Hands On: the Jack Mason Strat-o-timer and Hydrotimer – Bilofy.com

Dials, Bezels, and Hands

The Strat-o-timer is a real looker, and it’s no surprise how it has been a hit for the folks at Jack Mason. As tested on a 7-link bracelet, the watch reflects copious light from the bracelet, bezel edge, sunburst dial, and hour markers. Speaking of which, the markers themselves are very precisely applied and styled but come very close to touching the minute counters at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions. This is somewhat subjective but the result arguably detracts from the cleanness of the dial at those points. Another observation is the effect of the domed crystal on the dial elements, particularly on the edge. For better or worse, the cream colored squares are nearly totally obscured by the distortion caused by the crystal. The same effect also significantly shortens the long minute hashes, only half of which is visible. Regarding dial text, the Strat-o-timer namesake is printed with slick retro styling. Another easily-missed detail is the red, white, and blue motif on the counterbalance of the second hand (catering nicely once again to my Texan heritage and pride). The applied Jack Mason star signature is at 12 o’clock and, for better or worse, takes a backseat relative to the rest of the dial elements. A 3 o’clock date window is framed and sized to match the width of the 9 o’clock hour block to maintain symmetry. As a whole, the dial is interesting and not overly-retro in its aesthetic. It truly feels like an original design.

The Strat-o-timer’s sapphire bezel is configured to what Jack Mason calls “Espresso”. Fair enough, really. The black and brown combination is an attractive pairing, and I definitely can’t think of another beverage name to call it…The insert is on the narrower side and doesn’t overpower the dial side of the watch. In both low light and direct lighting, the cream-lumed numerals on the bezel create a warm vibe and live up to their names. There is, however, a sticking point…literally. This could very well be chalked up to the fact that the tested watch was brand new, but gripping and operating the GMT bezel was not as easy as expected. Each individual click felt satisfying with virtually no backplay, but the stiffness between each notch was considerable. Even after several days of turning it in an effort to loosen things up, using the bezel was still no easy task. This was not the case with the Hydrotimer’s bezel, which was smoother to rotate.

The Hydrotimer is a straightforward affair: silver dial, triangle at twelve, round hour plots all the way around (bisected at 3, 6, and 9), dark gray bezel with cream colored indices. Like the Strat-o-timer, the Hydrotimer is an attractive and inoffensive watch. Due to the relatively smaller round markers and a lack of a chapter ring, the dial furniture (e.g. triangles, hash marks) is visually concentrated even further on the edges where they are once again partially obscured by the sapphire glass. A particular challenge for the Hydrotimer’s dial is a direct result of the sameness in shape and size of the shapes of the markers, circular hour hand, and company logo. With all three circular elements nearly the same size, none of them truly stands to anchor the design in what is a large amount of negative space around the center. This may very well be an intentional decision and isn’t trying to do too much. The fine-grained silver finishing on the dial is an excellent and refreshing departure from a more typical matte or glossy black finish. Taken as a unit, the Hydrotimer’s dial is what you’d expect and doesn’t stray from the archetypal diver’s watch.

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