Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Havaan Tuvali Project R

Contrary to what you might think, Havaan Tuvali is not Scandinavian. I’ll admit it, the “aa” threw me too, and that name does have a bit of a fjord and Viking ring to it, but it is actually a phrase from the aboriginal Taiwanese Burun language (roughly “quitting time”). It is just one of the ways this boutique brand is unique. The others may be found in its watches, like the Project R I borrowed after their exhibit at the recent District Time Show. 

Havaan Tuvali Project R blue

The Project R is a 100m sports watch in a 40mm brushed stainless steel Submariner-style case. Its proportions are what you might expect from this style: 46mm long and 13mm thick with 20mm between the lugs. The watch features polished, coin-edged, but unsigned, screw-down crown flanked by small guards. A similarly finished bezel with an aluminum insert completes the look and moves smartly through its 60 positions. The crystal is anti-reflective coated sapphire. So far, everything is very traditional.

Havaan Tuvali Project R blue wrist

Then we get the dial, and things take a whole new turn. First of all, you can order it in black, or the striking and uncommon powered blue I chose. You’ll find nothing even remotely like a conventional dive or tool watch dial here; instead, a series of tall, stylized numbers form the outer index, marked in fives from zero. Ok, not too weird to have a large minute index, except for that “Temp.” subscript. You see, the numbers represent both minutes/seconds and the temperature in Celsius. The smaller Fahrenheit conversion is clearly a nod to those of us in the USA since no one else on earth still insists on using this ridiculous measure.

Havaan Tuvali Project R blue

You read the thermometer with the aid of heat-sensitive surfaces that show through the sandwich dial. As you can see, it was about 30C/86F when I snapped the picture, although I must admit, I put a cup of hot coffee next to the watch to get a clear reading. In my otherwise cool home, it was only about 70 degrees, which registered as only a slight difference between a blackish-green at 25 and a bluish-black at 20. Also, the reading will be affected by your body heat to a certain degree. One has to accept that the thermometer here is a rough approximation at best. It is a fun feature, not a precision instrument.

Havaan Tuvali Project R blue

Moving inward, a set of applied and lume-filled markers show the hours. The logo, model name, and water resistance rating are tucked into the small circle of space remaining at the center of the dial. This leaves no room for the brand name, which is instead cleverly wrapped around the top left quadrant in place of the temperature indicators, which makes sense because, at that point, you will be dying of heatstroke. 

Havaan Tuvali Project R blue lume

Everything on the dial is lumed with BGW9 SuperLuminova and looks fantastic when fully charged, but the thin numbers fade fast. With more surface area, the markers and hands fare better. In the end, the bezel pip shines the brightest and longest. 

Havaan Tuvali Project R blue

I love the quirky handset. The hour hand is only as long as is necessary to reach its markers, who’s isn’t much at all. As a result, it is a stubby little thing, yet the minute hand reaches right to the rehaut. To make this Mutt and Jeff pair work together, the minute hand is skeletonized for most of its length, allowing the hour hand and markers to show right through. The red second hand is a perfect compliment on the black dial versions, but less so on the powder blue sample, which I believe would have benefitted from a white one. 

Havaan Tuvali Project R clasp

The Project R comes on a 20mm bracelet with an engraved flip-lock clasp. Even on the bracelet, the watch was a comfortable fit my 6.75” wrist and no problem to tuck under a cuff. Although I did not sample it, leather NATO is also part of the package. Havaan Tuvali can supply the Project R with left or right side crowns, a choice of five bezel inserts, and even two different movements: Swiss devotees will want the ETA 2824 automatic ($430 USD), but the budget-minded can order a Miyota 9015 instead ($340 USD). Given that both units are reliable, easily serviceable, and have a smooth 28.8k bph sweep, you know I would jump on the less expensive Japanese option. 

Havaan Tuvali Project R back

Overall, the Havaan Tuvali Project R is a weird watch in the best possible way. The layout, handset, and thermometer are decidedly offbeat and lovably eccentric. Watches like this are the reason I love microbrands. If your collection could use a quirky addition, I’d suggest you head over to HavaanTuvali.com. ⬩

Havaan Tuvali Project R side

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