Hemel is a brand that was born from a passion in collecting watches and their historical significance. Their designs clearly draw inspiration from the utilitarian design of military watches from the mid-century. Marvin Menke, the founder and Creative Director of Hemel, has made it a point to recreate these vintage timepieces in a modern form, so that the stories from which these watches draw inspiration from, live on the wrists of those who wear them today. In a recent collaboration with Mathey Tissot, Hemel is offering a watch that actually has the historical military prowess with the Mathey Tissot name, in the Type 20 Chronograph.
Mathey Tissot can trace its roots to a small village called Les Ponts de Martel tucked away in the Swiss Jura mountains where they started making watches in 1886. At first, they were known for manufacturing “repeater” watches, a complication that produced a chime on the hour and every half hour, but quickly pivoted to producing highly precise chronographs. Mathey Tissot was quickly recognized for their chronograph-making and would go on to provide their chronograph watches to the likes of the United States Army Corps in WW1 and the British forces in WW2. Needless to say, the Mathey Tissot name holds weight when it comes to talking about brands with legitimate military history.
The Mathey Tissot x Hemel Type 20 Chronograph presents as a traditional pilot’s chronograph, using a monochrome display and legible markers to track elapsed time or another timezone. The Type 20 features a chronograph by way of a Sellita SW510M BH b and two different straps that includes an Italian suede two-piece strap and appropriately, a stitched bund strap. The big crown, framed by a set of prominent pushers, uses a push-pull system and the watch itself is rated up to 50 meters of water resistance.
The dial subtly uses a different handset for the main time display and the two different subdials – a pair of syringe hands for the hour and minute, a leaf hand at the center of the larger subdial positioned at three o’clock, and a small sword hand within the subdial at nine. The slight asymmetry in subdials unmistakably displays the chronograph minute counter and running seconds, while adding a funky look to the dial in the process. In addition to the Mathey Tissot and Hemel wordmark, a small logo tucks in right above the origin point of the center hands.
One of the benefits of owning a vintage chronograph are the wearable case proportions that leant towards smaller wrists. The Type 20 Chronograph maintains those proportions, sporting a 38.5 case width and 45mm lug to lug. Numbers-wise, that looks really good, and although a case thickness was not mentioned in the press release, it would take a very thick watch to throw off the aforementioned wearable proportions. We’ll confirm the thickness once we get some hands-on time with the watch. The Sellita SW510 BH b comes with a 63-hour power reserve, 23 jewels and a frequency of 28,800 bph. Protecting the movement on the underside of the case is a steel caseback that displays an engraving of both brands.
The Mathey Tissot x Hemel Type 20 Chronograph is mainly a Type 20 from Mathey Tissot with the addition of the Hemel logo on the dial and on the caseback. For Hemel, that’s quite alright considering they lean on the exact aesthetic of these military watches in their current collection. This collaboration goes to show the admiration Hemel has for these historical timepieces and the role they played in the field. The Type 20 chronograph combines Hemel’s brand ethos and identity, with the actual history that precedes the Mathey Tissot brand. What Hemel is offering with the Type 20 collaboration is an opportunity to get in at a much lower price tier than what is offered for a Type XX Chronograph with a similar movement directly from Mathey Tissot which will run you about $3,595.
The Mathey Tissot x Hemel Type 20 Chronograph retails for $1,799 and is currently available for purchase directly through Hemel. If the price still doesn’t appeal to you, Hemel plans on releasing the same exact model with a Seiko VK64 meca-quartz movement in the coming months. The price of that specific model is still unknown, so stay tuned to the Hemel space here. Hemel