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Second Hour Gin Clear MK2-3

Second Hour is an Australian watch brand, founded in 2019 by husband and wife powerhouse Peter and Akira. Based in Melbourne, over the course of just four years the brand has quickly gained a following amongst the enthusiast community. They also continue to develop a network of stockists across North America and Europe with more to come.

With a name originating from the affectionate term divers’ give to clear seas, the Gin Clear MK2 is the brand’s flagship diver and is priced at $1200AUD (approx. £620 / €725). You can choose from four colours; Ocean Sunset, Sunburst Black, Pastel Blue or Arctic White as seen here. The MK2 comes with a two-year warranty and is said to offer numerous improvements over the Gin Clear MK1. So how does it stack up against claims made by the brand?

The Case and Wearing Experience

The 316L stainless steel case has a diameter of 40mm, is 12.25mm thick and has a comfortable lug-to-lug of 47mm. The case and bracelet have been given a surface hardening treatment to 1200 Vickers which makes it very durable, and the case profile with its curved lugs help the watch conform well to the wrist. The whole package is solid feeling but refined with high quality finishing comprising a sophisticated mix of polished and brushed elements. The watch strikes a perfect balance between tool watch and dressy diver, in much the same way as an Omega Seamaster does. This will feel right at home from beach to boardroom and everything in between.

The case sides are finely brushed and flanked top and bottom by wide, polished chamfers which extend the entire length of the case, including around the crown guards, and narrow as they reach the tapered lugs. The elegant, brushed lugs feature internally polished sections somewhat akin to slimmed down versions of the lyre/twisted lugs you’d find on an Omega Seamaster.

The uni-directional 120-click diver’s bezel has a brushed finish and overhangs the case by a millimetre bringing the effective diameter of the watch up to 41mm. The edge of the bezel has knurling in the shape of conical squares and the top side of the bezel gently tapers up to meet the scratch-resistant flat sapphire crystal, which has six layers of internal anti-reflective coating. The glossy ceramic insert features a countdown bezel with alternating Arabic numerals at every ten minutes, hash marks at every five and a graduated scale from zero to 15 minutes. All bezel markings are filled with Swiss BGW9 Super-LumiNova for excellent low-light legibility. A lume pip at 12 o’clock is framed and accented by a red inverted triangle. The bezel action is superb, and it hits the markers perfectly with very little back-play. Grip is also good, especially considering the bezel is fairly shallow to help keep the overall thickness down.

On the reverse is a solid screw-down caseback which is brushed around the perimeter with an outer band giving the key specifications. In the centre section, are the words ‘Gin Clear’ along with an oil pressed embossed depiction of a Hawksbill Turtle and wave pattern picked out in polished relief, set against a bead-blasted background. Again, it’s all perfectly executed and the pictorial elements are very three dimensional.

The screw-down crown is protected by beefy crown guards and helps provide the watch with an impressive 300m water resistance. The crown is grippy, feels confident and like most things on the watch is of bespoke design, being knurled in two sections separated by a red coloured inlay. On the crown face is a polished Second Hour logomark set in relief against sandblasting.

The bracelet is a five-link design with alternating brushed and polished sections. All removeable links are secured by single sided screws and the brushed outer links have polished chamfers to match the watch case. Lug width is 20mm, but the bracelet tapers down to 18mm to meet the twin-trigger single fold-over clasp. There is plenty of on-the-fly adjustment, and the bracelet is also quick-release so it’s easy to swap the bracelet out for a strap of your choice. The second hour logo is engraved onto the top section of the clasp.

The Dial

I’d describe the dial of the Gin Clear as ‘deceptively simple’. The dial surface is completely smooth and finished with a clear enamel lacquer that gives the dial depth and lustre so that it looks crisp and clean (on the black version the dial is sunburst). Second Hour describe the dials as the ‘highest grade dials available’ and whilst this is a statement that’s difficult to quantify, all I can say is that they certainly appear to be flawless.

The dial is adorned with a mix of circular and custom-shaped applied indices which are mirror-polished. The bespoke indices at 4, 8 and 12 o’clock are isosceles trapezoid in shape, have bevelled edges on every side and feature two strips filled of Super-LumiNova C3 X1. The way these custom indices are executed is simply lovely and clearly a point of pride for the folks at Second Hour. The only way I can describe it is that solid blocks of lume sit atop cut-outs within the steel section. These blocks of lume are then bevelled to perfectly match the bevels of the steel sections. It’s probably the cleanest application of lume I’ve seen on a microbrand to date. A shortened index sits beneath the colour-matched date window at six o’clock, and also benefits from a single block of lume. The circular applied hour markers are filled with Swiss BGW9 Super-LumiNova.

At the outer edge of the dial is a simple minute track printed in black, with Arabic numerals at every five-minute mark and ‘60’ printed at 12 o’clock in red.

The hour hand and minute hand are diamond cut and split into two sections, each filled with Swiss BGW9 Super-LumiNova. What’s not immediately apparent is that these hands are creased along the centre, including the central strips. The stick seconds hand is painted red toward the tip and has a circular lume pip framed in red. The counterbalance of the seconds hand is a skeletonised version of the brands logomark. This logomark also features on the dial at 12 o’clock. The only other dial text is ‘Gin Clear’ printed in black and ‘30ATM’ printed in red at the six o’clock above the colour-matched date wheel with bevelled frame.

The Swiss Movement

Remarkably, especially for this price, Second Hour uses the refined Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement for the Gin Clear. This premium movement is not easy for microbrands to get hold of, so it does help make the watch feel a bit special, and it’s widely regarded as more reliable than the Sellita equivalent. The movement is hackable (stop the seconds hand to set precise time) and can be hand wound. It beats at 28,600vph and has a power reserve of 42 hours. Out-of-the-box accuracy on the ETA 2824 is rated at +10/-20s per day, but Second Hour improve on this by regulating the movements and testing them in two positions which brings the accuracy into single figures, (+/-9 seconds per day).

Final Thoughts

Microbrands continue to amaze me, none more so that Second Hour. What the Gin Clear offers for the asking price is unreal. The Gin Clear wouldn’t look out of place in a head-to-head with watches from mainstream brands that are two or three times its cost. Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay Second Hour is that, whilst obviously different in terms of design, the Gin Clear captures much of the overall intangible ’look and feel’ of the Omega Seamaster. And when you consider that the Gin Clear is roughly a tenth of the price of the Seamaster, it’s an attractive and compelling proposition.

The Second Hour Gin Clear MK2 is a great option for those looking for a dive watch on the dressier side, but with the specification of a real tool watch. It’s very difficult to criticise any aspect relating to the quality and finishing. In fact, I only have two negatives. Firstly, daytime legibility on the white dial variant is not always great. This could have been improved by using black coloured surrounds to the indices and hands. However, I suspect it’d be more difficult to achieve such impeccable execution if a painted finish had been used. Secondly, I’d like to see Second Hour offer a rubber strap, at least as an optional extra at time of purchase. 

My only other critical comments relate to design and are entirely subjective. To my eyes, there is slightly too much ‘dead space’ on the dial. With no texture or different finishes to the dial surface, it can appear a bit austere and sparse. I wonder if simply using the brands wordmark, i.e. ‘Second Hour’ instead of the logomark at 12 o’clock would address this (the brand’s logomark doesn’t really do it for me either). Secondly, the design and placement of the custom-shaped indices at 12, 4 and 8, might be a love it or hate it thing for some. I’ve become accustomed to them and am now very much in the ‘love’ camp. At the end of the day at least they are different and it’s impossible not to be impressed by the execution. Finally, some readers might be disappointed not to see an exhibition caseback considering the premium movement ticking away inside. But it’s worth remembering that this would have probably increased the case thickness slightly.

If none of these things bother you, then the Gin Clear is the complete package for sure. Usually at this price point either quality or features must play second fiddle to the other. This is not the case here. The refinement and quality on show here is exemplary, from the contoured and comfortable case to the solid and beautiful bracelet and impeccable dial. It’s a feature-rich watch too. Swiss movement, check. Ceramic bezel, check. 300m water resistance, check. On-the-fly bracelet adjustment, check. Quick-release bracelet, check. Powerful lume, check. Need I go on…?!

Provided the design and size works for you, the Gin Clear MK2 should certainly make it onto your ‘next dive watch’ shortlist’! Pre-orders are currently scheduled for August 2024, with shipping to commence around October. My advice is to join the Second Hour HQ Facebook group to be first in-line when orders open. They may also release different strap options closer to the launch.


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