The Hook+Gaff Sportsfisher Black is swimming against the tide. A large percentage of the 46 million Americans engaged in piscatorial pursuits are now buying smart watches. Wrist-born computers that tell them the time and tide, changes in barometric pressure and their blood-alcohol level. H+G thinks it’s all too much. But is the Sportsfisher Black too little, too late?
The Hook+Gaff Sportsfisher Black reviewed here features a white dial nestling within a black-hole black titanium screw-down case and matching bezel. Thanks to H+G’s mastery of the dark arts, the 41mm Sportsfisher is right-sized wristwear. It doesn’t loom as large as, say, an OMEGA Aqua Terra 41. But boy does it lume.
The Sportsfisher Black’s indices are nothing more or less than framed trigalight® glass tubes. The tritium gas within sheds electrons as it decays. When an electron hits the tubes’ zinc sulfide coating, BAM! There be light. Which is all the time, day and night.
H+G aren’t wrong about the need for glow-in-the-dark legibility during low-light off-shore activities. But they missed the boat with its implementation. The Sportsfisher’s hour and minute hands are too thin with too little tritium infill to read at a glance in the dark. Or at all, if the narrow hands are close together or you’re the average weak-eyed fisherperson.
The Sportsfisher highlights the fine line between minimalism and boredom, falling on the wrong side of that equation. The dial has too much negative space, left barren by too-small indices, a mini-date window and the where’s-my-loop typeface. The miniature fish hook dangling at the end of the Sportsfisher’s second hand is the only diversion from the minimalist aesthetic.
H+G touts the comfort created by positioning the crown on the left side of the case. Angling does require a lot of wrist work. But lefties may wonder why the crown stands proud of the crown guards. And put the watch on upside down, thanks to the undersized H&G logo at 12 o’clock.
The Hook+Graff Sportsfisher Black’s powered by a Ronda quartz movement. “Aesthetics are paramount throughout the design and construction processes,” H+G’s website crows. “Hand assembly is still a part of the watchmaking process — something that the Japanese almost always automate with robotics.”
Yes, well, the Sportfisher’s high-polished steel caseback is closed. The watchmaker’s name and the model occupy pride of place in the center, with something weirdly fishy expiring on the brand’s plus sign.
The Sportfisher is water resistant down to 20 ATMs (200 meters/656 feet). As well it should be, being a fishing watch and all. Ah, but is it? Why wear the Sportsfisher Black while fishing rather than a smart watch or some other hardy quartz or mechanical piece?
It’s not a particularly weighty decision. The titantium H+G Sportsfisher Black tips the scales at just three ounces. In comparison, the all-steel Barton Springs Diver weighs 3.6 oz.
The Sportfisher’s textured rubber band also helps make a case for the watch (not literally). Off-wrist, the band looks as flexible as an aircraft carrier’s landing deck. On-wrist, the rubber is forgettably comfortable (comfortably forgettable?) and durable AF.
As you might expect at this price point, the Sportsfisher Black’s pushbutton deployant clasp feels flimsy. In practice, the stamped stainless steel system snicks home with conviction, and remains secure enough for strenuous wet work (fishing not political assassination).
The Hook + Gaff Sportfisher Black’s main selling points are rugged durability and classic style. While I don’t doubt the former, the white-faced watch fails to float my boat. The titanium case is cool and the watch is well screwed together, but the timepiece sheltering inside H+G’s boldly branded packaging is a bit too blah for this reviewer.
If you’re looking for a American-assembled three-handed watch that’s not afraid of the water, that can withstand the hard-knock life of a diehard angler, the H+G Sportsfisher Black fits the bill. If you’re looking something with a bit of aesthetic oomph, it’s time to cut bait and fish.
MODEL: Hook+Graff Sportsfisher Black (white dial)
PRICE: $525 (click here to buy, no commission paid)
Caseback: Screw-down stainless steel, engraved with modified H+G logo
Clasp: Stainless steel, pushbutton deployant
Movement: Ronda quartz, hacking seconds
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Lume: mb-microtec trigalight® glass tubes
Water resistance: 200m/660 ft.
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * *
Simple, coherent and dull. The indices and hands are too small for a 41mm watch, leaving excessive negative space.
Legibility * * *
Excellent during the day, not so great at night (small hands do not make light work).
Comfort * * * * *
The rubber strap looks like an aircraft carrier’s landing deck, but feels secure on-wrist. The titanium case keeps the weight down, ensuring all-day comfort. Setting the time is silky smooth.
Clasp * * * *
Works well, feels cheap.
Overall * * *
The Hook+Graff Sportsfisher Black is tough but bland. A solid choice for fisherpeople who want a three-hander that can take a beating, but not one for buyers looking for a heart-warming design.