The revival of heritage watch brands is always exciting, but for U.S.-based watch collectors, the revival of classical American watchmakers is all the more so. As much is true for New York-based Waldan Watches, which in 2016 transferred leadership from the man who founded it in 1979, Oscar Waldan, to his up-and-coming son, Andrew Waldan. In its path forward, the brand is making the transition back to its American roots with the introduction of the new Heritage Collection.
The Heritage Collection includes two primary series within it: the textured-dial Sportline and the classic looking Professional, though both use the same general design scheme, cases, and movement, being primarily distinguished by their different dials and colorways.
We first take a look at what has been the more attention-grabbing of the new releases, the classically designed Heritage Professional series. These watches comprise four different colorways — white dial with black accents, a white dial with colored accents, a black dial version, and a bright green model.
The Professional model has a 40-mm-diameter case, 8.6-mm thick, made of steel and mostly polished throughout, with a little bit of brushing on its stepped and slightly disjointed 20-mm lugs. On its right side is a solid-looking signed knurled crown, which helps provide the time only model a 50-meter water resistance. The front of the watch is accented with another stepped feature, its bezel, which is also polished.
Protecting the dial of the watch is a flat sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective treatment, while the dial proper uses a two-toned design that recalls the sector-style dials of years past. On the outer edge is the first of the two colors, accented at each hour position with a dot of lume; within this border is the second color, which takes up the majority of the face. On the inner section, applied Arabic numerals mark each hour position, while a small subdial for the running seconds is found just above the 6 o’clock position. Also evident on the dial are two references to the U.S.-made movement near 6 o’clock, while a “Waldan New York” logo is printed in parallel near 12 o’clock. Sweeping over it all are two leaf-style hour and minute hands, once again recalling vintage designs.
Inside the Waldan Heritage beats the “Ameriquartz” caliber 70200 movement, which is a quartz caliber developed by Fine Timepiece Solutions (FTS) and produced in Fountain Hills, Arizona. According to the brand, the movement contains 3 jewels; is handmade, assembled, and tested all in the United States; and carries a warranty for five years.
In the more contemporary design of the Sportline series, the case is constructed in the same overall style of the Professional models, though for these we see the use of new leather textured bracelets. The biggest difference is in the dials, which have a linear-texture motif and are available in either silver white or black. The style is very uncommon in watchmaking, and while I’m sure other brands use it, the super-luxury Patek Phillipe is the only other one that comes to mind. The dial opts for applied baton-style indices, accented with luminous dots on their outer edges. Like the Professional, the Sportline places a small seconds subdial on the lower half of its face and uses the same dial descriptors. However, the Sportline differs in its use of tapered baton hands, matching the style of the indices, for the hour and minutes, both with slivers of lume on their tips. Like the Professional, the Sportline is equipped with the aforementioned “Ameriquartz” Caliber 70200 movement.
The Waldan Watches Heritage Collection has been one of the most-discussed small independent releases of the year, and there’s good reason for it. With solid historical credentials, an American-made movement, and appealing original design work, there is a lot to like about the brand’s latest effort.
Drawing attention to some specifics: it’s worth noting that the use of sapphire — and sapphire with an anti-reflective treatment, no less — is pretty unusual for a watch in the Heritage Professional’s price range, which is right at $300. Watches at this price point most often use mineral glass, and if they’re vintage-influenced, as these Waldan models are, then their makers might even opt for acrylic. Waldan, in an obvious effort to offer value to its consumers and differentiate itself in the market, has opted for the more expensive and more durable sapphire.
Additionally, the watch uses what appears to be a completely original case design, complete with stepped lugs and bezel, along with a cool-looking tapered crown and a solid 50-meter water resistance. The dials are themselves elevated with applied, rather than printed features, and of course, with their various dual-tone colorways and textures.
Finally, while a quartz movement might not be what a lot of collectors prefer, it certainly is appealing, at least for a domestic audience, that such a movement would be American-made. Of course, the price of the watches is likely offset significantly by the use of a quartz movement rather than mechanical, allowing Waldan instead to splurge in other areas, like the case design, dial accents, and sapphire crystal. And at a $300 (actually just below, at $299.99) price point, the watches are very accessible and appealing for even the most skeptical of collectors.
For more information and to inquire for purchase, you can visit Waldan, here.