At the start of the year, we brought you word of the new Hemel Sea Dart (you can see that here). I was intrigued by the watch, for it being a relatively compact 300m diver that was paired to a jubilee bracelet. Since that first article, we’ve been spending time with a loaner, and are ready to share our thoughts.
As I mentioned in the original article, the Hemel Sea Dart takes me back to all of the great dive watches I was seeing from small, independent brands when I first started writing here. In person, the watch impresses as well. For being “only” a 39mm watch, the dial still feels plenty large and is quite legible. Though the bezel is a tad larger than the case, it doesn’t overwhelm the case. It feels like it was made a touch bigger just to make it easier to manipulate, and thoughtfully kept the silver tone so it feels more like an extension of the case. That it sits flush with where the sapphire bezel meets it certainly helps as well.
When I first started reviewing these divers, I had gotten used to giant chunks of steel on my wrist. Seems that when you were hitting 300m WR (as the Hemel Sea Dart has) you’d get something that was 14 or 15mm thick. Here, we’ve got a VERY wearable 11.5mm thickness – which includes the height from the domed crystal. In other words, this is the slim diver many folks are no doubt looking for, in terms of dimension.
I also want to call out the bracelet on the Hemel Sea Dart. At first glance, it has the look of a jubilee (with its small, polished end center links) but it’s not quite that. I’m sure there’s a name for this style, but these center links are more squared off and “machined” feeling, but given an upscale look with the polishing. In my mind, I think of it as a more mechanical take on the jubilee bracelet, and it gives just enough of a dose of different to make the design stand out for me.
Now, on to the dial of the Hemel Sea Dart. The printing of the dial certainly calls to mind something a bit more oriented for the air, rather than a diver, but it still works here. Of course the smaller printing above 6 o’clock is all diver. What I was just not clicking with was the sunburst dial. It’s a simpler flat blank that comes in a variety of colors, and allows you to focus on the timekeeping. In my book, that’s a good thing, and it’s done well here. In a way that I can’t quite put my finger on, though, I was just underwhelmed by the dial itself. It’s not that it’s bad, far from it. It just kept the watch from being a home run in my book.
Going back to those indie dive watch roots, the Hemel Sea Dart features the favorite Miyota 9039 movement that gets the job done with a reasonable expectation of accuracy, while still keeping prices manageable for us. In terms of the case and bracelet design, and the overall look, the $499.99 pricetag feels just right for this watch. If you pick one up, you’ll have a watch that will be ready for the beach and lake, while still looking just at home when you’ve got to be a bit less casual. With 20mm lugs here, as well, it should prove to be a good one for swapping in straps to change up the look. You can pick up one of your own- in seven dial options – direct from hemelwatches.com
Details from Hemel
- Movement: Miyota 9039 (automatic & manual wind, hacking second hand, 28,800 bph, 24 jewels, 42 hour power reserve, steel retainer)
- Case: 316L stainless steel, brushed w/polished accents, drilled lugs
- Case Width: 39 mm
- Case Thickness: 11.5 mm (w/domed crystal)
- Lug Width: 20 mm
- Lug to Lug: 45 mm
- Caseback: Screw down
- Dial: sunburst w/Superluminova C3
- Crystal: Domed sapphire w/AR coating
- Water Resistance: 300 meters
- Crown: Signed, screw down
- Bezel: 120 click rotating, Superluminova C3 seated pip
- Bracelet: 316L stainless steel, solid links, signed, double safety clasp, solid & curved end links.
- All watches come with a two year limited warranty.
The Hemel Sea Dart pays tribute to its namesake, the only super sonic jet that was able to take off from and land on to bodies of water. It reinvents the skin diver aesthetic and takes cues from vintage cockpit dials. Modern sensibilities abound with the unique design language of Hemel Founder and principal designer, Marvin Menke. Slimmer dimensions compliment the unique colors chosen by members of The League of Microbrands.