I’ve heard and read the term “dress diver” a lot in the watch enthusiast sphere. I’ve used it myself on many occasions. I don’t think that there is a decisive definition, or that there is a list of necessary elements, which lays out what exactly constitutes a “dress diver,” but when you look at one, you think immediately: dress diver.
In a world awash in divers—skin divers, professional divers, saturation divers, desk divers—we hardly need another designation, but there you have it. For me, a dress diver is generally smaller and certainly slimmer. But its bezel is also discreet. It doesn’t scream tool watch. It looks just as comfortable under a shirt cuff as it does on a bare arm paddling through the ocean. It is often elegant. Its dial elements are sophisticated, rather than brutishly legible. It might incorporate the use of precious metals. The handset is subtle. Its crown is exposed.
All that to say, when I look at the Haim Descent, well…you get my drift.
When the Descent arrived on its rubber strap, I popped it on straight out of the box and wore it around the house for an evening. The next day, I wore it to work. And again, the next. And so it went. It is a watch that is easily worn.
The colourway helps, of course. Black goes with everything. But more than that, the Haim Descent is a subtle design that makes it a watch first and a diver second, and not the other way around. I think similarly of the Zodiac Super Seawolf 53 Skin, the Baltic Aquascaphe, or the new Serica 5303. They are beautiful timepieces that happen to also be divers.
The Descent’s case is straightforward, and because of its short lugs and steel bezel appears very much like a coin. It measures 39mm in diameter and only 45mm lug to lug. For a diver, it also has a relatively slim profile of only 12mm. The lugs pinch inward from the outer edge of the case, visually shrinking the watch even further. Because of their downward slope, which dips below the case back, they also hug the wrist nicely. The watch, itself, is predominantly polished, but the bezel is finished in circular brushing.
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Upon closer inspection—and somewhat surprisingly—the timepiece has a helium escape valve on its mid-case at the 9 o’clock position. The watch is certified to 200m of water resistance, but this “toolish” and technical addition does seem nonetheless startling in that it is more often found on professional saturation divers.
Another quirky addition is the bi-directional bezel, which can act as both a typical countdown bezel, or, as a GMT due to its dual-purpose scale. The 60-click bezel has a satisfying and smooth action and is finished in an easy-to-grip, solid knurled pattern.
The dial is, of course, where the Descent distinguishes itself most clearly as a dress diver. While it does possess applied, lumed markers, and a dauphine handset (all telltale indicators of a dive watch), the Descent also employs finely polished, rose gold highlights, against a complex, stamped guilloche background. Emanating from the centre of the sector-style dial, the first pattern has the shimmering appearance of sun rays. However, the outer dial is a more abstract, stippled pattern. Ultimately, the contrast between the two patterns works well.
The Descent is powered the Miyota 9039. It’s a workhorse 4Hz movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Though it is not as visually appealing as more expensive calibres, it does have a customized, etched gold rotor, visible through the exhibition case back—which is capped in sapphire like the dial.
The Midnight reference featured here came on a rubber strap with customized, stainless-steel hardware. The buckle has an almost art deco appeal that really suits the overall vibe of the watch. But the rubber attracts a lot of dust. I noticed on the website, however, that the watch also comes standard on leather.
The Descent is also available in a violet-blue dial reference that the brand calls “Royal.”
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
45mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Screwed Exhibition Case
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Sapphire Crystal|
Stamped Guilloche Dial
Super-LumiNova on Hands and Markers
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Genuine Leather and Rubber Straps|
/w Quick Release
Haim watches are designed in Chicago, and while they are manufactured overseas, final assembly and QC are performed by the Haim team. Each watch is tested for 72 hours and regulated in 4 positions before it is shipped. However, the brand’s end goal is to design its own movements and eventually bring production home to Chicago, which is a grand and complex vision.
For now, Haim are committed to responsible production. A portion of all proceeds is donated to local charities who are tackling poverty and hunger in their hometown.
Haim watches are covered by a two-year warranty.
With the Descent, Haim could step up their strap game with higher quality rubber, full-grain leather, or even a sailcloth option. It’s nice to be given a two-strap choice right out of the box, but I would appreciate one higher quality strap with a cheaper NATO thrown in. Ultimately, to match its dress-diver vibe, a mesh bracelet option, or even an integrated beads-of-rice would be an excellent addition.
The Haim Descent does just enough to differentiate itself from the sea of vintage-inspired dive watches out there at the moment, without straying too far off the accepted path. It feels familiar, but not too familiar. You know that you are looking at a dive watch, but somehow it is not exactly like any other diver you’ve come across. The Descent also wears comfortably and looks good. The movement is reliable and the specs, robust. Despite its capabilities, the Descent is not likely to become your true diver. I suspect that you wouldn’t buy it as such, either. You would buy the Descent because you collect dive watches, and you don’t own anything else like it. You would buy it because you have a Descent-sized hole in your watch box, and what else could you put there?
The Haim Descent retails for $625. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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2 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Haim Descent”
Spot on review Robi 🙌🏽 I would be inclined to agree that the Descent needs a Black Sailcloth strap to set it to next level… but as a eye catchy wrist diver it works… It’s that Dial that got me👀📸😎
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Thanks, Todd. The dial is certainly a highlight. They’re not just reproducing something that is already out there. Good on them.