The year was 1953, and Blancpain released the Fifty Fathoms, a “modern” dive watch. The year after, Rolex released the first Submariner, also a modern dive watch. Whichever became more iconic, both models had a profound influence on the design of countless dive watches. Indeed, ever since the 1950s, other brands have come up with their own icons. Think of the Doxa Sub 300 of 1966, the Omega Seamaster 300M of 1993, and the Seiko SKX of 1996, among others. Each of these key releases introduced something new — a new dial color, a new bezel construction, or a fresh take on the diver’s dial layout. The question is this: how could a brand create yet another icon?

Last week, the Texas-based independent brand Jack Mason announced its newest model, the Hydrotimer. Based on the Strat-o-timer chassis, the Hydrotimer is Jack Mason’s take on the iconic diver. The brand presents this model as being the only diver you need, one that has its own identity and flair. This introductory article will lay out the basic specifications and design traits of the Hydrotimer, and I will let you be the judge as to whether or not it could become the icon the brand presents it as. I’d encourage you to share your thoughts and comments at the end of the article. And yes, I will also share some of my sentiments too.

The Hydrotimer’s predecessor — the Strat-o-timer

You may be familiar with Jack Mason. The brand announced its GMT last year, the Strat-o-timer. That watch was one of the first two or three watches from an independent/microbrand to be equipped with the Miyota 9075 traveler’s GMT caliber. I’ve come across more watches with this movement since, however, the Strat-o-timer was the first one I ever experienced. What made the Strat-o-timer attractive were the impressive features it offered for around $1,000. These included a double-sapphire construction, a toolless micro-adjust clasp, 200m water resistance, and the 9075 caliber. In the looks department, the Strat-o-timer had an interesting case design, somewhere in between a cushion and tonneau case — perhaps a “barrel cushion”? 

Jack Mason Hydrotimer

Key design elements of the Jack Mason Hydrotimer

The Hydrotimer borrows from the case design of the Strat-o-timer, but it has a completely redesigned dial. The hands and indices mark perhaps the biggest departure from the design language of its predecessor. However, the case, bezel, and crown are the same, giving the Hydrotimer a genuine sense of familiarity. The hour hand comes with a circular portion toward the tip that matches the width of the applied hour markers, while the long minute hand is rectangular and reaches the printed minute track at the edge of the dial. Due to their design, the two hands carry large applications of lume, making them legible in both bright and dim settings. The seconds hand also has a round luminous dot on the long end, and it showcases the colors of the Texan flag on the short end. 

While the Strat-o-timer’s dial showed more rectangles than circles, the one on the Hydrotimer is the other way around. Jack Mason opted for circular applied markers of the same dimension all around the dial, except at 12 o’clock. The markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock have a split in the middle to distinguish them from the others. This doesn’t make reading the time easier, however, it ever so slightly breaks the otherwise-perfect dial symmetry. On each of the four color options — black dial/black bezel, white dial/black bezel, blue dial/white bezel, and white dial/white bezel — the surrounds on the applied markers match the tone of the hands. 

Jack Mason Hydrotimer

The Hydrotimer’s specifications

To make the Hydrotimer your potential future diver and an iconic representative of this genre of horology, Jack Mason paired the design with great specs. The 300m-water-resistant case measures 40mm wide, 47mm long, 13mm thick (including the crystal), and 20mm between the lugs. For some, these are the ideal dimensions for a dive watch. The brand also added a scratch-resistant coating to the case, effectively hardening it to 1,200 Vickers (about six times harder than standard 316L stainless steel). Furthermore, the crystal is of the double-domed boxed sapphire variety and is visually complemented by the ceramic bezel insert. The bezel has 120 clicks and displays a fully graduated scale with a combination of Arabic numerals, dots, and hash marks. 

To keep the price under the psychologically pleasing $1,000 mark, Jack Mason put a regulated Miyota 9039 caliber inside. The 9039 is one of Miyota’s premium movements with a 28,800vph (4Hz) beat frequency and a 42-hour power reserve. The bracelet, which I mentioned above, has a rounded three-link, President-bracelet-like construction and tapers from 20mm at the end links to 16mm at the clasp. Just like the Strat-o-timer, the clasp has an on-the-fly micro-adjustment system. This was a well-engineered feature on the GMT, and I assume it will be the same with the Hydrotimer (note: the bracelets on the Strat-o-timer and Hydrotimer are interchangeable). 

Final thoughts

So, what do you think of the Hydrotimer? Would it be your future diver, an icon in its own right? Unfortunately, I can’t predict the future, but I have the feeling that the Hydrotimer will resonate with many watch enthusiasts. If you like the way it looks, it certainly strikes a good balance between the new and the classic. It looks different than many divers while displaying the archetypal traits of an icon. But that is just my opinion, and I want to hear yours. 

The Hydrotimer will retail starting at US$899 on a Tropic-style rubber strap or US$989 on a three-link or seven-link steel bracelet. Pre-orders will begin on the 28th of April with an estimated shipping date of August/September 2023. For more information, I recommend checking out Jack Mason’s website.

Watch specifications

Black, white, or blue with applied luminous indices and hands
Case Material
Stainless steel (316L) with scratch-resistant hard coating (1,200 Vickers) and screw-down crown
Case Dimensions
40mm (diameter) × 47mm (lug-to-lug length) × 13mm (thickness) × 20mm (lug spacing)
Double-domed boxed sapphire
Case Back
Solid, screwed down
Miyota 9039 — automatic winding, 28,800vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Water Resistance
Stainless steel bracelet (three-link or seven-link) with toolless micro-adjustable clasp or Tropic-style rubber strap (blue or white)
Time (hours, minutes, central seconds), 60-minute timing bezel
US$989 (bracelet) / US$889 (rubber strap)