In the illustrious and glamorous world of watch reviews there are few things that motivate us at Watch Report like a good deal. Very few people buy products based solely on the price so most of us will choose the product with the best value because it is value that justifies a price. Justification for the price tag is paramount when it comes to watch shopping because watches are one of the few items that inhabit a price range between $5 and $1 million dollars and still share the same basic purpose. So what are we all paying for when we buy watches? Exclusivity? Quality? Or worse, brand? Lets take a look at a new model in the ever-growing market of indie watch manufacturers; the Holotype from Canada based Halios Watches.
Features of the Halios Holotype (Yellow Dial, PVD) dive watch:
•Water resistant to 300m/1000ft.
•44mm stainless steel case (16mm thick).
•Available in PVD, brushed or bead-blasted finish.
•Yellow or black dial.
•Miyota 8215 Automatic movement.
•45 hour power reserve.
•Solid stainless steel bracelet with screwed links.
•Push button clasp with dive extension and flip lock.
•Limited to 300 units.
•Comes with rubber strap, tools, and travel case.
The Holotype is the first offering from Vancouver, Canada based Halios watches. Available in a total run of 300 units spanning three finishes and two dial colors this tool diver is shooting for serious value. I am happy to see more grass roots watch development, especially from my side of the 49th parallel. Halios is a dive watch company that is striving to build a loyal following with a compelling and original product backed by personal support. Selling the watches directly through their website and promoting the brand on forums with a pre-order helped Halios hit the market with buyers in tow. These small production companies exist (in part) on pre-orders of limited edition models that are generally scooped up by collectors; the collectors get exclusivity and a good deal while becoming part of a new business model in watch making. Halios is definitely not alone with brands like Boschette, Ocean7, Scorpion, Prometheus, and Benarus, all using pre-orders in online forums like watchuseek.com to bring their watches to the most loyal and ardent watch fans. The Holotype was marketed the same way Halios was able to stay in contact with those who had ordered during the manufacturing process, providing information and personal attention you likely wouldn’t receive from larger brands. Let’s take a look at what they created:
The Holotype is 300m dive watch that is simple and precise in design and application. The stainless steel build is free of any play or wiggle; it quite literally feels like a solid piece. A prominent bezel, almost sterile dial, and large hands make the Holotype look like a military spec diver. At 16mm thick, the Holotype sits high, but not in a way that inhibits use, movement, or your ability to wear a sleeve over it. The crystal is thick and made of highly scratch resistant sapphire, and it fits perfectly into the case, showing off the depth of the dial in true diver fashion. The PVD coating on this watch is first rate matching the quality seen on the Ocean7 LM-2GMT (which is a far more expensive watch). The PVD is matte in finish so marks and fingerprints wipe away easily. After wearing the watch for a couple weeks, I can attest that it is extremely scratch resistant, having bashed it on a few hard surfaces in my travels.
The Miyota 8215 automatic movement is operated via a very smooth and effective signed screw down crown located at 4 o’clock on the Holotype’s case. It has three set points for hand winding, quick date, and setting the time. The movement is hand-windable but non-hacking, and seems to keep time within 20 seconds per day — a figure that should improve as the movement breaks in. The Holotype does not suffer from “wrist spin” (where you can feel the movement spinning and winding as you move your wrist) like so many other Miyota powered watches seem to. I suppose it is the thickness of the case that insulates the movement.
The luminosity of the dial is great; large hands and markers ensure plenty of room for luminous paint, and I seldom found myself wishing the Holotype glowed more brightly. The 12 o’clock arrow on the bezel is also painted and glows like a torch, a nice feature for timing events in less than ideal light. Esthetically, the yellow dial is so much better then I had guesed it would be. I usually stick to black dials on most of my watches, but I thought I would give the yellow dial a try and I am very glad I did. It is bright and seems to be a semi gloss that reflects just enough light that it stands out from the PVD case.
The bracelet matches the case in every way. It is thick, solid, quiet, smooth, and didn’t pull a single hair from my wrist. All of the links are screwed together so sizing the bracelet is simple. A quick word of warning: the screws do not seem especially tight from the factory so I recommend sizing he bracelet then tightening each link completely (my failure to do so cost me a tiny screw). You might even consider a little Loctite 242 (blue). The fold over clasp has a push button release, and has a very secure fliplock. The end links are solid and secured by 24mm screws.
The packaging on the Holotype is far more then one would expect. My unit shipped in at tan colored faux leather travel case that houses the watch, warranty card, manual, tools, rubber strap, and polishing cloth. Halios includes more than most watches come with and the case is something you can actually use for travel and storage. The inclusion of tools is a nice gesture as a micro screwdriver is needed to size the bracelet, and the reverse side of the screwdriver is a spring bar tool that can be used with any watch for changing straps.
The Halios Holotype has been a joy to wear. It is everything I like in a watch without many of the pitfalls of modern start-up brands. The movement is cheap, but will keep time for many years; if it were to need repair, that too will be inexpensive compared to its Swiss counterparts. The build quality is excellent and would easily stand with anything in the highly competitive sub $1,000 range. It’s limited in production: only 300 units means that you get exclusivity without snobbery, which is a huge plus when watch shopping. Lastly, the price is very reasonable; the PVD models are sold out but the remaining stainless models are selling for $325. That’s good value for an automatic, limited edition, 300m diver built like the Holotype. I have only been in contact with Halios for a short time, but its clear you are getting considerable support as well. After the pro-orders shipped, the owner of Halios actually wrote all the buyers to “check in” on the new Holotypes and recommend tightening the screws. I feel like you wouldn’t get the same support from a sub $1,000 purchase of a brand name watch, even more so directly from the manufacturer.