WATCH REVIEW - Helm Watches Vanuatu - Watch Freeks


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Old 12-20-2015, 01:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default WATCH REVIEW - Helm Watches Vanuatu

Name of Reviewer: Mark (AKA andrema)

Watch Reviewed: Helm Watches Vanuatu

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Company Information:

Website: http://www.helmwatches.com
Email: support@helmwatches.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/helmwatches//


About from Company Website:

HELM Watches, and the company behind the brand―The Helm Group Limited―are American owned and operated, with roots in North Carolina. Conceived in the summer of 2014, HELM Watches was founded in September of the same year and our first watch, the Vanuatu 300m Automatic, was introduced in October, 2015.

Our mission is simple: To produce durable, affordable, dependable timepieces inspired by adventure and exploration, and designed to survive a lifetime of both.

The same spirit of adventure and exploration that inspires our brand and our watches (the kind of spirit, incidentally, that sometimes gets the better of common sense) is what inspired us to move half way around the world in the first place to launch a new company and a new brand among a sea of other brands. Undoubtedly, it will be one of our greatest adventures in this life. We would be honored if our watches can become a part of yours.

To ensure every watch is up to the task, we committed to quality from day one. And that's a commitment that involves more than just words and good intentions. Regardless of the product in question or the country of origin, if multiple parts and multiple suppliers are involved, consistent quality is tough to maintain―especially from the far side of an ocean. So we packed up and switched sides, relocating to Hong Kong and southern China to keep a close eye on our suppliers and monitor every step of the production process.

This same commitment to quality was behind the decision to test our dive watches in accordance with the ISO 6425 standard, which requires submerging every complete watch for 2 hours at a pressure equal to 125% of the watch's water resistance rating. It's a time consuming process that most brands don't bother with. But our feeling is, if a dive watch doesn't keep water out, it's not much use, and we think we should be the ones to discover that―not you. It's certainly not the easiest way. But then, most things done well usually aren't done the easy way.

So our commitment remains. Because it's the only way we'll fulfill our mission―to produce watches you'll want to wear for life, and make them tough enough that you can. An unrealistic goal in today's throwaway society? Perhaps. But we'd rather aim high and miss the mark than aim low and hit it. And we love a challenge. It's kind of what we live for. So HELM Watches was born. And behind the brand is the challenge we set for ourselves, which inspires us, inspires our products and we hope will inspire anyone who straps on a HELM watch: It's time to stop dreaming and start doing. It's time to chart a course, grab what you need and get moving. It's time for life.

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Helm Watches Vanuatu

Stock Photo:



Description from the company website:

Named for the South Pacific island nation famous for its coral reefs and a WWII shipwreck, the HELM Vanuatu epitomizes rugged functionality. Featuring a 316L stainless steel case and bracelet, automatic movement, screw-down caseback and crown, sapphire crystal, unidirectional bezel and 300 meter depth rating, the ISO 6425 compliant Vanuatu will go as long and as far as you do―above or below the waves. Also included with the watch is a durable NS1 Nylon Strap, a perfect option if you'll be in the water or just want a lighter weight alternative to the stainless bracelet.

Watch Specifications:

- Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
- Case Diameter: 42.0 mm
- Case Length: 50.0 mm
- Case Thickness: 14.0 mm
- Crystal: Sapphire, double domed with anti-reflective coating
- Dial Color: Black- Movement: Seiko Instrument Automatic NH35A Hacked second
- Bracelet Material: 316L Stainless Steel
- Lug Width: 22 mm
- Water resistance: 300 m / 30 atm / 990 ft
- Tested in accordance with ISO 6425:1996

Price: $295


Watch Manual -->> http://www.helmwatches.com/uploads/3...lm_vanuatu.pdf

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Helm is a fairly new US based watch company, which was founded in 2015. For this watch review, the company has provided one of its Vanuatu models for review. This is a black dialed dive watch, with an automatic movement, date and sapphire crystals.



Packaging:

The Vanuatu comes packaged in a simple hardened cardboard case, with a matte black "rubberized" cover and its logo printed in glossy black on the lid. There are cutout areas for the watch as well as the additional nylon NATO style strap. In addition to the watch, the entire package consists of a stainless steel bracelet, nylon strap, instruction manual, warranty card and water resistance testing certificate.

The overall quality of the box is nice, considering the cost of the watch and the total package received. Since I am not a big fan of elaborate packaging, I can appreciate that it's design and its cost conscious packaging. This certainly is nicely executed and certainly it safely protects the watch during transport as well as storage.



The inside of the box has a foam lining and padded pillow, which provides a nice soft environment for the watch during transit.



The water resistance certification is on a credit card style certificate, with the tests performed, dates and other information provided.



Case and Crystal:

I've always been a sucker for thick, chunky cased diver -- A tool diver. Well, the Vanuatu certainly fits the bill, with its thick proportions, angular case shape and deeply notched bezel. All of these attributes combined certainly help make it a rugged looking diver.



The Vanuatu's case is constructed of 316L stainless steel, with a brushed finish applied throughout its case surfaces. The finishing on the case is well done, with even and consistent brushing on all of its surfaces.





One feature that I am a big fan of is the drilled lugs on the case. This feature is often overlooked by young brands and definitely a big help when changing a strap. Since the Vanuatu comes with an additional NATO strap, these will certainly come in handy.





The Vanuatu's uni-directional bezel has a brushed finish, with deeply notched grips. The bezel insert is constructed of stainless steel with a black PVD coating applied. The insert has a great, subdued, look to it with its matte black finish and white markers. The bezel insert is partially illuminated, with every 5-minute marker having Superluminova paint applied. The remaining markers on the insert are filled with a white oil paint.

The bezel measures 43mm in diameter, so it sits slightly proud of the outside of the watch's case. This provides very nice access to the bezel and allows you to make adjustments easily.



The action of the Vanuatu's uni-directional bezel is nice, with a little play and firm clicks though out the entire 120 positions. Despite some early reports of very loose bezel action, the watch that I received for review did not exhibit this trait. When used, the bezel was absolutely acceptable and not loose. This is certainly encouraging and it seems that any early issues were resolved/addressed.



The Vanuatu’s sapphire crystal sits just above the surface of the watch's bezel. You can see a slight indication of the blue antireflective coating in the photos throughout this review. This coating was applied to the underside of the watch's crystal.





The watch's 316L stainless steel screw-in caseback has a circular brushed finish. The case back design is actually quite attractive and it features a deeply engraved Helm logo at its center. The engraving on the caseback is rather deep, so you can initially feel the edges with your fingertips, when touched. However, when the watch is worn you do not notice this at all.



The Vanuatu has a generously sized, 7.75mm crown, with the Helm logo engraved into its brushed end. The size of the crown as well as its deeply notched design provides an excellent gripping surface, especially if trying to make adjustments while wearing gloves. The crown itself easy to manipulate when setting the time and it has a nice feel as well as nice action.





Dial and Hands:

The dial on the Vanuatu is matte black in color with orange and grey highlights. The white hour markers are painted with Superluminova and have a stark white appearance. This, combined with the dark black dial color, creates great contrast and readability to the watch. This is especially important for a dive watch

Along the outside edge of the dial, there are orange dots indicating each 5-minute increment and white minute hash marks for the remainder of the dial. The orange color of the dots coordinates nicely with the black and white theme of the dial as well as ties in the orange of the second hand.



The hour hands of the dial are paddle style, with the minute hand being very similarly shaped as that of another popular tool diver, the Sinn U1. The hands are fully painted with Superluminova and have no borders. The second hand is a stick style with orange accents and a circular illuminated marker.

In addition, in the photo below you can see the glossy grey paint on the Helm logo, which is painted at the 12 o'clock position on the dial. This glossy application helps the medium grey paint more visible.



The dial features a date window at the 6 o'clock position of the dial. It perfectly aligns with the tops of the remaining hour markers on the dial, but does not include a border. The black date wheel, with white numbers works well and helps make the date blend into the watch's matte black dial.



There have been comparisons drawn regarding the styling of the Vanuatu hands and those of the Sinn U1. As you can see from the photo below, they are similar, but not identical. In addition, Sinn was not the first to utilize this style of paddle hands, so Sinn can be said to have drawn inspiration from another design also.

In addition to the hand comparison, the photo below will provide you with a good idea for the size and proportions of the Helm as compared to another tool diver.



As you can see from the photos, the Superluminova used on the bezel, dial and hands has a nice blue tone. The lume is fairly bright when fully charged, but tends to fade quickly. As you can see from the photos below, when it is fully charged it glows nicely.



Straps:

The Vanuatu comes two strap options -- a 5-piece link bracelet and a black nylon NATO strap with an orange stripe.

The watch's bracelet is constructed of 316L stainless steel and has a rugged appearance. The styling on the bracelet is very similar to many other tool divers in the market, with 5-piece link construction, 4.5 thick angular links and nice heft. The bracelet itself has a brushed finish and includes a diver's deployant clasp without an extension.



The bracelet is held together with screws, which is certainly an upgrade to some of the pin constructed bracelets in the market. The bracket is rather stiff right out of the box, but the links loosen up with time as the links work against each other.





The NATO included is a nice, thick nylon and brushed stainless steel hardware. The orange stripe at the center of the strap coordinates nicely with the orange features of the watch.



For those who are fans of IsoFrane style divers straps, here is a photo on the Vanuatu. I feel that it's beefy proportions fit very nicely with the tool diver style of the watch:



Movement:

The Helm Vanuatu features a Seiko Instrument Automatic NH35A automatic watch movement. This is a very reliable movement and is well regarded within the watch industry.

Seiko Instrument Automatic NH35A

(Diagram of Movement)



Technical Specifications:

- Manufacturer:Seiko
- Caliber Number:NH35A
- Movement Type: Automatic
- Jewels:24
- Vibrations Per Hour: 21,600 bph
- Power Reserve: 41 hours
- Winding Direction: Bi-directional
- Hacking?Yes
- Diameter:27.40mm (outside) / 29.36mm (casing)
- Height:5.32mm
- Functions:Hours, minutes, central seconds, date calendar
- Country of Manufacture: Japan/Malaysia
- Accuracy: -25 ~ +35 seconds/day

For more information on the movement, please refer to the following link: http://www.timemodule.com/sii/search/pdf/nh35a_SS.pdf


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Wrist Shots:

For reference purposes, my wrist is 7.25 inches.

The Vanuatu measures 42.0mm in diameter and 50.0mm in length. With these dimensions, the watch is the perfect size for MANY and is certainly a popular size in the WIS community. It wears very comfortably on the wrist and will fit nicely on most wrist sizes.









Shots on the supplied NATO nylon strap:





Here is a shot on an IsoFrane rubber dive strap:



Overall, I have to say, this watch is outstanding on the wrist. It has great balance, fantastic proportions and its overall appearance in person is excellent. I tend to prefer dive watches on rubber, so I have left the watch on the rubber as shown above.


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Overall impression and final thoughts:

The Vanuatu has a great tool diver look and the design is very attractive. Overall, I am happy with the overall quality of the watch, especially for a brand new brand. The finishing throughout the watch is on par with many other boutique brands on the market today and the components used are also in line with my expectations for a diver in this price range.

While preparing my review and evaluating the watch, I noticed a few features that could be improved or changed to accentuate the look and/or functionality of the watch. As I do with all of my reviews, I have compiled these points and have listed them below:


· The lume application on the watch hands is slightly thinner that that on the hour indices. As you can see in the lume photo above, this creates a slightly different shade to the lume. Due to this, the lume glow is less vibrant and lasts a shorter time. This can be easily remedied by a thicker application on the hands

· The links on the bracelet are tight and tend to bind when the watch is first worn. Perhaps a slight adjustment can be made to the center links to alleviate this and provide a more smooth movement to the bracelet.

· Although the watch comes with two strap options, no strap changing tool was provided. It would be nice for Helm to add this to their packaging to assist with strap changes and remove the need for buying a tool.

· Although the Seiko movement utilized in the watch is a widely used and respected movement, I prefer the Miyota 9015. This is just a personal preference of mine and nothing to do with the quality of the actual movement utilized in watch.

The points above are merely suggestions and the watch as currently produced is perfectly acceptable. The styling on this watch is fantastic, especially on a strap. If you are in the market for a moderately priced tool diver, the Vanuatu should definitely be on your radar and is worth consideration.


Well, that concludes my review …Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments ~ Mark
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Last edited by andrema; 01-03-2016 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 12-31-2015, 01:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Great review as always Mark. As you know my impressions weren't exactly the same. But interested to see where the company goes from here.


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Old 12-31-2015, 02:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the review.

That's a great looking chunky, tool diver at a price that's hard to beat.
I like it.
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Old 12-31-2015, 03:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Absolutely amazing pictures as always sir. In my opinion you take probably the best review pictures anywhere.

Very informative review and I love the comparison shots with the other watch.

Overall a nice looking automatic diver that I am sure will appeal to many at the sub $300 price point.

Thank you for an excellent review. I enjoyed reading it
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Old 12-31-2015, 03:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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nice review of a well priced entry level timepiece. Thanks Mark for the review and pics
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Old 12-31-2015, 11:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Great looking watch and what a great value! I don't know about all of you but right now it sure seems to me that is a buyers market when it comes to watches.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewie View Post
Thanks for the review.

That's a great looking chunky, tool diver at a price that's hard to beat.
I like it.
nice review ...entry tool battle cage fight

BORREALIS-TISSELL-ATHAYA VINTAGE LAMAFA

r u ready 2 rumble ?
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Old 01-02-2016, 03:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Great review thanks. I'm glad the initial bezel issues appear to have been sorted

Chris
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Old 01-03-2016, 10:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Is "profided" the same as "donated" for review?
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Is "profided" the same as "donated" for review?

The company gave a sample for review, that is what provided means. Thanks for asking. This should satisfy your question and require no further explanation.


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Old 01-03-2016, 12:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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so, wow. That's a killer watch for less than $300!
As usual, excellent job on the review and photos.

It ticks almost all of the boxes for me. ... Interesting. What is the total mass of the watch with the bracelet? I'd be curious to know.

paul
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladdythegeek View Post
so, wow. That's a killer watch for less than $300!
As usual, excellent job on the review and photos.

It ticks almost all of the boxes for me. ... Interesting. What is the total mass of the watch with the bracelet? I'd be curious to know.

paul

225 grams


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Old 01-03-2016, 12:41 PM   #13 (permalink)
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225 grams


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So that totally qualifies it as "beefy" or "chunky". Very cool.
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladdythegeek View Post
so, wow. That's a killer watch for less than $300!
As usual, excellent job on the review and photos.

It ticks almost all of the boxes for me. ... Interesting. What is the total mass of the watch with the bracelet? I'd be curious to know.

paul
Thanks, Paul!
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Old 01-08-2016, 03:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Almost too good for the money

Should be a sticky for newbies who ask what's a good o great starter watch

Darn well written and thread goes on to further give good info.

I clicked on the Ad header then searched for the review. Web site is well done

Bravo to a new company making watches fun for all economies
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Old 01-28-2016, 07:14 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Thank you!


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