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When it comes to watches, I think many of us would opt for a mechanical watch first (say, for daily wear), and then might go for a digital display quartz when we’re really timing things to a precise level – say, racing down a track. Well, a company out of Sweden thinks that rather than you needing two watches, you just need their single system to have both of those points – mechanical mastery and digital accuracy.

No, they’re not working some crazy horological magic on a mechanical movement to get super-precise timing (though, the Zenith-made Caliber 685 certainly is no slouch). No, what they’ve done is built a strap/case system where you swap in one of two different main modules. The mechanical one is powered by that aforementioned Zenith automatic movement, while the digital module is powered by their in-house Caliber HR 2012-1.

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Now, on the surface of things, it seems that the Halda Race Pilot is an awful lot like buying two watches and sharing a strap between the two. And, realistically, you probably could do exactly that and kind of build something kind of the same at whatever price point you want. What this watch is giving you, then, is an overall look that remains unchanged – the case dimensions remain the same, the bezel design is identical, and of course the strap aligns perfectly. Which means this is a watch for someone who’s concerned about details – and has a serious need for speed.

Why so? Well, the race timer module has some pretty slick smarts built into it. For starters, it comes with it’s own software package that contains track information for 150 of the top world tracks. It can do an FIA-style countdown, and it’s also built with four different alarms, which, combined with the case design, are calibrated precisely to be clearly heard (and differentiated) in a noisy environment – say, the drivers seat of a race car. These are just a few of the race-specific functions built in; for a fuller idea of what this module offers, head on over here.

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I don’t mean to give those functions short shrift, it just doesn’t make sense to simply regurgitate stats when they’ve got them there for you – plus, the mechanical module is really where my familiarity lies. As I mentioned before, it’s powered by a Zenith movement, which is tucked away in the 45mm case (17mm thick). You’ve got a sapphire crystal sandwich with the case as well – domed up front (AR coated), and curved around back.

The design of the dial for this model fairly spartan, to keep things legible. The main handset gives the look of being skeletonized, but they’re actually filled (looks like perhaps the tips are just lumed). At 9 o’clock you’ve got a small seconds display, and then over 2 o’clock you’ve got the fan-shaped power reserve indicator (the movement can store up to 50 hours of energy). Rounding out the information displayed is a date display down at 6 o’clock, which fortunately is color matched to the dial.

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Though the layout is what I would consider to be spartan (in other words, simple to read), it’s not a boring dial. You’ve got a carbon fiber layer for the main level, and then there’s a metallic overly that circles the dial, which ends up both giving a spot for the hour indices to sit, as well as segmenting off the Arabic numerals that are in-between each indice (oh, and the numerals and indices are lumed as well). While it’s not a perfectly symmetrical layout in any stretch of the imagination, you do get some good texture and 3-d effects to the dial, without it going overboard.

In many ways, I think the mechanical module has the feel of something related to motorsports, in terms of it’s design. Both modules offer a token 50m WR rating, which means this isn’t exactly a “do anything” sort of setup. Though, if you’re spending your nights and weekends at the race track, this very likely will cover just about any need you may have. And should that need only merit one of the modules, they’ll be happy to sell you the watch in that configuration.

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In the end, what prompted me to write about this watch was how they’ve come up with a way of allowing a basic mechanical watch change into a precision race timing machine. While it’s not something I myself would likely ever buy (I don’t think racing to the commuter train station is what this was intended for), I think it shows and interesting bit of innovation. I mean, we all seem to enjoy changing straps out on our watches – why not take a stab at leaving the strap alone, and changing out the watch?

If any of our readers out there also happen to be race car drivers (of any sort, car, bike, or otherwise) I’d be interested to hear your take on this setup, and especially on the racing-specific module. Is this something you would ever consider (given the functionality), or is it just coming across as gimmicky and not really necessary? Inquiring minds want to know!

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And for all of us arm-chair racers, well, things like this are just fun to take a look at and think about. If you wouldn’t swap in a race timing module, what would you swap in? Perhaps go from a sport watch to something a bit dressier? Or, swap from the more modern, technical look, to something more classic? I’m just interested to hear what sort of creativity our readership would come up with in this sort of a setup. Who knows, maybe it’ll spark your imagination and hone you in on what you want in your next watch.

There is one last bit of data on this watch – the pricing.  This is fairly straightforward, though there are three different price points.  If you want the full package (with both the mechanical and digital modules), that will set you back $19,900.  If you want just the mechanical module, that will be $14,850; the digital-only will cost $9,995.  haldasweden.com

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ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

4 thoughts on “The Halda Race Pilot Doubles Down”
  1. Thank you, a Brilliant article and beautiful watch, especially the digital node. At $9k it is expensive, so hopefully I can source a used one.

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