Nascent Maen Watches have recently made a strong argument for the “diving style” watch with their flagship Hudson Automatic, a heritage oriented sport watch with cues borrowed from some of history’s most iconic undersea designs. Available in 38 and 42mm versions, the Hudson Automatic makes a compelling case for a stylish and water friendly Swiss made automatic watch available for an affordable price. As a commercial diver and nerd for all things diving, I was immediately interested in spending some time with the Hudson.
In the world of sport watches, the dive watch reigns supreme. Combining durability, functionality as a time teller, and often utilitarian styling, diver’s watches make a hardy companion for daily life as well as a useful tool for the aquatically inclined. Before we dive into Maen’s Hudson, we’ll talk about where I see the watch in the diving watch space.
Conceptually, the diving watch as we know it exists on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum we have the utilitarian and inexpensive “ tool” watch sometimes used as a backup to the omnipresent diving computer. I’ll offer Seiko and their incredible sub $200 SKX series in this space (really, go buy one). We can and should also place Citizen’s Aqualand, Marathon and their SAR series, and so many Casio G-Shocks here as capable contributions to diving tool watches. These are watches purchased by divers to tell time underwater with no more than minimal attention paid to marketing, luxury, watch making as an art, etc…
At the other end of our spectrum, we have the diving style watch, an often more luxurious piece intended to appeal to well-to-do divers or simply those incredibly intelligent and charming bastards like myself who understand how cool diving can be. Here, (and I hear feathers ruffling) we can place Omega, Rolex, Blancpain, and so many other powerhouses of Swiss watchmaking.
While many of these higher end pieces are descended from unquestionably legitimate roots in the history of diving, and are as much or more capable of undersea exploits compared to their previously mentioned utilitarian counterparts, many cost as much or more than an excellent diving vacation or a couple of month’s salary for a commercial diver. Attention has been paid on pieces like these on endorsements, actual watch making, refinement, emotion, and elegance.
For better or worse, the expense of a Rolex Submariner or an Omega Seamaster makes watches like these less likely companions for actual in-water use and more likely companions for the on-trend wealthy. For at least two Dutchmen, there was a void. Where are the entry or mid level pieces approaching the diver concept from this more haute point of view? Enter Maen and their Swiss made Hudson Automatic.
Though likely perfectly capable underwater (and rated to a reasonable 100 meters, deeper than you will ever go), the Hudson is intended from inception as a diving style watch informed by the beautiful but essentially unobtainable Rolex 6538. However, thankfully, the Hudson does not fall directly into the homage category, an often dark and dangerous micro brand pitfall, but rather acts as a distinctive stand alone piece.
So, to get it out of the way, the Hudson probably isn’t a watch for commercial divers, Navy SEALs, or likely even scuba divers, not because it’s not a solid and likely perfectly stout watch, but because it wasn’t designed with these functional ideals in mind. Maen’s design sense is more upscale, and this elegance is prominent in the whole watch but especially in the dial.
Maen Hudson 38 Dial
Jet black, sandblasted, and with a seldom seen white chapter ring, the Maen Hudson dial is immediately appealing for how different it is compared to most of what else is out there. Rather than recreating the venerable Rolex Submariner yet again (everyone please stop doing this), Maen have combined a few more interesting ideas in the Hudson, including design influences from New York City’s architecture.
The aforementioned white chapter ring, which is printed with minute markers and still finer sub-second hash marks in black and an interesting arabic “60” in green at twelve, is something you don’t see everyday, and in this case it makes the dial “pop” more than it would otherwise. Polished steel, rimmed hour markers are rectangular and refreshingly not Submariner-like, and each feature a reasonable helping of C3 SuperLuminova. The lume is not very impressive, especially in the hands, but it’s adequate for the intended purpose of the watch.
Dial text is minimal, with “Maen” printed in white at twelve o’clock, “Automatic” in small white text at six, and “Hudson” in even smaller almost pink font just below. A simple black-on-white date wheel occupies the usual three o’clock position.
The most distinctive element of the Hudson is the set of hands, which are frankly a treat. The stepped, Art Deco inspired (New York, New York!) hour and minute hands have polished steel outer segments, with longer, lume-inlaid centers. The hour hand has an additional red segment, making the hands instantly distinguishable from each other. While simple, the sweep second hand compliments the rest of the dial with a lumed red ball. The lume leaves something to be desired, but Maen have recently released an updated though similar looking handset with better lume which will be featured across the Hudson series from here on out.
Together, the Hudson dial works really well, particularly with the the use of color. It’s legible, refined, and interesting at a glance, especially for the price. There are a few more shiny bits than I really like, but that’s just me. For those in need of something different color-wise, Maen also offer the Hudson either with a matching black chapter ring or in a deep navy color they call “Midnight Blue”.
I’m always happy to see a brand experimenting with color. While the Hudson is not quite as colorful or interesting as recent offerings from Farer, such as their Oxley GMT, Maen have at least stepped up with a new design in a market which mostly just recreates things again and again. For the brand’s first time out, the Hudson represents an impressive design, especially given the price.
Where the Hudson’s dial is a distinctive, original design, the case is more straightforward. While well executed for the price, with polished sides, a brushed top, and simple bevels, you feel the price point more prominently here. A 120-click coin edged bezel is graduated with a full minute track, and features a 6538-like, printed red triangle at twelve. Bezel feel is pretty positive and has no play. Being a thinner design, I’d guess the bezel would be difficult to operate with wet neoprene gloves on but then, as I’ve said, I doubt it’ll be much of an issue at the cafe or wherever.
A 7mm, screw down crown signed with a Maen “M”, and a well done and surprisingly sapphire exhibition caseback are standout features on an otherwise restrained case package.
For the vintage lovers out there for whom the Hudson was designed, the 38mm by 45mm Hudson 38 case is really well done, especially for the smaller-wristed out there. The watch sits in the right place and is light, especially if you wear and are accustomed to heavier divers. If you like the design and want a watch in a more modern size, an identically appointed 42mm Hudson is also available.
Completing the old school feel is a really well done for the price domed sapphire crystal with an antireflective coating on the inside. While not crazy tall, the crystal is domed enough to give the watch the right look, and it really does imitate old-timey acrylic crystals in the best way.
The biggest value proposition in the Hudson’s arsenal is the inclusion of the Swiss made ETA 2824-2 automatic movement in the Elaboré Grade version, a real standout for a watch costing less than $500US. While I’ll spare the reader yet another dissection of what is perhaps the most ubiquitous Swiss automatic sport watch movement, and one we at ABTW have covered many times, suffice to say the 25 jewel movement does everything you need it to in a capable and reliable manner.
Further, Maen have elected to have their ETA calibers adjusted in four positions to a 0/+ 14 sec/day accuracy before we ever even get our grubby mitts on them. Maen could have easily thrown in a totally stock movement, but their decision to include the Elaboré Grade version in the Hudson again demonstrates the more upscale space in which they imagine their collection.
Bracelet and Strap
Maen include two strap options with the Hudson, a tapered (20-18mm) stainless steel bracelet with a double-lock deployant clasp, and a more than capable black nato strap with a signed buckle.
Choices are always nice and these are both more than adequate ways to wear the watch. While the bracelet has split pins not unlike an inexpensive Seiko, they do their job and make the bracelet easy to adjust for the fit-finicky. There are adequate micro-adjustment positions on the clasp, and the oyster style bracelet is reasonably nice for the money and looks the part.
Maen’s nato is a nato, though the signed buckle and hardware do add a little something. I imagine the Maen would look really nice on a tapered, vintage leather strap or the like, though leather straps on divers can be offensive to some.
I’ve worn the Maen Hudson for some time, and while I was initially hesitant about the not-as-hardcore diver style watch concept, it really grew on me. It’s a good looking, somewhat more different looking than average, reasonably priced watch which makes a fine case for itself in a crowded price point. The value is there, with an Elaboré grade ETA movement, sapphire crystals front and back, multiple strap options as standard, and SuperLuminova on the dial and hands.
Given the multitude of Submariner-esque micro brand watches out there, companies are increasingly narrowing their focus design-wise, and the Maen Hudson is the product of that idea, carefully tailored for a more stylish and economically conscious fan of classic dive watch design. Maen’s Hudson Automatic is available in either 38 or 42mm sizes, with or without date, and in several color combinations for around $450. maenwatches.com.
>Model: Hudson 38 Automatic Date
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The fan of old timey diving watches with a limited budget.
>Best characteristic of watch: The use of Art Deco design elements in the dial and hands.
>Worst characteristic of watch: A lot of diving watch fans will take issue with the 100 meters of water resistance.