First Look: The Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph
Maen was founded by two Dutchman, with an interest in storytelling and watches. This new Maen is no different when it comes to storytelling, as it is inspired by the first transatlantic flight between Amsterdam and New York City, on May 21st 1946.
The Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) used the Douglas DC-4 Skymaster aircraft to operate this flight to New York City. Enough reason for Maen to pick it up and use it as a tribute for their latest watch: The Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph. We like Dutch history for obvious reasons, but we are perhaps even more interested in the watch itself. It will be available in five different dial versions, and Maen sent us two of them: the Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph in Thunder Grey, and the Jet Black edition. Let’s have a close (and first) look at this automatic chronograph with a retail price of just €949,-, before it goes live via their Kickstarter funding page on September 1st (where the price will be €799,-).
Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph
The Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph might look familiar to you, although Maen never did a chronograph before. That’s correct, and you will see some style elements from existing iconic chronographs in this watch. It isn’t an hommage I think, but you will find some details that could be very well borrowed from classic Heuers, Omegas and Breitlings. Is that a bad thing? I will leave that up to you, but 50-60 years after the originals and with today’s focus on vintage watches, it is hard to blame a (new) brand from jumping the bandwagon.
Microbrand Maen closely monitors the watch community to see what’s happening and what people are buying. Ingredients such as a panda dial, a smaller case (38mm), pump pushers and a hesalite crystal are winners.
You can perceive my comments are negative, but they are not meant to be that way. Because when I look at the watch itself, without the storytelling or need to start summing up brands that made similar looking watches 50-60 years ago, I see a pretty nice looking watch for an incredible price. Just do not make the mistake that by buying a Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph, you’re getting one of those old geezers from established brands.
The movement of the Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph, for example, is the ETA 2894-2 (available in Elaboré Grade) chronograph movement from the Swatch Group. More interesting than an ETA/Valjoux 7750 in my opinion, given the tri-compax style lay-out with subdials at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. Although the watch is self-winding, the crown is appropriately sized for a watch this size. The crown is quite flat, which makes sense because it isn’t a hand-wound movement, but the diameter looks very good on this 38mm chronograph. And that’s another big plus about this Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph; it is a small watch. Or at least a normal-sized watch. Although 40-42mm is the size of most of my chronograph watches, 38mm looks and feels classic without becoming your small grandfather’s watch. Including the Hesalite crystal, the thickness of this chronograph is 12.9mm. Interestingly enough, if you aren’t that die-hard that you want to go plexi, you can tick the box domed sapphire crystal option for just an additional €59,- (during the Kickstarter process, afterwards the price will increase with approx. 15%). I am not sure why you want to do that, though.
My favourite version from the two editions that Maen sent us is the Thunder Grey model. It has orange ‘time’ hands and white chronograph hands. On the subdials, you will find some red graphics. It is a refreshing combination that makes the watch playful. If you like your watch to be very clean, the Jet Black edition is the one you want. Besides these two options, there’s a panda dial, reverse panda dial, and a blue panda dial. On the Jet Black version, you will find silver coloured hands, which makes it a bit less attractive for me, so I’d go for the Thunder Grey.
Not in our package, but optional is a stainless steel bracelet to go with this watch. A Speedmaster-style bracelet (20mm) that tapers to 16mm can be fitted to your Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph for just €69,- in the pre-ordering stage on Kickstarter. As you can see on our pictures, the Skymaster will come standard on a black leather strap with white contrasting stitching.
All versions are equipped with a bi-directional bezel with an aluminium insert. This 12H bezel can be used to track a second timezone; it completes the look of a vintage aspired pilot’s chronograph for sure.
Although Maen has Dutch roots and is located in Sweden, their Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph bears the Swiss Made label. The watch will be assembled in Ticino (located above Lugano), Switzerland. Also, the testing of the watches will take place in Switzerland. As you know, Swiss Made doesn’t necessarily mean that all of its parts were produced in Switzerland. Gerard answered the question “Is a Swiss Made watch made in Switzerland?” in this article, which is worth giving a read if you want to learn more about this topic. But let’s turn it around, do you expect a watch that is being offered for €949 to be entirely produced, assembled and tested in Switzerland? Not sure if that’s even possible. Maen is confident enough about the topic to state the following on their website “The Swiss Made label is a representation of the ultimate sign of quality – the perfect combination of function and design.”. In the 6 o’clock subdial, you’ll find the wording “Swiss”, to indicate where this watch was assembled and tested.
What I like about the Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph besides the attractive pricing, is their eye for detail. The nice applied hour markers, the brushed case finishing and an Elaboré grade movement, but also the fact that there’s no date window, the size of the watch, the use of Hesalite for the front crystal and lack of crown guards. The Thunder Grey version with the red accents on the sub-dials brings even more detail.
In all honesty, I don’t think this watch needs a lot of storytelling, and the association with the DC-4 Skymaster is very thin. The Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph offers an excellent price-quality ratio, and it just looks terrific. But I get it, people need stories, and it is basically what separates most watch brands besides design.
So, are you looking for a cool looking and affordable mechanical chronograph with a proper Swiss movement? Especially during the pre-order period on Kickstarter, you can add one to your collection for just €799,-. A no-brainer.
All specifications of the Maen Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph can be found below.