Factory tour! A visit to the Halda Watch Company
A few weeks ago I was invited to a factory visit. Swedish watch companies are rare and I would never say no to such an invitation, especially seeing as I have been interested in this brand for several years. It was not long before I called my friend and photographer Björn to come over and we were soon on our way. The end destination? Halda Watch Company!
Halda was founded waaaay back in 1887 by Henning Hammarlund in a small village in the south of Sweden. As the first watch manufacturer in northern Europe, his goal and vision was to create luxurious watches without any compromises. Hammarlund had a conviction of never compromising and a refusal of doing nothing but the best. The first pocket watch left the factory two years later and in order to buy one, a person with average wage would have had to save seven monthly salaries. Despite the price, it was a great success and Halda would continue to produce watches to the end of World War I, when demand for exclusive watches drastically declined. Almost a hundred years later, a man by the name of Mikael Sandström would buy the brand and continue to build on the Halda legacy.
Today, however, the factory and their offices are located in a small community called Tullinge, located about ten miles south of Stockholm. We took the commuter train and the plan was to walk from the train station to the factory, but when we called Mr. Sandström and asked for directions, he insisted and said he would send someone to pick us up. Per, who is responsible for marketing at Halda, kindly waited by the station and after a short drive we arrived to the factory location. Per pointed at a large, red building and said that this was the place. There were no signs telling us that this was Halda, at least as far as we could see. We walked in and were immediately welcomed by Mr. Sandström. His attention to detail shined through in the doorway where he showed us some pictures of ambassadors of his company. Some of the frames had tilted a little, so he meticulously put each frame in horizontal mode and blamed it on the cleaner, who had probably been a little too rough with the duster earlier in the morning.
After a quick tour of the offices, we grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down as Mr. Sandström gave us a presentation of the history of Halda. It was very interesting and we learned a lot new about the brand. Henning Hammarlund’s interest in innovation and technology was realised in more than only watches. For example, he released the Halda taxi meter in 1902. It became an export success and in the beginning of the 20th century, the Halda taxi meters were the only approved taxi meters in the city of London. About a decade later, Halda released a typewriter which also became a great success, at least in the Scandinavian market. Due to the war and the decrease in demand for watches, Halda closed its watch factory and went bankrupt in 1918. However, the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Henning Hammarlund created a base as several other successive companies were born – ABU Garcia (casting reels) and Haldex (transmission and 4WD components) to name a few. The watch brand was put to sleep until Mikael Sandström, after several attempts, managed to buy the watch brand 2009. Together with a carefully selected team of engineers, watchmakers and the Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang, they began sculpturing the first watch with the Halda name in a very long time.
Some people say that the sky is the limit. Mr. Sandström wanted to reach even higher than that and aimed for space. The new watch was named Space Discovery and it was released as a limited edition of 128 pieces at the Basel fair. The watch consists of a Time Platform and two separate Time Modules; one mechanical (for social events) and one electrical (for adventures). The Time Platform acts just like a docking station, and with the press of two hidden buttons you can easily switch modules. Here are some technical information about them :
- Case in stainless steel with satin finished bezel
- Domed sapphire crystal
- A NOS self-winding high-beat movement (5Hz or 36,000bph) with modifications made in collaboration with watchmaker Svend Andersen.
- Water resistant to 5atm
- 43 hour power reserve
- 45mm in diameter and 15,8mm thick.
- Case is made of a very durable and light material, certified by NASA, called Tecamax.
- Domed sapphire crystal on earth.
- Domed Hesalite crystal in space (Halda will without cost change to this crystal if you decide to go on such a mission!)
- Electronic movement made in-house by Halda Watch Co.
- Integrated 3-axis accelerometer measuring G-forces in three directions.
- Countdown according to NASA-protocol 101
- Event log
- Earth Timer which shows the time in all countries on earth
- Built-in light sensor.
- Integrated “piezo element” with a special developed sound character
between 2,5 – 8 KHz.
- Water resistant to 5atm.
- 45mm in diameter and 17,6mm thick.
The Space Module has several unique features that are helpful and even necessary to astronauts. It is also fully customizable and Halda actually receives requests from astronauts who want to add or modify features to make life in space easier.
Halda recently released a new model; the Race Pilot. It is, as you can hear, a watch meant for racing. We will get hands-on with that model soon and we will bring you a full review. Stay tuned for more information!