Hesili, a young New York-based microbrand, recently launched its first timepiece–the Origin Series One. In development since 2018, the microbrand dress watch is an abiding neo-vintage design that is built and assembled in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. After a brief email exchange with co-owner and co-designer, Sam, we manged to get the Classic Black version in for a hands-on perusal.
The Origin Series One is CNC machined from 316L stainless steel. It measures 40mm in diameter and 48.5mm lug to lug, but wears a little smaller than its dimensions suggest. For one, the watch is quite thin for an automatic at 10.7mm. In addition, the wide bezel leaves only 32.5mm for the dial. The visual effect of the smaller dial is slimming. The lug shape and lower strap pin placement also contribute to a comfortable on wrist experience.
Head on, the case shape is reminiscent of Grand Seiko’s SBGD201 from their Masterpiece Collection. However, the bezel of the Origin Series One is high polish. The rest of the case is a mix of finishes, including both horizontal and vertical brushing. A fine chamfered edge of polish also runs along the outside of the mid case and through to the end of the lugs. Most interesting, however, is the swooping bevel on the inside of the lugs next to the case, which adds a bit of dynamism to the otherwise traditional design. The caseback is attached to the watch by six screws and is individually numbered. The crown is push-pull and finely knurled. The piece is rated at 50m of water resistance.
The most attractive feature the Origin Series One has to offer is its dial. All five colourways use lacquered brass for a high gloss veneer. Over this we have rhodium-plated, hand applied indices and numerals. The mirror polish of the markers and the pitched dauphine hands allow for significant light play. The overall effect is clean, with only three lines of tastefully integrated text. Around the outside of the watch there is also an understated railroad-style minute track. The date window, which replaces the indicator at 6, is a well-executed circle with a similarly polished bevel.
While they did not strike me immediately, one of the dial elements that grew on me over time–and especially after shooting macro-photography–were the small rhodium-plated beads that accompany each of the Arabics. Rather than opting for circular plots, Hesili chose rounded markers that have an entirely different visual appeal.
Of course, all of this is visible through the double-domed sapphire crystal. The glass is 1.5mm thick and treated with fourteen layers of anti-reflective coating–seven on top and seven under. The result is a highly legible dial, even in full sun.
The watch is powered by the capable Swiss STP1-11. It’s a 4Hz movement from the Fossil Group, based on the ETA 2824. It has a 44-hour power reserve and hacking seconds.
By way of a strap, the watch comes with an Italian pebble grain leather band with a stainless steel buckle. The brand also offers numerous options that include vegetable tanned straps and drummed leather.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
48.5mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
50m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Double-Domed Sapphire |
/w 14 Layers of AR
Lacquered Brass Dial
Applied Rhodium-plated Indices
Date @ 6 O’clock
44-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Italian Pebbled Grain Leather|
/w Steel Hardware
Hesili Origin Series One
Early in their watchmaking journey, the brand founders met Neil Carpenter, of Carpenter Watches, in a boutique called The Brooklyn Watch Shop. Neil acted as a mentor and design consultant on the Origin Series One and you can see his influence in the final product. Similar design language to the Origin Series One can be found in the more utilitarian Brooklyn Field, for instance.
While Hesili is based in New York, its watches are produced entirely in Switzerland, where they are also tested for accuracy and water-resistance. Each watch receives a quality testing result before it is shipped.
While the point may be mute in the other four colourways, because of the added expense involved in customizing the calibre, certainly in the case of the Classic Black, there must be an off the shelf movement with a matching date wheel. I don’t find the current white variety to be obtrusive, yet I wonder if a matched wheel wouldn’t complete this slick design.
With its retro numerals and traditional clean lines, the Hesili Origin Series One could reference any number of mid-century watches. Though it doesn’t lean on any one design in particular for its inspiration, the dial will feel, at once, both familiar and new–like the melody of a song you haven’t heard in years. The case finishing is good for its price point and the Swiss calibre is solid. There are fine touches in the shape of the lugs and the hour indicators, for instance. The crown is another inspired choice. While the overall appearance is minimalist, it might equally be described as elegant. If the Origin Series One is any indication, Hesili is a brand to watch.
The Hesili Origin Series One retails for $595USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
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