Back in the day, hippie activist Abbie Hoffman published a best-seller with the most appropriate title in the history of literature: Steal This Book. Wikipedia is silent on the percentage of people who stole Steal This Book, but it was a lot higher than zero. The Hoffman DIVER 40 is only offered online – frustrating light-fingered counter-culture warriors. The question remains: is it a steal? Let’s start where we usually end: price . . .
The Hoffman Diver 40 sells for $249. That’s cheap for an automatic watch – any automatic watch. We can thank the same internet that protects Hoffman’s inventory from theft for this American-assembled example of #affordablewristtime. Like all ‘net-based micro-brands, the New York-based watchmaker doesn’t have to spend big bucks on advertising or withstand a retailer’s 40% markup to put bread on their table.
That also means the Hoffman Diver 40 is no different price-wise from a large selection of micro-brand watches (e.g., the Straton Tourer Three Hand/GMT/Triple C). The vast majority of these depend on an off-the-shelf Miyota movement for motivation. In the Hoffman’s case (so to speak) it’s the cheap ‘n cheerful 821 A, separated from lesser versions by its striped finishes and a smiley-face rotor cutout.
The aesthetically meh movement arrives covered by an extra long black NATO strap – my least favorite way to wear a watch (aside from the Seiko Diver’s rubber hair shirt). The movement’s durability is high, its accuracy low (-20 / +40 seconds per day). In 2019, Miyota added hacking seconds to the engine. The Hoffman Diver 40 doesn’t have it. But it does have a minimally annoying shutter/stutter second hand sweep movement.
The Hoffman Diver 40’s movement shelters inside a black PVD-coated 316L stainless steel case that’s all but completely covered by a 120-click uni-directional bezel. The lugs stick straight out of the 14mm tall case, doing nothing to counter the impression that you’re wearing a miniature wedding cake on your wrist. Buyers with tight fitting shirt cuffs need not apply.
Despite the practically invisible black-on-black bezel markers and the dial’s minimalist vibe, we’re looking at a dive watch. While “proper dive watches” like the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight are rated to 200m and lower, the Diver 40’s 100m water resistance meets the acceptable depth rating to earn the International Standards Organization’s approval.
The Hoffman Diver 40 sure doesn’t look like a dive watch. The watchmaker proclaims that the dead simple dial’s DARK GREEN. My non-red green colorblind assistant reckons it’s Pantone 5487 C, otherwise known as green cyan (nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica). More debatable: is green the next blue for watch dial fashionability? Bell & Ross’ new field watch is green. So there is that. And not much else.
The Hoffman Dive 40’s Scratch-proof sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating) acts a prism. As you can see, the light refracts blue around the edges. I’m gonna say it’s a bug not a feature, but it’s definitely something you won’t see on many watches. On this 40mm watch, there’s lots of it, at all sorts of angles.
The Hoffman Diver 40 is a different angle on a dive watch. It’s a hardy, waterproof dress watch with a typographically balanced green dial, Super-LumiNova-ed white hands, stark white indices and a large sticky-outy crown. At this price, it pretty much comes down to whether or not you like the minimalist look of the thing. I do, but then I think a GLOCK 19 is beautiful.
Hoffman Dive 40 DARK GREEN
Case: 316L PVD-coated steel
Dimensions: Width 40MM x Length 48MM x Thickness 14MM
Bezel: Unidirectional rotating, 60-minutes
Caseback: Exhibition, sapphire crystal
Movement:Automatic, self-winding, Miyota 821A
Functions: Hour, Minutes, Seconds
Water resistance: 10 ATM / 100 meters
Strap: 20MM NATO
Weight: 3.3 ozs
Warranty: 12 months
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * * *
A minimalist dress watch disguised as a dive watch. Or vice versa.
Legibility * * * * *
Nothing more or less than what’s needed.
Comfort * *
A heavy little thing that’s like a miniature wedding cake on your wrist.
Overall * * *
If you like green, it’s green. If you like a brick shit house auto for hard daily wear and not much money, it’s that too. Two stars withheld for unavoidable height, the NATO strap hiding the movement and the sapphire’s bizarre prism effect.