We took a look at Hemel back in 2017 when it was a young microbrand launching the military-inspired Track on Kickstarter. It was an intriguing field watch and well priced, and the brand has matured considerably since. Founder Marvin Menke first designed a watch as gifts to clients of his design consulting firm, but the positive reception and encouragement from friends led to the establishment of the brand. Following the HD1 (Hemel’s first diver), the Hemel HD2 Sea Dart was inspired by mid-century designs. It has a fresh style and the case is surprisingly capable for the price.
The 316L stainless steel case is very wearable at 39mm in diameter with a height of 11.5mm (lug-to-lug is 45mm), which is a bit smaller than the norm for a contemporary diver. That doesn’t make it any less capable than the competition – in fact, it has a water resistance rating of 300 metres. The 120-click rotating bezel has a detailed 30-minute scale when most stop at 15 minutes, and the triangular mark has Super-LumiNova C3. The signed crown screws down and the logo glows with lume (a cool attention to detail), while the screw-down case back is solid. The case is brushed with polished edges and a double-domed AR sapphire crystal protects the dial. The 20mm steel bracelet has a Jubilee vibe with its beads-of-rice centre and closes with a double safety folding clasp.
There are eight sunburst dial colours to choose from – Black Abyss, Navy Blue, Juniper (green), Gilt (black/gold), Full Lume (white), Robin’s Egg (turquoise), Salmon and Pineapple (yellow) – combining classic styling with modern palettes. Large Arabic numerals mark 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, while bold indices are placed every five minutes. The numerals and indices are coated in Super-LumiNova C3, as are the diamond-cut hour and minute hands and small aperture near the tip of the seconds hand. An exception is the white Full Lume dial, where the entire base dial glows and the numerals/indices are a contrasting black. Dial elements vary in colour depending on the dial colour, but all have the same layout.
Powering the Hemel HD2 Sea Dart is the Miyota 9039 automatic. It has 24 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 42-hour power reserve. It’s a classic three-hander with central hours, minutes and hacking seconds. This is a relatively new movement introduced in 2018 to be a no-date sibling of the 9015. Accuracy is rated at -10/+30 seconds per day.
Marvin is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York with 30 years of design experience, and that prowess is evident in the HD2 Sea Dart’s design and colour options. It’s named after the 1950s US Convair F2Y Sea Dart, the only supersonic jet to take off and land on water. All eight models retail for USD 499 and come with a two-year warranty. For more information and to make a purchase, please visit Hemel’s website.