Hamtun H2 Kraken Review – A Wild Kickstarter Success Delivers….But Not Without Labor Pain

By: Mark Signorelli

By any measure, the Kickstarter campaign of the Hamtun H2 titanium dive watch was a wild success. Fully funded in less than 30 seconds, the pledges ultimately exceeded $550,000 with 1,300 enthusiastic backers in the queue. Based on well-documented feedback, that initial euphoria dissolved into a war of words between defenders of the H2’s creator (Ross Davis) and certain backers who were less than satisfied with Ross’ service and communication style. More on that later.

The menu of options that were available was extensive and included six dial colors, date or no date, multiple bezels and case backs as well as the choice of a Swiss movement or a value priced Seiko NH35a. The watch that I chose features a starkly beautiful white dial, ceramic dive bezel and Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement.

Overall specifications of this watch are impressive and include a titanium case with scratch-resistant coating, applied indices, sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating, BGW9 Super-LumiNova, 60-click ball-bearing ceramic bezel, drilled lugs, 200m water resistance, screw-down crown, scratch-resistant titanium bracelet with solid end-links. As an early adopter, my cost was $432. which I viewed as an unbeatable value. Comparisons to Ross’ first dive watch, the H1, are inevitable and will appear throughout this review. Let’s see if the H2 lives up to the spec sheet.

Case, Dial and Hands

I have to start with the dial because it’s a showstopper featuring creamy white, applied markers against a pure white background. The markers are very well defined with a silver-grey outline that can appearblack before it catches light reflections. The sword hands are just the right size and have a bold, black outline that allows for quick and easy time reading. The second hand is tipped with an aqua blue lollipop that matches the word “Kraken” on the dial. The date window aligns at 4 o’clock with the crown and its white background nicely integrates with the dial.

The 41mm titanium case is similar to the H1 but slightly less generic looking and slightly more refined. The surface angles are less abrupt and curvier. The finishing is brushed and has a pleasant sheen. It’s just a better and more integrated package.

The screw on case back is dominated by a scowling Kraken that is less scary and more cartoonish than the legendary, supersized Octopus. Right below its front tentacles is a special code that indicates the model, type of movement (“S” for Sellita, “N” for NH35a) and serial number. An exhibition case back is available but you are responsible for its installation.

One of the features of the H2 is its anti-scratch coating. Titanium can be prone to scratching and I’m happy to report that, after several weeks of continuous wrist time, the entire case is scratch-free. I certainly haven’t babied this watch and time will tell if the coating continues to perform.

Attention lume nerds! One of the criticisms of the H1 was the skimpy lume and Ross has put that problem to rest. The lume application on the H2 is very generous and completely satisfying. Sitting on a dresser across the room, this watch will glow all through the night and into the morning.

Bezel and Crown

When judged by aesthetics, the bezel and crown are an improvement over the Hamtun H1. They have a more tasteful appearance with recessed knurling on the bezel and the Hamtun logo nicely machined into the crown. Unfortunately, the user interface on the crown is unrefined and gritty. The action is anything but smooth and there is tremendous resistance when trying to engage the threads. Maybe it will improve with continued use or maybe it will just give me arthritis. On the plus side, the crown guards seem less intrusive than on the H1 and allow for better purchase when muscling the crown into place.

The ball-bearing bezel is a nice feature and it does offer precise placement of the indicator with the markings on the chapter ring. It tends to bind when turned slowly but, after several weeks of use, I noticed that the action loosened up and smoothed out.

The Movement

As previously mentioned, I went with the Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement over the Seiko NH35a. The Sellita movement added $100 to the final cost but offers better accuracy specs and also allows for a case that is 0.5mm thinner. Several informal timing runs using the WatchTracker app point to excellent timekeeping in the range of +1 to +5 seconds per day. The SW200-1 also features a 38 hour power reserve and a quickset date that changes precisely at midnight.

Bracelet and Rubber Strap

The bracelet is all titanium and, therefore, super lightweight. Sizing it was a breeze using a 1mm screwdriver to remove links and then fine tuning the micro adjustments on the clasp. Ah, the clasp. It’s not great.It rattles every which way and required field surgery (using cushioned pliers) to get the safety catch to stay put.

Compared to the silicone strap that came with the H1, the rubber strap that arrived with the H2 is a step forward visually but is not at all comfortable. Aesthetically, it looks better because of the nice taper as well as the natural rubber that, unlike silicone, does not attract lint remnants. Practically speaking, it doesn’t work for me. The rubber is not pliable and consequently does not conform to the shape of my wrist. It also has the exact same awkward clasp as the bracelet.

However, all is not lost. I have a brand new 22mm Toxic Shiznit that’s been neglected in my strap box for years. I normally don’t wear NATO straps but it’s perfect for the H2. For additional comfort, I cut off the strap keepers on all of my NATO straps as they just add extra bulk with no discernible benefit.

Kickstarter Friction

After the success of the Hamtun H1, Ross established a reliable fan base hungry for his next dive watch. As the H2 campaign unfolded, emotions ran high for some backers who became disenchanted by months of delays, unanswered questions and shipping gaffes (which they blamed on Ross). Still, many others rushed to Ross’ defense and reminded disgruntled patrons that Kickstarter is not the same as just ordering a product that arrives in two days. My own observation is that Ross became a victim of his own success and was almost vanquished by the sheer number of watches that he had to deliver.

Final Thoughts

The H2’s Kickstarter campaign has run its course and the watch is sold out online. Ross is promising a second batch of H2 models in the future. Other dial options include black, yellow, light blue, dark blue and meteorite. Personally, I found all of those to be rather bland and uninteresting. The white dial is just more playful, more unique and so well executed.

The H2 is one of those dive watches that would satisfy Goldilocks. The case size is just right, the lug-to-lug distance is a manageable 48mm and, at 13mm, it’s not too thick. The titanium case is comfortable on the wrist and appears durable, but it’s the dial execution that brings joy. If that was Ross’ mission, then I say mission accomplished.

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• 41mm x 48.3mm x 13.1mm
• Lug width: 22m
• 200m Water Resistance
• Flat sapphire crystal
• Ceramic, 60 Click Bezel (ball bearing)
 
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14 thoughts on “Hamtun H2 Kraken Review – A Wild Kickstarter Success Delivers….But Not Without Labor Pain”

  1. Don’t get it…looks just like a SKX or a 6309 with an updated bezel (which i like) in titanium (which i appreciate) but don’t get the wild attention on kickstarter. I’d get one except i already have a couple of older 6309’s and an SKX..Not a bad looking watch though, like the crown and bezel detailing!

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    • Which model Seiko is made from Titanium, has a sapphire crystal and a ceramic bezel? Also, the 6309 is a turtle case, no? I believe there’s the SPRE05, but it’s comically large at 47mm! In many ways, the Kraken could be considered a pre-made Seiko SKX with all the custom mods already applied from the factory.

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    • I backed H2 on Indiegogo and still haven’t received mine either Jamie. It’s one of those things that I’m reminded about every month or so, and it ticks me off.

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  2. Hi Jamie, Man that’s rough. I don’t understand the lack of response but it’s got to be frustrating as hell.

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  3. I had same white dial one and it’s a cool watch but as soon as saw it, I lost interest and sold it on eBay. Luckily didn’t lose money, actually made $35 profit which earned me best on this watch because I sold it fast before a lot people starting to sell their. Want to see H3 GMT coming out in a few weeks.

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  4. Hi Wayne, Thanks for your comment. What is it about the H3 that piques your interest? Is it just the GMT feature or are there other dial colors that you want to see?

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    • I would like to see GMT but not sure if I want to get one that 95% design matching to H2. Personally, I expected GMT would have some changes like hands or markers at least. I doubt that H2 owner will go after same H2 design on GMT. But Ross has certain amount of followers plus new potential new buyers so I think they will do well for next project. Personally, want to see new designs on every new line watch coming out unless you are Jaeger Lecoultre or Rolex but it’s just me.

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  5. Nice write-up, Mark. I generally agree with your conclusions. I only received mine mid April, so yeah, the wait was tough. I for one never thought Ross was dishonest or flaky, just overwhelmed as you mention. I think most backers who had to wait an extended time (~4-5 months extra) felt similarly to me.

    I have the meteorite version myself and find the tonality of the dial to compliment the silvery-gray titanium beautifully. The white dial was my second choice. I think I would like the black handset and lume trim from the white dial version more on the meteorite dial than the chrome it came with.

    The Sellita has been humming along and was obviously well-regulated. My Timegrapher has the beat error @ 0.0-0.1 consistently, amplitude just over 300 after wearing it all day, and roughly +/- 5 s/day. Perfectly acceptable to me!

    Overall, I think it’s an outstanding value and find Hamtun a trustworthy maker. I’ll probably go for the GMT H3 (in white!) if they’re not already gone.

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  6. Thanks Theodor. I agree with your sentiments about the value and I think the white dial would make a great GMT choice. I guess the movement is still up in the air until there is some clarity on supply.

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  7. Mark, I’m surprised, and honestly none too pleased that you’re giving Hamtun publicity on TBWS which prides on the non-BS. I can only describe how Ross has carried this H2 project as abysmal. I would not consider him trustworthy for many reasons.

    1. “Watch not delivered”
    Many backers on Indiegogo, including myself, have still not received the H2 watch. That is crystal clear from the comments section there, where Ross has apparently not addressed single complaint raised about the watch not received. He’s taken off completely with many backer’s money.

    2. Shipping
    Oh god, the shipping. For whatever thought process that is outside of my logic, Ross decided to go forward with a shipping company that didn’t provide any tracking information for each shipment. When he is managing a 2000+ watch project, I don’t understand why this decision made any sense.

    3. Communication
    It’s become abundantly clear that he is too introverted as a business owner – the silent treatment is his signature. Instead of leaving occasional updates on the project page to inform the backers where things are, he just tries to deal with the comments flooding in, and bemoans that he spends all his time dealing with the comments. Many of the comments during the project had to do with his lack of updates, so some of his own pain was self-inflicted. I’m amazed by the apparent stubbornness that has prevented Ross from taking in the feedback about the updates, that his backers have reiterated time and time again.

    4. Cringey Social Marketing
    He’s engaged in pretty NSWF (for the lack of better term) marketing on Instagram, posting nude photos of a model (supposedly his personal acquaintance) on the Hamtun page. It didn’t help with the brand image, but he stuck with the fact that he’s “just helping out a friend.” I still don’t understand why he insisted that it had to be nude shots. One reason that I’m surprised by this review, is that Mike and Kaz on the podcast seem to be against sleazy marketing.

    5. “Prototype in production”
    One of the key additional feature that Ross pursued after the KS campaign closed was the ballbearing bezel that you mentioned. This severely delayed his project schedule, and he had to recall and fix the ball bearing design issues after the production started. Hindsight is 20/20, but poor risk assessment is a repeating notion in Ross’ operation.

    6. Pricing
    I don’t think most of his backers wanted some twisted race to the bottom. The H2 had a nice design to it, and most backers seemed to voice more comments about quality than whether the price point hit $300, $350, or whatever. If the prices were set higher, it could have opened more options to how he can run his business. Which leads me to…

    5. The HR problem
    Ross Davis, the “one man army.” Such delusion has been shattered into so many pieces. There’s this school of thought in Ross Co. that whatever the number of watches ordered, he can singlehandedly deal with it… while launching the next Kickstarter (H3) project, and peddling in the launch of sister brands. One can expect such business structure to implode given enough time. If only he could entrust the day-to-day operation with someone with better business acumen.

    That is pretty much where everything is now. There seems to be a tragic loss in Ross’ family – that is truly sad and my condolence there – and there is no one to help keep things afloat. H2 backers still haven’t received their watches, H3 backers are left in the dark, same with the Phantom Caleuche backers, and god knows what happened to Basilisk Watch brand.

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  8. Nightmare. Waited forever to get my watch. Watch arrived broke . It was shipped from the UK to the US flopping around in a bag. That’s it. No box, no warranty info, just thrown in a bag. Emailed Ross the day I received it. He told me to ship it to his US repair guy, Jeff Duschane and he would refund me the shipping fees. Time went by, tried contacting Ross numerous times about my watch repair with basically no response. 5-1/2 months later it shows up from the repair guy. I was finally going to be able to enjoy my watch! Nope. Still broken. Same problem. Rotor seperatated from the moment. Still no response from Ross. I took it upon myself to have the rotor replaced with a new part by a local watch maker. So between shipping, parts, and labor I was about about $90 just to make my new watch work. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to reach Ross about my refund. Still nothing. We are still waiting on the ratchet clasp. Good luck on that. I honestly feel Ross ran out of money, launched H3. Soon as that funded he started shipping more H2’s. This is a Ponzi scheme. Launch new projects to fund and deliver the previous one. The Phantom watch which was Ross side project has had no updates or communication. No one has received a watch. The H3 campaign looks like it isn’t living up to the promises either. This had completely ruined this brand and any credibility that Ross had. Don’t waste your time or money on any project that Ross Davis is trying to promote.

    Reply

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