Several trends have emerged in recent years within the watch industry, one being steel sports watches (you know what I’m talking about) but more surprisingly, micro brands! Whether they begin as a passion project or kick starter campaign, micro brands have been able to deliver what the community wants when the big brands could not.
Halios is the result of Jason Lim’s unbridled love for watches and one quick search of their website will convey exactly that. Many of us readers live, breathe and dream watches but very few make the leap to make it more than just a hobby. Whether it is a career change or part time project, I tip my hat to anyone who is so brave to create an entire brand.
Jason’s watches tend to drop in limited runs and if you’re lucky enough to snag an allocation, he is with you every step of the way until the watch reaches your door. Often, we can come across sales assistants who aren’t as crazy about watches as we are (and that’s totally okay) but isn’t it refreshing to be in contact with someone who understands how a date window can drive you nuts or why a lumed bezel is the best thing since sliced bread and offer a number of variations for the same timepiece to satisfy your preferences.
Halios has taken the microbrand (and watch) world by storm, becoming a household name in the space. Let’s get to know the watch that is not only their most popular offering, but the piece that really put Halios on the map.
The Halios Seaforth is now up to its 3rd generation, with this variation featuring some extremely impressive specifications for a watch that trades around the $1000-$1500 mark. Here is what you can expect from the Seaforth.
- 40mm Stainless Steel Case, 20mm lugs
- 200m water resistance with screw down crown
- Sapphire crystal and bezel
- BGW9 lume on dial, hands and bezel
- ETA 2824 movement with hacking and manual wind
- Leather, Rubber & Canvas strap with leather pouch as part of the complete set
The Seaforth takes common features of the dive watch archetype and expresses them in a clean and modern format. The dial was the greatest motivating factor in purchasing this watch with its sunburst pattern so alluring in each and every situation on the wrist. As far as divers go, this is without a doubt on the dressier side of the spectrum with its wide range of finishes separating it from tool watches born with only function in mind. Baton markers, pencil hands and the lack of a 15 minute decompression timer on the bezel prevent all things dial side from looking too busy or cluttered. Whether it’s the pop of teal or the typeface used, the timepiece has a number of unique characteristics to create an appearance that is now instantly recognisable as Halios. The BGW9 Super-LumiNova is the very same as those found in watches as much as 10 times the price of the Seaforth and is not only applied to the hands and markers, but also the bezel. Having a lumed bezel on a dive watch makes all the difference visually, with an extra ring of light giving the impression the watch is glowing just that much brighter, bringing the most out that child like joy of seeing something light up in the dark.
The tasteful finishes don’t stop there, with high polished planes on the faceted lugs and bevelling on the crown guard (yes, on the crown guard!) supporting the trendy feel to this diver. If you weren’t already captured by the sunburst dial and gleaming indices, the way light bounces off the case shows no shortcuts have been taken to realise the final design of the Seaforth. On the wrist, the sharply downturned lugs help the 40mm case sit snug on my slim 6.5 inch wrist. Provided with rubber, leather and canvas straps each combination brought a different look with equal levels of comfort.
Under macro, every surface was blemish free, lume applied evenly and the printed text on the dial sharp and crisp. The Seaforth has enjoyed such a grand reputation since it’s release and having worn it, I can’t dispute any of the compliments given to embrace the magnificent product that Jason has cultivated.
Powering the timepiece is the venerable ETA 2824, a movement that most of us know so very well. I mentioned before that the spec sheet is hard to believe considering the price, but the ability to offer this caliber surprised me the most, especially when you consider the big name brands in the industry that use this exact movement to power watches at a much higher asking price. Granted, the rotor is a touch noisy here however all the benefits of a robust, reliable, and serviceable power plant remain.
So far, we have a watch that is remarkably finished, tastefully designed while being reliable and fitted with features that we would come to expect of a modern dive watch. Is there anything lacking?
In the early days of ownership, the bezel was very firm with each notch giving a satisfying click to the hands and ears. Over time, after wearing the watch to the beach and going swimming, I found the bezel to become harder and harder to turn which seemed to be caused by small grains of sand interfering with the mechanism. I always thought of this watch as a great go anywhere do anything timepiece, however as the bezel was clearly unhappy over time I chose to leave it at home when heading to the beach. I like to wear my dive watches underwater and avoid the famous term desk diver, but it may not be as suitable to nautical adventure as other tool watches which left a touch disappointed as I like to use my timepieces as properly as I can. I have since had the bezel cleaned and lubricated by our friendly neighbourhood watchmaker Mr Woods (@woodswatchmaking) confirming a sneaky granule or two made it into the mechanism.
Apart from the bezel issue and slightly noisy rotor, I cannot fault the Seaforth on any other front. I loved it on my wrist, the design, finishing and service is brilliant, with the only barrier to ownership arising due to the scarcity of these pieces on the second hand market. Being my first foray into the microbrand space I didn’t have to think too hard as to why Halios has gained a cult following. At the asking price there isn’t much that can compete with the Seaforth on hardware alone, even before you start appreciating the brilliant visuals of the case and dial. The Seiko SPB143 came to mind as a potential alternative and while it may be easier to access and provides a bracelet, it’s not quite at the level of the Seaforth in terms of refinement.
To conclude, the Halios Seaforth is a fun loving dive watch that is so far removed from any vintage designs that saturate the watch market today. Jason has produced a watch that offers undeniable value with almost everything in this segment unable to compete with it in terms of componentry or execution. If you’re a die hard tool watch fan that needs ISO certification or extreme levels of toughness this may not be the watch for you. However, if you’re after a diver that is visually captivating, can do a bit of everything and is arguably the best timepiece in its category, I have no doubt that you will enjoy the Halios just as I and so many owners around the globe have.