In the world of micro-brand dive watches, originality is often hard to find. Sure, on the pricier end of the scale one can find companies like UTS making unique and reliable divers. On the lower end, however, most boutique brands offer watches that, while certainly affordable and well made, lack a certain creative spark. If not outright homages, many implement tried and true design elements or use off-the-shelf cases, resulting in timepieces that cannibalize one another and already existing popular models.
That’s where Halios comes in. Founded by Jason Lim, Halios is a brand out of Vancouver that’s developed a real following by those in the know in the watch community. That’s because Halios is beloved for their original dive watches (remember the “Puck?”) developed from the ground up and sold to you at a fraction of the cost. And their watches are limited productions, so once they’re gone, they’re truly gone.
2013 was a big year for Halios, announcing not one, but three models: the Tropik B, the Tropik SS, and the Delfin. The Tropik SS (Stainless Steel) and Delfin have yet to be released, but the Tropik B (Bronze) has been available for a few months now and is on its way to selling out. Being in the market for a bronze watch myself but having a hard time finding anything that caught my eye, the Tropik B was a breathe of fresh air and I scooped one up as soon as I could. So, is this piece worth your hard earned money? Let’s take a look.
Case: Aluminum Bronze
Movement: Miyota 9015
Dial: Granite Grey (Tobacco brown and green also available)
Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal with AR
Strap: Brown Horween leather strap with pre-v buckle
Water Res.: 300M
Dimensions: 41 x 48mm
Thickness: 14 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: Screw down crown with Halios logo
Price: $675 plus shipping
Coming in at 41mm wide and 14mm thick, the cushion-shaped case is a reasonable size by modern standards. It isn’t a wrist clock by any means, but the thickness ensures a formidable presence when worn. The case design also makes it an ideal fit for those of us with smaller wrists, as the lugs curve down and are quite short with a lug-to-lug distance of 48mm. Basic dimensions aside, the case is truly a work of art and posses a congruity of design and proportion that rivals more expensive brands. When looking at the profile, you can see that all parts of the case work together with no single component overpowering the rest. For example, the height of the bezel is tempered by its shape and gentle slope, the latter of which helps integrate the bezel with the beautifully sloped sapphire crystal. Likewise, the slope of the bezel and crystal flow harmoniously with the curvature of the lugs. One of my favorite details is the contrast between the finely brushed case and the striking polished edge of the bezel, calling attention to a level of detail and care rarely seen in watches at this price.
Made from aluminum bronze, the case boasts an attractive yellow tone that under certain light conditions looks less like bronze and more like stainless steel. Aluminum bronze has some unique benefits that make it an attractive alloy, including higher strength and corrosion resistance (especially in sea water) and lower oxidation rates. Fear not you patina nuts; the Tropik B will still develop a beautiful patina over time. As you can tell from the photos, the slowly developing patina is dark grey and offers a beautiful contrast to the golden tones of the case.
The only parts of the case that aren’t bronze are the case back and the crown. The case back, however, is beautiful on its own, detailing the watch specs (water resistance of 300 meters) and featuring an etched Capricorn. The crown is signed with the Halios logo (3 crescent moons in a tri formation facing outwards) against black paint. The crown action is a bit gritty, but otherwise feels secure and reliable.
Dial and Hands
The dial on the Tropik B is a wonderful example of the less-is-more philosophy. By abandoning the frill that is increasingly common in modern dive watches, Halios achieved in creating a dial where a few distinct details go a long way in making the Tropik B an attractive piece. Other than the brand name (“Halios”) and the model name (“Tropik”), the dial is free of extraneous text. Instead, the watch wows with golden applied indices and hands that light up when the dial catches the light. Halios also opted to go with BGW9 (blue) Superluminova-coated hands and dial markers, contributing further to the already clean look of the dial. For the lume-lovers out there, I can guarantee that the lume glows into the wee hours of the morning.
One of the nicest details on the dial, and it’s something that a number of watch manufactures get wrong regardless of their price range, is the matching color (grey in my case) of the date wheel. This attention to detail goes a long way in maintaining the symmetry of the dial without losing the utility of a date window. Though I opted for the granite grey dial, Halios also offers tobacco brown and green (I’m sad to say that both the grey and the green are now sold out). The grey dial, depending on the light, can look either grey or brown and works well with the warm tones of the case.
The Tropik B is powered by the Miyota 9015. Due to the ETA squeeze, Halios has made the switch to using reliable Japanese engines, with the 9015 being the most promising alternative to the ETA 2892. As most of you already know, the 9015 hacks, has a beat rate of 28,800 bph, and can be hand wound. Though fairly new, the 9015 has proven itself as a robust option capable of excellent timekeeping. My Tropik B runs well within COSC specifications, and according to the Halios thread on watchuseek, it looks like my watch isn’t unique in that regard.
Straps and Packaging
The watch comes on a brown Horween leather strap with a pre-v buckle. The leather is of the pull-up variety, and will patinate beautifully over time. Having said that, I don’t think the strap is ideal for the watch, given that the Tropik B is somewhat of a dressy diver and the strap is rugged in both size (22mm with no taper) and design (unfinished edges and large keeper). I currently have my Tropik B on a Hirsch Liberty strap and find that the taper works much better with the proportions of the case.
The Tropik B also looks at home on a Nato or Zulu strap, especially if you can get one with bronze or brass hardware. It is important to note that the watches are currently being shipped with a stainless steel buckle due to an issue with the manufacturer, and that the promised bronze buckles will be sent out at a later date.
The Tropik B comes in a simple wooden box with foam padding alongside a plastic warranty card and complimentary spring bar tool. The packaging felt secure when I received my parcel from the post office, and I was pleased to find a wooden box and not just a faux-leather or cardboard box used by many other brands in this price range.
The Halios Tropik B is the way to go for anyone looking for a reasonably sized bronze diver that is unique, well made, and inexpensive. It’s a chameleon of a piece that I’ve been able to dress up and down, and have even worn with a suit to a wedding. If bronze is not your thing, fret not. Halios is set to release the Tropik SS, which utilizes the same case but with a more classic dive watch aesthetic.
by Ilya Ryvin