There is no doubt that those in combat need the highest level of durability possible for their gear. If it isn’t up to snuff, it will break and in a hurry too. There is another environment which is also notoriously abusive to gear, though many don’t know about it. Underwater, specifically undersea. The abrasive salt-water is known to degrade low-quality materials in short order. The vastly increased pressure causes improperly sealed electronics to fire their last electron in a hurry. The dimly-lit, claustrophobic spaces encountered whisk away unsecured items, never to be seen again. If it’s truly made to handle 300 meters of crushing, freezing brine, it will last. Hazard 4 designed this watch to handle just such environments. Enter the Heavy Water Diver: HWD Snowfield.
The snowfield in the name refers to the color pattern. While other watches in the HWD line sport variations of black, carbon, brown and gray, the Snowfield features a white field, bold black stencil-cut number, and titanium finishings. In fact, the titanium case is one of the major features in this watch. Despite a large, easily visible face plate, this HWD tips the scales at just over 3.5 ounces. Strapping this on for the first time, I expected more heft to it.
Enshrining the Snowfield’s face is the rotating bezel. Featuring a tritium dot at the 12 o’clock position (like all of the hour marks on the face), the bezel is also used by divers to manually calculate elapsed time during a dive. Simply rotate the bezel until the 12 o’clock mark is matched up to the minute hand, then as time ticks off the minute hand will point at your current “minutes elapsed at depth”. Fear not about accidentally bumping the bezel off and losing your time, the bezel only spins counter-clockwise. If you were to knock the ring a few minutes off, it could only go in the direction that shortens your time on bottom, keeping the diver safe.
Speaking more on the subject of diving, the HWD is rated water-resistant to 300 meters, or 990 feet. The current world record free dive depth is 702 feet. You’re covered! Whether in the murky black sea or simply a full cloud cover winters night, there’s no trouble spotting the bright tritium vials on the hour marks. Hazard 4 intentionally set them higher than the watch face so the tritium vials are easily visible.
A first for me on any kind of watch are the screw-in strap pins. We’re all used to the little spring-loaded pins which seem to fail just when you need your watch the most. I’ve nearly lost my Suunto watch twice to pins failing, once on a dive and once in Afghanistan. These screw-in pins are held in place on one end by an X shape that matches a cut-out in the watch case. The other end has a tiny torx head to tighten it down. While I can’t say it made changing out bands any faster, these pins lack the weak points of traditional spring pins and are much thicker.
Speaking on bands, my Snowfield came with two. One is a fabric NATO strap, the other a rubber strap better suited for diving. So far, I’ve stuck mostly with the NATO strap as it is comfortable and looks low-profile. I don’t like wearing an $800 watch that screams “I’m an $800 watch!”. The NATO band accomplishes that, with the rubber strap waiting in the wings for a salt-water excursion.
All told, the HWD Snowfield is a solid watch. While I have been spoiled for years by my Suunto, the HWD quickly elevated itself above “review piece” to a watch that I really enjoy wearing. While the $799.99 price may shock those used to sporting the Timex Ironman, this is what quality costs. A precision machined, titanium bodied, Swiss-movement watch with tritium inserts that’s waterproof to 900+ feet!? Count me among the believers.