Review: the Haim Descent

The word “charm” is thrown around a lot in the watch world, and I confess I usually don’t know exactly what people mean by it. I know what I mean when I use it, but it’s a term that’s so elastic and subjective, I sometimes think that one person’s charming might just be irritating to someone else. I’ve had a chance to wear the Descent, by Haim Watch Company, for a few weeks now, and the best way I can describe it is, well, perfectly charming. It’s the kind of watch I think certain collectors will really appreciate – it won’t bowl you over and be your watch of the year, but it has a quirky sensibility to it that will put a smile on your face, and is filled with little details that represent conscious choices on the part of the people who made it. Charming. 

A little background on Haim before we get into it, as they’re a relatively new brand with a following that’s still a little smaller than some of their peers. Haim is Chicago based, and like many small independent brands has leveraged crowdfunding platforms to build an audience and create physical products. So far, there are three watches in their catalog: two different versions of a chronograph dubbed the Legacy, and the Descent diver seen here. Haim claims to be inspired by the past and called to create watches built for a contemporary world. Yes, yes, we’ve heard that before. It describes *gestures theatrically with my arms* just about every small brand looking to make a dent in the still growing microbrand scene. I don’t think anyone would accuse the folks at Haim of stumbling across a wildly new and original recipe for success, but their execution is commendable, and the end product, at least in the case of the Descent, stands on its own. 



Review: the Haim Descent

Stainless steel
Miyota 9039
“Royal” blue
Water Resistance
200 meters
39 x 45mm
Lug Width
Screw down


The Descent’s case is simple, drawing on a classic dive watch template. It measures 39mm in diameter, 12mm thick, and 45mm from lug to lug. The lugs bend gently, pinching the top and bottom of the case, and curve very slightly around the wrist. Finishing puts this watch in the “dress diver” category (as does the dial, but more on that later) with polished surfaces all around. While everything is very sturdy and feels well made, this is pretty far removed from a tactical diver or a pure tool watch. 

The case has two unique features that are worth calling out. First is the small “button” on the 9:00 flank. This is purely decorative, but to me has the appearance of a date corrector button or something similar. It doesn’t actually serve a functional purpose, so it’s worth considering why it’s there in the first place. This, I think, is the first little detail that wrings some charm into the Descent. It’s a quirk that ultimately has no explanation, nor does it explicitly require one. It’s just sort of there – a decorative button. 

The second feature worth highlighting is the bi-directional bezel, which is rendered in brushed stainless steel. Haim calls this the “Duo-Bezel” because it can record both minutes, like a typical diver, and hours, making it an effective lazy-man’s GMT if called to that purpose. Only the cardinal positions are marked with numerals (minutes and hours are separated by a black dot), while hash marks round the bezel provide a visual cue to assist in timing, regardless of how the bezel is being used. The bezel action is satisfyingly stiff, and there’s a thick knurled edge around the perimeter that’s effective in letting you get a decent grip on it. 

Altogether, there’s not a ton of drama in the case, but it will feel familiar to anyone who has looked at vintage Submariners and similar divers from the 60s and 70s. When you make a dive watch in today’s watch climate, you can choose to go weird in a number of ways, but Haim has chosen to play it safe with the case, and distinguish themselves in other areas. 


The Descent’s dial is where the watch will either click for people, or they’ll decide to turn away toward something else a little more traditional. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s all based in the well known language of a dive watch dial, and shouldn’t feel too foreign to most enthusiasts, even as it goes in some unexpected directions. 

The color of my sample is a blue that Haim calls “Royal,” and it has a lot of unexpected character. In most lighting conditions, it takes on a purple hue that is really appealing, and uncommon on a watch like this. Blue dials, of course, are a dime-a-dozen, but purple and violet shades are less common, and give the descent a youthful and contemporary vibe that nicely balances some of the more traditional dial elements. 

The interior section of the dial is a stamped guilloche pattern. It’s nice looking, but not extraordinary, as stamped guilloche tends to be. What saves it though is that it exists in contrast with the dial’s outer section, which has a grained finish (Haim calls it “hammered” on their website, but I’m unsure how much hammering is actually done to the dial here – my suspicion is that it’s a stamped pattern). The combination of the guilloche with this rougher texture works really well, and gives the dial a real sense of depth. It also allows for some interesting light play, particularly in the guilloche section, which has an almost effervescent appearance. 


The final detail that brings everything together on the Descent’s dial is the gilt accenting on the hands and hour markers. I’m not usually a fan of gilt accents on modern watches because it’s frequently done in a lazy way to communicate that your watch is in dialogue with the past. I think it works nicely on the Descent because the gilt accents are in a rose gold tone that complements the purple/blue of the dial particularly well. Also, because the hour markers are oversized, there’s a decent amount of gilt on display – it has a real presence on the dial. It also helps that everything is well proportioned and easy to read, as you’d expect with any solid dive watch. 


The Descent runs on a Miyota 9039, visible through the display caseback. It’s a solid and reliable movement that is relatively inexpensive, and it kept good time in the relatively short period that I had the watch in for review. The main benefit of a movement like this, which I’d say Haim has taken advantage of, is that the low cost allows for young watch brands to go for exactly the design they’re looking for without making the compromises that would be necessary with a more expensive Swiss caliber. This is not a watch for movement snobs, but a watch for enthusiasts who connect with its aesthetic and (probably) have a rotation of similarly specced and visually interesting Miyota powered watches in their quiver. 

There’s a burgeoning movement within the microbrand space that is based on experimenting with Miyota calibers and pushing them to their limits. We can see that in the Atowak Ettore Drift that Zach reviewed last year, and even in the M.A.D. Edition 1, a Miyota powered watch from the folks behind MB&F. While the Descent isn’t nearly as adventurous as those watches, or even in the same category, the fact they essentially all use the same base movement is fascinating, and underlines the importance of Miyota’s presence in the value oriented watch community. 

Straps & Wearability 

The wearability of a watch is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the charm factor. A watch can have all the whimsical design flourishes and strange quirks you can imagine, but if it isn’t easy and fun to wear, all that charm in the design is wasted.

The Descent is a remarkably easy watch to wear thanks to the sub 40mm diameter. It has a compact, squat feeling on the wrist, and has a nice low profile. I tend to prefer dive watches on bracelets (they just make more sense to me this way) or perhaps a rubber strap, but the Descent feels right at home on leather. The brown leather strap included with my sample is a nice color match for the dial, but it was so stiff I removed it right away and replaced it with one of my favorite suede straps, already nicely broken in. Every color I tried (basically a range of browns and grays) worked really well. With a 20mm lug width, experimenting with different combinations will be easy for those of us afflicted with the strap hoarding curse. 


Because the edge of the bezel sits virtually flush with the case (there’s no discernible overhang), I think the Descente might actually wear smaller than its 39mm diameter. That’s completely fine by me, as I tend to favor easier wearing and more discreet watches these days, but if you’re looking for a chunky tool with a ton of wrist presence, the Descent is probably not for you.


Even if it hasn’t blown me away completely, there’s no denying that the Descent offers up something fun in the dive watch space. While Haim says they’re indebted to the designs of the past, I think the real connection to vintage watches here is the feeling you get when you find one in a late night eBay or WatchRecon search that doesn’t really look quite like anything you’ve ever seen before. The kind of watch that sometimes gets reissued by a big brand that causes people like me to opine about a period long before I was born, when watch designs were a little more colorful, adventurous, and not nearly so sterile. Those are the watches that have real charm, a preciousness that comes from knowing they were rare birds, and that they don’t make them like they used to. 

The Descent has a retail price of $599.99, which I think is fair considering the movement used, the build quality of the case, and the way the dial comes together. In addition to my blue review unit, they also make a Descent in black, which in my opinion is considerably less visually interesting than the one you see here. More information at Haim’s website here

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.