When microbrands first started gaining popularity, dive watches were all the rage. If you wanted a successful microbrand, you had a dive watch in your stable. As the years have gone by, most consumers have at least one dive watch in their collection, if not taking up the majority of their watch box.
Dive watches are still popular, but fixed-bezel sports watches and dress watches are making a comeback in a serious way. These watches are often smaller in case size and thickness, offering a different wearing experience than the chunky dive watches we’re all used to. Hesili, a new brand out of New York, is looking to capitalize on this with the Original Series One. The collection is made up of classic dial colors in a thin and sleek case, and did we mention they’re Swiss made and a hair under $600? Let’s see how the Original Series One measures up.
On the Wrist
A trend that I have noticed, especially with sports watches, is that lugs that start tapering out closer to the middle of the case are becoming more prevalent. I first noticed it on the Monta Triumph and it has found its way onto the Original Series One. This style of case allows a modest case size, in this case, 40mm, to pack more wrist presence. As the lugs flare out before tucking themselves back in as they reach the strap, it also gives the case an extremely elegant look. Wrist presence and elegance together is a hard trick to pull off.
40mm is above what most people consider the top end for a dress watch, but the Original Series One feels like it dances a fine line between dress and sport. There are lots of polish and gloss to give it that dressy vibe, but it still has a touch of aggressiveness to fit into the sports watch category. I’ve seen this more as microbrands are moving away from dive watches as these dressy, sporty watches tend to appeal to almost anyone. They’re perfect for tucking under the sleeve of your suit or taking the kids to the park (the latter is something that I find myself doing more with my watches these days).
You’ve got yourself a 40mm watch, bordering on what most consider “not a dress watch” and lots of style on the dial (perhaps the name of my next website). Although the lug-to-lug is 48.5mm, I felt it wore a lot smaller than this due to the thinness of the case and the lug design (which I’ll discuss shortly). This leaves you with a watch that is comfortable to wear and a pleasure to look at whenever you check the time. That’s what it is all about and the Original Series One nails it. Review over. Just kidding, there is a lot more to unpack here.
Hesili Original Series One Video Review
The dial of this watch is what sucked me in. When I reached out to Hesili to get a review sample, I did it before looking at photos of the case, strap, or anything else. I wanted to see that dial in person. I’m a sucker for applied numerals, especially when they are rhodium-plated. They’re just so shiny.
The numerals are present in all of the non-cardinal positions and their elegant font classes up the joint. They look fantastic from almost any angle and provide a soft contrast to the alpha-style hands. Everything, including the cardinal markers and the date window surround, is polished and either fades into the dial or explodes out of it when the light hits them. It’s a joy to look at. I’d love to see what a lighter-colored dial with gunmetal hands and markers would look like with this layout.
Flanking the markers is a railroad-style minute track. This simple yet classic track provides some added detail to the dial while not cluttering it. Minute markers for 60, 15, 30, and 45 are printed inside the track at their respective positions.
Case & Straps
I said above that the dial sucked me in. I really should have looked at the case because what a case it is. It was a pleasant surprise when I examined the watch when it arrived for review. I wasn’t expecting it; I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.
The case of the Original Series One is thin, sleek, and extremely well-finished. The fixed bezel is mirror- polished and the downward slope of the bezel reflects everything around you, giving it a neat effect. The only downside of a mirror-polished bezel is that it will pick up scratches easily. Be careful what you bump into.
The tops of the lugs and the sides of the case are brushed. The brushing contrastsa polished chamfered edge that runs the length of the case. The bezel sits just inside of this chamfer, adding depth to the case and slightly reducing the perceived size of the watch. There is also a small bevel on the inside of the lugs. This thins out the lugs and makes them appear slimmer than their 20mm width. The case is only 10.7mm thick and with a wrist-to-crystal of 9.5mm, this is an extremely well-designed case.
While the Original Series One in Timeless Blue (the dial color in this review) comes on a brown leather strap, Hesili sent a few of the other straps they offer. The straps offered coordinate with the dial colors offered for the Original Series One. The included strap was supple and conformed well to my wrist, as did the other included straps. My personal favorite was the blue row stitch strap, and I would recommend that one if you pick up the Timeless Blue dial color.
$595 is the perfect price point for this watch and (dare I say it) a good value. The finishing is just as good as I’ve seen from watches at two times or more its price point. Hesili put care into designing this watch and it shows. The clean dial layout and the excellent case really show they wanted to come out with guns blazing.
I’m happy watches like the Original Series One exist. I love dive watches, but I feel we’re getting close to “you can have it in any color, as long as it’s black” when it comes to them. Dress and sports watches like the Original Series One are injecting a little variety into the microbrand world and giving us watch enthusiasts some much-needed options.
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Hesili Original Series One Specs