon with brushed keepers and a signed, brushed, and polished buckle. In the case of the Heritage, you will get one black and one tan.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

The MHD SA2 challenged many of this watch nerd's preconceived notions, starting with what I thought I expected of a watch case. The SA2's is fascinating. Made from 316L stainless steel, it measures 41mm wide, 47mm long, and 10mm thick — and that is where the conventional thinking stops. It is constructed of four parts, in three finishes. A polished, knurled barrel with a flat, brushed bezel is surrounded by a slim, oblong frame that pins the barrel at its center. If this were a solid tonneau case, the SA2 would look large and heavy, like a diver; instead, the open frame brackets the barrel, keeping your eye fixed on that 37.7mm component, visually shrinking the watch. I was immediately reminded of Colin Chapman's advice for racecar engineers, "add lightness."

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

Longtime readers know I am not a fan of open spaces on watches because I am a fairly hairy guy, and while I am quite comfortable with my furry self, I can't stand it when a see-through feature on a watch highlights that fact. Those wide-open areas behind the lugs should drive me crazy, but the NATO strap fills the space neatly, leaving no room for an unsightly arm-hair display.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

MHD calls the lug structure a chassis, and with the strap removed, you see exactly why. It is one solid piece, arched and tapering at either end to flat, fixed lugs. Tucked at each corner are soft undercuts that open up at the barrel. It takes little imagination to see the automotive influence in the extended space frame and vestigial fenders.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

The top surface is polished while the sides are matte-finished and recessed twice, once through the entire length, and then again to accentuate the polished Torx fasteners securing the barrel. Between these inner recesses are a serial number on the left and the brushed and knurled cylindrical crown on the right. I've not seen anything quite like it.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

Given the relatively long lugs and the fact that their arc ends just shy of the bottom of the case, I immediately assumed that I wouldn't be able to wear the watch comfortably. My wrist is on the small side for a man (6.75 "), and while I still wear large watches, I appreciate lugs that drop below the case, allowing the watch to wrap around for a more comfortable fit. I was not entirely wrong. The high lug position does make the watch wear large, and even though the seatbelt fabric began to conform to the watch after a day or two, NATOs are on the thick side by design. Someone with a 7" wrist or larger would likely have no problem, but I found it was all just a little too much.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

Of course, this just meant I needed to play around with different straps. I started with a tan 22mm single-piece leather pass-through, then moved on to a DaLuca Horween Shell cordovan in Color 8 for a beefier look. Both had less give than the soft nylon, but the lack of a second strap or long tail went far to keep things closer to my wrist. My favorite was a pale tan Crown & Buckle leather NATO that was soft and thin enough that it wrapped tightly over the lug bars and generated little extra thickness, even with the tail tucked back through the loops. So equipped, I wore the SA2 without the slightest issue.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

The SA2's dial is another aspect that delivered in a manner I hadn't quite expected. Everything about it displays a light touch, from the finely rendered chapter index, to the tiny hour markers cut into the surface, to the delicate semi-skeletonized hands. Even the MHD logo is lightweight and understated. It makes you take a second look, and that is when you notice the marvelous details.

MHD's Heritage White is a warm color that mellows to a cream color under certain light. It is a particularly good backdrop for the red accents in the index and second hand tip and the glints of light bouncing off of the exposed metal behind the marker cut-outs. Yes, this is a sandwich dial without any luminous material beneath it. If you had asked me if it was a good idea to make a watch with tiny markers and no lume, I would have laughed. I mean, we have brands putting C3 on crowns and rotors -- everybody wants more lume! And yet, this one works beautifully without it. The flash of sliver shows through is a thoroughly appealing accent, particularly in the "redline zone" slice from 8-12:00. Of course, if you really can't live without lume, you will find a dose of the stuff on the black Launch Edition.

MHD Sprint Automatic 2

The hands are comprised of two distinct shapes. A polished bracket forms the lower part of the shaft from which a narrower shaft extends; black on the minute and hour hands, red on the second hand. Indeed, as slender as that second hand may be, it still retains a consistent design. It is absolutely gorgeous and as delicate as the SA2's features may be, I found the face to be perfectly legible in all but the lowest light.

I knew the SA2 would be intriguing, hoped it would be appealing, and feared it would be impractical, but MHD did not let me down. It is brilliant, and is available from mhdwatches.com for £645 (about $797 US). If you can appreciate an edgy, thoughtful watch that stands apart from the crowd, I highly recommend MHD.⬩



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