The Proof Divers Shouldn't Cost Too Much
Every time I watch or read a review about a diver it always starts like this: “Dive watches are the most popular type of watches because they are versatile and well-built.” That is absolutely true. Divers are functional and robust, and as long as they have a handsome design and good proportions, they make for great everyday watches. The flip side of being so popular is that many brands make them. It seems that a brand hasn’t “made it” until it has made a dive watch. So competition is fierce and we have too many options to choose from. We truly do.
And here is a hot take: divers don’t have to cost too much. Any good watch should actually never be too expensive. Because what we truly need is enough of something and not too much of it, and that often implies selling a watch for the right price and not for too much. I haven’t been into divers as of late so it feels nice to have come across Helicon and the 62 Master. Helicon is a brand I hadn’t heard of until a few weeks ago. But I did like the specs and look of the watch, so much so that I decided to tell you about it. In some ways, the 62 Master flies under the radar which is exactly the type of divers I’m into.
If we look at catalogs from popular Swiss brands, we notice that divers still tend to be on the larger side. Here I’m not talking about monstrous pieces of metal looking odd on the wrist, but watches that orbit around 40/42mm in diameter. (This comment will make sense later.) Luckily, micro and independent brands offer smaller sized divers like the 62 Master. Indeed, this watch comes with a diameter of 38.5mm, a lug-to-lug of 48mm, a thickness of 13.9mm and a lug width of 20mm. These dimensions do indicate a guaranteed comfortable wearing experience despite the fact that the watch reaches close to 14mm in thickness. This combination of measurements means the following: the watch commands a subtle presence on the wrist.
And just enough of it.
Inside beats the Seiko NH35 caliber, a movement as robust as it is easy to service. The NH35 beats at 21,600 BPH (3Hz) and comes with 41 hours of power reserve. Being inexpensive, the NH35 aids in keeping the price tag of the 62 Master within an acceptable range for many of us: about $691 (excluding VAT if you live in the EU.) For this amount of cash, you get a domed sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating, C3 SuperLuminova, a 120-click unidirectional bezel complete with a ceramic insert, 200 meters of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back, an anti-magnetic movement holder (to keep the NH35 running properly) and a solid stainless steel bracelet with a diver’s extension.
Although many could disagree with me, I do prefer to have a date complication on a diver. Because I do dive—albeit not as often as I wish I would—and having a date helps me plan my dives more easily. It also helps in keeping track of when the dive took place so that I can record this information in my dive log. (I know, a bit nerdy of me.) And since divers are as good daily watches as any, having a date complication helps be organized throughout the week. In the case of the 62 Master, the date aperture is placed at the 3 o’clock and comes with a painted frame. It takes enough space.
See where I’m going with this?
The bracelet is fully solid. Solid links and female end-links, and displays a classic three-link construction with polished sides. The bracelet tapers gently from 20mm at the lugs to 18mm at the clasp, and is held together by a double-pusher deployant clasp that comes with three holes of micro-adjustments. As mentioned above, the clasp has a hidden diver’s extension which is of the pull-and-unfold variety. This type of diver’s extension helps in keeping the clasp short and thin, a plus in my book. (Yes, I do love on-the-fly micro-adjust clasps but they tend to be on the bulkier side.)
Let’s face it, listing the specifications of a watch is easy. And I wouldn’t be writing about the Helicon should it have terrible specs for a diver. So let’s talk about what differentiates one diver from another, and what could very well persuade you to take a closer look at the Helicon 62 Master—its design. At first glance, the 62 Master is imbued with 1960s vibes. From the square hour markers to the fully-graduated bezel to the ergonomic case. The printed logo at the 12 o’clock as well as the text printed underneath the pinion also look vintage—which has probably to do with the fonts used. Though I must say that the 62 Master does not lean too heavily into the vintage repertoire which would otherwise have precluded me from writing about this watch.
Indeed, there has been an abundance of vintage-inspired divers in the past five years (and actually more,) each looking too much like something we’ve seen before. And although I’ve reviewed vintage divers before, each one I reviewed did something a little different. In the case of Helicon and the 62 Master, it is the combination of vintage looking design elements with modern ones. While the printed markers are vintage, the applied markers at the 12, 6, and 9 positions remind me of a modern diver. And the pencil-style hands are both classic-looking and modern as they have been used many times on divers. (And this for a good reason.)
And as a proper diver, the 62 Master fulfills its primary function: to be legible in any lighting condition. While the collection comes in three color variants—Lichen, Iridium, and Granite—here we are looking at the former. A sort of sea-foam green color contrasted by cream-colored hour markers and lume. During the day, the watch is legible and so is it once the sun has retired from the sky. The fact that the hour markers at the 12, 6, and 9 are applied means it is easier to divide up the dial into four segments—including the date aperture—which I’ve found to aid in reading the time. (And perhaps that is just me.) By this I mean it’s easier to situate the hands on the dial.
Does that make sense?
The design of the case, however, doesn’t jump out as being unique, however it certainly is effective. It has an almost slab-sided profile that is entirely polished, short and flat lugs, which complement the otherwise brushed finish on the top of the lugs and on the bracelet. This type of case is efficient for a diver as it doesn’t distract from what the watch was designed to do: to time dives. Honestly, I don’t care much for how the case of a watch looks while diving, and if you are looking for a legible and no nonsense timepiece, then you will probably won’t be looking for a revolution in case design either.
The Heart of the Matter
At the heart of the matter is the fact that the Helicon 62 Master does something well: it borrows design elements from the 1960s and combines them with modern ones and wraps the whole package with great specifications and the appropriate price tag. While $691 (excluding taxes) might seem like a lot of money for some of you, you now know how much watch you are getting with this Helicon. Although I am a believer of good-value watches, there is a point at which paying too little just doesn’t work out. It’s about spending the right amount for the right specifications—as long as you like the way the watch looks, naturally.
Furthermore, there is more than meets the eye with the 62 Master. It’s well-built albeit it does not have an original case design, and this matters to me a lot. The 120-click bezel has a solid action and has no back-play, the crown is firm and feels firmly screwed onto the case (in a good way,) and the bracelet and clasp construction is solid. It is the second time I mentioned that there was something not original about this watch. While generally this sounds like a criticism, it isn’t the case here. Being too original sometimes does not yield any good results, and sometimes brands try too hard to reinvent the wheel.
Helicon does have an interesting story which will perhaps shed some light on the above comment. Helicon was created by a group of watch professionals that have been designing and making watches for other brands for many years. During their numerous surveys of the watch market and brands, they once came across an old design from a long-gone Swiss watchmaker. A gem from the 1960s that can now explain the interesting dial layout. What is surprising to me is that Helicon made a watch that has a unique dial layout—yes, that is unique—and paired it with a common case design.
Although what I just said might sound contradictory, understand this: imagine how unwearable the 62 Master would have been if it had a futuristic (read: intricate, novel, and outlandish) case design in addition to having a different dial design? The two wouldn’t have worked together. The key to making “enough” of anything is balance. In this case: going all out with specifications and the design of the dial whilst being able to restrain oneself when designing the case and bracelet. To me, what makes the 62 Master work is this unique (here it comes again!) combination of dial + case. They work well together.
Helicon has interesting blog posts on its website. The first one explains the origin story of the brand and relates something rather familiar. The people behind Helicon had come across the aforementioned 1960s diver in 2013, a time when most brands (and collectors for that matter) were mostly interested in larger dive watches. Luckily for us, Helicon didn’t exist in 2013 (it was founded in 2018) and if it did, it wouldn’t have followed the unfortunate trend of making oversized watches. So the 62 Master is as relevant in 2013 as it would have been 10 years prior. I for one applaud Helicon for having made a smaller diver—something that we need more of.
In 2013, divers were too big. In 2011, divers were too vintage. In 2022/2023, we now have the right balance in size and style. Although I never thought for a minute that I knew of all divers out there, I did think I had seen it all. That was until I handled the Helicon 62 Master for the first time. I was reminded of a long-lost feeling: how much I love dive watches. And to be more precise: I love well-made and well-proportioned dive watches. If you like what you saw here today, know that each dial variant of the 62 Master comes in a limited quantity of 50. Once sold out, they ain’t coming back. So I suggest you hurry to the brand’s website here to learn more and perhaps snatch one.
Thanks for reading.