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Halda Watches: Is the Future really about Interchangeable Digi-Mech Watches?

by Jonathan Ho on March 1, 2017

Swedish watchmaker Halda has made a bold claim – that while most watchmakers today innovate with new materials and manufacturing processes, they build everything from a perspective of history because what’s praised is the heritage of the brand going back centuries. Halda Watches are looking to change that narrative by designing and developing a modular watch design with both traditional mechanical and modern electronic movements. But is the future really about interchangeable digi-mech watches?

Philosophically speaking, Halda watches remain true to classical watchmaking by working with watchmakers like Zenith for robust mechanical movements but the Swedish watchmaker believes it can buck the digital-mechanical watch conundrum by incorporating the digital guts of a high tech movement in a completely separate watch head. The idea? Is that a Halda Watch will be a dedicated mechanical watch that you love, with the ability to be swapped out for a digital timepiece when the mood hits.

Halda believes in a future of watches with interchangeable digital and mechanical modules.

Halda Watches: Is the Future really about interchangeable Digital/Mechanical Watches?

With a motto like “the future is interchangeable”, Halda watches operates on a system of modules, one mechanical and one digital, both watch heads are easily swappable for when intent to either enjoy the utility of a modern computing timepiece or the philosophical respect for tradition strikes for a mechanical movement.

Born in 1887, Halda watches retained strong mechanical roots in precision mechanical instruments in not just watches but also as official meters for London cabs. The modern incarnation of the firm resurrects these brand ideals on a platform of impeccable digital functionality and the passion for analogue mechanical timekeeping. While the attempt is admirable, it’s hard to envision a future of interchangeable digital/mechanical watches when you are literally putting a mechanical watch down and picking up a digital watch to wear – isn’t that exactly what we do already? Granted, you are wearing the same Halda watch bracelet and only changing the watch head but it doesn’t feel like a quantum leap in the genre. Yet, serious kudos must be given for the attention to detail in creating Halda Watches.

Halda Space Discovery in mechanical watch configuration with NOS movement refurbished by Sven Andersen. Neighbouring it, the Halda Space Module with mission critical functions.

Interesting details of the Halda Space Discovery

The Halda Space Discovery features two interchangeable time modules (the raison d’etre of the brand), one of them being the “space module”. The Space Module is designed for precision, functionality and reliability, for this, Halda Watches turned to NASA astronauts in the STS-128 Discovery mission where the Halda Space Module was fine-tuned and refined. The Halda Space Module is equipped with advanced functions such as G-Force sensors, Earth Timer, Event Log and Mis­sion Elapsed Timer, all mission critical functions for astronauts. Beyond the timing functions, the material technology built into physical construction of the watch is based on NASA specifications catering for low weight yet possessing high tensile strength and insulating qualities.

Hesalite Crystal in place of regular sapphire (when necessary)

Although it might seem anachronistic, hesalite is a specially formulated polycarbonate which while isn’t as scratch resistant as sapphire doesn’t break apart into deadly crystal shards on impact like sapphire. Thus, it becomes a mission necessity to use hesalite (much like the original Omega “Moonwatch” Speedmasters). Halda watches provides these changes at no cost.

The Flight Strap

Built according to NASA specs, it’s not your regular NATO nylon strap. It meets the toughest requirements and is designed to secure the Halda Space Discovery across your wide space suited arm. Each Flight Strap comes individually numbered, just as the watch itself.

TECAMAX™ watch case

A material developed for military and space use, TECAMAX™ makes up the primary material of the Space Module’s watch case. Certified by NASA to meet the toughest requirements of durability and precision, TECAMAX™ can endure extreme temperatures and exposure to acid (I guess great if you’re fighting Xenomorphs in space – check out the new Alien Covenant trailer) and chemicals.

Automatically adapting backlight 

Like most smartphones today, the LED screen on the Halda Space Module adapts to ambient lighting in order to optimize the wavelengths of the colour of the backlight to deliver optimum legibility in all situations.

Mission critical functions

Earth Time – In orbit you cover a lot of ground fast – in 24 h you go around the world 16 times. This is why we have developed The Earth Time function. It allows for easy access to local time and time zones of 192 countries on earth. In addition to this, the Space Module display shows Dual Times (two world times shown simultaneously) and full calendar functions, a chronograph and splits down to 1/10 s. Add to that Mission Elapsed Time (MET), Countdown, MET and UTC Alarm, 24 h timer and an Event log and you are ready to go.

The G-force sensor – The integrated 3-axis accelerometer measures G-forces in three dimensions. This gives the astronaut access to critical information during key times of the Space Mission, such as take-off and landing. Max recorded G-forces are stored for evaluation.

The Halda Mechanical Module

Independent watchmaker Sven Andersen brings his watchmaking expertise and insight into vintage New Old Stock  (NOS) movements and refurbishes the Halda H1920-SA into a thoroughly reliable high frequency 36,000 bph (5 Hz) movement with a 43 hour power reserve.

The Halda Space Discovery is limited to 128 pieces.

Introducing the Halda Race Pilot with Zenith mechanical movement.

Interesting details of the Halda Race Pilot

Track information of 150 race circuits

Halda worked in concert with professional race drivers and engineers to create the Halda Race Module. The in-house module features key information about the world’s 150 most prestigious race tracks from the Nurburging circuit in Germany to the Suzuka circuit in Japan.

FIA Formula 1 countdown

In addition to track information from around the globe, the Race Pilot is also programmed to show the driver time remaining until Formation Lap – according to the regulations of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. This warning system is developed for Race Engineers in particular but also for drivers to keep track on when the grid opens and closes and when tires should be fitted, for instance.

Unique sound amplifying case-back design

The Race Pilot even has its own acoustic design merits. The case-back of the Halda Race Pilot is developed to create a resonance effect and to amplify the various sound levels of its alarms. Four openings facilitate a sound profile with frequencies between of 2.5 –8 kHz rather than being muted by the wrist for impressive audible alerts even in high noise environments like the race pits.

Mechanical Zenith movement drives the Halda Race Pilot

The mechanical movement of the Halda Race Pilot is the Caliber 685. It is a 38-jewel automatic movement that beats 28,800 times per hour and has a 50-hour Power Reserve, visible through the crystal case-back.

After all that’s been said, most of us are not going to be astronauts or racing professionals – while many other brands engineer their mechanical watches to cater to those specs, they’re usually an extension of brand DNA and heritage. The Swedish watchmaker Halda has quite literally programmed their digital modules to serve those needs, putting them in a niche market to either sell to real astronauts and race car drivers or those who really want to emulate them.

Halda Watches follow in evolutionary but not revolutionary iterations of the digital/mechanical watch genre. In a sense, where TAG Heuer offers you to trade your Connected Watch for a mechanical version, Halda is offering you to keep both mechanical and digital versions – one for maximising performance and the other for tradition. We don’t believe in the future of digital/mechanical watches but we suppose Halda’s attempt is a new take on a growing genre (even if it’s targeted at a very small niche ).

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