Readers of worn&wound should be pretty familiar with Helson, a relatively young watch brand that we’ve had the chance of reviewing in the past–specifically the Sharkmaster 1000 and Skindiver. Both were handsome and able-bodied timepieces and our newest model in for review is no exception. The Helson Shark Diver comes in 42mm and 45 mm case sizes with bronze, titanium, stainless steel, and PVD coated stainless steel build options. In addition to the case designs, a bevy of color options and a choice of movements make this series of Helson watches accessible quality at different price ranges. These timepieces are built tough, easily readable, and combine tool functions with handsome aesthetics to make for a seriously nice piece of wrist candy.
The model in for review today is the Helson Shark Diver 42 mm Stainless Steel 2824-2, a watch that sits nicely in the middle of the Shark Diver family of watches at both price point and spec design–with more expensive models being those with bronze or titanium cases and increased water resistance and cheaper models containing Japanese movements. I’ve had a lot of fun wearing this timepiece and experiencing all that it had to offer (above water). So let’s get right to it.
Case: Brushed 316L Stainless w/ Auto Helium Escape Valve
Movement: ETA 2824-2
Dial: White w/ Blue and Black Hour Markers
Lens: 3mm Thick Sapphire w/ AR Coating Inside
Strap: Black Rubber or Stainless Steel Bracelet Water Resistance: 500 Meters
Dimensions: 42 mm x 51.5 mm
Thickness: 14.5 mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Crown: 8 mm Screw Down
Warranty: 12 Month Limited International Warranty
The case of the Helson Shark Diver is built from 316L surgical grade stainless steel. Running your fingers along the sharply forged edges of the lugs and enormous crown guards immediately instills a sense of durability. The case measures 42 mm wide by 51.5 mm lug to lug with a height of 14.5mm. It sits rather comfortably on medium to larger wrists despite its size.
The crown guards are located on the 3 o’clock side of the watch and are square in shape. They engulf almost the entirety of the crown to protect it from bumps and feel solid, a reminder that this is first and foremost a tool watch. On the other side of the case is the helium escape valve that breaks up an otherwise sterile bit of brushed steel.
The case back is engraved with an ETA 2824-2 movement designation, Helson Shark Diver name, 500 meter and Sapphire crystal specs, and watch serial number. In addition to the words that run in a circle along the case back edges, there is a neat little artwork engraving of five different sized sharks and a diver seemingly swimming together (in peace mind you). This is a nice touch that makes a serious performance watch like this all the more enjoyable as notable care has gone into every detail.
The 120 click bezel on the Shark Diver is matte black and lined with white five and ten minute markers, with the tens displaying numeric values. The first twenty minutes include one-minute markers as well. This design looks sharp in bright light given the color contrast, but it really shines when in the dark with its luminescence. The contrasting white and black turns to an aqua blue glow to match that of the dial and it looks fantastic. In addition to the decoration, the machine riveted edges of the bezel make for easy gripping and sturdy clicking action when winding–again just another example of the fusion of looks and function.
Dial & Crystal
Up to this point, a lot of the descriptors I’ve used in reviewing this watch personify it as rather beastly–large size, machine riveted edges, enormous crown guards, etc.–but the truth is there is a lot of refinement in the details. Some of this is in smaller areas as noted in the case back engraving and bezel design. But perhaps the best and most obvious example of Helson’s refined design is in the use of the soft blue markers on the dial. This design choice is what stood out most to me when I first got my hands on the Shark Diver. The blue, white, and black scream precision and make telling time, no matter what the lighting may be, quite easy.
The large minute hand and smaller hour hand are bright blue and outlined in a deep black color way for an extra pop. When gazing at the dial, you will notice the large size discrepancy of the minute and hour hands, which is in the style of “plongeur” hands, a design common in diver watches.
All of this wouldn’t be visible without the clarity of the 3 mm thick sapphire crystal coated with anti-reflective treatment on the inside. The crystal sits just about level with the bezel, making for a smooth flat top to the watch.
The Shark Diver comes in two variations–the $699 Swiss ETA 2824-2 model or the $599 Japanese Miyota 9015 model. The model we reviewed is the ETA 2824-2 and has the exclusive light blue dial color way. In everyday use, the Swiss movement kept exceptional time, as it has been known to do. The action in manually winding and setting the date/time and the sweep of the seconds hand were smooth as butter and at this price point, you can’t ask for much more in terms of value and reliability.
Straps & Wearability
Helson provides two straps to go with the Shark Diver. There is the stainless steel bracelet with removable screwed links and double locking clasp with diver extension or the high quality black rubber strap to go with it out of the box. The stainless steel bracelet is well built and keeps with the machined tool aesthetic of the watch, its interestingly sloped links adding heft to the case when paired. The rubber strap design is not solid, but instead has large holes for breathability and comfort. While the functional design of the rubber strap may be ideal for diving, I found that it ultimately corners the watch as only looking sporty. That being said, personal preference lead me to wear the lighter rubber strap more often as the heavy duty steel could be a bit weighty and seemed to overwhelm with a bit too much steel despite my larger wrist size. Another issue with the rubber strap was that it was a hassle to get on. I found myself struggling a few times with getting the strap to fit into the buckle as the rubber is cut just barely to fit through.
Just for kicks I threw on a 24 mm black leather strap and the watch looked fantastic. By changing the strap, I felt that it made the watch a lot more wearable–not just because it was more comfortable, but because it was now more flexible in what I could pair it with. The leather dressed up the already sharp case lines with white/blue/black dial color ways and made it a great accessory for a dressy wedding I had to attend. Not to mention it made the transition from tux to casual work garb the next day a lot better than my body did.
While the well built stainless steel bracelet and black rubber strap look great on this watch and are designed for the functional specs incorporated in the Shark Diver DNA, “desk divers” might be better suited with a leather, canvas, or NATO/ZULU strap as it makes it instantly more wearable and accommodates a larger range of wrist sizes. This might be a point of contention for purists, but I like to think of high spec diver watches as one might a hardtop convertible: all the reliability of a solidly built machine with the option to get a little wild.
Given the refinement of this particular model Shark Diver, Helson seems to be bridging the gap between weekend warriors and 9-to-5ers by speaking a universal language of fashion and function. The attention to detail, be it from the watch itself or the unique packaging and extras such as the two straps, extra pins, and quality strap changing tool that the company provides, are all signs that Helson takes a lot of pride in what they put on their customers’ wrists. For the $599 and $699 price points of the Miyota 9015 and ETA 2824-2 movement models respectively, the Shark Diver Stainless Steel 42 mm sets itself up as a fantastic value and should definitely be in consideration when shopping for your next great watch.
review unit supplied by Helson Watches
by Tom Caruso