The New GMT Watch
At the end of the day, we are all attracted to certain iconic watches like the Rolex GMT Master 2, Explorer 1, and the Omega Speedmaster because they epitomized the zeitgeist of the post-WWII era of exploration, adventure, and self realization. What I came to realize is that the watches I like the most—and the ones produced by younger brands—found their own ways to create a GMT Master 2 or a Speedmaster. When I look at the Maen Hudson GMT, I see their interpretation of the GMT Master 2. It looks different and familiar at the same time and it gives me the same yearning for adventure and travel that those wearing a Rolex must feel.
And this is not degrading what Maen has accomplished, quite the contrary. I truly believe Maen should be applauded for having found their own recipe for making this kind of watch. Many brands have tried before but few have succeeded. And it is the brand’s capacity for generating these beautiful emotions of travel and excitement that explains its success. Think of it as seeing a movie about the Amazon forest instead of being in the Amazon forest. There’s nothing better than the real deal, and what many brands do is to give us a poorly executed interpretation of that experience.
But wearing a Maen is akin to doing the trip myself. Not in the 1960s Kodachrome way, but through the lens of a 8K camera. It’s modern, it’s well executed, and the soundtrack that surrounds the moving picture is mesmerizing. So let’s take a closer look at the Maen Hudson GMT.
The first time I held the Hudson GMT in my hands I thought I was mistaking it for its sibling, the Hudson Mark IV. This is due to the fact that Maen uses the same case which is impressive for two reasons. First, adding a GMT complication means having a thicker movement and, in theory, a much thicker case. Second, because it indicates the brand is fully invested in using its wonderful case design to develop different tool watches. So what you have is a case measuring 38mm in diameter, 46mm lug-to-lug, 12.05mm in thickness, and a 20mm lug width. These dimensions are exactly the same as the diver and both models, therefore, boasts 300 meters of water resistance.
Inside the slender case beats the SOPROD C-125 GMT movement, a Swiss made caliber beating at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and coming with 25 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. The C-125 is a GMT movement that watch experts have come to describe as being a “caller GMT.” Although I do not care for this definition, it indicates that it is the GMT hand that jumps, not the local hour hand like it is the case on a GMT Master 2. Can I be honest for a second here? I prefer a caller GMT as it is more practical to use than a “true” GMT (typing this word shoots chills down my spine) which takes more time to set. (I do travel with “caller GMTs’’ and they make more sense to me.)
The entire case of the Hudson GMT is made of stainless steel and comes with superb finish. Polished chamfers on the case sides and coined bezel insert and stain finish everywhere else. The bracelet is made of solid links and end links, and it has a 5-part construction making it both elegant and comfortable. The bracelet is fully brushed with the same satin finish as the case, and only the thinner parts of the links are polished. The alternation of polished and brushed surfaces create delicate light plays.
Maen has a knack for making elegant, subdued, and legible dials. They always find the perfect balance between all of these elements and make them work in reasonably-sized cases. And one element that stands out to me is the proportions between the dial opening, the bezel, and the case. Every one of these elements look like they are in their natural place. There is a certain harmony that emanates from the Hudson GMT and in order to create this harmony, Maen has had to go through many trials and errors to get to that point. Personally, I find that they improved upon the design of the Hudson Mark IV by making the markers painted instead of applied as it better matches the flatness of the Skyscraper handset.
The grainy matte black dial serves the purpose of absorbing light so that reading time is easier. The off-white color of the hour markers and bezel markings create a strong contrast with the dial, however it is not overpowering. It would have been if they would have chosen white colored markers instead. So there is a definite feeling of unity between the dial and hands, in that their colors and shapes match. The hands have a general rectangular shape and the width of their tips matches that of the painted hour markers. They align perfectly and the hour hand is distinct enough from the minute hand to make reading time a breeze.
However, Maen chose a white date disc instead of an off-white one, the latter would have made it harder to read the date. The GMT hand is rather discreet as it has a thin body and a rather small arrow-shaped head. The contour of the tip is red, a color that we also see on the dial underneath the pinion: “Hudson” is written in red. Looking closer at the date window we see that it is framed by having beveled edges, a small detail that makes a huge visual difference. (I hate cut-out window apertures as they appear lazy.) Although Maen might not have had a choice*, I prefer date windows at the 6 o’clock position instead of 3.
*GMT watches that have the SOPROD C-125 caliber all have the date at 6.
Technically, the Hudson GMT can track three time zones at the same time as it is equipped with two 24-hour scales. A first one can be found on the bezel, the latter being of the same construction as the Mark IV, meaning 120 clicks and unidirectional. The second on the rehaut where we can also find the minute track. Although a 24-hour scale on a rehaut is generally not easy to read—which is the case here—it is nice to have it. I do like the fact that Maen kept the minute track on the rehaut as well integrating the two scales together and therefore keeping the dial clean and easy to read.
The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the matter is the fact that Maen will probably go bankrupt one day if it doesn’t increase its prices. This Swiss made GMT with exceptional finish and great dimensions will retail for $955 on pre-order including VAT. (Remove 20% from the total price if you live outside of the European Union.) I’ve been told that ta Swiss made GMT movement can cost upward of $400, so I really don’t understand how Maen can afford to put food on the table. What I do know is that the two men behind the brand, Jules and Sebastiaan, have made it a priority to create great watches that most of us can afford to buy.
This is admirable although risky. An upcoming profile story on Maen will tell you more about how the brand works and how they manage to keep prices low, but in the meantime I would urge you to think about how much watch you’ll get for less than $1,000. Although GMTs are popular now—thanks to Seiko having released the NH34 movement—it is rare to find a Swiss made GMT for less than $1,000. That is democratization of fine horology at its best, and while I applaud Maen for doing what they do, I do hope they will be around 10 years from now to continue making such amazing watches.
What is also at the heart of the matter is the fact that Maen was successful in creating a distinct visual identity. Not only did they did so, but they also managed to create variety and purpose within their core collection, the Hudson diver. What most independent brands fail to do is to create continuity within their various collections. It is common for brands to change the case design and dimensions from one collection to another. If brands are successful while doing this, then kudos to them. But history has proven that creating a base case design for all collections is what guarantees success.
Therefore, Maen can be put in the same category as brands such as Baltic, Lorier, and Serica. All of these brands have created unique visual languages that not only make them distinct from one another, but that also make it possible to offer variations of the same model. If Maen can create a GMT from a diver, they could create a chronograph and a perpetual calendar as well. Though, Maen is different from the aforementioned brands. It creates one case design that they can now use to make variations of the same watch. And at the same time, the brand manages to create a totally different design language for their other collections.
I wish I would have written the profile story on Maen before writing this review to help put the Hudson GMT within the context of the brand. I will link it at the end of this article once it has been published.
Maen is becoming iconic in its own way. I first got my hands on the GMT at the 2022 Wind Up Watch Fair in New York City, alongside their other models. I then spoke to several watches enthusiasts who discovered Maen for the first time at the fair—although they had heard of the brand before. Because, as we know, pictures don’t do watches full justice, and one has to experience a watch in the metal to really get a feel for how good it is. So, the many people I talked to echoed the sentiments I’ve shared in this article. Yes, I’m very much enthusiastic about Maen because I believe they are doing exceptional work.
Since I’ve already expressed how cheap the GMT is, I won’t say it again. Eventually, beyond all specs and dimensions, the GMT is a watch made by two guys passionate about horology. Two friends who have a common affinity for a particular type of watch design and who have learned to execute it well. Pre-orders for the Hudson GMT start December 7, 2022, directly on the Maen website.
Thanks for reading.