The Hz Watches HZ.01 sports Swiss quartz, hardened titanium, and GADA proportions – for less than $200 The Hz Watches HZ.01 sports Swiss quartz, hardened titanium, and GADA proportions – for less than $200

The Hz Watches HZ.01 sports Swiss quartz, hardened titanium, and GADA proportions – for less than $200

Borna Bošnjak
  • Melbourne-based microbrand Hz Watches launch their first watch – an affordable quartz everyday piece
  • Cased in hardened titanium and with sapphire crystal, the HZ.01 is looking to be the entry-level champion, priced at A$249, US$170
  • Powered by a Ronda Swiss quartz, the watch sports vintage cues like the tuxedo dial and medallion caseback

The concept of the go-anywhere-do-anything watch is a well-established one, and if you’ve spent any time in watch circles, you would’ve likely come across a debate as to what actually makes such watches great. And that is my question to you – what are the necessary attributes for any GADA watch? Matt, the founder of Melbourne-based Hz Watches, thinks he’s got the idea down-pat, putting it all together for his first release – the HZ.01. Not only is it a genuinely affordable proposition, it comes courtesy of a proper watch enthusiast. Modding Seikos, prowling the forums, and collecting pretty much everything – JDM Casios, broken vintage oddities, or established micros – you name it. Matt is a fellow watch degenerate – truly one of us. This entire concept actually started out as a purely selfish endeavour, with Matt looking to fill a gap in his personal collection, before realising that this might actually be something other people could be interested in, too. Of course, you’ve read the title by now, so let’s get right to it. This is indeed a 38.5mm, titanium watch with a sapphire crystal and Swiss quartz movement with a four-ish year battery life, for nearly half the price of a MoonSwatch.

The dial

hz watches hz 01 green dial

There’s a bit of a recurring theme going on with the dials – where all of its features are centred around the pinion, emanating from it in concentric circles. The circularly brushed, silver central medallion steps up to an applied, grooved ring of colour, transitioning with a polished highlight, with a choice of green, blue or burgundy. That same strip of reflective metal can be found in the chamfers of the day and date windows, making for a largely uninterrupted surface.

hz watches hz 01 burgundy dial

Looking a little further out, and the effect of the circular grooves on the coloured ring becomes less obvious as you get further away. This almost gives a floating effect to the sans-serif, raised Arabic numerals matching the steep minute track rehaut in off-white. If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know how I feel about excess dial text. The HZ.01 is pretty much the complete antithesis of that, including no branding whatsoever – a really brave choice for your first release – save for a line of text reading “32,768Hz”. That is, of course, in reference to the oscillating frequency of a quartz crystal – yet another proof of Hz’s complete leaning into the movement technology.

hz watches hz 01 lume

No GADA watch would be complete without lume, and the same can be said for the HZ.01. The tapering syringe-style hands and Arabic indices glow a frosty blue, thanks to BGW9 SuperLuminova. Being realistic, these won’t compete with large applied markers of divers or full-lume dials, but they also don’t really need to considering the style of watch.

The case

hz watches hz 01 grape dial

Dials aesthetics are always going to be subjective, but I’m not sure I can say the same when it comes to choice of material for a GADA watch. Steel is, of course, the default choice, but Matt’s intention was to create an analogue watch that you’d forget having on the wrist. What better choice then, than titanium? Alongside the aforementioned 38.5mm diameter, the hardened titanium case spans to 46mm lug-to-lug, and only 9.85mm in height – spot-on for an everyday watch – and so is the water-resistance, set at 100 metres. Notably, one change that will be made for the production version, thanks to community feedback, will be the addition of a signed crown.

hz watches hz 01 green dial wrist

Having spent some time with the HZ.01 – one of the prototypes hand-assembled by Matt – I got to find out how the watch actually wears. Funnily enough, it’s kind of difficult to figure that out, as the titanium case and lack of a metal bracelet really do add up for a featherweight feel on-wrist. Thanks to its case shape and mostly brushed finish, the HZ.01 leans towards the sportier spectrum of the everyday proposition, though I do see that experience differing if your wrists are much larger than 7.5in or so.

The strap

hz watches hz 01 blue dial

Each of the dial colours is paired with a different leather strap, with their surface given a slight patinated effect. Grey leather is matched with blue, brown goes with green, and tan accompanies red. Just like the rest of the watch, they’re subtle, but very comfortable on the wrist, but if you’d rather swap it out for something more water-resistant, say, the 20mm lug width and quick-release spring bars will make that easy to do. Finally, the straps end in a brushed titanium pin buckle with another reminder of the Hz’s dedication to quartz – a “32,768Hz” engraving.

The movement

hz watches hz 01 caseback

Did you know this watch was quartz? Yes, I’ve mentioned it frequently, but it is really rare to see a brand embrace the technology so much, especially considering the amount of watch snobbery. Being quartz, a closed caseback is expected, but Hz adorn it with a lacquer-filled brand logo tributing the electronic circuitry of a quartz movement, as well as medallions found on some vintage watches. Beneath is a Ronda 507 – a Swiss quartz with a stated accuracy of -10/+20 seconds per month, and a battery life just short of four years. To those wary of second hand alignment – Matt has had the same concerns – having many back-and-forths with his suppliers to ensure that QC is done properly.

I’m sure you would’ve noted by now that I’m quite fond of this watch – and you’d be right. But my fondness for it stems from more than just its on-paper specifications. It’s just about as unpretentious as a watch can be, and you won’t find any of that “affordable luxury” crap anywhere – I mean there’s not even a logo on the dial. Are there more elaborate designs, case finishes, or “prestigious” movements out there? Of course, but considering the price and what’s on offer, I find there to be very little to complain about.

Hz Watches HZ.01 pricing and availability

hz watches hz 01 blue dial travel case

The HZ.01 will be available for pre-orders starting on the 28th of January, directly from the brand’s website. The pre-order price will apply to either the first 48 hours after release, or the first 500 pieces sold – whichever comes later. That way, even if more than the 500 are sold in the first two days, you’ll be able to secure pre-order pricing in that window. Price: A$249, US$170 (pre-order), A$349, US$235 (RRP)

Brand Hz Watches
Model HZ.01
Case Dimensions 38.5mm (D) x 9.85mm (T) x 46mm (LTL)
Case Material Hardened titanium
Water Resistance 100 metres
Crystal(s) AR-coated sapphire crystal
Dial Silver, applied concentric circle in blue, green or burgundy
Bracelet Grey, brown or tan leather, quick-release spring bars, titanium pin buckle
Movement Ronda 507, quartz, -10/+20 seconds/month
Power Reserve 45 months
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date
Availability Pre-orders open 28th of January
Price A$249, US$170 (pre-order)
A$349, US$235 (RRP)