Hemel Airfoil - Full Lume BGW9 Panda Exclusive Edition
This traditional panda dial column wheel chronograph, with a full reverse lume that glows blue, is exclusive to just The Microbrand Store, and comes with our top grain nubuck leather watch travel case, our spring bar tool for strap changes, and our microfiber watch cleaning cloth.
The most popular watch in our store, possibly due to recently winning Lume Wars against stiff competition from brands such as Rolex, Seiko, and Zelos, we sold out of our initial production run in just 2½ hours, and ever since have been flooded with requests to restock the Exclusive Edition. You spoke, we heard, and pre-orders are now open for a second production run.
We also sell other Hemel Airfoils: a full lume that glows green, and an all black model.
Why We Love This Watch
There are many reasons to love this 42mm Hemel Airfoil Full Lume BGW9 Panda Dial Exclusive Edition bicompax chronograph, but these five in particular stand out the most:
A gorgeous exhibition case back, showcasing a decorated hand-wound movement, with blued screws. With no rotor in the way to block the view, this can make observing the chronograph in action quite a treat. The movement itself has some interesting history as it is directly descended from the Venus 175, a famous Swiss column-wheel chronograph used in Swiss watches such as the Breitling Chronomat. Seagull acquired the plans and the original Venus equipment to manufacture the Venus 175, and went on to produce the improved version you see here.
A fantastic full reverse lume. When you walk indoors after being outside in sunlight, this Hemel Airfoil can often be seen glowing like a torch, making it quite a conversation piece. Naturally we're talking Swiss Super-LumiNova lume, in a BGW9 color here, the most popular option that can glow a bright cyan blue when charged. In independent lume tests, we were pleased to learn that this watch recently beat all of the competition, including watches from microbrands famous for their strong lume such as Zelos with their X1 grade lume, or the Swiss Watch Company with their 20 layers of lume, as well as mainstream watches from brands such as Rolex and Seiko.
A swan neck regulator, for those who fancy the idea of more easily regulating a watch themselves for even greater accuracy. We share more information on this for the curious in our video review.
Vintage military styling done right. The dial design is based on 1970s British military pilot watches. Hemel themselves have other military tie-ins, including a partnership with the US Air Force, and their focus on military watches really seems to be paying off with great attention to detail. The magnifying curvature on the edge of the dial glass is reminiscent of a vintage hesalite dial, but the dial is a modern scratch resistant double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, which goes nicely with the scratch resistant gloss ceramic bezel and 100 meters water resistance. Other design cues include the three minute markings on the minute sub-dial, which tie directly to aircraft navigation timings that were in three minute intervals.
The attention to detail extends to the choice of 12 hour lumed markers on the 120 click bezel, which enables the bezel to be used to extend the chronograph timing function by simply setting the bezel pip to the hour hand location right after starting the chronograph timer. Of course it also doubles as a second time zone, and can be used as a traditional dive watch timer too as well as a helpful compass aid.
This watch also won first place in the Just One More Watch Lume Wars!
The following reviews are for other colors in the Hemel Airfoil series, including another great reverse lume option. The first review includes an explanation of the advantages of swan neck regulators and how to use them.
After being flooded with numerous requests from customers who missed out on our initial production run, we've arranged a second and final production run with Hemel, and are now accepting pre-orders. Since Hemel need to produce other watches, we've been told to expect these watches to be delivered in May. Hemel will strive for an earlier date if they can, but complicating matters somewhat is Hemel’s need to produce other watches as well, so we'd rather err on the side of caution with our estimates rather than being overly optimistic. If Hemel can bump our production to start earlier than planned then that may shave several months off of this estimate.
As with all of our pre-orders, customers are free to cancel and get a full refund at any time until we actually have the watches in hand and are writing the warranties after testing and getting ready to ship. Unlike typical microbrands, we don’t ever rely on customers’ pre-order payments to fund production of any of the timepieces we pre-order and always use our own funds to pay our microbrands in full up-front.
We’ll be sure post any updates here as the project progresses, but we don't anticipate having any news to share until January, when production is scheduled to move into full swing. During the intervening period we will continue to keep in close and regular contact with Hemel, who are also supplying us with other watches.
- Type: Microbrand watch.
- Reference: Hemel Airfoil Full Lume BGW9 Panda Exclusive Edition, HF15TMS.
- Exclusive Edition: Only available from The Microbrand Store™.
Complications: Mechanical column wheel chronograph with swan neck regulator.
- Color Scheme: Traditional black and white panda dial (actually the barest hint of cream for a more vintage vibe) with matching black bezel. The main dial is fully lumed, as are all hands and bezel markings, all containing BGW9, which glows blue.
- Water Resistance: 10 ATM / 100 meters / 330 feet.
- Diameter: 42mm, excluding crown.
- Lug Width: 22mm.
- Lug to Lug Length: 49mm.
- Case: Marine grade 316L stainless steel with signed crown.
- Case Back: Screw-down exhibition case back in 316L stainless steel.
- Dial Type: Full reverse lume dial, with styling based on 1970s British military pilot watches. The left sub-dial shows current seconds, and the right sub-dial shows the minute timer for the chronograph function.
- Dial Glass: Double domed scratch resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, featuring a contoured magnifying edge reminiscent of vintage hesalite crystal appropriate for the vintage styling of this timepiece.
- Bezel: 120 click unidirectional scratch resistant gloss ceramic bezel with lumed 12 hour indices. The pip on the bezel can be set to the hour hand when using the chronograph to extend the chronograph timing function for 12 or more hours. The bezel can also be used for a second time zone, or for traditional dive watch timing by setting the pip to the minute hand.
- Lume: Swiss Super-Luminova BGW9 lume. This glows a strong blue in the dark when charged.
- Straps Included: A pair of light tan brown 22mm genuine leather straps with white stitching and double-signed steel buckle.
- Additional Items: The Microbrand Store is also including an accessory package consisting of a top grain nubuck leather travel case for the watch, spring bar tool for strap changes, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
- Movement: 19 jewel Seagull ST1901 hand-wound decorated movement with blued screws, featuring a swan neck regulator for easier and more accurate regulation adjustments to improve the accuracy of the timepiece. The ST19 started out as a famous Swiss movement, the Venus 175, which was used in Swiss watches such as the Breitling Chronomat. Seagull acquired the design and original manufacturing machinery from Venus and developed the improved ST19 series from this design.
- Oscillation: 21,600 BPH, (6 ticks per second.)
- Hacks: No.
- Hand Winds: Yes.
- Automatic Winding: No.
- Power Reserve: 38 hours.
- Manufacturer's Warranty: 2 years.
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