Just a few months ago we reviewed the Halios Tropik B, one of the more interesting bronze dive watches to drop in recent memory. With a relatively small cushion case, an elegant vintage inspired dial and an interesting bronze alloy, it’s the kind of unique design that comes along once in a while and leaves a lasting impression. This seems to be the MO for Halios, whose watches are always different from the herd and priced very fairly.
In tandem to the Tropik B, Halios released the Tropik SS, or stainless steel model. Though the same watch in terms of general DNA, the different material, and inclusion of a rotating bezel, make the Tropik SS a different experience. When you browse contemporary sub $1000 dive watches, you are likely to find something missing; dress divers. Sure, there are brands that make smaller or downsized models, but they are still clunky, tool watches. Hearkening to the mid 20th century, the Tropik SS has an elegance that while not a “dress watch” in the classic sense of the word, is refined and modest. Part of what makes a 60’s Rolex Submariner or an Omega Seamaster 120 or a Wittnauer Super Compressor so wearable and stylish is that they were from an era where sport watches were much more subtle; they were gentleman’s sport watches.
The Tropik SS successfully reimagines much of the qualities that made those watches effortlessly cool and still popular today, while not feeling derivative. It’s modestly sized, but not too small, clean, simple and versatile. It’s also built to a very high standard, with modern components such as a ceramic bezel, domed sapphire crystal and Miyota 9015 movement. And even though this is as close to a modern dress diver as we’ve seen recently, the watch sports 300m water resistance and more than enough toughness to hold its own. For the a surprisingly tempered price of $650, the Tropik SS is also a good value.
Halios Tropik SS Review
Movement: Miyota 9015
Water Res.: 300m
Dimensions: 41 x 48 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6.5 x 3.6mm
Warranty: 1 year
Like the Tropik B, the SS has a 41 x 48 x 14mm cushion case design. This makes it small for a modern dive watch, but very comfortable as a mid-sized sport watch. 22mm lugs give it broad shoulders, which adds some masculinity. The cushion case form makes for a more unique watch than a slab sided design. Though from above the bezel dominates, the ever so slightly squared mid case adds mass, while maintaining elegance. From the side you can make out rounded surfaces, starting at the bottom, jumping up to the bezel and continuing across the domed sapphire, giving the whole case an interesting, flowing geometry.
Other than the steel it self, the rotating bezel is the biggest visual change from the Tropik B. Standing fairly tall, the wide toothed bezel is easy to grip and well-pronounced. The 120-click uni-directional mechanism is very tight, in a good way. There is no wiggle and no chance of accidentally clicking over. When you do turn it, it’s snappy and precise.
Off of 3 is a 6.5 x 3.6 mm screw-down crown, which proportionally suits the case. It has a simple grooved design for easy grip, and a tapered side, towards the case, for a flush fit. On the outer side is a domed black insert with Halios’ 3 crescent metallic moon logo. It’s a very nice detail that activates an otherwise plain area.
The case back is solid and simple. In the center is a line drawing of a capricorn, encircled by various details. I like that this subtly plays off of the Omega “sea monster” that you’ll find on many of their case backs, referring to vintage divers, but being their own.
The dial and bezel designs are where most of the vintage feeling of the Tropik comes from, as well the dressier elements. The dial in particular feels like it could be taken out and placed into a different case, perhaps one like the Hamilton Intra-matic, and feel at home. That is to say, it works in a dress dive setting, but doesn’t have the typical bold dive markers. The primary index consists of applied steel rectangular markers with lume fillings, doubling at 12, longer at 3 and 9. The silver edges of the markers pick up and reflect light, for a bit of decoration.
At 6 is a gap with a small lume dot and the date window. On the Tropik B, the window is at 3, but I think 6 makes much more sense visually, keeping symmetry intact. Halios goes the extra mile and customizes their date wheels to match the color of the dial and/or have correct proportions for the window.
Around the outer edge is a minute/seconds index of white lines and dots. It’s a simple execution that adds some legibility during the day time. Below twelve is a large but fitting Halios text logo and above 6 are two lines, “TROPIK” and “300m”. The word Tropik is written in a pale gold color, which subtly distinguishes it from the other text.
The black ceramic bezel insert is just plain sexy. It’s light on markings, giving it an instant vintage feel, but the markings that are there are well stylized to add character. Simply consisting of dots and numerals with a triangle at the origin, there is a substantial amount of negative space, which allows you to appreciate the ceramic. The font used on the bezel is attractive as well, with pencil thin lines and nice, wide zeros.
One thing that could be seen as a negative, perhaps depending on your usage of the watch, is how reflective it is. The dial is gloss black and the ceramic is high gloss too. On one hand, this makes everything very crisp and the blacks very deep. The sharpness and glints of light work towards the dressier aesthetic. On the other, it reflects everything. So, when you look straight on, you are likely to see yourself looking back. This can be a bit distracting (also hard to photograph) and sometimes obscures the dial.
The hands continue the restrained elegance of the watch, with a design that also could be found on a non-diver. The hour and minute hands are slender tapering swords with a peaked center, creating sides that reflect differently. Their lume fillings are diamond shaped for an added and well executed detail. The seconds hand is then a thin stick with a lume filled rectangle towards it’s tip. Like the Tropik B, the SS features BGW9 superluminova, which glows a cool blue. Though perhaps less potent than C3 green, the BGW9 is long lasting, legible, and simply nice looking.
Straps and Wearability
The Tropik SS currently comes with a 22mm genuine sharkskin strap (ethically harvested). There will be a bracelet that can be purchased separately available soon. The sharkskin is definitely an interesting choice, with a pronounced texture that is between lizard and leather. It’s colored black to dark grey with a gold/khaki colored stitch that picks up the Tropik logo on the dial. While I appreciate the uniqueness, I didn’t love the feel or cut of the strap. It’s a bit plasticky, and is clearly filled with foam filling. It doesn’t have the heartiness of leather. It’s also a straight cut, which I don’t think was the right choice. 22mm lugs are quite wide for a 41mm case, which needs to be tempered with a tapering strap. Otherwise, it sort of out weighs the watch. The pre-v style buckle similarly felt too large, distracting from the case. One nice detail here though is that the inside surface is signed Halios.
Luckily, a watch like this will look good on many different types of strap. People have posted pictures of them on Milanese style meshes, after market tapering Oysters, NATOs, rubber straps, etc, always to great effect. A strap we thought looked really cool was an Italian tan/khaki suede strap, which can be found on ebay (from seller colareb). The tapering shape brings out the case geometry, while the dark tan color emphasizes the black dial and the gold Tropik logo. The sueded leather is then a bit more rugged/casual and speaks towards the trend of Subs on suede.
On the wrist, the Tropik SS wears well. The size and cushion shape make it very comfortable. It’s big enough to look sporty, but small enough to feel like a more casual design. Since it still boasts 300m water resistance, and there is added scratch resistance from the sapphire and ceramic, it’s also totally functional as a nimble sport watch. That said, what is most appealing to me is the aesthetic and style of a vintage inspired dress diver. Given proclivities towards smaller watches and vintage watches, it’s hard to find a modern dive watch that isn’t an homage, that suits my taste. The Tropik really achieves this well. It’s the kind of diver that is as at home with a t-shirt and jeans as in an office or otherwise more formal setting. The elegant dial mixed with the robustness of a bezel, makes it very versatile.
If you’re looking for a smaller diver that has the style of a vintage watch, but the build of a modern watch, the Halios Tropik SS is for you. The fit, finish and aesthetic all really come together for something fun, easy to wear and versatile. For $650, the watch is also very competitively priced for a unique piece available in small quantities with a Miyota 9015, especially one with a ceramic bezel.
At the time of writing this review, the black dial/bezel model is unfortunately sold out, but will be available again in the spring/summer. There is a blue version as well, which is pretty great looking, but very bright, so you have to be really into blue to pull that off. I’d love to see more versions/variations on the Tropik, perhaps a gilt dial version with golds hands and applied markers (wink wink, nudge nudge) for an even dressier variety.
Be sure to read our review of the Tropik B as well, as that version is very exciting and different.
by Zach Weiss