REVIEW: Hands On With HZ Watches – The Latest Australian Microbrand!

by Matt Clymo

The latest microbrand from Australia is about to launch, and we’ve been wearing their launch model, the HZ.01 for the last week getting a feel for it and the brand!

What We Love

  • The vintage-inspired look
  • The ability to dress up or down
  • The circular graining on the dial and green outer track that pops

What We Don’t

  • Slightly on the smaller size
  • Date window a little too small
  • Lack of lume on the numerals

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Wearability: 8.5/10
  • Design: 8.5/10
  • Build quality: 8/10

It’s not every day that you get to go hands on with a watch prior to its launch, well, not for an extended period of time and even rarer to wear it for a week or so and have fun with it to review. And when this is the launch model for a brand-new microbrand from Australia, then it is a privilege to test it out, and not only give feedback back to the brand, but let the general watch-buying public know about it and help support a fellow enthusiast-turned-watch maker with their new endeavour.

A Bit Of Background

HZ Watches is the brainchild of Matthew Zillman, a Melbourne local who, like many of us, developed a love for watches at an early age. Having had some early model Seiko’s, he got into watch modding and building after doing a movement swap on a Seiko 5 with the 7s26 movement. And in his words: “Before I had time to blink, I was modding and creating different custom SKX mods for myself and a few friends at university, which soon blossomed into Seiko Mods Australia”

One of the mods Matt has done using the SKX007 as the base

Needless to say, this little venture took on a life of its own, and soon, Matt’s order book was full of people wanting custom mods. Due to the success of this, he felt it was time to expand and see if he could consign his watches to some secondary dealers, and in the process with one in particular, ended up with a job instead. This helped to pay his way through University where he ended up being a Management Consultant, with a love of watches.

With some money came a new appreciation of finer watches and all things mechanical, but Matt still felt there was a gap in the market for a well-built quartz piece. One that looked good and was designed well at a price point most people could afford. “After not being able to find a quartz watch that I wanted to add to my collection, I set out to build my own as a personal project! This project then eventually evolved into the microbrand that it is today after I realised that there was a gap in the market.”

And with this, HZ Watches was born!

The HZ Watches HZ.01

The Design

The design of the watch is very much modern and classic. The HZ.01 seemingly takes inspiration from pieces and brands across the past few decades, and in doing so, creates an aesthetic that is both a little industrial via the use of the Titanium and solarisation on the inner dial, and vintage classic with the applied indices and circular patterned outertrack with clean metallic rehaut. So here is a good as a place to start as any!

The dial on the HZ.01 looks like a dial on a watch you’d expect to pay 10x the amount

When you think of a AUD $250 watch (at the pre-sale price) then you’re not thinking in a lot of instances quality and design. But this is the market gap Matt was speaking of. Well priced and well designed with a solid Swiss Quartz movement. The inner dial is beautifully solarised, which comes out when on the wrist. In the daylight, this makes the dial stand out, and as you can see in the photo’s brings the center dial to life. The day window is clean and easy to read at the 12 o’clock position, and at 6 o’clock, the 32,768Hz (the frequency at which the quartz beats at) is in a nice pop of red. Under this, you have a round date window. Now my only small critique of the dial is the date window. I feel that this could have perhaps been a little larger for both ease of reading and fitting the date when in double digits cleanly.

The concentric circular pattern on the inner dial makes a statement on the HZ.01

The green outertrack is what gives the HZ.01 the pop of colour. Whilst we had the green variant to test out, it does come in both blue and burgundy. Personally, the green was my choice for a couple of reasons. The first being it’s different from other pieces I own and the second is the combination of the green with the tan strap – it just works so well. The green outer isn’t an in-your-face colour. It’s subtle and more an olive green in natural daylight. Whereas in in a lower light, like a very overcast afternoon (which is what it was in the pic below) it turns a deeper, darker shade of green.

Different shades of green make this piece nice and versatile

The HZ.01 has very clean case lines, which given the vintage inspiration makes a lot of sense. Now, vintage pieces are less likely to be Titanium and more likely to be steel or precious metals, but the great thing with titanium is that it looks more steel than not. Yes it’s a bit more subdued in tone, but this just adds to the vintage vibe of what I can only describe as a sporty dress watch, or a dressy sports watch if you prefer.

Classic design lines via the brushed case and polished beveling on the lugs make this a clean wearing piece.

Capping off the design style is the leather strap. In the case of this variant, it comes with an interchangeable tan leather strap, which can be swapped out via the quick-release spring bars standard on each model. Matt and HZ Watches have done a good job pairing the straps with each colourway – the blue paired with a light grey and the burgundy paired with a darker brown. With a 20mm lug width, should you want to create a strap monster out of this, you should find it easy to do so.

The quick change springbar in the strap makes this a veritable strap monster.

The other bonus touch, whilst not a design element of the watch is the packaging. HZ Watches package the watch up in a leather watch roll. This makes it perfect for those who take multiple watches with them whilst traveling or just to store them in whilst wearing others. Each watch roll’s interior is colour-matched to the dial of the watch – again the little details that Matt and HZ Watches have thought about for collectors. The quality seems good as well, and when you can pay up to $100+ in some instances for a singular watch roll, this makes the HZ.01 even more value for money.

The colour-matched travel roll with the green HZ.01

The one area where I felt the HZ.01 could have improved was the low light legibility and the lume. Whilst the hands are lumed very well with multiple coats of BGW9 SuperLuminova, the numerals are only lightly lumed, meaning that whilst you can still tell the time via the hands, it’s not as easy as it normally is with fully lumed indices. Talking to Matt from HZ Watches, he tells me that this was due to the way he has designed the numerals. Rather than being applied numerals, they are 3D printed onto the outer track which was done for quality, and as a result, less SuperLuminova could be applied.

In Matt’s words, “I decided on going down the 3D printed route as it held up much better at a macro level, and held up perfectly against durability tests (I had 2 applied markers fall off during testing). To counter this, I added an additional two coatings of lume to the handset to counteract the lesser lume on the indices” 

The lumed hands of the HZ.01 and lightly lumed numerals

Honestly speaking, having a bright fully lit lumed dial is kind of cool, but really, as long as you can see the hands, you know what time it is on an analog watch face. But it is nice to know that this was designed specifically to ensure the dial’s durability, and again, at this price point, I can live with this trade-off.

How It Wears

If anyone has seen my social media recently, you may have noticed that I injured my arm at Christmas time. Lesson: always get a person to fix things you can’t! Another story for another time. But I’ve been wearing my watches on the right wrist, mostly due to not being able to use my left arm much until recently, but also due to their size and weight. However, the HZ.01 has been perfect for me to wear thanks to both its size and lightness on the wrist. At 38.5mm, less than 10mm thick, and a fairly reasonable 46mm lug to lug, it sits nice and snug on my 17.5cm wrist without the weight of a full steel sports model.

As you can see, the watch sits well in between the edges of my wrist and looks how a vintage-inspired piece should.

Now, this is smaller than I’m used to. Normally I won’t go less than 40mm in terms of size, but I have to say, the HZ.01 has been a joy to wear as it’s light and compact. The leather strap adds to this as opposed to a heavier rubber strap or steel bracelet. Even the pin buckle is made from titanium which saves weight on the piece. On the buckle, you can see the 32,768Hz inscribed on it, which is a nice touch.

The Titanium buckle is both lightweight and robust.

The leather is also a good combination of supple and solid. This could be because this version has had time to be worn in on the wrist, but I’ve worn pieces that have worn in straps so to speak and they didn’t mold to the wrist as well as the HZ.01’s strap.

Putting on the strap is seamless and easy

I touched on the look and feel of this earlier in the article, but something I want to re-visit again. The one thing I love about pieces like the HZ.01 is it’s designed to be versatile. You can quite easily pair this watch with any outfit, and it won’t look out of place. The leather strap gives it somewhat a more formal feel, but the titanium case and dial design aid with the sports feel of the piece. You can dress it up or down, and as I’ve said many times before, this aspect of a watch means it’s much more appealing to me.

Dressed up or dressed down, the HZ.01 does both with ease!

The Movement

This is the part where I normally talk about the mechanical movement of the watch. But this is a Swiss Quartz piece, not a manual wound or automatic piece, so there’s a little less to go into here, but still interesting nonetheless. The HZ.01 houses a Swiss made Ronda Calibre 507 Quartz movement. Beating at that incredible 32,768Hz, which if you do the maths is about 117.9M VpH. Yes, that’s over 117 million vibrations per hour compared to a mechanical watch beating at 4Hz / 28,800 VpH. This is the reason why quartz is more accurate than mechanical watches due to the beat rate, and in the case of the HZ.01, it has an accuracy of -10/+20 seconds per month. Or in mechanical per day terms, -0.3/+0.6 seconds per day. So over the course of the year, you shouldn’t need to adjust it maybe more than once or twice! And if you’re worried about the battery life, then the HZ.01 should run for approximately 45 months, or just under 4 years without needing a battery change.

The Titanium caseback with a medallion insert pays tribute to Champlevé enamel

The caseback is screwed down Titanium, and in the center is a resin medallion, which mimics the look of enamel, inserted with a design that is a tribute to the quartz watch and electronic circuit, all the while paying homage to Champlevé enamel artistry found across a select few rare vintage watches. Again, the blending of vintage and modern style cues. The HZ.01 is also 100m water resistant, so you can take this anywhere and know that it’s not going to stop if you get wet. Maybe change the strap out for a rubber one first however to assist with making this a Go Anywhere, Do Anything (GADA) watch.

Final Thoughts

After having the HZ.01 for the past week or so, it’s been a pleasant surprise, and a change to wear a quartz watch over an automatic. It did take me a little bit to get used to the ticking, rather than a sweeping seconds hand, but once I got past this, it was fine. The dial is super easy to read at a glance with the contrasting numerals on the green circular outer track, and the concentric solarisation on the inner dial is a nice touch and again, provides a nice contrast and breaks up the dial.

Size-wise, I found it probably on the smaller side, but this is a personal preference and I’ve wrists that can easily accommodate larger watches. However it is very easy to wear and light, you do forget you have it on the wrist. In saying this, I know plenty of people who prefer a sub 40mm sized watch, and this is where the HZ.01 will shine.

Overall, the HZ.01 is a great value proposition for anyone wanting to get into watches as a starting point, or wanting to add a decent looking quartz watch to the collection without breaking the bank. Add in the bonus watch roll, then the HZ.01 makes even more sense and a bargain at the pre-sale price of AUD $250.

If you are interested in grabbing one of the pieces, then the pre-sale opens on January 28th, which can be accessed over at the HZ Watches site here.

Reference: HZ.01 Green


  • Case dimensions: Diameter 38.5mm , thickness 9.85mm, 46mm lug to lug (case length)
  • Case Material: Hardened titanium case
  • Dial: 2-layer construction with circular sunburst dial, and raised concentric circle sector dial in Green. Additional Blue or Burgundy available as well. Hands coated in Swiss SuperLuminova BGW9
  • Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Movement: Swiss Ronda 507 quartz movement with day/date function. Accurate to -10/+20s per month
  • Water Resistance: 100M / 10ATM
  • Power Reserve: 45 month battery life
  • Strap: Leather with titanium pin buckle

Availability: Available via HZ Watches, with pre-sale open January 28th, 2024

Australian Recommended Retail Pricing: A$250 (Pre-Sale) / A$349 (post pre-sale allocation fulfilled)

You may also like

Copyright 2024 Watch Advice Pty Ltd. ACN: 633 660 992. All Right Reserved.