Hudson Mark IV
The Elegant 300 Meters Dive Watch
Many moons ago, I contemplated buying a friend’s Oris Diver 65 that he was selling for a very good price. I liked many things about it—its dimensions, specifications, and design. I particularly liked the fact that it looked like the only watch anyone would want to wear. It looked versatile, elegant, and sporty. And although my friends was asking a good price for it, I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. (That and I wasn’t a big fan of the gilt accents on the hands and hour markers.) And although I am a die-hard explorer/adventure watch type of guy, once in a while I come across a diver that catches my attention.
Enter the Maen Hudson Mark IV.
I actually owned the black dial Mark III for a while which I sold and immediately regretted my decision. It was at the beginning of Mainspring and I had to sell several watches to make ends meet. But enough about me and my sorrow. Let’s then talk about what makes the Hudson Mark IV the type of watch that can catch many people’s attention after just glancing at it for a few seconds. There’s the design that looks unique, the case finishing that is refined, and perhaps more importantly, its conservative dimensions that make it an elegant timepiece.
I think it’s generally a good sign when a brand keeps updating a model year after year. It means the brand is fully invested in that collection and that it wants to make it better each time—and perhaps close to perfection. There are a couple of things that changed from the Mark III to the Mark IV, notably an increased depth rating of 300 meters (up from 200 meters) without really changing the watch’s dimensions. The case comes in with a diameter of 38mm, a lug-to-lug distance of 46mm, a thickness of 12mm, and a lug width of 20mm. These are very good dimensions for those of us with smaller wrists, and it’s impressive to see that Maen was able to up the depth rating by 100 meters without changing the watch’s dimensions.
To complement these incredible dimensions one will find a full stainless steel case and bracelet, the latter coming with solid links and end-links. The bracelet tapers dramatically to 16mm at the clasp (a la Oris Diver 65) making the watch comfortable to wear. It’s a five-link construction in which the center links are flanked by thin, polished pieces of metal that look great and endow the bracelet with an air of elegance. The clasp is of the double-pusher variant and comes with four holes of micro-adjustments. Note how well the end-links meet the case—the Hudson Mark IV comes with tight tolerances.
Inside the watch beats the Ronda R-150 movement which comes with 25 jewels, 40 hours of power reserve, and beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz.) It’s a newer movement from Ronda that I’ve only seen being used in the Hudson collection since the second batch of the Mark III generation. (Other brands use it but I’ve only come across it with the Hudson.) Looking at its specifications on paper it’s a solid movement and thus far it has been keeping good time. Above the movement we find a sandblasted, dark gray dial with applied hour markers (doubled at the 12 o’clock), SuperLuminova C1 X1 (the hands and markers glow green while the tip of the hour hand and lollypop seconds hand which are red, glow red.)
Last but not least: the dial is covered by a double-domed sapphire crystal that comes with multiple layers of anti-reflective coating.
There’s a lot to love about the Hudson Mark IV from a design perspective, in addition to having great specifications. The Hudson is a versatile watch and this is due to having fine finishing on both the case and bracelet. The case side and lug tops come with a satin finish and a high-polish chamfer. The crown is fully polished and so are the recessed sections of the coined bezel. As we know, parts of the bracelet are polished and the clasp is also endowed with polished chamfers. This alternation of polished and satin (brushed) finishes creates interesting light plays and makes the Hudson look more dressy than utilitarian.
The dial is not deprived of visual details either. The applied markers come with polished surrounds, the hands are flat and high-polished and in the shape of New York Skyscrapers. The sandblasted dial contrasts with the high-polished surfaces, more specifically the polished ring that sits between the double-domed sapphire crystal and brushed aluminum bezel. The minute track is printed on the angled rehaut and the thin bezel insert is fully-graduated. All numerals with the exception of the date disk have a modern, condensed font that give the watch a unique visual appeal.
The Hudson also comes with fun color accents, especially this gray dial version. The Hudson comes in four versions, by the way: Jet Black with date; Midnight Blue with date; Carbon Gray with date (this one;) Jet Black with no date. (There’s also a quartz version for those of you with smaller budgets.) Of all versions, the one I am writing about is the one that is the most striking from a visual standpoint: the inverted triangle, tip of hour hand, lollipop seconds hand and the word “Hudson” printed on the dial are red; the 15-minute increments on the rehaut are painted blue while the rehaut itself is white.
Lots of colors and I love it.
The Heart of the Matter
I feel that divers are hard to get right. There are still today too many copycats of the Rolex Submariner and I feel disenchanted by the numerous blend designs I see pop up each day on Instagram and YouTube. Either the proportions are wrong (too big, odd lug width) or the hands are of the Mercedes type or some kind of half-sibling of it; the lume is poor; the bezel is flimsy and sounds like the one from a rusty diver retrieved from the seabed after spending too many years lost at sea. I love the fact that brands still make divers and I applaud the ones that create something different. Maen and its Hudson collection exemplifies creative regeneration and dedication.
As mentioned in the introduction, this is the fourth iteration of the Hudson that Maen releases. And this is their most popular model and the one they’ve put the most work into. Although I didn’t see the Mark I and Mark II in the metal, as you know I owned the Mark III for a brief period and I can see Maen’s dedication to perfecting an already good watch in the Mark IV. First, they revised the case construction and finish by improving the tolerances (how tightly the parts of the watch fit with one another) and endowing the Hudson with better polished surfaces and more refined brushed ones.
Maen also re-engineered the crown construction to add 100 meters of water resistance to an already sufficient 200. I don’t need 200 and even less so 300 meters of depth rating, so I regard this improvement not as Maen having given its fans something they crucially needed, but as a testament of what dedication can do. What do I mean by that? Well, think of this watch as a car. The car manufacturer each year releases a new version of a popular model and each time increases its fuel efficiency; or they add more cargo space in the trunk; or they improve the air conditioning and heating systems. What you get is a better made car that nevertheless feels familiar.
The Hudson Mark IV feels better than the Mark III in all aspects. It is more comfortable than the previous one—Maen improved the construction and finish of the bracelet links—and it is more versatile too. Having a more refined finish for both polished and brushed surfaces means having a timepiece that looks elevated and refined, being something that James Bond would definitely wear if Rolex (then) and Omega (now) did not hold the monopoly on Jame’s accoutrement.
The Hudson Mark IV has been flying under the radar amongst the fan base of independent watchmakers and I hope this will change. The brand only makes small batches of each iteration before going back to the drawing board, but I’ve seen Maen make an effort to manufacture more Hudson’s in the past few months. This means more of you would have the opportunity to strap a very good diver to your wrist. Again, I cannot stress enough how rare it is to find an original design, and this statement is even more true looking at the market for watches under $1,000.
It seems to me that brands cannot bring themselves to creating something unique and different for less than $1,000, which is quite strange to me. More often than not, unique designs and/or outstanding value for specs now (not five years ago though) generally sets you back a grand. Maen keeps the price tag well below that crucial and deeply psychological frontier. Maen has more models in its collection—a dress watch in the Manhattan 37 and a chronograph in the Skymaster 38 Mark II. I can’t wait to see what the brand will release next and what kind of specs a potential Mark V Hudson would come with.
Thanks for reading.