Havaan Tuvali is the latest small brand to take advantage of a growing trend in the independent watch scene: creating new watches from the repurposing of unused vintage cases and movements. In the last several months we’ve seen this idea executed in a number of different ways. Amsterdam Watch Company and Squale teamed up for a limited release of a new diver made with vintage Fifty Fathoms cases from the 1950s, and Nivada recently unveiled a version of their popular Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver with a vintage Valjoux movement. Both of those watches, of course, are deeply inspired by the vintage watches they are inextricably tied to when it comes to both their design and component parts. What seems to make the Havaan Tuvali Heritage 72 a bit different is that, being the creation of a completely contemporary brand, it isn’t weighed down by design limitations, even when using both cases and movements that date back decades. These watches certainly have an unmistakable vintage charm, but they are not rooted in any specific product from the past like the Squale and Nivada linked above. It’s an interesting twist on the ever present “vintage inspired” watch design trend, but using actual vintage components to create something that’s wholly new.
Eric Yeh, the founder of Havaan Tuvali, came upon the vintage cases that would eventually be used for the Heritage 72 during a routine visit to his case factory. After a conversation with the factory owner, he learned that the cases had been made for a French brand in the 1970s and never put to use. Yeh was able to purchase the cases, and decided to pair them with vintage FHF 96 movements. These hand wound movements are nothing fancy (you’ll sometimes see them referred to as the “Standard” or “FHF Standard”), but were used quite regularly in value oriented watches right up through the quartz crisis. As a throwback, and in a watch with a price point under $400, this caliber makes a lot of sense.
The case itself has a cushion shape and measures 36 x 39 x 11mm. That’s on the small side by modern standards, but for a watch with roots in the 1970s it’s right on the money and perfectly appropriate.
For the dial, Yeh has gone with a classic “Explorer” style layout, with Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9. His brand’s wordmark (in a fancy script that lends the dial a ton of additional personality) and the words “Manual Winding” near 6:00 are the only text you’ll see. The dial comes in black, cream, gray, and salmon variants, and each is handmade by Yeh. This is the first watch Yeh has released that hasn’t been mass produced using modern manufacturing techniques in a large factory, and he says that the differences are readily apparent in the finishing, which he admits is not as precise as you’d find on a modern watch, but feels is part of the draw for a product like this, which is truly a time capsule from 50 years ago, acrylic crystal and all.
At $385, this strikes me as a tempting value (if you like the design) and are curious about vintage watches, but haven’t fully taken the plunge. It’s getting harder and harder to find inexpensive, undiscovered vintage watches on eBay and the various forums for new (and old) collectors, and the world of vintage can be extremely intimidating. Havaan Tuvali is offering a low risk, affordable way to get a taste of what a vintage case and movement feel like, without the unpredictability that’s inherent in handing over a bunch of cash to an unknown entity for a watch with a questionable history. With the Heritage 72 you’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and it could conceivably be a gateway to vintage if you enjoy the proportions, feel, and charm of a fifty year old case and a vintage movement.
More information can be found at Havaan Tuvali’s website right here.