There are several men’s style categories in which I’d probably never open a business: jeans (enough already), t-shirts (no, you’re not reinventing them) and watches (seriously, enough already). But there is one exceptional entry in the men’s watch game that has caught my eye over the last decade.
In 2009, Hager Watches came onto the scene with the Commando Professional, a handsome and tough tool watch that rivaled luxury tool watches in its elegance, craftsmanship and accuracy, but beat them all on price – by far. Since then, other models have come online with equal beauty and craft, all ranging in price between $550 and $650.
When Hager introduced the Aquamariner in 2016, I nearly did a backflip. It’s a direct homage to iconic dive watches like the Tudor Black Bay, Omega Seamaster or Rolex Submariner, with classic retro lines, a Miyota 9015 automatic self-winding movement and a brushed stainless steel case and bracelet, with water resistance up to 1,000 feet. It’s a timeless timepiece that won’t break the bank.
Most recently, Hager introduced a new model to the collection: the U-2 Dragon Lady. While the Aquamariner is a diver’s watch, the U-2 is designed with a pilot in mind (or for anyone who likes watches, really). It’s a rugged but handsome workhorse.
Made with 316L Marine grade stainless steel, the case measures 41mm in diameter and 51mm from lug to lug. The bracelet is also stainless steel with brushed links, a two-button clasp and a slide-lock extension. The dial is black with an almost midnight blue cast in daylight, raised silver hour markers, a date window at the 6 o’clock position, a 60-second counter at 9 o’clock and a 24-hour counter at 3 o’clock. And the red tachymeter that resembles a second hand is actually a second timer activated by the pusher above the crown (and reset by the pusher below the crown). The U-2 is also water resistant up to 660 feet / 200 meters.
Under the hood is a Seiko VK64 hybrid chronograph movement that combines quartz and mechanical movements. According to the website, the battery should be replaced every three years.
The U-2 is no wispy chronograph. When you first put it on, you definitely feel like you’re wearing something substantial. It has heft without feeling overbearing. I’ve always preferred watches that have a little weight to them, and the U-2 fits the bill.
I’ve had my U-2 for a few months now, and I love it. The only drawback for me is purely sartorial: the watch’s 16mm thickness interferes with the fit of the cuff on my dress shirts. (Fortunately, I get custom dress shirts from Proper Cloth, enabling me to order shirts with a wider cuff on the left to accommodate my watch.) But like any of Hager’s tool watches, the U-2 can be worn with a tux, a t-shirt or anything in between.
What I’ve always loved about Hager since I first heard of them is how they merge luxury, craftsmanship, style and accessibility. They make great looking, classic, functional watches that keep terrific time, which is the whole point. The U-2 Dragon Lady is another fine addition to the collection.