Most brands start off their journey with a dive watch. They are popular, versatile, and offer plenty of room for creativity. In the case of Haim, they launched their brand with a hand-winding mechanical chronograph. While this isn’t the riskiest type of watch to bring to market, it is a little out of left field.
With that said, Haim decided to give dive watch fans their version of a dive watch with their sophomore release, the Descent. The Haim Legacy Chronograph was well-built, attractive, and showed off the brand’s ability to produce a great watch despite being new. Let’s see if lightning can strike twice with the Descent.
Please note the watch pictured in this review is a pre-production sample and changes will be made to the final production models. These changes are:
– Lume application changes
– Numbers and bezel will be properly aligned
– The hammered finish of the dial may be more matte to reduce glare
On the Wrist
The time for 42mm dive watches over 15mm thick seems to have ended, at least in the enthusiast segment. I won’t go so far to say that 36mm dive watches are now what is prominently displayed from micro and boutique brands. Haim has recognized this and put out a watch with contemporary sizing that feels great on the wrist.
The Descent comes in at 39mm wide, 45mm lug-to-lug, and 10mm wrist-to-crystal (12mm overall case height). I’m thrilled that Haim decided to keep the lug-to-lug distance relatively short instead of going for long sweeping lugs that are 48mm or more. This keeps the watch compact on the wrist and coupled with the turn-down in the lugs, it conforms well to my 6.75” wrist.
The face of the Descent packs in plenty of design and flair, which I will touch more on in a bit, but despite being busy, the watch remains readable and distraction-free. Haim kept the elements needed for telling the time away from that busyness and it walks the line perfectly between legible and fun.
If you’ve talked to me personally about dive watches you’ll know that I love and overwhelmingly prefer 60-click bezels. I’ve even modded a few of my own watches from 120 clicks to 60 clicks. Because of this, I was delighted the first time I gave the Descent’s bezel a spin. It is 60 clicks of pure joy. The bezel itself includes both a dive timer as well as cardinal position markings for a 12-hour time zone adjustment. The 60 clicks are suited perfectly for these tasks.
The dial in the Descent is stepped and contains 3 parts. The outer and highest ring on the dial is the chapter ring. This flanks the ring containing the hour markers and the innermost section with branding text. The chapter ring is subdued and nearly fades away if you’re not looking for it. The hash marks are white with yellow-accented numerals every 5 minutes.
The Descent gets a proper gilt treatment which coordinates perfectly with the dark blue dial. The applied indices are squared off on one end and taper to a point at the other. The double-width markers at 12 and 6 carry a slightly aggressive feel to them that gives the dial a little more character. There is a hammered finish on this section of the dial, which adds a little texture underneath the markers. The tapered hands pair well with the markers, but I would like to see the minute and second hands extended ever-so-slightly to just touch the inside of the chapter ring.
The innermost part of the dial has Haim’s branding text (which is kept to a minimum) and a guilloche-like finish. I like the sunburst effect this gives, but I also like that it doesn’t extend to the entire dial. It keeps the important parts of the dial matte and legible; it’s a nice balance.
Case, Bezel, and Strap
The overall design of the case is well-executed. When I first looked at photos of the Descent, I thought the sides of the case were flat and was concerned that despite its thinness, it would be slab-sided. The sides of the case are actually slightly rounded and polished. This breaks up any perceived height the Descent has and makes it look even thinner than it is.
The polishing on the sides of the case extends to the lugs as well. There are no brushed surfaces on the case save for the bezel. This helps the Descent fit easily into the dressy diver category and I have no doubts this watch would pair perfectly with a suit and tie. There is a small circular nub, which is a functional helium escape valve. Not something you see often on microbrand watches and it does add a talking point if you have no plans for saturation diving.
As I mentioned above, the bezel is 60 clicks of goodness. The bezel’s size is perfectly proportioned to the dial and case of the watch. The rounded knurling provides ample grip and I never had any issues turning it. I am still unable to make up my mind on the brushed finishing on the bezel. On one hand it contrasts with the polished case, but on the other hand I wonder if a glossy sapphire bezel would have complemented it more effectively. With that said, I don’t have any issues with the brushed steel bezel; it does its job well.
The Descent will come on a fitted rubber strap, but I was unable to see it with the review sample I had. I’m a sucker for fitted rubber straps but while I was bummed out not being able to see it, I think it will look great on this watch. I was able to try out the leather strap that will also come with the watch and had no complaints. It is nothing special, but it isn’t bad either. I would have no problems wearing the Descent on the provided leather strap.
So, you’ve got a few hundred bucks and want to spend it on a dive watch. The options are almost limitless these days, but there are most certainly watches out there that are objectively better than others. Build quality, design, and personal preference all play a role in that decision. I’d wager that if you’re reading this review and made it this far, the Descent is a key player in the decision you’re trying to make.
The Descent is well-built (even for the pre-production sample I had), has some unique styling elements that make it stand out, and at an introductory price of $475, it’s hard to go wrong. I like the direction Haim is heading in and I think the look and feel of the Descent shows they’ve already grown from their inaugural release to this one. It’s hard to come up with an original-looking dive watch, but Haim has managed to put their best foot forward and put out a watch that I think will turn some heads.
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Haim website
Haim Descent Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal