Review of Herc Pilot Automatic

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Model # 185S
At a Glance:
Brand/Model:  Herc Pilot
Movement:  Chinese automatic
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  none
Price:  MSRP $70 USD
Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
This review may be a bit ‘gushy’ so please bear with me.  I’m usually not this warm and fuzzy, but this new Herc Pilot has really tickled me pink.  This is the third Herc I have purchased and by far the nicest one yet. 
Herc may or may not be a ‘mushroom’ brand (Chinese watches that pop up for a period of time then disappear, although they claim to have been around since 1998 and that the watches are made in the USA) but regardless, the ones I’ve bought seem to represent a strong value for the money.  I have no affiliation with Herc other than being a satisfied customer.
This Herc Pilot, Model #185S is an automatic pilot style watch featuring an all 316L stainless steel case with stainless steel screw down display back.  The case sides and back are brushed finish, the top bezel ring and top of the lugs are polished.
The automatic movement is quite nicely decorated and so far, over a 24-hour period, it has kept acceptable time, running about +30 seconds in the crown up and dial up positions.  The brand of Chinese movement is unknown to me, but the sweep of the second hand is smooth and the movement both hacks and manual winds.  Power reserve is around 45 hours or greater.
Case dimensions are 43.5mm without crown, 49.3mm with crown.  Case thickness is 12.1mm.  Lug width is 22mm.  Herc specs list water resistance as 3 ATM, while the case back states 5 ATM.  Regardless, I would not venture to get this watch wet.
The look of this particular model struck me as ‘cool’ and I was hoping that it would look as good as it does in the pictures.   I hate when I buy a watch and it lets me down the minute I open the box.  Well, I’m glad to say this pilot has surpassed my expectations regarding its overall appearance.  It’s nice and clean with the ‘right’ pilot cues.
The silver dial has a slick look to it and is perfectly accented by the faded orange/yellow color of the arabics, markers and hands.  The hand style is pleasing to my eye and everything is luminous where you’d expect it to be, (all arabics and markers plus the hour and minute hands) although the lume is not very bright.
Another thing I like about the dial is that due to the position of the subsecond dial, none of the arabics are ‘hacked off’, which I find distracting and ugly at times.
I do wish the subsecond hand was black and not silver, but I can live with it the way it is.  The crystal is listed as ‘sapphire coated’ and has a slight dome to it.
The crown is especially nifty, the oversized knurled design of the diamond shape really stands out against the case.  The crown is also signed and does not screw down.
The strap even impresses me for the price point.  A signed genuine leather fairly thick dark brown alligator look with two rivets at each lug end.  I’ve never been a fan of the riveted strap, but this is the first such strap I have owned and I have actually warmed up to it.  The strap also has a signed stamped steel polished deployant clasp which again blew me away for the price. 
The strap is 22mm wide at the lug/rivet end and tapers midway to about 17.6mm to the clasp end.  The strap has one slightly wider keeper on it.  Strap end-to-strap end (including the watch) measures 10 inches.  The keeper end of the strap also is double stitched for durability, while the wider part of the strap is thicker than the tapered part.
The strap just fit my smaller wrist without being too large; this watch would easily fit a larger wristed gent with no problems.
The overall fit and finish on this watch is quite acceptable and yet another nice touch was the deluxe lacquer style box the watch shipped in, along with the CD-ROM instruction manual and hang tag.  An overall impressive presentation that is nicer than watches I’ve paid many times more for.
At the list price, this watch is a good value, especially if you’re not sure a pilot style watch is for you and you just want to try one on for size.  Get it at a discount like I did and you can’t go wrong at all.  Overall long-term quality is still an unknown, but you really can’t get burned at this price point even if something goes wrong.  Herc offers a one-year warranty.
As far as these Herc watches go, the amount of features they deliver at a given price point is certainly amazing.  This one rates a big thumbs up from me!
To me, Herc did just about everything right with this pilot watch and I actually find myself staring at the dial because it really does look pretty darn cool.  Nice job!
Pros:  great overall pilot look while not being ‘too big’, automatic movement that hacks and manual winds, nifty strap and deployant clasp, low entry price, nice presentation
Cons:  subsecond hand should be black, needs better lume, up the water resistance rating
Verdict:  low price buys a superb pilot watch; get it for even less and you’ll be the real winner with a watch that looks great and should give decent service
Enjoy the pics and thanks for reading.
Excelsior,
-Marc
UPDATE!
I happily owned this Herc pilot for about a year and sold it after my curiosity with low-buck Chinese watches was satisfied.  Herc makes a surprisingly nice watch for the price and this Herc pilot was no exception.  Still recommended.
-MCV, 5-12-11

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