This week we revisit our Dutch friends at Maen Watches and look at their newest announced release, the Skymaster 38, a sporty GMT chronograph channeling 1960s and ’70s Heuer and Omega designs. This new watch is named for the historic Douglas DC-4 Skymaster plane, known as the first aircraft to begin scheduled transatlantic flights between Amsterdam and New York City. The new watch comes as a follow-up to Maen’s successful Kickstarter-funded Hudson Automatic, a neo-vintage diver that received widespread attention for its unique dial features and accessible price point. Like the Hudson, the Skymaster will also be released as part of a crowdfunding campaign.
The new 38-mm brushed-and-polished steel chronograph will be available in three colorways: black, panda, and reverse panda, and will also feature what is becoming Maen’s signature “Midnight Blue,” and an unusual “Thunder Grey.” Originally, I thought this design was Skipper- or Referee-watch-inspired (models produced by Heuer and Omega, respectively, at different points in their histories), but they are rather generally 1970s-inspired, using an original colorway devised by the brand to complement the design of the Hudson’s hour and minute hands.
The Skymaster’s case features sharp lugs somewhere in between those seen on vintage Carreras and on Speedmaster Professionals, with the case also hosting slightly flattened pump pushers and a large, sturdy, signed crown. Surrounding the dial is an uncommon, bidirectional 12-hour bezel, which adds an extra GMT functionality without any additional required movement functionality. The dial of the watch has a well-balanced design clearly channeling Heuer, with applied markers at each hour, a double marker at 12 o’clock, and simple printed minute markers between each, all surrounded by an outer printed chronograph-style minute ring. The watch uses three radial-textured subdials with a 30-minute counter and 12-hour counter at the 9 and 6 o’clock positions, respectively, and an additional running seconds indicator at the 3 o’clock mark. Sweeping over the dial are two dull-edged sword hands filled with Super-LumiNova and a rectangle-tipped skinny pointer to tally the chronograph seconds. Maen representatives expressed to me that the models reviewed were simply prototypes, and the final releases will feature finer finishing on the steel case, an improved outer bezel functionality, and a more textured dial.
Inside the Skymaster is another reliable piece of technology in the ETA 2894-2 Elaboré. This mechanical automatic movement is frequently described as a “workhorse,” with an approximately 38-hour power reserve, and is visible through a sapphire caseback. The movement is used by brands like TAG Heuer, Chopard, Bell & Ross, and Tissot, among many others.
Maen is now in the process of planning its new Kickstarter campaign for the Skymaster 38, which will launch on September 1st. Once released, it will retail for 799 euros including VAT, and 639 euros without (approximately $900 and $720, respectively). To find out more, and to sign up for Maen’s mailer to be alerted when the Kickstarter goes lives, you can visit the company’s site here.
As mentioned, the new neo-vintage watch clearly makes strong references to historical chronographs, notably in 1970s-era Heuers and Omegas like the Heuer Carrera and Speedmaster Professional. We see these notes in the panda and inverted-panda styles of the dial, the shape of the lugs, the three-register-style chronograph configuration, and, funnily enough, the actual name of the watch (Sky-master). Though in what is becoming a defining factor for Maen, the inspiration for the piece can’t be attributed to any single vintage model, and there are clear efforts by the brand to differentiate it for a modern audience. This is most notably evident in the 12-hour GMT bezel, sapphire caseback, and dial accents — most significantly in the color options.
I’ll admit I have a bias toward “true” tool watches, and the new Skymaster can easily find itself in this category. With a dominantly helpful chronograph functionality matched with the ever- functional GMT 12-hour bezel, this watch is clearly intended to be much more than simply a neo-vintage chronograph, and is establishing itself well as a go-to travel companion — and the brand as likely a lasting player in the market. As of now, I’m excited to see the success of the brand’s Kickstarter campaign, and to — eventually — go hands-on with the final edition of this very interesting watch.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we take a look at the modern Hamilton Ventura and compare it to its predecessors, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.