By Nathan Flowers
These days, it feels like most watchmakers are following the “bigger is better” theme, with both divers and chronographs seeming to start at 42mm, and getting larger from there. With that in mind, newcomer Hoffman Watches is bucking the trend by introducing two 40mm models, which they have been kind enough to loan us for this review.
Their Racing 40 model is very handsome and feels solid, but not heavy. It has a 316L stainless case that is polished on the sides, and lugs that are machined satin on the front/back. The black leather strap measures 20mm wide, and has a machined stainless buckle. It fits well on my 7” wrist– not too large, and not too small. The Racing 40 echoes a Daytona or Speedmaster in both looks and proportions.
That said, it is handsome in its own right, and our test model stands out with a reverse panda dial in a lighter navy blue background with white under the sub-registers for the chronograph minutes and 24-hour time. Under an AR-coated sapphire crystal, hour indexes are noted by very precise dots of hand-applied lume that give off a greenish Seiko-like glow. This lume is also applied to the high-polished hour and minute hands.
The chronograph is easy to use, and sweeps at 5 beats per second, faster than a typical quartz second hand. The pushers feel nice and mechanical, and the chronograph instantly resets to zero when you hit the bottom pusher. It’s powered by a Seiko VK64 movement, so you know it’s going to be accurate (and it has been during my testing.) Though Hoffman also offers a mechanical chronograph movement (Seagull TY2901) for an additional $199.
Water resistance is a standard 50M, though since it’s sporting a leather strap with a lizard pattern, it wouldn’t be your first choice to take on your fishing boat. However, it would be right at home when going out for beers with jeans and a button-down, or maybe a blazer in the evening. It’s a bit too much of a tool watch for me to wear with a suit, though as a forum admin and IT nerd, my suit-wearing occasions are sadly lacking these days.
Let me get this out of the way now. I am a sucker for diving watches. I dive several times a year and always take 2-3 watches out with me if I’m going to be diving for more than a few days. I also religiously visit Styleforum’s Poor Man’s Watch Thread, and consequently, I own too many Seiko/Citizen divers, like the SKX and the SRP-reissues. The Hoffman Diver 40 is right up my alley.
Our review model is really striking, mainly because of how understated it is– black case riding a black NATO with a black bezel and a black dial. This thing is a Stealth Diver on your wrist. The hands and the indexes both are coated in a blue-tinted Super-LumiNova that glows well for hours after charging with light. The quartz movement is silent to my ear, and Hoffman also offers an automatic option for $99. Both offer 100M water resistance, which is more than enough for most diving.
The uni-directional bezel rotates smoothly, but with a solidity that you don’t regularly see on watches below $1000. Each click passes with a gentle yet firm snap. On the review model, the bezel is marked with black indexes, and arabic numerals at the 15, 30, and 45 minute spots. The zero index is the source of my only qualm with the Diver 40– it’s a glossy black diamond that doesn’t contain any lume, making it less likely to be seen well in deeper or murky water. This fits in with the darker style of our review model, so it’s definitely a stylistic choice. Hoffman also does have models with a white zero index, which I feel would be more suitable for diving. On land, the Diver 40 definitely wears well on the wrist, feeling less bulky and having a lower profile than your typical SKX/SRP. It draws the eye without being obnoxious.
Hoffman Watches’ Affiliate Thread shows many color combinations to choose from (I’m seriously considering a rose gold navy diver for myself), and with a shockingly low Kickstarter 24-hour super early bird pre-order price of $169 for the Hoffman Watches quartz models, you are getting a lot of watch for the money. Frankly, both of these watches feel like they’re worth much more than you’re paying for, and even at their ultimate retail price of $425, I think you’re getting a great piece of kit at a good price.
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