The recently introduced Swiss Military Hanowa Flagship may not offer much in terms of water resistance or technical specs, yet it gives you a Rolex Submariner-like exterior -well, I am a bit lenient here- without being a blatant rip-off while sporting a genuine Swiss Made label on its dial at just 1/10th of the price.
This watch is all about minor compromises, and those are not limited to such obvious things as the choice of inexpensive -quartz!- caliber or the bracelet that looks and feels cheap.
Positioned (or at least styled) as a diving companion, the Flagship Diver offers only 100 meters of water resistance rating: something that is enough for most daily usage scenarios and can be used for swimming and some snorkeling but will probably not be adequate if you ever dare to take the Flagship Diver for a serious dive.
Case, Ergonomics & Bracelet
The watch is offered in a mildly oversized stainless steel case that measures 42 millimeters in diameter and is about 10 millimeters thick, which makes it sit comfortably on a normal wrist. The timekeeper is nicely sculpted, but that’s sort of to be expected since the company was *ahem* following the general guidelines set by the team behind the aforementioned Rolex Submariner.
The fact that the case was inspired by a mix of iconic Rolex models shows just about everywhere starting with the unidirectional rotating bezel -it is currently available in black and blue with a standard 15-minute diving scale and minute markings printed on it- and going all the way to an inevitable pair of integrated crown guards that are machined from the same slab of steel as the rest of the case.
They are not as “flowing” as those on the source of inspiration but will do their job just as well: i.e. they look long enough to protect the crown from occasional harassment.
The bracelet is average but may disappoint persons who are used to more premium timekeepers and are looking for this one primarily as a daily driver.
The case houses an unimpressive Caliber ISA 2330/103 quartz movement of somewhat cheesy origins. Listed on ISA’s site as a rather vague “Swiss made/Far East Assembly,” the mechanism is, as far as I understand, assembled in China or maybe Vietnam using Swiss parts making an already dirt-cheap caliber even cheaper. For me, this sort of rings an alarm bell while raising a red flag: I am not sure whether I would be willing to pay close to $500 USD for a product powered by this sort of mechanism. Your opinion may be different though, I am just giving you the information to consider.
Being only 23.30 mm in diameter and 2.95 mm high, the caliber is powered by a standard 1.55 V battery that stores enough juice for the timekeeper to run for more than 5 years and, even if the mechanism itself won’t last that long due to a, um, mechanical failure, replacing it probably won’t be too expensive.
Dial & Legibility
The dial is available in two versions: a silvered and a black one, both featuring a “vertical stripes” motif that gives the face more depth and makes it look more interesting and even noble (to a degree.) The textured dial plate also makes reading the time easier providing good contrast to the hands in the twilight.
While I was not particularly impressed with the silvered version, the one in black looks attractive in its understatement. It also seems to be more adequate for the watch, which is proposed as a mild diver, providing it with better contrast and thus making the dial more legible in murky waters. The partly skeletonized hour and minute hands, as well as the applied hour markers, are provided with a white luminescent substance, although I can’t say anything about the quality of the lume. I guess, it is not Superluminova.
Pricing & Availability
The Flagship Diver is already available at some online stores at prices ranging from €150 to $200 USD, which is about just half of what was initially recommended by Swiss Military Hanowa for their dealers. At this price, the watch is still more expensive than a good automatic Seiko diver, but to each their own, I guess.
Build Quality: 4/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 2.5/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
Photos: Swiss Military Hanova / Serious Watches
Swiss Military Hanowa Flagship specification
Price: $475 (MSRP)
Movement: Quartz, Caliber ISA 2330/103, 23.30 x 2.95 mm, Swiss Made, Far East Assembly
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: 66 months
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Silvered or Black
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp
Back: Solid, screw-down