Having been blown away with my MAEN Manhattan 37, when I heard the brand was adding a new GMT watch to their Hudson range, I was like a moth to the flame to get my hands on this sportier offering.
MAEN Watches was established in 2017 and occupy the mid-tier of the microbrand market, with watches ranging from roughly €300 and €1500. The new Hudson 38 GMT is currently priced at just under €800 and available in four colourways. On test here is the GMT AGM.01.
The GMT That Thinks It’s A Dive Watch!
Before I even received the watch for review, certain specifications made this watch stand out from the crowd for me, such as its water resistance rating which exceeds most dive watches, and the movement used. It’s also an incredibly attractive watch. So much so, that its good looks alone will undoubtedly prompt some buyers to reach for their flexible friend (nice 80s reference there!). But how does the entire package stack up, and is it worth the asking price?
Case Design And Wearing Experience
The 38mm case is made from 316L stainless steel and is of a conventional three-section design, comprising 120-click rotating bezel, mid-case and caseback. The case finishing is all perfectly executed and predominantly finely brushed.
Working from the dial-side of the watch to the rear, first up we have a double domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating protecting the dial. This sits slightly proud of the steel bezel insert which has a matt black finish and is deeply engraved with an off-white 24-hour GMT scale to provide an easy reference for a second or third-time zone, in addition to the independent GMT hand.
Brushed and polished finishes are used for the coin edge of the bezel, which provides very good levels of grip considering that, despite the Hudson GMT’s phenomenal 300m water resistance, this is not a dive watch.
I’d describe the bezel action as very good for the price point with very little back play. Considering the watch is a GMT, not a diver, I’m surprised that MAEN has chosen to fit a uni-directional bezel rather than bi-directional. It could be that this is a cost saving measure, as they can carry it over directly from the Hudson dive watch.
The mid-case is a simple tried and tested shape, similar to the original Tudor Black Bay. It has straight sides with longitudinal brushing and has polished bevels which widen towards the ends of the lugs. The lugs angle downwards ever so slightly, but don’t extend past the caseback. The screw-down caseback is also a simple affair, just stainless steel with a brushed centre section and specifications engraved into a polished circular band. The screw-down crown with signature ‘M’ surrounded by an etched circle, is polished, perfectly sized and has lots of grip.
For a GMT with 300m water resistance, this is a thin watch! Overall thickness is just 12.05mm, and the all-important lug-to-lug measurement is a crowd-pleasing 46mm. With measurements like this it should come as no surprise that I found this to be an extremely comfortable watch to wear. It’s worth noting that the height is nearly identical to its non-GMT dive-watch brother, the Hudson 38 MK4. From what I can gather, MAEN has managed to achieve this by using printed indices for the dial which are obviously less tall than the applied indices used for the dive watch. In addition, the caseback hardly protrudes at all, so it beds down into the wrist and sits flat.
From a visual standpoint, despite the mid-case being slab-sided, thanks to MAEN’s efforts to keep the watch thin, the watch never looks bulky from any angle. Polished bevels to the tops of the outer lugs also help break up the visual mass. The double-domed sapphire brings some lovely distortion and light play to the face of the watch.
The 316L stainless steel five-link bracelet tapers from 20mm to 16mm, feels great and is very fluid. It’s predominantly brushed, but added contrast comes courtesy of thin polished links that sit outside of the centre link. The female end links help restrain the lug-to-lug length. However, the stubby centre sections of the end links sit slightly higher than the outer links and case. Although to me this is not aesthetically pleasing, it’s not a big deal, and I doubt most people would notice it, let alone be bothered by it. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point it out so you can make up your own mind. The bracelet’s twin-trigger fold-over deployant clasp is milled, signed and has four micro-adjustment holes. It also has a wide, polished bevel running its entire length. The bracelet is adjusted using single sided screws. On-the-fly clasp adjustment would have been nice, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker. Overall, the watch head and bracelet combined result in a well-balanced package.
Hudson GMT Dial And Hands
The matt black dial has a grained texture and a printed outer minute track showing fractions of seconds increments, as well as printed 24-hour scale with red Arabic numerals denoting 6, 12, 18, 24 and grey numerals for every other 2-hour interval. Surrounding the main dial is the rotating bezel which has a steel insert in matt black and deeply etched off-white numbers in a very clean looking and attractive font.
The design for the baton-shaped indices is interesting as they are slightly raised from the dial, giving a more premium and three-dimensional appearance than that of flat printing. A double baton is used for the 12 o’clock marker, and all main indices are filled with a centre strip of glowing Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1 for improved legibility in low light.
The unique hour and minute hands are sporty but elegant, have a polished steel finish, and are filled with neatly applied X1 Super-LumiNova. The lollipop seconds hand has a simple circle of X1 lume and a tapered counter-balance. Being what is known as an ‘office’ or ‘caller’ GMT, the Hudson 38 GMT has a fourth hand, an independently adjustable GMT hand used to show a second time zone. This is instantly recognisable by its perfectly executed red arrowhead. To set the second time zone, you simply pull the crown out to its first position and turn away from you to make the GMT hand jump in increments of one hour. Everything about the handset looks to be very well executed.
Dial text is simple and clean. Just the brand name at 12, and ‘Automatic’, ‘Hudson’ and ‘GMT’ at 6 ‘clock. ‘Hudson’ is picked out in red to complement the GMT hand. Also at the 6 o’clock position is a framed black-on-white date window and ‘Swiss Made’ designation at the outer edge of the dial.
The only thing I found disappointing in terms of the dial was that the 24-hour GMT scale on the main dial has very poor legibility. Most of the time this won’t be an issue, as you can just read the 24-hour time by reading it from the rotating bezel, provided you ensure that it’s set to its default position with the triangle lined up to 12 o’clock. However, if you’re using the rotating bezel to track a third time zone and you’re not very familiar with GMT watches, you’ll struggle to quickly read the time at a glance. For the Hudson MK5 I’d like to see larger Arabic numerals used on the rehaut, as well higher contrast colours. I also think cleaning up the minute track by removing the micro hash marks (denoting fractions of a second) would help with legibility.
MAEN Hudson 38 GMT – The Movement
MAEN has taken the unusual decision to use the Soprod C-125 Swiss automatic movement for the Hudson GMT Mk4. This makes for a refreshing change from the usual Miyota or Sellita movements and it shows that the team at MAEN aren’t afraid to go their own way. This 25-jewel movement with bi-directional rotor ticks at 8 beats per second (28,800 vibrations per hour) which gives a nice smooth sweep to the seconds hand. It has a 42-hour power reserve and has Incablock shock protection.
Another point of difference from many microbrands is that MAEN went the extra mile by opting for the Elaboré Grade, which is decorated and adjusted to three positions, bringing accuracy to within 7 sec +/-7 per day, impressive! It’s just a shame that you can’t see the movement because of the solid caseback. However, like anything, this is a trade-off. Fitting a sapphire exhibition caseback would have added to the overall thickness of the watch. Given the choice, I’d prefer to have a thinner watch, so this design decision suits me just fine. Of course, this is personal preference though.
The winding action is great, the crown engages positively in all positions and screws down with confidence. Pull out to the first position and turn towards you for setting the date, away to set the independent GMT hand. Pull out to second position to stop the seconds hand, hack the movement and precisely set the time.
There’s an awful lot to like about the MAEN Hudson 38 GMT and very few negatives. It’s well proportioned, looks phenomenal on the wrist, and offers quality that exceeds that of most other microbrands and indeed many mainstream luxury brands. In fact, in-house movement aside, the MAEN even compares favourably to the Tudor Black Bay GMT when you consider that it’s around a fifth of the price. Plus, the MAEN has more water resistance, even though the Black Bay is pitched as a dive watch!
If you’re looking at buying the MAEN Hudson 38 GMT specifically to track three time zones, it’s worth bearing in mind my points above in the ‘dial and hands’ section. In reality though, I think most people who buy GMTs will either only be tracking two time zones, or they’ll just like the look of an extra complication and a pop of colour. My only other negatives are very minor. Some people might like to see on-the-fly adjustment for the clasp, and maybe a quick-release trigger for the bracelet. Personally. I’d like to see the stubby end links of the bracelet sit flat with the case and rest of the bracelet, but that’s about it for negatives as far as I’m concerned.
Overall, the Hudson 38 GMT feels like a premium watch. The finishing is great, it houses a regulated Swiss automatic movement, and one of its biggest selling points is that it’s a GMT that can double as a dive watch, thanks to its unidirectional bezel and 300m water resistance. It’s also on the dressier side of sporty, so if this isn’t a ‘go anywhere, do anything’ (GADA) watch, I don’t know what is!
At the current retail price of around €800, it offers outstanding value for money. In fact, I can’t think of another non-homage Swiss-made automatic GMT with 300m water resistance for less than €1000. If you know of any, I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below!
The only fly in the ointment is that for UK customers, by the time you’ve added VAT and import costs, competition does open up from British brands such as Christopher Ward and Farer whose watches won’t incur these additional costs. However, even then, the Hudson 38 GMT certainly holds its own and it has its own style, so it’s horses for courses here!