The idea behind Wristwatch Review UK was always to focus on British brands. The Hamtun Kraken was designed in Southampton so it ticks that box – does it tick all the others?
A Week on the Wrist – Hamtun Kraken H2 Review
The Hamtun Kraken is a titanium dive watch designed here in the UK by Ross Davis. It follows the well-received Neon and Nanok, and has developed a signature styling with a turquoise second hand that you’ll notice on this watch.
Please note: this is a preproduction watch and has been around a fair few reviewers now so you’ll notice some scratches that it has picked up on its journey around the world. The finished product will have a scratchproof coating over the titanium. Titanium is a darker metal than steel, giving a “matt” finish that is aesthetically pleasing. It is also lighter and warmer to the touch than the 316L stainless steel used in most watch cases, so has a very different feel. On the downside, titanium is also a relatively soft metal so it will pick up scratches more quickly than a steel watch. If you enjoy adding “patina” to your watches it’s a great choice, but Hamtun aims to offer the best of both worlds by coating the metal to reduce the risk of damage. I can’t comment on it as I’ve not seen it, but it looks good in the brand’s video…
The Hamtun Kraken arrives in a rather luxurious black box that made me double check the pricing: this watch starts at £199 – how they manage to hit that price point is beyond me. It gives a real feeling of high-quality from the moment you open it up.
The titanium case strikes you as soon as you pick up the watch. Titanium is warmer and rougher to the touch than steel, and I found myself surprised by the light weight of the watch. It’s not the first titanium watch I’ve reviewed (that honour goes to the Spinnaker Tesei) but I still can’t get over that initial thought that the watch feels too light.
Once it’s on the wrist any apprehensions were soon quashed. Once I had got past the feeling I’d forgotten to put a watch on, I found the case very comfortable to wear. The 4 O’clock crown helps to make it look and feel smaller than it really is and the finish on all surfaces is smooth to the touch so it doesn’t dig in. The 120 click bezel rotates with a positive action and is filled with lume, so it looks great in the dark. The bezel is easy to grip – it has a “castle battlements” texture rather than the usual knurling, which gives the watch a more utilitarian look than others. Drilled lugs are provided, to make strap changing a doddle – removing a bracelet is an easy way to pick up scratches on the lugs, so this feature is a welcome addition on a titanium timepiece.
Under the hood is a Seiko NH35 movement. I’m running out of things to say about this movement as every microbrand seems to be using it lately, but you are assured of reliability, ease of servicing and relatively good accuracy for the price. The case back is laser etched with the Hamtun logo. As it is also made of titanium I would not bet on it lasting long – certainly not as long as a deeper engraving or stamped design might. But for that crown position, it’s a very conservative case design but that also means it does not throw up any surprises. I enjoyed wearing the watch.
Dial and Hands
There’s no two way about it: this is a good looking watch. It mixes the best features of a Seiko diver, a Rolex Submariner and Tudor’s Pelagos. The Rolex-style applied indices have a metal surround, the date window has a lovely bevelled step and the Seiko-style chapter ring adds depth. The date window is, unusually at 4 O’clock. This can be a real problem for me as I like everything to be symmetrical and often the choice of movement means that 4 O’clock dates end up too close to the centre of the watch or stuck at the 4.30 position where it looks really odd. I’m pleased to say the Hamtun Kraken gets it absolutely spot on. The date looks great and is not at all distracting.
Another plus point is that the lume in this watch is amazing: a few seconds in sunlight (or you can cheat with a UV torch as I do) and the whole face, including the bezel numbers, lights up like a Christmas tree.
The only negative for me was that the text on the dial is in small, thin font, which made it hard to read and made it hard to pick out the turquoise text. That has the effect of making the seconds hand look rather incongruous. A bolder “KRAKEN” font and/or a coloured chapter ring would have really elevated the design.
The hands themselves are large and bold, although I was disappointed that they are a lighter shade of white than the markers. I hope this can be resolved in the final models as it struck me as looking cheap.
The bracelet on the watch is great: it is smooth (both in its finish and its flexibility) and has solid links with screws for adjustment. No complaints there. The clasp was disappointingly small (I like a lot of micro adjustments – it only has three) with a very thin scissor mechanism and a lightly etched logo.
I understand that a ratcheting clasp is one of the stretch goals and it will really improve the Hamtun Kraken if this is reached. A thin scissor is not always a bad thing – it makes tightening the clasp simple and my Rolex has a similarly thin mechanism – but on a modern tool watch, I expect something more substantial. It’s not a deal breaker, by any means, and it only stands out because of the exceptional quality elsewhere.
Hamtun Kraken H2 Video Review
What I Liked
- The Hamtun Kraken H2 looks gorgeous, combining familiar features to create a totally new design
- The build quality is superb for the price. In terms of “bang for your buck” this watch is off the scale
- It’s a great daily wearer thanks to its balanced feel. It is in my Goldilocks zone for thickness, diameter and weight.
What I Didn’t Like
- Titanium is lighter than steel so if you are used to a heavy diver watch it may feel too light. The metal scratches easily, and I have not seen the scratch resistant technology for myself so can’t really recommend it.
- I could not unsee the difference in colour between hands and dial markers once I noticed it. I hope this is fixed in the final models, and I understand that Kickstarter backers will get the opportunity to vote on a couple of options.
- The clasp on the bracelet feels relatively flimsy compared to the build quality elsewhere. Hopefully the stretch goal for a ratcheting clasp will be achieved.
Hamtun Kraken – the WRUK Verdict
I am sometimes told I am too hard on watches – because I always make a point of finding three things I don’t like about every watch. In this instance, even I felt a bit mean – I had to keep reminding myself that this is a £199 watch. Yes, the clasp could be a bit stronger, but compared to other watches in its price range the Hamtun Kraken more than holds its own. In terms of design, it’s the best-looking watch I’ve reviewed this year.
My only reservation is whether the scratch resistant titanium coating will keep the watch looking good for as long as a steel equivalent. When it’s such a key part of the campaign it is a shame that it is not featured on the review prototypes. Nevertheless, I highly recommend backing this watch if you think it looks good – you’re definitely getting more than £199 worth of watch for your money and I’m not looking forward to having to return this one to Hamtun!
Buy a Hamtun Kraken H2
The Kraken H2 launches on March 5th at 17:30 GMT https://kraken-h2-premium-titanium.kckb.st/bcdce630
The campaign will launch with 3 colour choices:
- Black dial, black bezel
- White dial, black bezel
- Blue dial, blue bezel
All come with a scratch-resistant coating as standard, and all include a bracelet. The only choice is the movement (Seiko NH35 starting at £199 or Swiss Sellita starting at £299) and the only extra cost on top is £10 worldwide postage. Find out more and sign up to the mailing list at https://hamtun.co/ or back on Kickstarter at https://kraken-h2-premium-titanium.kckb.st/bcdce630