Hands On: Helson Blackbeard


We’ve discussed Helson a number of times on worn&wound before. They’re company that has a knack for producing watches with a classic look and appeal that has been a hit among the boutique loving watch community. A few months ago, Zach professed his love of the Helson Skindiver, a Fifty Fathoms inspired piece. We recently had our hands on one of their other models, the Blackbeard, which pays homage to the infamous pirate.

Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: ETA 2824
Luminous: Superluminova BGW9
Crystal: Sapphire
Case Back: Solid
Strap: Rubber, Nylon or Stainless Mesh
Water Resistance: 500 Meters
Dimensions: 42mm
Thickness: 16mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Crown: Screw down

The Blackbeard maintains the classic military diver aesthetic Helson does so well. The breakout feature of this watch however is its pirate theme. Highlighted by a large lumed Jolly-Roger on the dial, this theme continues through the watch, with Jolly Rogers on the case back and even the crown. Helson has done a great job of embedding this theme throughout the watch, in a manor that doesn’t come off as, for lack of a better word, cheesy. Its actually rather unsuspecting, and certainly doesn’t scream “I’M A PIRATE”. While the pirate look may not be for everyone, Helson has done a great job of tastefully implementing it with the Blackbeard.

The Balckbeard is a very tall watch coming in at 16 mm, but this sort of height is common amongst dive watches. The outer bezel is domed, unidirectional, and features lumed numerical markings at 15, 30, and 45 minutes with hash marks every five minutes. The outer edge has very well machined coining, providing for a good grip when turning. Speaking of, when rotating the bezel there is a very reassuring and precise click. Powering the watch is the an ETA 2824, a hallmark of quality in watches of this price point and fantastic choice while you can still get them.

As you may expect, the Blackbeard is very heavy. While typical for a diver, the heft of the Blackbeard is particularly noticeable. I like to wear a watch slightly loose and this one you can feel dangling from the lugs when upside down. The pronounced height of the watch adds to its heft, and while not huge by today’s standards, the 42 mm diameter is on the larger side.

But for all of my gripes about its size and weight. the Blackbeard remains wearable. This is aided by its dynamic looks. By day, the Blackbeard features a clean white face with simple black hour markings. The bezel is very attractive and features yellow hued markings, providing the look of faux-patina. At night however, the Blackbeard comes alive.

The lume on the Balckbeard is everywhere, and its very bright. On the bezel minute markings, hour and minute hands the lume glows a bright green. And on the dial, the once nearly hidden Jolly-Roger pops in bright blue with a gear-toothed frame around it. All this lume draws your eye in several directions, but there’s no missing the giant glowing skull and cross bones. By day the Blackbeard is an attractive piece, but by night, its just amazing.

The packaging of the Blackbeard is identical to what we found with the Skindiver. The watch comes in a custom molded tube with a water resistant cap and full foam shaped to fit the watch and accompanying straps. Straps included are a dive style, heavily notched rubber and a stainless steel mesh. Are you getting the marine theme here?

I tend to lean towards the rubber strap since it is very comfortable in most situations and completes the diver look. The mesh really isn’t all that interesting to me, although I know it is immensely popular and favored by dive watch enthusiasts. Both have a very nice quality feel to them. regardless of your preference, I think you’ll be happy with the offering. Changing straps is a snap, all you need is a small screw driver. They are threaded at one end and slotted at the other, basically a big screw.

Sometimes I personally get tired of the same old watch designs redone over, and over again. When someone throws a wrench in the system with a full skull and cross bones, now that’s interesting. I just wish National Talk Like a Pirate Day was closer…

by James Helms

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