Just a few days ago, Hemel launched a new version of it’s HFT20 series, the Hemel HFT20 Night Ops. On the surface, it looks like the watch was just hit with a coat of paint (as compared to prior models), but there’s a bit more to it than that. And of course, if you’re not familiar with the watch to begin with, well, let’s get you acquainted.

Obviously, the Hemel HFT20 Night Ops is a chronograph. What is less obvious is what is tucked into the 42mm case, in terms of a movement. Here’s it’s the Seiko VK64. This is what is known as a “mecha-quartz” movement. I’ve experienced these in a few different watches, and they always surprise and delight. Basically, it’s a quartz movement (so you’ve got the reliability and accuracy), with a mechanical gear train put in place for the chronograph complication. In practical terms, that means you get a satisfying bit of tactile feedback when you’re working the pushers, unlike the mostly numb feeling you get from pushers on a fully quartz or digital watch. It’s a minor thing, but if you like playing with pushers, you’ll notice it.

The next thing to call out on the Hemel HFT20 Night Ops is the case. At 42mm is a reasonable size (verging on large), and the brand has shrunk the height of the case down to 13mm thick. Not the most svelte, but for a chronograph, it’s a good size. Coating the case is a black IP finish, which is of course mirrored with the matte black dial and thick leather strap. Legibility through the flat sapphire crystal should be no issues.

I also want to call out that you’ve got the choice of different bezels with the Hemel HFT20 Night Ops. You can opt for a standard timing bezel which comes in ceramic, or you can go for a second timezone bezel, which is in steel. Thematically, the timing bezel seems like a good fit for the watch, but I think the matte finish on the second time zone meshes better with the overall look of the watch. Whichever option you’d want to go for, you can pick one up, direct from Hemel, for $449.99. hemelwatches.com

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Hemel HFT20 Night Ops
  • Price: $449.99
  • Who’s it for? You like the looks of a classic aviation chronograph, and like the tactile feedback of a mechanical chronograph
  • Would I wear it? No – but that’s just because chronographs aren’t my thing
  • What I’d change: I wouldn’t mind seeing this look evolve into a simple three-hander plus date (and GMT), while shrinking the case a bit
  • The best thing about it:Seriously – if you’ve not played with a mocha-quartz movement, you need to experience one

Tech Specs from Hemel

  • Case
    • Diameter: 42mm
    • Material: 316L stainless steel
    • Finish: Black IP
    • Case back: Screw-down, Engraved
    • Lug width: 20mm
    • Lug to lug: 49mm
    • Crown: Signed, push / pull winding
  • Front crystal: flat sapphire
  • Water resistance: 100m
  • Bezel: 316L stainless steel or ceramic, rotating, 120 click, lumed
  • Movement:
    • Hybrid quartz w/geared module Seiko VK64
    • Sweeping second hand
    • 60 minute totalizer
    • Linked 24 hour time scale Battery
  • Strap: Leather
  • Buckle: steel, black, signed
  • Dial
    • Shape: flat
    • Color: matte black
    • Paint: Superluminova C3

ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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