Belhamel originally sold straps, and is now making a watch. They’re off to a fine start with the first prototype (we borrowed it!) of the Belhamel Contra A40. Here’s what’s most important about making a product: having strong opinions about what you want to make.

What is a Belhamel Contra A40?

A Belhamel Contra A40 is a stainless steel watch that echoes some of the 1960s skin divers. With its coin edge bezel, straight end links, and curved profile, it carries the approximation of a 1960s skin diver, without being an exact replica of any specific watch.

Skin diver watches were normally in the 36mm to 38mm range in terms of diameter. The Contra A40 is, unsurprisingly, a 40mm watch, which many will like for its modern size.

Why are they using a Miyota 9039?

The prototype is bound to change, but only in that it might become a little thinner. The movement is the Miyota 9039, a movement commonly chosen for its size, which enables a thinner watch. The spirit of the watch is what you see here.

People see that movement and wonder why it isn’t thinner? That’s the goal, after all, that’s why people use this movement, right?

Here, the movement was chosen not for its size, but because it is a no-date movement. When used in a watch without a date window, it avoids the ‘ghost-date’ crown position that occurs when a dial has no window, but the movement has a date wheel underneath the dial.

The details

The bracelet links are solid stainless steel. They’re polished on the sides, brushed on top, and feel comfortable on the wrist.

That’s where the similarities to a vintage watch start to fade away. The crystal is AR coated sapphire. The watch has a scratch resistant coating. The dial uses BGW9 lume that glows blue.

The dial is black with applied indices, and has a nice bit of blue text for the Contra A40 name on the dial, with orange big arrow seconds hand, and orange triangle at 12 on the bezel.

Should you get one?

It’s a pretty tough watch. The bezel clicks precisely. Due to the way the end links attach to the bracelet and the 48mm lug to lug, it feels like a solid, well-made watch. The case edges are beveled, and the sides of the bracelet are polished.

Classically, the Skin Diver watch category was generally a not well made watch, with a brass / base metal case and bezels that corroded, bracelets made of folded bits of metal. Here, every part has been upgraded to modern standards with higher quality finishing. For $375, you’re more than getting your money’s worth.

I don’t play tennis.

The prototype’s clasp has micro adjust holes. It’s subject to change, but for now, it’s a simple fold over style with side release buttons and three micro adjustments.

The question is, should you back the Belhamel Contra A40 on kickstarter? It starts at about 299 GBP or $375 USD. That’s hard to beat, and is said to be about 45% off retail pricing. and

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Last Update: May 22, 2023