Thursday, March 24, 2011

Helson Tortuga

Sunday, March 13, 2011. I saw a post from my good buddy Tony Duronio at 3T linking me to the Oceanictime blog where a teaser for the new Helson dive watch had been posted. This was enough to grab my interest.

Monday, March 14, 2011. I receive an email from Peter Helson alerting me to the offering for sale of the new Helson dive watch. Again I find myself being drawn to the watch. The distinct retro diver styling appeals as does the offered orange dial. I’ve sampled many of the “boutique” divers and enjoyed most if not all. The new Helson Tortuga utilizes the Miyota 9015 hacking movement, and I have yet to sample this movement. An easy rationalization. Monday afternoon I placed my order.

Thursday, March 17, 2011. The FedEx man drops the Tortuga off at my home. Later that day I get to experience that unique sensation whereby something that was halfway around the world just a few days ago is now in your hands. Tortuga #87 now resides in Packerland, USA.

The Tortuga arrives in a nice valet case with two bezels, a bronze bezel changing tool, and both a rubber Isofrane style strap and a thick leather strap. As with many of the boutique brands, the entire package only adds to the satisfaction of the purchase. In the Tortuga’s case you can have four distinct versions of the watch. That’s pretty cool.

The Tortuga has serious dive watch specifications and all the right bits one would look for in a dive watch. Not to mention the instantly familiar case calls to mind vintage divers from the late 60’s and early 70’s. While the watch has a distinct vintage vibe to it you wouldn’t quite label it as an outright homage as it takes design cues from the period and makes a new watch that feels lived in. This is the first Helson watch I’ve purchased and if the Tortuga is indicative of the brand I think I’ll be a return customer.

All the right bits, huh? Well what is it that most of us look for in a dive watch? Ridiculous waster resistance. Rated to 1000 meters, the Tortuga certainly qualifies as a deep diver. Just in case I feel the need for saturation diving the Tortuga comes equipped with an automatic helium release valve. Oh and I need lume for all those cave dives. The Tortuga qualifies as a torch especially when outfitted with its lumed bezel. A thick sapphire crystal with obligatory anti reflective treatment encapsulates a tastefully done orange dial with heavy indices.

This is my first watch using the newish Miyota 9015 hacking movement. Operation is smooth and positive. This movement is made to measure up to the Swiss ETA movements featured by numerous watch makers. The 9015 is hackable, hand winding, and operates at the familiar 28,800 bph making for a smooth running sweep. I haven’t tested accuracy as of yet but will update this review after some timing.

The supplied bezel removal tool is a breeze to use. Simply fit to the raised stainless ring surround the crystal and unscrew. Reverse to mount the alternate bezel. I’m a fan of the beefy black lumed bezel but see the appeal of the stainless bezel with the colored keyed hashes. Both give the watch a separate look and both are quite visually appealing. Truth be told I had the stainless bezel on for only a few minutes before I went back to the black bezel.

The Tortuga arrives mounted on a nice Isofrane style rubber strap. This set up is very comfortable to me and with the watch case measuring 43mm in diameter and 16mm in height the Tortuga doesn’t need a heavy bracelet to balance it on the wrist. The supplied leather strap is nice, but I’m not a fan of leather on dive watches so I haven’t mounted it. With 22mm lug width the watch does beg to be manhandled by the strappies out there. I also think a mesh bracelet might look nice on the Tortuga.

I’m quite happy with the Tortuga after spending just a week together. There seem to be quite a few in the wild at the moment so we’ll see how many WIS hold on to them and how many flip them.

Thanks for having a look and I have to apologize. It has been some time since I put one of these together and last week I was so overjoyed to take pictures outdoors in natural light that I didn’t do a good job of wiping down the watch. So I apologize for the fingerprints, smears, and crud on the watch case and crystal.

1 comment:

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