By Contributing Writer, Felipe Hermosillo
In the current watch world, vintage is king. The vintage market has boomed in the last few years with many vintage pieces demanding premiums higher than ever before seen (the Paul Newman Daytona comes to mind). The desire for vintage pieces has resulted in the spike of brands reissuing many of their classic styles and vast creation of homage pieces.
But why the demand for vintage styles? Timelessness. Love or hate the recent vintage resurgence, there is one thing that is quite clear: there is something timeless about many of these classic designs that does not go out of style. Perhaps it is nostalgia, but I think there was an honest, simple, and utilitarian mindset put into the creation of these timepieces that makes them timeless. They were the smartphones of their day . Unfortunately, getting into the vintage watch market is not for everyone. It takes lots of capital and risk. Accidentally purchasing a Frankenwatch, the prohibitive cost of unforeseen repairs, and maintenance are huge risks.
Dan Henry is a microbrand created by Dan Henry, a prolific and famous watch collector. He created a line of watches inspired by his own substantial collection and sells them at reasonable prices to allow anybody to get a taste of the vintage appeal.
Today I am looking at the Dan Henry 1939. This piece draws its inspiration from the chronographs of the 1930s. These chronographs became popular for their contribution during the Second World War due to their utility on the battlefield. The name 1939 is a nod to the year the Second World War began.
On the wrist
While the spirit and the look of the watch are vintage, the dimensions are quite modern with a 41mm case diameter and a 22mm lug width. The watch wears and feels like a contemporary watch. I wish the sizing were more period-accurate to be around 38mm, but I feel as though this sizing choice is a good middle ground that will please many.
The watch is 13.9mm thick but wears thinner due to 1-2mm coming from a very nice sapphire-coated double-domed mineral crystal.
The “sapphire-coated” crystal claims to add an extra level of scratch resistance, but I am not certain of the reality of that claim. I have worn the watch for about a year now and the crystal has picked up a couple of minor scratches along the way. They are nothing to complain about as they can only be seen in bright light and at specific angles.
The lugs taper down nicely to hug the wrist, and with the Miyota quartz movement inside, not only is it reliable and accurate, but it feels comfortably light. It wears like a watch of a larger size but is versatile is enough to be dressed up and fit under a sleeve cuff.
The dial is where this watch shines. The dial draws its influence from the chronographs of the 1930s, specifically from the 1938 Omega-Tissot Chrono Tachy-Telemeter. A side-by-side view reveals they are almost identical.
The black numerals are applied, giving it a more premium look. The hands are painted dark blue to give the effect of blue steel, a unique and beautiful color created by artistically heating steel. It creates a beautiful subtle shine that radiates between blue and black. Creating authentic blued steel is an expensive process, but the painted blue steel effect here looks great and keeps the cost down.
Despite how much information is on the dial, it remains incredibly legible and clean. The dial contains a telemeter, spiral-scale tachymeter, and 60-minute chronograph.
In the middle of the dial is the spiral tachymeter, a complication many of us are familiar with and see on many chronographs; however, we usually see them on the borders of dials, such as on the Omega Speedmaster. The inner-dial spiral tachymeter adds a nice uniqueness to the piece, even though it feels less functional than a regular tachymeter scale.
The most stand-out complication is the telemeter scale, a complication not seen on many watches today. A telemeter scale is used to measure distance. This was one of the most important features for chronographs of the time period and is the prime reason they were adopted by the military. On the battlefield, the wearer activated the telemeter scale upon the visual response to light from the enemy, primarily from naval and artillery strikes, and would stop it as soon as the sound of the impact was heard. The scale would then reveal the distance of the enemy. A situation that hopefully none of us will find ourselves in, but it could be a fun tool to use during a thunderstorm.
Case & Band
The quality of the case is surprisingly good considering the price. The case is a nice mixture of polished and brushed finishing that creates an elegance, but it still has a feeling of a tool watch.
The crown has an onion shape containing a nicely finished signed DH. The pushers feel solid and are large enough to be pressed while wearing gloves, adhering to its military practicality. Sometimes the pushers gave me an issue as I needed to press them twice to engage, but this only happened rarely.
The back of the case is incredibly different and features a screw-down case back with temperature, fuel consumption, pressure, and speed half-circle conversion tables, another nod yet again to its military inspiration. The tables are too small to be used for real-world conversions but are still nice to glance at and admire the quality of the engraving. (You would also have to take the watch off to read them.)
The watch features 50 meters of water resistance — not enough to make me feel comfortable swimming with it, but still enough for normal day-to-day scenarios. It’s a more secure feeling than wearing a real vintage chronograph that most would be scared to even wear while washing dishes.
The watch has a quartz movement, so the telemeter hand has a sweeping effect, which is a nice feature that helps give it more of a mechanical vibe.
The leather band that comes with the 1939 is not the best, but an upgrade from most leather bands on other watches at this price point. The band nicely reflects the time period with its simple all-black leather and stitching. The strap also has a comfortable taper to the buckle.
At $230, the Dan Henry 1939 provides the charm of vintage without any of the drawbacks associated with owning real vintage. By accomplishing this, the Dan Henry 1939 captures a unique and untapped segment of the watch market: affordable vintage designs with historical significance that once served as an essential tool. The timeless dial has received many compliments from non-watch enthusiasts who have no idea they are looking at a 75-year-old-plus design.
I find the Dan Henry 1939 to be high quality, affordable, versatile, built with passion, and with history to tell.
Check out other Dan Henry reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Dan Henry website
|Lug-to-lug Height||49.2mm||Lug Width||22mm|
|Crystal||Sapphire coated mineral crystal||Strap||Leather strap|
|Water Resistance||50 meters||Lume||None|
More Images of the Dan Henry 1939