MICRO MONDAYS: The timeless design and affordability of the Waldan Heritage CollectionRicardo Sime
Upon entering this crazy hobby of ours, one tends to immediately be pulled by the allure of timeless design. Watches from the ’60s and ’70s that live on and are lusted over decade after decade. Sadly, what we as beginners soon realise is that timeless design and affordability tend to live on opposite sides of the spectrum. But luckily, that isn’t always the case. Every once in a while, a brand presents us with both in a perfect little package. Which is exactly what we get with the Waldan Heritage Collection.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, Waldan Watches was founded in 1979 under the name Waldan International. Its story, though, can’t be told without mentioning the man behind it, Oscar Waldan. Decades earlier, during the Holocaust, he survived a concentration camp by being a watch apprentice. He would continue his studies after the war so that by the ’50s and ’60s, when it came to watch design, sales and manufacturing, he was a mover and shaker in Switzerland. And by the ’70s and ’80s, as the industry faced the Quartz Crisis, he was one of a handful who steadfastly believed the mechanical watch still mattered.
The man is nothing short of a legend.
So when he passed away in 2018, many wondered what the future would hold. For his son, Andrew, that meant a shift away from Swiss manufacturing to a focus on making Waldan an American brand. And the Waldan Heritage Collection is the first sign of that shift.
The Heritage Collection consists of two sub collections: the Professional and the Sportline. They both take inspiration from Oscar Waldan’s classic designs and are both built on the same foundation — a 40mm case that is predominantly polished; with the topside of the short lugs representing the only surfaces that are brushed. Lug to lug measures in at a compact 47.5mm, with thickness being a svelte 8.6mm. The crown is push/pull and as for water resistance, that is 50 metres.
On paper, these numbers seem perfect. And once on the wrist, that seems to be the case, as multiple design elements do complement each other. There is the small thickness, which should mean the watch wears slightly larger than 40mm. But by deciding to go short on the curved lugs, the watch is kept nice and compact. You also have the step bezel, which not only adds a dynamic look to the case but also creates depth and better presence on the wrist. Overall, this case would be a great starting point for any watch collector in this price range.
From that stellar case, we make our way to the dials, all beautifully displayed behind an anti-reflective treated sapphire crystal. It’s here that we see the main difference between the Professional and Sportline sub collections. For the Professional set of watches, we are given flat, untextured dials, with bold, applied numerals. Colours include a Stark White. An Off White, An Onyx Black. A Racing Green. A Canary Yellow. A Sky Blue. And a Blush Pink. All of which are bright, though given a subtle matte appearance. They also use a set of polished leafed hour and minute hands.
As for the Sportline set of watches, gone are the applied numerals, instead replaced with applied steel baton indices. Furthermore, we are given an oil-pressed dial that is reminiscent of a yacht’s teak deck. This also comes in a matte finish and five different colours: Champagne, Olive Khaki, Royal Blue, Silvered White and Jet Black. The hour and minute hands used here are stick hands, which in this instance are lumed.
Both the Professional and Sportline dials do however share two design elements. The first is a small sub-dial at 6, which displays running seconds and has a polished border. And the second is the small lume pips around the dial, behind each of the indices.
Once you take a step back and look at both dial designs, their names seem perfectly suited. The straight-to-the-point numerals on the Professional allow the watch to be a simple, inoffensive option in any setting. As for the Sportline, between its dial texture and lack of a colour-contrasted outer ring, the design comes off more casual. Which means that with the 12 different models in the Waldan Heritage Collection, you’re likely to find something that works for you.
Powering these watches is a special movement that really hammers home the idea of an American brand. That is the Ameriquartz Cal. 70200. It’s an American-made time-only movement that is hand-assembled and tested in the United States. It has 3 jewels and an accuracy of +/- 20 seconds a month. The best part, though, is that the movement has a 5-year warranty and can be serviced in the United States should that be required.
Beyond the dials, case and American-made movement, Waldan also goes all out with their straps. Instead of taking the easy route and creating a handful of standard coloured straps, they created 10 different straps for the 12 models. This means each watch gets a strap that pairs perfectly with the dial.
And on the wrist, the straps feel amazing. They are a standard 20mm at the case and feature a comfortable taper down to 16mm at the buckle. In terms of quality, each strap is handmade Italian leather and has a very supple feel.
I know some of you may still be wondering: what is it about the Waldan Heritage Collection that makes it so special? Why should you give these watches the time of day? What differentiates them from the dozens of other quartz offerings out there?
In my opinion, after spending time with multiple references, there are many reasons. There is the attention to detail. From the taper of the straps to the proportions of the case. It’s how the different design cues come together in an attractive package, and how much fun some references are while never feeling cheap. It’s all these things, along with the interesting history of the brand, that create a very compelling argument for why the Waldan Heritage Collection is special. And why I would happily suggest it as someone’s first watch.
The Waldan Heritage Collection pricing and availability:
The 12 watches in the Walden Heritage Collection are currently available on the brand’s website. Price: $299 USD