Aside from this timepiece, a Sparrowhawk (also Sparrow Hawk) is two things (well probably more actually). What I am thinking of is the actual bird family, and the plane (which appropriately borrowed the name from the bird). As the name implies, the Sparrowhawk tends to be a smaller fellow. Though full of gumption, and still a predator being a hawk. One of the most interesting predatory birds out there, the Sparrowhawk is the powerful and agile underdog of the sharp clawed and taloned avian world. The plane is a curious item from the 1930s I believe. A biplane fighter – it was supposed to be very agile and light. The Sparrowhawk was used aboard carriers given how quickly it could get off the ground. Even though the fighter was small, it packed a powerful punch in numbers.
So how does the watch with the Sparrow Hawk name measure up? It too is an admirable little fighter with a punchy spirit. The watch is 40mm wide but sits a bit petitely on the wrist (at least in comparison to my mostly 44mm wide watches). Still, 40mm is nothing that most people would consider small. Rather it is a classy size for what is inherently a classic watch. It even has a modern form of a classic movement.
The watch has a good thickness to it and I like the finishing on the case. It feels tool-like and purposeful. Few other vintage style watches I am familiar with actually look like they could be pulled out of the past like this model. The case design is utilitarian with mostly brushed surfaces . You have to love the grain on the crown that makes it really easy to wind the manually wound movement. Certainly a plus there.
Techne took its time when thinking about the watch. It is in fact the first piece for the newer brand, who wanted to make an “honest homage” as I see it. I can see the designer sitting in the cockpit of a prop bi-plane and thinking about the gauges and what the pilot would have been used to reading. Then taking that look and putting into the design of the watch face. A matte black dial with lume coated numerals is the obvious result, but the little details make it easy to read and easy on the eyes. Further, the dial has a really good balance and layout. Techne really took a classic look that has barely been touched for decades and successfully played around with it.
Finishing on the case is acceptable for the price range. It is in steel with 50 meters of water resistance and a sapphire coated mineral crystal. Another crystal is affixed to the caseback for you to see the movement. The case is comfy on the wrist and I like all the strap options. I got a few of the straps to play with. I opted for the NATO strap because I like how it felt and fit with the case. Techne offers a range of colors for the NATO straps and also has a riveted brow leather strap (Pilot style), and a mesh metal bracelet which is pretty cool. The strap width is 20mm for the Sparrowhawk. You should know that Techne has large wrists in mind as the straps are typically very long.
One of the most interesting features of the watch is that is sort of metaphorically transforms. The dial and case are spartan and functional, and when you turn it over you are greeted with polished metal, blue screws, and an interesting decorated movement. You just don’t expect to see it there like that. The movement inside the watch is the Chinese made Sea-Gull 1901 manually wound 30 minute column wheel chronograph movement. It was a good choice for a mixture of function, price, and aesthetics. The 1901 movement might be Chinese made, but it isn’t of Chinese origin. Sea-Gull borrowed the design from an older Swiss movement called the Venus 175 – which was used in a lot of early mid 20th century chronograph watches. Like most manually wound chronograph movements, it looks very neat given all the small parts. Sort of like a choreographed soup of watch parts. It is also always fun to watch them in operation, especially when you operate the chronograph and see the column wheel.
The 1901 movement has some decoration on it, including forms of Geneva stripes, the blued screws and polished bridges. Very nice for the price, and I think most people who like the watch will be OK with the choice of movement. Back to the dial, I like that Techne placed different hands for the subsidiary seconds dial and the chronograph minutes dial.
Each Sparrow Hawk watch is individually numbered as well – adding to their collectibility. Wearing the watch for a while I found is very easy to live with and read. It could be a fun mechanical watch that you like to wear on special occasions or even as a daily wear. Especially good for fans of the aviator look, but don’t want a larger watch. From zero straight to the Sparrowhawk as their first model, Techne looks poised for some interesting pieces in the future as well. For now, the delightful little fighting Sparrowhawk watch goes for about $405 – $515 depending on the strap. A competitive price given the market and availability of watches like this.