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The Helicon brand was founded in 2018 by husband-and-wife team (Danielle and Jonathan), who between them have a couple of decades experience in the watch industry and offer consultancy services to other industry professionals. Helicon’s ethos is to produce affordable limited-edition watches, made in small batches and they have a production team experienced in concept, design and manufacture. Development began on the Master 62 series of watches in 2019, but the range wasn’t launched until 2022.

Overview – Helicon Master 62 Dive Watch

The Master 62 range is inspired by a 1962 prototype Diver’s Watch found in the archives of a long-lost Swiss Watchmaker (Helicon don’t say which brand, and nothing obvious springs to mind for me here, sorry readers). Pitched by Helicon as a dive watch built for modern adventures the range comprises five unique variants, all priced at £560. Visually the main selling point of the Master 62 range is the unique dials, both in terms of colour and finish. Up for review here is the Blue Hour dial, but you can choose from Lichen Green, Iridium (a kind of burnt orange), Claret, or for those less attracted to colour, Granite. Whichever option you choose, each is special in its own right. What’s more, each variant is truly limited to just 50 pieces, never to be repeated. You can even let Helicon know which serial number you’d like and if it’s still available, it’s yours!

The Case and Wearing Experience

The 316L stainless steel case of the Master 62 has a compact diameter of 38.5mm, and a lug-to-lug measurement of 48mm. The overall thickness is proportionally a little chunky at 13.9mm, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a 200m dive watch. The website photos show the watches with male end-links, but I’m pleased that Helicon has now switched to female end-links, so whilst the watch has more wrist presence than your average 38.5mm watch, it still wears very comfortably and should work well on a wide variety of wrist sizes.

The thick mid-case is slab-sided and there is only the slightest of downturns at the lugs. However, thanks to the shallow caseback the watch still sits very close to the wrist which is a good thing. So, whilst it’s not a wrist hugger, it’s certainly a wrist-nestler!

A brushed finish is used for much of the case and three-link oyster-style bracelet, but the case-sides and edges of the bracelet links are high polished. Whilst the case and bracelet are simple in terms of geometry with no additional chamfers, crown guards or unusual finishes, they are very well executed and reminiscent of the original Tudor Black Bay, both in terms of look, feel and heft. Incidentally, the 38.5mm Master 62 sized for my 7 ¼ inch wrist weighs in at 161g, as opposed to 164g for the 41mm Tudor Black Bay (ETA version).

The 20mm bracelet tapers down to 18mm and is adjusted using push pins. The diver’s style clasp features a single action fold-over with three holes of micro-adjustment, and a twin-trigger push-button release with additional security fold-over. Unfortunately, there’s room for improvement with the bracelet clasp and it’s a bit of a let-down compared to the rest of the watch. The milled inner section is fine, but the outer sections are poor. The diver’s extension (and connection point between the bracelet and the clasp) is made of thin ‘unfinished’ metal, the outer security fold-over had a slight ‘lift’ and tolerances on the main pressed-metal fold-over could be tightened up to reduce the gap between it and the bracelet. For me it’s always a disappointment when clasps are overlooked, as it’s probably the part of the watch that you physically interact most with on a daily basis. I also think it’d be nice if Helicon offered other strap options, even if it came with an added cost.

The 120-click unidirectional barrel-shaped rotating diver’s bezel overhangs the case slightly and is polished to its top and bottom chamfers. The bezel lines up perfectly and has a very positive, solid action. The uniform coin edge of the bezel also makes it easy to grip. The bezel insert is made of blue scratch-resistant ceramic which took Helicon a year to perfect. The bezel has a clean, purposeful design with no numerals, only C3 super-LumiNova filled hash-marks and a 12’oclock triangle denoting increments of elapsed time. This no-nonsense look suits the tool watch aesthetic well. Protecting the dial is a scratch-resistant domed sapphire with anti-reflective coating on the inside. A polished stainless steel divider sits between the ceramic bezel insert and the sapphire crystal, which, together with the wide outer polished bevel of the bezel, brings a subtle touch of refinement.

The polished screw-down crown is signed with the Helicon ‘H’, and the stainless steel screw-down caseback features a polished Helicon logo and nicely executed 3d depiction of a pearl diver set against a sand-blasted background. The case has a countersunk recess for the stem of the crown and a cut-out that allows for an easier finger pull. Water resistance is an impressive 200m. Each caseback is also individually numbered in the format ‘xx/50’. On my review watch, the crown didn’t engage very positively, and I found that I had to attempt screw-down more than once. I might just have been unlucky with my watch and of course, being a review watch, it may well have passed through several hands before it reached me, but I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t point it out.

The Dial and Hands

The dial on the Helicon Master 62 Blue Hour is pretty special and each dial is created by hand, the fade or ‘ombre’ effect is unique to each watch, making every single watch truly individual.

Any experienced photographer or artist will be familiar with the term ‘blue hour’, a very special time of the morning just before sunrise, or evening just after sunset. Occurring in fine weather, the blue hour is a spectacular feast for the eyes, which casts a beautiful light as the deep blue sky fades to the warm orange glow of the waxing or waning sun. Helicon has rather magically captured this moment in the dial of the Master 62 Blue Hour by masterfully hand-finishing every dial to create a wonderful polychromatic fade from the blue upper half of the dial to the orange bottom half of the dial. This gives the dial a beautiful three-dimensional shimmer and brings life to the watch face. In the flesh, the dial is certainly a bit of a Chameleon. In strong light the contrast between the two colours is vivid, but in low light the transition looks softer and more subdued. It makes for a great summer watch!

I’m a watch collector with an extensive collection, so I’m at the point where I’m always on the lookout for something a bit unique. The Blue Hour therefore certainly gets my seal of approval, and if anything, it grew on me the more time I spent with it. However, there’s no denying that it’ll probably be a bit of a marmite choice. You may be loving the creativity at play here, or you may be thinking ‘couldn’t they decide what colour to do the dial?!’. Luckily, the other dial colours are still unique but not so outlandish, so you should be able to find the right option to express yourself.

Working from the outside of the dial inwards, a printed minute track in white sits inside of the straight-sided, brushed stainless steel rehaut. Most of the hour markers are square and printed in white, to which Swiss C3 Super-LumiNova is applied. However, unique, polished Art Deco-style applied indices are used for the 6, 9 and 12 o’clock markers and filled with C3.

Simple baton-shaped polished hour and minute hands also have central strips of lume, and a stick seconds hand features a rectangular lume pip.  Whilst the hands are simple and flat, they appear to be perfectly executed, with no rough edges, even under a 5x magnification loupe. Impressive!

A custom-made roulette wheel date window sits at 3 o’clock and alternates between black on white and red on white.This is a nice touch that will undoubtedly please some watch enthusiasts, but I would have loved to have seen an alternating white-on-blue and white-on-orange roulette so that it’s more bespoke to the watch. However, I’m guessing this might not have been possible due to the cost implications of applying the same principle across five dial colours, all made in low numbers. Finally, the top bevel of the date window frame is orange which contrasts against the blue half of the dial, and the bottom bevel is blue to contrast against the orange half – it’s a quirky little ‘easter egg’ that only really revealed itself as I spent more time with the watch.

The Movement

The Master 62 series uses a standard Seiko NH35 automatic movement, which features hacking and hand-winding. With a 41-hour power reserve a beat rate of 21,600bhp (4Hz) and an accuracy rating of -20-/+40s per day, this isn’t a particularly high specification movement by modern standards. However, it’s reliable and robust, so whilst it would have been nice to see something a little more premium, in many ways it’s perfectly suited to a tool watch such as this. Helicon also designed its own milled IPS plated brass movement holder for increased anti-magnetic qualities and shock protection.

Final Thoughts

Priced at £560, the Master 62 has a lot to commend it. The overall build quality and level of finishing seems to be very good, with the case, bracelet and dial all living up to close scrutiny. The bezel action also deserves a special mention, as do unusual touches such as the roulette wheel date window and the unique applied indices.  

In terms of negatives, I’d like to see the threading on the crown improved significantly, as it doesn’t inspire confidence when using it (Note – Since publishing my review, I’ve been assured by Helicon that the crown issues I had were purely down to my watch being a review model that had been treated roughly on its travels. All production watches will undergo additional quality assurance checks before being sent to customers). Secondly, the fit and finish on the bracelet clasp doesn’t match the level of refinement offered elsewhere on the watch. I also think Helicon missed a trick by not making the bracelet quick-release, which seems to almost be expected now from microbrands at this price. The only other negative is a personal one, in that I’d love to see the overall height reduced by a millimetre or two, as proportionally I find it’s a little tall in relation to the diameter. That said, it’s not unreasonable for a 200m dive watch.

On balance this is a well-specified, solid and tough watch which has everything you could need in a dive watch that stylistically occupies the middle ground somewhere between full-on tool diver and refined daily wear diver. The combo of ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, good legibility, strong lume and 200m water resistance is more than enough for all but the most extreme divers. But let’s not forget the star of the show, the unique dials, something seldom seen at this price! I applaud Helicon for trying something different here, particularly with the Blue Hour version. It’s not only fun, but takes some of the visual romanticism associated with a moon-phase (symbolic passing of time told through nature), and applies it in a unique way that, to my knowledge, hasn’t been done before at this price. Looking at the dial will evoke memories of looking out of a plane window or sitting on the beach watching the horizon until long after the madding crowds have left. And with each variant limited to just 50, these truly are limited, so you’ll certainly feel special sporting this wrist candy at your next Redbar meetup!

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