Helgray Silverstone Meca-Quartz Chrono – $379.00
Born on Kickstarter, Helgray Watches are by the same guys, or, at least one of the same guys, who did the Rossling & Co. watch Kickstarter. To say that project was successful would be an understatement. That original Rossling & Co. project asked for $19,200. They got $170,000. So when they went to create the motorsport inspired Helgray Silverstone, it was not their first rodeo. And again, they were massively successful. Their goal was to raise $20,000. They got $228,000.
The Silverstone, in four different face colors to choose from plus a stainless steel bracelet and leather strap in each order, was the result.
Available with a white, black, green, or the blue dial shown here.
It’s an extremely nice watch for the early bird, Kickstarter pricing of $229 – $279. But those prices are long gone. Now, Helgray is asking $379 for this watch. And while it’ll surely appeal to many looking to satiate a fix for a fast-looking watch, the budget watching crowd might wince at the almost $400 price tag. Especially with much more affordable alternatives on the market.
Powered by Seiko’s Meca-Quartz movement, it marries the dependability and cost-effectiveness of a quartz movement, with some bits and pieces of the chronograph function coming from mechanical movements. Quartz chronographs are often lifeless at the pushers. Hitting a quartz pusher vs. hitting a mechanical/automatic pusher is akin to the difference between hitting a mushy laptop key and punching the crisp strike of a typewriter. Thanks to those mechanical components, this watch has that precise, snappy feel at the pushers, all while keeping the cost down with a quartz movement at the core.
At its heart, a quartz movement. But has the feel of a mechanical at the pushers.
The seconds hand also clicks by at a pace of 5 times a second, instead of the once per second sojourn you get with a Quartz chrono. The aesthetics of the watch are based in the romance of driving fast in cool cars, so it was really smart of the designers to include that authentic feel.
But, it’s still a quartz. And asking $379 for a quartz, even if it does have a few bits in there from a mechanical, just won’t fly in many a guy’s mind. Even if it does come with both a leather strap and a stainless bracelet, has a sapphire crystal, and gets delivered in a nifty zip-around case.
The layout of the dial is well thought out and symmetrical. There’s no seconds hand (other than the chronograph seconds hand), and the two sub dials show the 60 min chronograph function, as well as a 24-hour dial. Placement of the date window at 6 o’clock is perfect.
Each watch comes with a leather strap, a stainless bracelet, & a spring bar tool for changing them.
Both the leather and stainless steel straps feel of decent quality, and they even ship a spring bar tool for you to use while changing from one to the other. When this particular watch showed up, the ends of the crown and pushers were covered in what appeared to have once been blue cellophane, or some other protective plastic. But somehow in transit, that translucent blue material appeared to have almost… melted itself to the ends of the crown and pushers? It was a pain to get off. Took quite a bit of fingernail scratching to get that gunk off, and it honestly looked at first like poorly done paint.
Is it a nice watch that delivers on 70’s/motorsport inspired looks? Yes, it’s a nice watch that delivers on 70’s/motorsport inspired looks. But the price is pretty steep, especially when compared to similar looking (but not feeling) watches from Seiko and Timex. Plus, according to some of the backers on Kickstarter, customer service can be pretty spotty (yet that’s hardly uncommon to see in the comments sections on Kickstarter).
During the Kickstarter, they were asking $229 – $279, depending on how quickly you backed it. Sure. This watch certainly delivers for that price. But at $379? Look, it’s not the same style of course, but you can get a Hamilton automatic field watch for that much cash. At $379, most of you guys might like the Helgray’s looks, but will end up looking elsewhere.
Enter here to win the blue dial Helgray Silverstone shown in the post above. One entry per person. Deadline for entry is 12:59 PM ET on 1/19/16.
UPDATE: Congrats to K. Tripp who won the drawing for the Helgray Silverstone!