Helson Shark Diver, a review

By Marc Levesque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Of all the boutique brands that have emerged over the last few years, Helson has to be considered one of the most reasonable. I mean where else can you find a mechanical dive watch that is water resistant to 2000m, has a helium escape valve, a sapphire crystal, a cool mesh bracelet and best of all, a price tag well south of 600$???

 

As they were going like hot-cakes, I just had to find out for myself if this watch was as awesome in person as it was on screen. The following is my review of the original Helson Shark Diver. I hope you enjoy it.

 

CASE

 

The 45mm solid stainless steel case feels much larger than its measurements, due in no small part to its large lugs, which span a whopping 24mm. It is a thick 18mm, but this is most likely due to its impressive 2000m water-resistance. In fact, the case back is a good 4mm deep all by itself. The latter is also nicely engraved with circling sharks on one side and a nervous (or brave) diver on the other. I have to admit, I love its design, it really looks fantastic and it is extremely well executed. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea.

 

Now the case could be finished a little bit better, the edges are rather sharp and you can see some tool marks, as well as the stamped shape in the steel itself, but let us keep in mind the price point here! At 2000$ I cannot overlook these minute flaws, but at sub 600$, WHO CARES! In fact, it adds to its rugged nature. The signed crown screws down between two think guards, which are also a tad roughly tooled, but protect the crown perfectly. The crown tube even has an outer gasket for added water-resistance. Ever seen such a detail on a watch at this price? Oh and did I mention it is anti-magnetic to 70,000 a/m? How about them apples!!!

 

As for the shape of the case; it is not for everyone. I have found that when worn loosely, which is how I usually wear my watches, it tended to “stick-out” too much and bang against anything I walked by. This is not only due to its thickness, but also due to its profile. The lugs go straight out of the case and curve only slightly downwards. This results in a huge watch surface. When worn tightly, it was perfectly comfortable and I was less accident prone. Now your results may be different, depending on your wrist size and shape. Mine just barely stretches to 7”.

 

DIAL, BEZEL & CRYSTAL

 

The thick sapphire crystal, the dial and the hands are absolutely perfect. Now that is a pretty powerful word to describe these features, but it is accurate. The dial print, the hand’s quality, the blue lume; they all work so well together. The print is crisp, the paint application is bang on and the powder coated hands look spectacular at all angles. I have seen many watches, costing thousands more, with sloppier dials. I am extremely impressed with this one.

 

The bezel itself is very solid and clicks into place reassuringly and does not have much back play. The only issue I have is the 90 clicks the bezel requires to make its way all around the dial. This is very strange, but when you give it some though, it really is not a big deal. As long as it lines up at 12 o’clock, that is all that is really important to me. Besides, should you need to time anything, you have 30 extra clicks to be as precise as you need to be. It is also my understanding that this is no longer an issue with the new series.

 

MOVEMENT
 

Within this ultra-deep diver lives the venerable Miyota 8215.

 

 

The Miyota 8215 is a Japanese automatic wristwatch movement that is used by many watch makers. Miyota is part of the Citizen group of companies. It is a non-hacking twenty-one (21) jewel movement with a unidirectional winding system (left rotation) with accuracy of -20 to +40 seconds per day, and a power reserve of over 40 hours. The diameter of the movement is 26 mm and the thickness is 5.67 mm. It beats at 21,600 BPH.

 

Now despite its accuracy claims above, mine has been a consistent +4 sec / day when worn 24 / 7. Unfortunately this is not the case when lying crown up on my dresser, where it easily gains a good 15 sec / day.  Again, for what this watch sells for, I cannot be more pleased!

 

Technical details above were sourced here:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miyota_8215

 

And for a good article comparing this movement to the famous ETA 2824, click here:

 

http://www.17jewel.com/two.html

 

BRACELET

 

Now I have never been a big fan of mesh bracelets, but to be perfectly honest, my “in person” exposure has been limited to a UTS-Commander I once owned nearly a decade ago. To my surprise this one fits me much better than its German equivalent. Not too sure why, but this is indeed the case. They appear to be the same thickness, but I think it is because the actual mesh parts are shorter and it has many more solid steel links on either side of the flip-lock clasp.

 

The clasp itself is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is very solid, clicks shut securely and is signed with a large H. Another neat feature, not often found on watches at this price point are the screws securing the links together and the screw bars holding the bracelet to the case. Now I would have loved a nice, thick, solid steel bracelet, but it seems to work well with the design. I just feel too many companies are riding the mesh bracelet coat tail, but that is just my opinion.

 

Another thing going for the Shark Diver is that it looks spectacular on strap. Do a search on the various forums and you will see it on anything from a Rhino to a Nato to rubber. The case and lug shape are ideal for you strap / bracelet changing junkies!

 

CONCLUSION

 

Now I defy anyone to find another watch, at this price point, packed with as many features, is rated as deep and is as much fun as the Helson Shark Diver! I recommend it very highly to anyone looking for something fun and sporty for the summer. It will take anything you throw at it and come out unscathed.

 

I also have to say dealing with Peter Helson was a true pleasure and I will not hesitate to deal with him again. In fact, I am strongly considering adding a Buccaneer before it is too late!

 

Grab‘em while their hot boys!!!!

 

Thank you for reading,

 

Marc