Halios Tropik Watch Review
I’ve been following Halios since their first model was released back in 2009, and while four years is essentially just a few particles of sand through the hourglass of horology’s history, Halios hit the ground running. Expanding from that first diver, the Holotype, with repeat successes like the Bluering, Laguna, the 1000M (aka “The Puck”) and now the Tropik.
Much like their past models, the Tropik does not follow directly in the footsteps of the sibling watches that preceded it. In fact, aside from being a dive watch, the Tropik couldn’t be more different than the Puck. With the introduction of their fifth model range, this Vancouver, Canada based brand sticks to their proven formula for small batch production, dive-ready watches that offer original designs at accessible prices, but the process has been fine tuned to offer what might be their most attractive and palatable design to date.
While I will be focusing on the steel version, the Tropik was also available in a bronze version with a fixed sterile bezel and distinct dial colors. The Tropik B was released first and has since sold out (as is the case with most of Halios’ watches). There will be a new 2014 version of the Tropik B with new dial colors, so if you missed out on the first batch, follow Halios on Facebook to get an idea of when the 2014 Tropik B will be available. The Tropik SS in black has also sold out, but a second production run is slated for Q2 2014.
The Tropik is Halios’ smallest watch to-date, measuring just 41mm across (without the crown), 14 mm thick and just 48 mm lug to lug. With their past models ranging from 43 to 47mm, the Tropik is a welcome offering for those looking for something a bit smaller and it’s worth noting that the 14mm thickness is measured at the top of the domed sapphire crystal, with edge thickness measured at 10.5mm. With a curved case and short 22mm wide lugs, the Tropik sits comfortably and looks just about perfect on my 7 inch wrist. The case is beautifully contoured with no polished elements and a nicely sized crown that features a ceramic cap with the Halios logo.
Fitted with a unidirectional ceramic bezel, the 300M-capable Tropik might have a dressy vibe but it’s ready for a bit of underwater fun too (more on that in a bit). The bezel is light and positive in its action and the side-profile grip offers traction to both bare hands and heavy gloves. The fit is excellent and the profile of the bezel on top of the shapely steel case makes for one of the Tropik’s best angles. Like the dial markers and hands, the bezel is lumed with BGW9 SuperLumiNova, which lume nerds will know as the blue option that is not as commonly seen on sport watches as the green C3 variant.
When hit with a flashlight or a blast of the mid-day sun, the Tropik glows well but BGW9 offers a different sort of performance than what we’ve seen on models like the Puck. BGW9 does not have the initial intensity of C3, instead glowing a cool and subtle blue that lacks the wow factor of the torch-like lume of the Laguna. That said, the lume is totally legible, especially in very low light. Performance even after a few hours is similar to the output from a tritium system, legible but not incredibly bright.
Given the size of the markers, hands and lumed bezel markings, even with a C3 application, the Tropik would not have matched the luminous output of a watch with larger markers. I like the blue application and thanks to inlaid metallic markers and hands, the Tropik can be read even when there is no charge in the lume, simply turn it against any available light to see the reflection on the bright metal surrounds.
Speaking of the markers, they are just one element of what has to be my favourite Halios dial design to-date. The proportions are excellent and offer strong legibility and contrast against either the glassy blue or inky black dial. Both dial options perfectly match the glossy effect of the ceramic bezel and dial text is kept to a minimum. A simple minute scale offers excellent accuracy in reading the display and the date window is tucked away at six, a design that I absolutely love. The date is perfectly legible and both models feature dial color-matched date wheels.
I would generally prefer no date to a date placement that looks like an afterthought. On the Tropik, I welcome the date and its tiny aperture that allows the text to fill the window without throwing off the balance of the dial. I don’t generally get to obsess about these sorts of details on a watch at this price point, so it’s worth mentioning that I think the Tropik got the dial layout and proportions just right. The black is punchy and detailed while the glassy blue dial is a rich royal blue in bright light but it becomes quite a bit darker in tone, almost navy, in low light.
The movement is a Miyota 9015, which, as I’m sure you’ve read a million times before, is basically a Citizen sourced stand-in for the ETA 2824. Offering 42 hours of power reserve, 28,800 vph, 24 jewels, automatic winding, hand winding, hacking and a quickset date. While the performance is very similar to that of an ETA 2824, there is one aspect of this movement that is quickly highlighted by the smaller and lighter case of the Tropik, and that’s rotor noise. It’s a noisy movement that exhibits a noticeable spinning sound that can even be heard from your wrist in normal wear. I don’t think this is a problem as much as it is a reality of this movement. Timekeeping is very good and the Miyota keeps the price of the Tropik well below $1000.
Seeing as the Tropik is a dive watch and I needed an excuse to book my next diving certification course, I took the Tropik diving in the unbelievably cold waters of Vancouver early this past December. With the air temperature around -5 C (23F) and the water temp (at depth) around 3 C (37F), this was no walk in the park for me but the Halios shrugged off the cold and performed admirably.
After missing the first day of diving because I did not bring a strap long enough to reach around my drysuit/glove combo, the Tropik accompanied me on a 30 M (100ft) dive at Porteau Cove Provincial Park, where it made friends with a couple of octopi and caught the eye of a large and inquisitive sea lion. With the Tropik capable of going much deeper than any recreational dive, 30 M was no sweat. The bezel was easy to manipulate, even with two layers of gloves and while floating in the offshore chop of Howe Sound.
Now we come to my one issue with the Tropik, the included strap. The Tropik comes with a color-matched sharkskin strap with a stainless steel buckle. So if you get a black Tropik, it comes with a black strap and the blue Tropik comes with a blue strap. The black combination looks pretty good and the strap, regardless of colour, is high quality and not too thick for the Tropik’s case size. That said, while I love the blue Tropik, I cannot get behind the blue strap, it looks strange and feels a bit too busy for the watch. Luckily, not all is lost, as Halios is releasing a dedicated steel bracelet for the Tropik and it will sell for around $70.
I have seen prototypes of this bracelet and it looks perfect on the watch and reminded me of the low-profile and nicely finished bracelet that Tag Heuer includes with their Aquaracer 300m. If you’re getting a Tropik (especially a blue one), order the bracelet too as it costs about as much as a decent leather strap. In lieu of the bracelet, I have enjoyed wearing the blue Tropik on a dark brown gator strap with matched stitching. The darker tones and lack of contrast stitching fits well with the somewhat dressy vibe of the Tropik. In no way would the included blue strap make me think twice about buying a Tropik, it’s simply a combo that doesn’t work for my tastes.
So the Tropik is Halios’ usual quality in a smaller package with a good movement, solid bezel and outstanding dial design. If you’ve been sidelined by the size of Halios’ past models, the Tropik was made with you in mind. The Tropik SS is selling directly through Halios for $650 USD plus roughly $70 (final pricing not yet announced) for the bracelet, a good value for a well-sorted automatic dive watch with a ceramic bezel. While I’ve had a Laguna since 2011, it took only a few weeks with a Tropik to realize that this is my favourite of Halios’ watches.
I love the dial design, the dive-ready build and I think it looks just right on the bracelet, a simple leather strap or a gray nato. The Tropik is a great example of exactly what we like to see from a micro brand, a solid, practical and wearable package at an accessible price. I’ve followed this watch from the time it was just a drawing posted to Facebook, I featured it among my choices in the ABTW Editor’s Holiday Watch Guide and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve bought a blue one for myself because, beyond all else, what I needed was another dive watch. halioswatches.com
Well, after a 10 month wait, the Tropik’s bracelet has arrived from Halios. I’ve had the bracelet fitted for the past few days and don’t think I will ever take it off the watch. While my instagram would suggest that I prefer most watches on leather or nylon straps, smaller and thinner divers work really well on bracelets (think: Rolex Submariner or 1120 based Omega Seamaster) and the Tropik is no exception. It feels perfect and I think it looks amazing paired with the blue dial and bezel.
Sizing is a breeze as the Tropik bracelet uses single-sided screwed links – allowing the screws to be removed with a single screw driver. The fold-over safty clasp features a hidden wetsuit extension and four micro adjustment points. Finished with solid steel endlinks, the bracelet is everything I would want it to be and really has only one surprise, the price. At $70 shipped, the Tropik bracelet is cheaper than many decent leather straps and it should be a no-brainer for any steel Tropik owner.
Finally, a quick PSA for those of you who may have read the original review and got excited about the Tropik only to find they were already sold out. Keep an eye on Halios’ website as the second batch of Tropiks are due to be released before the end of the year. Now you can’t say that I didn’t give you a heads up.
>Price: $650 USD
>Size: 41 x 14 x 48 mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: No doubt
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone looking for a well made and nicely designed step up from a Seiko diver from an exciting young brand.
>Best characteristic of watch: Solid dial design and legibility.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Blue shark skin strap (just buy the bracelet).