Helson watches is one of the relatively new group of small dive watch brands which has cropped up in the wake of expanding production capabilities in China that offer competent manufacturing and quality control processes to those willing to design a watch primarily made of catalog components (case, bracelet, etc). The dive watch collector base is ravenous and fairly large so there are many companies which have sprouted up in the last five years to offer nicely made and fully capable sport watches for a less-than-Swiss price. Helson offers a fairly wide range of divers but the model that most interested us was Shark Diver 42 which offered a tool style dive watch in a more wrist friendly 42 mm case, a range of dial colors and even a choice of automatic movements.
- 42 x 14.5 mm stainless steel case
- 51.5 mm lug to lug
- Miyota 9015 auto movement (40hr PR, 24 jewel, option for ETA 2824)
- Automatic HEV
- 253 gram weight (on full bracelet)
- 22 mm lugs
- 500m WR
- Sapphire crystal w/ internal AR
- SS bracelet
- available in black, black/orange, blue, white (ETA only)
At first, the Shark Diver 42 may seem like a compromise, offering to bring a large and masculine dive watch to those who prefer a more reserved size, even for their “tool divers”. The 42 mm stainless steel case has a tank-like appeal, with wide strong lugs and a tall 14.5 mm wrist presence. The case edges are sharp with a pronounced crown guard and large screw down crown which offers excellent grip. An automatic helium escape valve is integrated into the opposite (left) side of the case and, along with the 500m printed on the dial, serves as a reminder that the Shark Diver is prepared to get wet, should the need arise.
Peter at Helson watches was kind enough to send a blue dialed model and the color is excellent. The blue dial and bezel are a bright blue but the finish is not shiny or polished in any way. As is apparent in the photographs, the dial has an almost textured finish but the color alone provides a unique feel to the Shark Diver. The hands and markers appear off-white in daylight and the small orange text for “Shark Diver” contrasts well with the blue dial.
One of the most noticeable features of the Shark Diver range is Helson’s use of over sized markers and hands for the time display. This use of larger markers and hands not only allows for excellent daytime legibility, but it also serves as a platform for a truly fantastic amount of lume (see video). Generally speaking, the more luminous material you can fit in a given area, the brighter and more long lasting the output will be. The Shark Diver has a lot of room for lume and as you can see in the video and photos, the results are excellent. The Shark Diver rivals any Seiko I have owned and likely matches the great luminosity seen on the Armida A1 we previously reviewed. This model uses a light green C3 Superluminova paint and will not disappoint any lume fan.
The Shark Diver is available in four versions, blue, black, black with orange markers and hands, and white with light blue markers and hands. Helson offers further convenience to buyers by offering the Shark Diver with either a Swiss ETA 2824-2 movement or the Japanese Miyota 9015 automatic movement. Both offer comparable power reserves and feature hacking and hand-winding as well as identical date placement (small window between four and five). We requested the Miyota 9015 version because we have reviewed a litany of ETA 2824 based watches and also because the Miyota version is $100 less than the ETA ($599 vs $699).
Much like the Miyota 9015 which powered the Benarus Remora, the movement in the Shark Diver functioned well, kept excellent time, and did its best to match its Swiss counterpart. Choosing the Miyota amounts to a sizable savings and has no noticeable effect on the use or performance of the watch nor does it effect its warranty or out-of-warranty servicing. You could even use that $100 for a custom leather strap as the Shark Diver includes a bracelet and rubber strap but would obviously look great on leather too. That said, if you had your heart set on the while dialed model, you will have to pay the additional $100 as it is only available with an ETA movement.
On my 7.5 inch wrist the Shark Diver wears quite tall as the case back extends slightly from the bottom of the case itself, this rises the watch a bit higher than the lugs would suggest. Owners of large watches will appreciate the Shark Diver’s heft (253 g with all of the links left in the bracelet) and strong wrist presence while those who shy away from the 45+ mm market will appreciate its 42 mm width. Bezel action is evenly balanced with a nice click supported by an excellent gear style grip. The bezel also features a fully lumed scale which increases night time legibility and the overall cool factor of this dive watch.
The bracelet is a heavy 3 link design with solid end links, screw set construction, and an integrated fold-over dive clasp and wetsuit extension. The bracelet is secured to the case using a special tool hex tool (included, see video) which sports a two piece design that allows for control over both sides of the screw-set. Puzzlingly, this hex design it not used in the rest of the bracelet which is secured by screws and must be awkwardly sized by manipulating two small screwdrivers at once. Once the bracelet is sized, it’s not of much concern and the hex style lug bars make strap changes a surefooted affair and will minimize case scratches.
The included rubber strap is smooth, nicely thin and has an isofrane/tropic style that works well with the Shark Divers extra wide lugs. The rubber strap is very long, with my wrist fitting the second smallest position in the strap. The strap is secured by an included signed stainless steel tang. The Shark Diver ships in a plastic screw-top container with all of the elements secured into a fitted foam insert. This is the same packaging as that used with the Armida A1 and it works very well for both protecting the watch during shipping and storing items after the watch has arrived.
At $599 Helson is offering the Shark Diver at a very fair price given its competent build quality, included bracelet and rubber strap and the Miyota 9015 (which is a big step forward over the older Miyota 8125). A quick survey of the indie dive watch market shows that the pricing has settled around the $700 price point for new 3 hand models. The Shark Diver is a totally competent model and the Miyota version could easily play at the same price point as the ETA one but Helson is passing some of the savings on to the buyer. Ultimately, the Shark Diver 42 is an excellent compromise which successfully blends a competent tool-style diver with a more wrist-friendly size.
We would like to thank Helson for providing a Shark Diver for review.