Q&A with Eric Yeh, founder of Havaan Tuvali
Let me introduce you the brand that I discovered earlier this week on the Microbrand Watches Facebook group. Eric Yeh, a new member of our group, posted a few pictures and a short text:”Squadron One by Havaan Tuvali Watch” and a link to the Havaan Tuvali Facebook page. Facebook tends to butcher pictures, I wanted to see sharper images because these watches seemed to have some interesting details. I ended up on the Havaan Tuvali website, and my jaw dropped. The design, the specs and the price are incredible (see at the end of this article)! I contacted Eric to find out more Havaan Tuvali, and about the story of the Squadron One collection. We ended up doing an email Q&A:
– Please tell me about yourself, what is your background and how did you get into watches
I’ve always been fascinated by anything mechanical growing up, anything that has gears in it, I would try to take it apart and put it back together. But strangely, even though I have this passion for anything mechanical, I didn’t dig deeper into it, let alone having a career related to it. I studied Chemistry at Cal State University; I actually wanted to be a chemist, but of course, I didn’t become a chemist, I worked in a metal recycling company. When I got my first paycheck, I bought myself a used watch on eBay, it was an Aquanautic King Cuda Automatic, I didn’t know much about watches back then, I bought that watch simply because it looks badass, but once I got that watch, I started to learn more about watches, the movements and everything else that’s watch related. I just fell deeply in love with watches. I’ve owned a fair share of watches over the years, but that Aquanautic King Cuda is still my all-time favourite, the first love is always the most unforgettable.
– Why did you start your own watch brand?
When you love watches too much, the next natural step would be of course to make you own. One reason is because I couldn’t afford the watches that I like, and the ones I could afford are not of my taste. I always had plans to start my own brand and I took an apprenticeship in a watch repair shop to learn how to service and repair mechanical watch for a few years to prepare myself for it, but I never really have a timetable for when to start. It was actually an impulsive decision that I started my own watch brand, my ex-employer did not give me the raise I asked for, that night I tell myself, “screw it, it’s now or never”, so that month I quit my job and decided it was time to fulfill my dream of making watches.
– What is the meaning of Havaan Tuvali and what is your brand about?
The name, Havaan Tuvali was originated from the Taiwanese aboriginal Burun tribe language meaning “The deer’s sunset”. The ancient Burun people believed that at suns down, when the deer came out from the forest to browse for food and water, that’s the time for the people to finish up their day of work, in some ways, it is also how the Burun people tell time. I want to create a brand that represents all of Taiwan’s best quality: reliable, precision, craftsmanship and outlandish (in a good way of course).
– What is the story of Squadron One? Please tell me more about the patented sub-second display.
The original plan for my first model was to design a diver’s watch, and I was travelling around the country seeking inspirations. The idea was to create a watch that’s completely different than any mainstream watch brands and I wanted to have sub seconds on it. During the trip, I came across an Aviation Museum and saw the model of the first amphibious airplane used by Taiwan military and later used for commercial flights, it’s a PBY-5A Catalina. I later did some research on this plane and saw this old picture of the plane’s cockpit, and that was my light-bulb moment, I should design my sub dial just like the gauges on this plane, I knew there are plenty of watches out there that uses plane gauge as designing cues for sub seconds, but I haven’t seen one that’s half enclosed like an amp meter or fuel gauge, and the patent sub-second display was created. To make it a pilot’s watch, I designed the bezel with slide rule function, the color stripes are controversial I will admit, but I wanted to have a little fun with the dial design, since this is my watch, why can’t I make it the way I like it, otherwise what’s the point of starting my own brand.
– Is this a limited edition collection?
Only 200 were made, I don’t want to keep making the same model over and over again, there’s no fun in that. The Squadron One line will continue, but new models will be completely different than the previous one so customers can always expect to see fresh new designs.
– What are the watch brands that you consider as a reference for Havaan Tuvali?
I’ve always been inspired by Yema, not the current Yema, but the 60s/70s Yema, the designs of their watch were so vivid and groundbreaking during the time. Pita Barcelona, Ralf Tech, Stolas, just to name a few, and of course Aquanautic.
– What will come after the Squadron One?
I’m currently working on designing a diver’s watch; it will also have a sub-second dial place at 8 o’clock position, 1000m water resistance or more, and I’m trying out some new materials and combinations to put on the dial. If all goes according to plan, this model will be available by the end of 2017/early 2018.
– Where do you like Havaan Tuvali to be in 5 years from now?
Hopefully still making watches, haha… I like Havaan Tuvali to be a premium micro brand, but still offering watches at cheap, affordable price. I hope to add one new model each year, quantity will be kept no more than 300 for each model and in 5 years, to have a lineup of Pilot’s, Diver’s, and Race watch.
Movement – Swiss Sellita SW290-1 automatic movement
Case – Surgical grade 316L stainless steel case, 43mm diameter, 14mm thickness
Bezel – Bidirectional rotating 316L stainless steel bezel
Crystal – 3.0mm thick anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Dial – Superluminova® C3 hands and hour markers
Strap – 22mm surgical grade 316L stainless steel strap / Genuine calf leather strap
Water resistance – 450 Meters / 1500 Feet
Price – $399 US!