Waldan Watch Heritage Professional Review

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Waldan Watch Heritage Professional money shot

I heart minimalist watches. I’m a patriot. The Waldan Watch Heritage Professional is a three-handed watch made in America, powered by an American-made quartz movement. Yours for three hundred bucks. What’s not to love? Well, there is something. A few things actually . . .

Waldan Watch Heritage Professional cigars

When considering a watch where less is more, it’s important to remember that every single element is mission critical, both on its own and in relation to all the other aspects. There is no room for error. The Heritage Pro certainly starts off on the right foot: it’s the right size.

Waldan Watch Heritage Professional angled

As everyone knows, 39mm is the Goldilocks dimension for any watch. The Waldan Watch Heritage Professional is 40mm. The timepiece gets a pass because a) foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds and b) the polished stepped stainless steel bezel and restrained rehaut account for the “extra” 1mm – leaving a mostly legible dial.

You gotta give Waldan credit for going all Timex Easy Reader on the indices. Better yet, the perfectly sized plain Jane Arabic numerals are applied (rather than printed) – a touch of luxury that only reveals itself when viewing the Heritage Pro’s dial from an oblique angle. The indices’ admirable austerity is a captivating counterpoint to the cursive “Walden” brand text sheltering under the 12.

stepped bezel

The stepped case serves the same purpose. Combined with four indented, curvaceous lugs, the 316L steel case has a distinctly Art Deco feel. The watch’s shirt-cuff compatible 8.6mm thickness adds to the effect.

Taken as a whole, the Heritage Pro is streamlined and elegant, wandering on the border between vintage dressy and fresh n’ funky.

Look ma no hands!

Unless the dial catches the light at the “wrong” angle, when its custom-molded “leaf” hour and minute hands absorb light like MMA fighter Donald Cerrone absorbs body blows. The hands literally disappear against the black background. Look ma, no hands!

At the same time, the small gold bezel surrounding the tiny small seconds sub-dial – with its diminutive red hand, virtually unreadable white numbers and infinitesimal indices – glints. For no appreciable reason, save unnecessary distraction.

Waldan Watch Heritage Professional in garden

The sub-dial is Waldan’s attempt to evoke the ghost of wristwatches and pocket watches past, when the layout of mechanical movements dictated the bottom of the dial as the second hands’ optimal position.

Re: the sub-dial’s Ferrari red second hand: a non-red/green color blind colleague assured me “I can see it fine . . . I just can’t read it.” In other words, it’s a needless affectation. Form over function.

Ameriquartz movement

In terms of actual function, the Waldan Watch Heritage Professional runs off an American made AMERIQUARTZ caliber 70200 quartz movement. It’s developed and produced by Arizona-based Fine Timepiece Solutions, makers of “the first industrial watch movement supplier based in the USA in over 50 years.”

I can’t find any data on the movement’s accuracy. (Neither AMERIQUARTZ nor Waldan have responded to our enquiry.) The watchmaker’s website assures potential buyers that the engine’s fully serviceable; warrantied for five years. So there is that.

stitched leather strap

The Heritage Pro is attached via a stitched black “handmade in Italy” genuine leather strap and an unbranded steel buckle.

As you’d expect for the second lowest grade of leather, the strap’s a bit creaky at first. It breaks in quickly. Too quickly? After a couple of days the holes look more than a bit manky. If you buy this watch, I reckon a replacement strap is inevitable.

Waldan Watch Heritage Professional caseback

Low and no-light reading is impossible. The Waldan Watch Heritage Professional has luminescent dots circumnavigating the rehaut. The website claims the hour and minute hands are tipped with Super-LumiNova. They’re not. Talk about teasing a lumatic. Meanwhile, the Heritage Pro’s 50m water resistance caters to COVID-19-inspired obsessive hand washers and swimmers who resist the urge to dive.

The Waldan Watch Heritage Professional is a handsome beast let down by its now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t hands, ill-advised and ill-conceived small seconds subdial and a startling lack of luminosity. That said, it’s got an American heart, both in terms of its Silver State movement and its genesis. At $300, the Heritage Pro is priced to go. With a bit more design evolution, it would be irresistible.

MODEL: Waldan Heritage Professional (black dial)
Price: $299

SPECIFICATIONS:

Case Width: 40mm
Case Height: 8.6mm
Strap and Lug Width: 20mm
Case and Bezel Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Case Finish: Brushed/Polished
Dial Color: Black
Band: Black genuine leather with
Buckle/Clasp: Unbranded stainless steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire AR coated
Water Resistance: 50m
Weight: 1.8 ounces

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * * * *  
Wonderfully retro minimalist timepiece with an Art Deco vibe.

Legibility * * 
Perfect in perfect light, otherwise invisible. Lume dots with no lume on hands.

Comfort * * * * * 
Light ‘n slim

Overall * * * 
A handsome American-made beast let down by its now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t hands, ill-advised and ill-conceived small seconds subdial and a startling lack of luminosity.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I’m starting to really dislike small second hand sub-dials. A watch is a practical way to time how long I’ve washed my hands, but not so useful when I’m struggling to read the sub-dial. Thank you corona!

  2. Wow… cool trick with the hands. Are the hands a polished metallic finish? Beveled? Trying to figure out how they disappear. My guess is that they are a mirror finish that is angled in a way that they reflect the light away from the viewer. Just like the angled surfaces on the F/A-117 make it invisible to radar! Cool! Or not.

  3. It’s a decent looking watch, but I have to admit that I’m much more interested in the movement. Vaer uses these and now Waldan. Let’s hope more brands pick it up. Homegrown movements are exciting!

    • Vaer doesn’t use the Ameriquartz movements, yet, but uses FTS for watch assembly. I still like my Vaer C5 and maybe a version 2 Waldan would be nice as well.

  4. As with the Ball Secometer pocket watch, I don’t understand lumed indices without lumed hands. The inverse would make somewhat more sense.
    My opposition to small seconds is on record, but they seem to have gotten some case thinness out of it at least. Stylistically pretty on point though, and priced right for what it is. Were it more classically sized with the hand issue fixed and an option for central seconds (or just ditch the seconds function altogether for all I care… although I’ve had to unplug routers for 30 seconds a lot recently), the temptation would be much greater for me.
    As I am fine with quartz, I’d love to own a modern domestic movement.

    • Waltham Arms? Just kidding. The similarity in names is a tad troublesome but it’s clear that this is a legitimate pre-existing name that has connected watchmaking history to it, and this is not some sleazy soundalike gambit.
      I should go watch one of the few videos for pronunciation. Presumably a Polish name (despite their About Us/History page not capitalizing that, leading me to briefly wonder what a “polish watchmaker” actually was), I’m unsure if it is sounds like WALL-din or Wall-DAN.

  5. I will proudly buy American when it makes sense. Half my cars are made in America by American companies because the price for the performance, along with the low maintenance costs, cannot be beat.

    But this is a gimmick that reminds me of Shinola. Despite no shortage of US cows the strap is imported? A basic quartz movement with no accuracy ratings? This is what we are supposed to be proud of? That we can inefficiently make 1969 technology?

    No, what America can be proud of is that it created the first watch that makes motherfucking phone calls. A watch that outsells the entire Swiss watch industry. Where is final assembly? Probably the same country as the case for the Waldan.

    But as robots get cheaper and heavy fuel oil gets more expensive that will change. The entire white goods industry came back to the US because automation has gotten really good and shipping across the largest ocean is not cheap.

    You want a quartz watch? This is a joke compared to an Apple or G-Shock. And you can get a classic mechanical watch made in a first world country, like a Hamilton Mechanical or Tissot Petite Seconde (review pending), within $50 – $200 of this street price.

    This already got beat up on legibility, but I would also ding it for no minute track.

  6. The US invented quartz timekeeping too. Domestic manufacturing has been handicapped and needs to crawl and walk before it is jogging, running, or sprinting. They used a domestic movement and kept the costs below Shinola who does not, so improvement already!
    I’m very glad they are using Ameriquartz. I don’t care about microbrands using Seiko automatic movements.

    • Domestic manufacturing is not handicapped, the US makes the most sophisticated supercomputers and weapons systems in the world, and has the most valuable auto maker, watch maker (as a side business larger than the Swiss watch industry), enterprise software maker and SaaS host, and retailer/distributor/public cloud host in the world.

      The US stopped making basic quartz movements as a dying industry well beneath it. The Swiss and Japanese are running away from making this kind of low value, low demand quartz stuff as quickly as they can.

      The reason the US does not “feel” like a manufacturer anymore is because manufacturing in the US is so optimized, process driven, and automated, despite the massive value created by manufacturing in the US.

      • To clarify, “has been handicapped” meant in comparison to the past. I could toss in the qualifier ‘consume goods’ manufacturing to exclude the institutional grade systems. American designed/branded goods manufactured elsewhere are worse than sub-par domestic manufacturing efforts from one side of the fence. There is little dispute that domestic manufacturing that exists is largely invisible to the public, and that much of the most public examples are often not the best examples.

        • US manufacturing is not handicapped compared to the past. It is a big myth because automation (not China or any other myths) has decimated jobs.

          It’s kind of surreal to see US manufacturing output skyrocket while employment craters (like the graph in the link shows), but it is reality. The US makes more than Germany, South Korea, France, Russia, Brazil, and the UK combined.

          https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/october-2-is-manufacturing-day-so-lets-recognize-americas-world-class-manufacturing-sector-and-factory-workers/

          That makes me very open to world class American products like my cars and appliances, but dismissive of charity cases to “save” American manufacturing that needs no saving.

          • I think Vortic is a really interesting example of doing something nobody else is doing instead of just trying to play catch-up – restoring and recasing old American pocket watch movements. RGM seems to want to get in on that, but a lot of its watches are highly decorated ETA/Unitas 6497/6498 movements.

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