Looking for a hands-on, honest (not sponsored) Maen Hudson review? You’re in the right place!
Maen is a relatively new microbrand watch company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. The Hudson Automatic 38 in for review is their first Swiss Made watch, a “vintage inspired dive watch with many faces,” per their website.
Maen launched the Hudson via an incredibly successful May 2018 Kickstarter campaign with funding exceeding the original goal by a staggering 680%.
On paper, I’m not at all surprised Maen exceeded their original Kickerstarter goal by such an overwhelming margin. A Swiss Made dive watch available for less than $500?
That’s practically unheard of. However, after spending the last month with the Maen Hudson, I’ve found it to be a surprising watch in many positive (and a few not-so-positive) ways. Let’s take a closer look.
Maen Hudson 38 Specs
Case: 316L stainless steel
Dial: Sandblasted matte blue
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal w/ anti-reflective coating
Case Dimensions: 38mm diameter x 46mm lug-to-lug
Watch Thickness: 10.5mm (12mm including domed crystal)
Lume: C3 Swiss Superluminova
Movement: Swiss Made Automatic ETA 2824-2 Elaboré Grade
Water Resistance: 200m (solid caseback) or 100m (display caseback)
Bracelet/Strap Lug Width: 20mm
Price: €499 retail, €399 preorder
The Maen Hudson Automatic’s most compelling feature is arguably its size. For those with a strong preference toward more modestly-sized watches–myself included–you’ll know how much of a struggle it is to find a thin dive watch under 40mm.
Measuring in at a svelte 38mm in diameter, 46mm lug-to-lug, and only 12mm thick (1.5mm of that height is the domed crystal), the Hudson wears extremely compact on the wrist.
Rather than sitting on top of the wrist like many larger sports watches, the Hudson wraps around the wrist–not too dissimilar to a tailored cuff. Maen clearly had the end wearing experience in mind when they designed this case.
For reference, my wrist fluctuates between 6.5-6.75” in circumference, depending on the day.
Case, Crown & Crystal
While the case’s brushed top and polished sides are what we’ve come to expect from most sports watches these days, separating the two are vintage-inspired chamfers which emanate from the midpoint of the topmost edges of the midcase and increase noticeably in size as they curve downward toward the lug tips.
Chamfers like these are not often found in budget-conscious watches and belie the Hudson’s price point.
The other two prominent vintage-inspired design elements on the Hudson Automatic are the lack of crown guards and the domed sapphire crystal.
The exclusion of crown guards not only leads to a simpler silhouette but also serves a functional purpose–the exposed 7mm screw-down crown is easy and accurate to operate no matter the conditions.
Visually speaking, the true star of the show is the domed sapphire crystal.
It’s most notable party trick is the heavy level of distortion it imparts when viewing the dial from extreme angles, but more subtly, the blue-tinted anti-reflective coating excels at providing a brilliant flash of color when the light hits it just right.
Combined, these elements make for a watch I often find myself staring at as I roll my wrist around, playing with distortions and colors, all the while completely forgetting to check the time.
The execution of these elements is where Maen’s value-driven approach starts to show a bit, though. The polishing on the sides of the case is done well enough, but the brushing on top of the lugs is shallow and faint rather than deep and defined.
The transitions into the chamfers also lack a certain level of sharpness found on more finely finished watches. This all leads to a somewhat “soft” look to the overall finish of the piece. Hardly scathing criticism at the Hudson’s price point, but I’d be remiss not to mention it.
The stainless steel bezel features a fully graduated black aluminum insert, lending to the sportiness and symmetry of the Hudson, but the lack of lume at the 0-position on the bezel insert is a major oversight.
A non-lumed bezel makes it impossible to use this dive watch for timing events in low-light conditions (like, you know, diving for example).
Furthermore, the 120-click unidirectional bezel action has firm action with a considerable amount of backplay, making it difficult to be precise when positioning the bezel for timing purposes.
The bezel can also be quite difficult to turn at times due to its overall thinness and the shallow bezel teeth. There’s simply not much grip to operate the bezel even in the most ideal conditions.
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If any moisture is present, using the bezel transitions from a somewhat difficult task to an exercise in complete futility.
More often than not, I found myself avoiding using the bezel to time things altogether, which is a shame as the timing bezel is one of the primary reasons why I wear a dive watch. This was extremely disappointing.
Hands & Dial
The Hudson’s hands and dial showcase some of Maen’s most interesting decisions in the design of this watch. The seconds hand is a beautiful lollipop-style needle while the hour and minute hands are unlike any I’ve ever seen.
Polished edges flank the centrally lumed portion of the hour and minute hands, which extend to the absolute edge of their respective hour and minute markings.
The applied indices mirror the stick-like appearance of the hands with single batons marking each hour, interrupted only by the double batons at 12 o’clock for orientation and a simple yet well-executed date window at 3 o’clock.
Filling the hands and markers is C3 superluminova. From a full charge the markers glow bright and relatively long, but the lume on the hands is so poor that it disappears within seconds.
This was yet another disappointing discovery in my time with the Maen Hudson. Torch-like lume is a hallmark feature of dive watches that I find extremely useful, but the lume on the hands of the Hudson is so weak that it’s essentially useless.
The Hudson’s dial color is advertised as midnight blue. In Maen’s press photos it appears to transition between navy and brilliant blue depending on the light. In person, however, I’d describe the color as a pale medium blue courtesy of its sandblasted finish.
A bright white chapter ring circles this uniquely colored and finished dial, lending a lively touch. Simple descriptors don’t adequately convey the scope of the viewing experience of this dial though.
In low light the dial color is a deep, dark navy. When soft light catches the angle of the crystal just right, the anti-reflective coating imparts a vibrant blue hue to the dial and makes the hands and indices glisten.
Under bright, direct light the dial takes on a desaturated tone closer to mid-gray than true blue.
While this sounds incredibly dynamic, I found the look of the dial in both low light and bright light to be a bit dull in comparison to how it reads in more flattering light when I’d catch a flash of color and brilliance from the anti-reflective coating.
Over time, I found myself wishing the dial’s base finish were glossy or sunburst to give that brilliant blue effect all the time.
Note: Maen also offers the Hudson with a sandblasted black dial, red-tipped hour hand and the option of a white or black chapter ring. There is also a No Date model with black dial, black chapter ring and the same monochrome handset on this blue model.
After hands-on time with this watch, I think this blue-dialed model is going to be the most sporty and playful of the bunch while the No Date model is going to be the most serious–easily passing for a dressy sports watch in the 38mm sizing.
The Hudson comes standard with a sapphire display caseback and a rated water resistance of 100 meters. An optional closed stainless steel caseback is available for a nominal fee (€23.20 at the time of this article) and this option boosts the rated water resistance to 200 meters.
Given the fact that this watch has a bezel that can be difficult to operate in anything less than ideal conditions, lacks any lume on the bezel insert, and has very weak lume on the hour and minute hands, I cannot recommend anyone use the Maen Hudson in a scuba diving setting and/or for purposes of timing anything of importance in low light.
With that said, the Hudson’s screwdown crown and 100 meters of water resistance is more than sufficient for swimming, snorkeling and nearly any other recreational water-related activity with complete peace of mind.
As such, it is my recommendation that you save your money, stick with the sapphire display caseback and enjoy the view.
Maen Hudson Movement
Maen has sourced Swiss Made ETA 2824-2 movements for the Hudson. Long lauded as a reliable workhorse, the 2824 represents a lot of value for the money at this price point.
Maen caps things off with a custom branded rotor, which is a nice touch if the Hudson is ordered with the sapphire display caseback.
Maen Hudson Bracelet
The bracelet’s finish is completely brushed with a slight bit of visual interest added courtesy of its five-link construction.
The links themselves fully articulate with a pivoted solid endlink at the watch head, which translates to a bracelet that drapes very naturally over any wrist shape.
A bracelet that conforms this well leads to a very comfortable wearing experience.
Bracelet sizing is 20mm at the endlinks with a slight taper to 18mm at the clasp. While I’m personally a fan of a more dramatic 4mm taper from endlink to clasp, 2mm is better than nothing.
More taper would make the Hudson wear even more compact, but limiting the taper gives the watch a little more visual heft without negatively impacting the wearing experience.
The clasp and overall construction are both standard for the price point. The clasp is signed and the swing arms of the clasp are milled, but the clasp itself is relatively thin stamped metal.
Sizing the bracelet is done with split pins, which is rudimentary even for watches at half the Hudson’s cost. Screw links would be a nice addition.
Overall the bracelet is more than sufficient for daily wear and tear, but it does cheapen the overall feel of the watch a bit.
What I Like
This watch wears like a dream. In fact, it’s one of the most comfortable watches on bracelet that I’ve ever worn (on par with my Rolex Submariner, which is saying a lot).
The reserved sizing and proportions coupled with the articulating bracelet make the Hudson melt onto the wrist.
I also found myself really enjoying the distortion of the domed sapphire and–under the right circumstances–the flashes of brilliance from the dial in conjunction with the anti-reflective crystal coating.
I think the simple yet original design deserves some praise as well. The Hudson is a very handsome watch to be sure.
What I Don’t Like
I’m personally not crazy about the finishing of the case and dial. I’d love to see deeper brushing and sharper case transitions along with a glossy or sunburst dial.
The construction of the bracelet also leaves something to be desired. This all leads to a cheaper feeling in hand, and the Hudson lacks a certain level of visual “pop” that I think would benefit it greatly.
With that said, the finishing certainly isn’t subpar for the price, and if you want a reserved watch with a more matte understated aesthetic then the Maen Hudson may very well fit the bill perfectly.
Subjectivities aside, there are a few key features of the Hudson that prevent it from being used as it was truly intended. The bezel operation is so poor that I quit using it to time things–it was simply more trouble than it was worth.
The lack of a lume pip on the bezel and the extremely weak lume on the hands also renders it useless for timing purposes in low light.
When purchasing a dive watch, my expectations are to receive a rugged and legible tool watch that I can use not only to tell time, but to use the rotating bezel along with the lume to time events in a variety of lighting conditions.
The Hudson is a very legible watch for primary time-telling, but it utterly fails at operating the way a true dive watch should. Is this a deal-breaker? It depends.
If one were looking for a supremely functional dive watch, the Hudson isn’t it. Seiko and many other microbrands are simply better from a pure utility standpoint and several are available at half the cost.
However, very few alternatives in this price segment look as great and are sized as nicely as the Maen Hudson. If used as a sports watch (which just so happens to look like a dive watch) to simply tell the time and date, I think the Hudson offers great value for the money.
When considering the Maen Hudson, I believe expectations are key. If you’re looking for a stylish but understated entry-level Swiss Made sports watch for a very fair price then the Hudson is a home run.
If you’re expecting a finely finished, eye-catching, blue-dialed dive watch then you’re likely to be disappointed in several ways.
Coming into this Maen Hudson review I was expecting more of the latter, and this watch left me feeling pretty underwhelmed initially. After spending more time with this watch, I found my expectations falling by the wayside as I started appreciating the many details that Maen got so right.
The Hudson is a sports watch that blends vintage styling cues with modern yet timeless design, and that kind of charm is definitely worth a closer look.