Company: Helm Watches
About the company:
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.
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.
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 (follow link to read full testing) http://helmwatches.com/iso-6425.html 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.
VANUATU GENERATION 2
Back in January I had the great privilege to review the first release of the Helm Vanuatu. It packed in a great value for your dollar. At the price point I was quite impressed with what you received for the price. There is no such thing as the perfect watch we all know this of course, but what Helm did was they actually listened to the feedback from their first release and improved upon what was already a nice release.
I am here today with the Helm Vanuatu Gen 2 and I’m going to explore & explain the differences between the two watches.
What first caught my attention was the bezel design. The number font is a bit different and the fill is done with more percision. It looks much more streamline than before. Of course I am a bezel snob when it comes to function. I expect a bezel that lines up perfectly with the dial, ratchets firmly & smoothly and doesn’t have any play. Well Helm achieved all of this with the new and improved V2.
As soon as I glanced at this dial I noticed how nice and crisp everything looked. The lume coating on all the indices is done very neat and clean. Sharp lines throughout. I touch on the actual lume later on don’t worry! The new hands are filled now as opposed to the old solid hands on the V1. This small detail really cleans up the dial nicely, crazy what a huge difference it actually makes. Even the printed text on the dial looks cleaner. Now don’t get me wrong the V1 was impressive and I really like it a lot, but these improvements have carried the Vanuatu into a different league competition wise. As I explore the V2, I can honestly say that it will be tough to find these kind of details on a watch at this price point.
V2 CASE BACK
The caseback on the V2 has also been upgraded both functionally and visually. Helm went with a combination of stamping and etching which has created a much more smooth and clean appearence to the case back. I absolutely love solid case backs and the V2 doesn’t disappoint. Even running my finger across it feels so nice. Underneath this beauty of a case back Helm made some changes they replaced the NBR gasket with a DuPont Viton. What does this mean? Well this gasket helps seal the case back creating a tighter water resistant seal. Something you want on a dive watch. Another important detail about the new gasket is that it has a higher resistance to chemical erosion and it has a higher resistance to extreme temperatures. When exposed to hot or cold the gasket won’t shrink or expand so that the seal is always tight maintaining the water resistance.
V1 CASE BACK
The crown on the V1 operated without flaw and so is the same on the V2. So why fix what isn’t broken right? Wrong. Helm just made it even better. The made the crown with higher profile teeth/gear edges that allow you to get a better grip on things. The crown is so easy to screw and unscrew. Just as I’m a snob with bezels, the crown is the other are of a watch that draws a lot of critism from me. Rest assure my friends, this crown will receive no critism from me.
A detail that you may not notice that was upgraded is the spring bars. They are beefier than before, 2.0mm of beef to be exact. The new included strap is also beefier, from the strap itself to the keepers. It really feels like quality. A strap that can handle some good, rough and tumble outdoors adventure. I like this style of strap for when I’m doing things in the woods, hiking, climbing, chopping wood, etc.. When I’m in the water, I prefer a bracelet. The Vanuatu’s bracelet is crazy nice. Helm switched to single-sided screw pins on the new bracelet which not only adds to aesthetics but it actually makes sizing the bracelet much easier.
The lume is so nice on the V2. It has great depth and detail throughout the dial, hands and bezel. The V1 had a muted blue glow to it. Now? Oh man it has green & orange and glows so bright. Helm used a LumiNova BGW9 luminous pigment, this go around and it works perfectly. This is one of my favorite upgrades on the V2. I never was a lume fan before and what I mean by that is it would never make or break a purchase of a watch for me. Now, it’s so satisfying to lay in bed at night and look at the bright glow of lume. Plus the jerk in me finds it slightly satisfying to shine the lume in my wife’s face. Hehehe. Yes I just say hehehe and yes I wear a watch to bed. Got a problem with that?
V2 lume shot from a 30 second charge of light
V1 lume shot from 30 second charge of light
The price for the V2 comes in at $275.00 USD plus $30 for shipping. The first 100 V2 will be offered starting around August 15th, for $250.00 with shipping included. To be honest, even at $275.00 the Vanuatu is an incredible value. The bracelet alone makes this an instant value not to mention that each watch is ISO 6425 standard. You get a watch with nice lume, a killer dial, smooth as butter bezel, screw down crown, a rugged stainless steel bracelet, and an automatic movement for under $300.00! That’s crazy! The case construction on the Vanuatu is solid. This watch can handle your abuse.
This is a perfect watch for someone looking to enter the dive watch world. I am very impressed with this watch. Like I said before, I was impressed with the V1, but holding both versions side by side, you can see the work that Helm did to improve upon a solid foundation only to make it even better. I always hear across the watch groups and forums “I’m looking for a daily beater, any suggestions?” Well yes, I have a great suggestion, the Helm Vanuatu generation 2 is that watch. You won’t break the bank either. This watch can easily compete with watches that are offered at a much higher price point.
I want to personally thank Helm for allowing me to explore the Vanuatu Generation 2. It was an honor to do and it was awesome to see the great improvements built upon an already firm foundation.
WHAT YOU GET:
Vanuatu 300m Automatic Watch
SS1 Stainless Steel Bracelet
NS1 Nylon Strap (your choice of 4 colors)
Brushed 316L Stainless Steel
Integrated Crown Guards
Screw Down Caseback
Diameter (12H to 6H): 42 mm
Diameter (9H to 3H, with crown): 46.0 mm
Lug to Lug: 50 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Height: 14 mm
Brushed 316L Stainless Steel
Position: 3 o’clock
Diameter: 8 mm
Seiko Instruments NH35 (Automatic Mechanical)
Hacking and Manual Winding Functions
Accuracy: -25 ~ +35 seconds/day
Beats Per Hour: 21,600
Power Reserve: 40 Hours
DIAL & HANDS:
Dial: Matte Black with Luminescent Hour Markers (Super-LumiNova BGW9 + Dark Orange)
Hands: Luminescent Hour, Minute & Second Hands (Super-LumiNova BGW9)
Date Window: 6 o’clock (Black or White Date Option)
316L Stainless Steel
120-Click, Unidirectional Rotation
Diameter: 43 mm
Stainless Steel Insert with Black PVD Coating
Markings: White Oil + Super-LumiNova BGW9
Flat Sapphire with Internal Anti-Reflective Coating
Stainless Steel Bracelet and Folding Clasp with Brushed Finish (22 mm Bracelet Tapers to 20 mm at Clasp)
NS1 Nylon Strap with Stainless Steel Buckle and Keeper Rings
300 m / 30 atm / 990 ft
Tested in accordance with ISO 6425:1996
With Stainless Bracelet (full length): 225 grams
With NS1 Nylon Strap: 120 grams
The LS1 and LS2 leather straps pictured in some photos at left are available separately, and at a discount when purchased with a watch.
The canvas strap pictured in some photos at left is a work in progress, which we hope to have available soon.