Automotive Watches From An Actual Car Designer...
We are happy to introduce to you MHD, a (coincidentally, very local) watch company that specializes in automotive-inspired designs. This is something they do extremely well due to the fact that Matthew Humphries, the owner of MHD (Matthew Humphries Design) is first and foremost a car designer...
"All MHD Watches are designed in the UK by Automotive Designer Matthew Humphries, who at 21 was made the Chief designer at Morgan Motor Company. Matthew is best known for designing cars such as the stunning Morgan Aeromax, Morgan Supersports and the new Morgan 3 wheeler.
Established in 2014, MHD watches are a premium British watch brand who produce limited edition motoring watches, using automotive design techniques & classic car design cues to produce an Engineered Design Aesthetic." - MHD
Having a watch designed by an actual car designer seems to be quite a rare thing and you can tell this from the unique style and personality that these watches have. Today we're going to be looking at watches from the SA2 and AGT collections, both of these are watches which I believe are an excellent example of restraint and balance as well as containing some amazing design elements to be enjoyed from every angle.
Right out of the box the design language of MHD is very clear, both of these watches although quite different in execution share the same style, through the finely engineered case design to the signature MHD dial layout & hands. They also share a very similar size with the SA2 coming in at 41mm diameter & the AGT at 42mm, this is larger than what I am used to wearing but I think the proportions in the design help to balance out the larger size as on both of the watches the case sits outside of the bezel & the hands are within the chapter ring which helps the watch 'wear smaller'.
Instantly you get the feeling that these are well-considered watch designs, through the interesting 4 piece skeletonized style case construction, multiple contrasting finishes between polished and matte (or brushed) surfaces, sandwich dials and all of the fantastic small details like the shape of the screws holding the lugs on the SA2...
...and the notched crown for easy access on the AGT.
Going deeper into the design
With the SA2 being a later release than the AGT you can quite easily see that it is the next logical jump in both design language and execution, I think that this watch takes everything that the AGT has done well and brings it closer to perfection.
I love the skeletonized design on the AGT but from the top & bottom it is not very clear that the watch has this amazing 4 piece construction, but with the addition of the screwed-on lugs & top-down skeletonization on the SA2 you get a feeling for its engineered design. The knurling on the side of the case barrel also looks like a nice step up from the (deep etched?) diamond pattern on the AGT, the depth & finish of the knurling is amazing and even though the polishing removes some of the potentially-stunning harsh lines, it does look great and is comfortable to the touch.
The case back is also held by screws on the SA2 which lends itself to the rest of the design. I think that the screw-down design of the AGT looks less refined & the sapphire case back also looks unusually distanced from the rotor on this watch as you can see the plastic movement holder within, this has been fixed on the SA2 with it's much thinner case & metal movement holder.
These points make the SA2 the clear winner for me, however, I think if someone is looking for something more subtle with just a hint of the MHD design language then the AGT is the one to go for.
What would I like to see in the next generation of MHD watches?
With their evolutionary approach to watch design, I would love to see the next step develop their unique style further, I think some incorporation of their automotive engineered/skeletonized style to the dials would be great as I think there would be a real opportunity for them to go 'all-out' with it for the person like me who isn't necessarily looking for something simple.
Also in their case design, I think there could be additional steps taken to improve wearability since I have quite small wrists I have noticed that the watches sit quite flat on the wrist, especially while on a NATO strap, to fix this I think that the case would benefit from the lugs curving down more.
I'd also like to see screwed bars on the SA2 replacing the fixed bars so people can experiment more with straps while still having that engineered and secure feel. I also believe that rounded screw-bars would be more kind to the lifetime of the strap as the fixed bars are quite angular at the moment.
On both of the watches I have tested, the crowns also seems slightly too small in diameter to comfortably use.
Are they worth the money?
To put it simply, yes. I think so... The watches sit at around the £600 price point and compared to some other watches at this relatively affordable price point I think they offer a lot. There's the balance between packing some genuine history with them being designed by the former Head of Design at Morgan who has designed and been involved in some incredible car projects over the years, into a uniquely presented design and topped off with a pretty great build quality.
Both of these watches are using a 9 series Miyota movement which is essentially the Miyota rival to the ETA 2824, this is a great movement which provides an entry-level luxury touch while retaining a low price point.
"The Miyota caliber 9015 is a 24 jewel automatic movement. It is made in Japan and was first introduced in 2009. This movement is found in many new microbrand watches because it is easily obtainable, has a desirable hacking function, and considered a workhorse movement." - Caliber Corner
Although the fixed lugs on the SA2 limit the strap choices you can fit, it does mean that the watch is a great excuse to up your collection of NATO straps and really start to have fun with it, pictured below are a few combinations that I think work really well. The great thing about NATOs is because they are so easy to change and come in so much variety there really is a choice for everyone.
First up is the Sennen NATO, I have chosen both the Grey version as well as the Blue/Beige version as I think they give a stunning vintage look while both being quite unique.
The grey version really plays with the raw tones of the watch and adds to the overall tool / engineered style, the slight contrast in the colours on the strap also makes it very interesting to look at while remaining subtle. The beige striped version works to pop the warm tones of the dial colour and the blue helps add that sporty look.
Next, we're turning full circle and choosing a range that is definitely not subtle... The Veryan NATO aims to add that pop of colour and since summer is coming up soon I think it's a great choice. There are so many colours in the range but I think this is my favourite for the slightly gulf reminiscent colours that add to that automotive theme.
Finally, bringing another strong vintage look we have the Duntz NATO, I think this could be the go-to choice for someone who isn't the biggest fan of traditional nylon NATO's, this strap will age beautifully as the leather takes on oils from your skin and the beige stitching just compliments the dial perfectly!
I think that MHD offers some pretty fantastic watches for anyone into the automotive world or even engineering or if you are just looking for something quite different. They are a brand to look out for with future releases as they only seem to be getting better and better. Personally, my favourite watch from their range is the SA2 with the steel dial as I think the circular brushed dial has a very engineered and raw look to it which works perfectly with the rest of the design.
Finally, we’d like to thank MHD for sending these watches to us on loan for this review, we will be exploring alternative strap options in future so stay tuned!
If you would like to learn more about the brand you can visit their website here.