The Herve Alvia is described by the brand as a “vintage-inspired everyday watch” that will be “a future classic”. Those are bold claims – let’s see how the Alvia fares!
Herve – the Brand
Herve is currently managed by two partners, a Malaysian and a Singaporean. Their operations are now currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, handled by their Malaysian co-founder, who is an avid lover of all things vintage. In addition, all of their watches are designed in Singapore, by their Singaporean co-founder, an industrial designer who is devoted to designing thoughtful, honest and well-crafted watches.
According to Herve, their vision is to design a future classic: a new watch, born in the 21st century, with cues from the greats gone by. They strive to offer watches that would meld past and present to form a timepiece that could be carried into the future, pairing vintage aesthetics with modern technology for accuracy, reliability and style. With this in mind, their maiden watch – the Alvia – was born.
Alright, without further ado let’s delve into the review!
Herve Alvia – Video Review
If you would like to see some hands-on footage of the watch, do check out my Youtube review of the Herve Alvia below.
Herve Alvia – Build Quality
I would say that the Herve Alvia has great specifications for the price.
Firstly, the Herve Alvia utilises a domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. In addition, there’s also an inner anti-reflective coating applied so you don’t have to worry about getting nasty reflections. The Herve Alvia also has a water-resistant rating of 50M, so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet in the rain, under the tap, etc. Just don’t bring it to the pool!
The ubiquitous Seiko NH35A movement powers the Herve Alvia. Some quick specs: the movement beats at 21600 vibrations per hour, has 42 hours of power reserve, contains 24 jewels, and is hacking. I’m a fan of the Seiko NH35 movement, and greatly prefer it to the Miyota 8 series movement (which is the alternative movement commonly seen with microbrand watches). This is due to the fact that unlike the NH35, the Miyota 8 series movements are non-hacking, suffer from a stuttering second hand (some models), and in my own experience with the Miyota movements, are also more prone to accuracy problems. In contrast, the Seiko NH35 is a movement that is as reliable as they come.
I must say that the strap of the Herve Alvia is pretty impressive. It’s very comfortable, supple to the touch, and rather thick as well. On sub-S$500 watches, they tend to come with cheap straps that has a cardboard-like lining, so I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Alvia’s Genuine Leather strap. The texture reminds me slightly of Horween leather. There’s also a nicely signed buckle! Nevertheless, being Genuine Leather the strap will not patina over time the same way a full-grain or a top-grain leather strap will.
Lastly, the Alvia comes with lume as well! Herve states that BGW9 Swiss Superluminova is used on the hands, while Japanese SLC1 lume is used on the indices. As expected, the BGW9 lume on the hands last longer and shines brighter than the SLC1 lume on the indices. Still, I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount and strength of the lume on the Alvia, given that it isn’t a dive watch.
All in all, I’m very impressed by the specifications of the Herve Alvia. The watch features a domed sapphire crystal (with AR coating), a workhorse Seiko NH35A movement, a well-crafted strap, and decent lume. That’s pretty good for a sub-S$500 watch!
Herve Alvia – Design
I really love the minimalist design of the Herve Alvia.
The main attraction is definitely the Alvia’s gorgeous sunburst blue dial. I mean, just look at it! It’s a stunning shade of blue, with its striking look accentuated by its sunburst texture. I like the minimalist look of the dial too – Herve made a conscious decision not to complicate it. Instead, all that’s on the dial are printed indices, as well as the Herve brand name and the word “automatic” printed in small font. Interestingly, there’s also a pair of almost imperceptible “H” at 6 o’clock, which I assume represents the Herve brand.
Despite the dial’s minimalist design, there’s actually a nice depth to it! The center sunburst blue dial ‘floats’ above the white minute track layer below, creating a dual-layered dial. Coupled with the domed sapphire crystal, the composition of the dial gives it significant depth, while maintaining its simplicity. What I love the most about the Alvia’s dial is how it navigates the fine line between minimalist and boring perfectly – it’s a sleek and clean design, but executed in a visually intriguing manner. One can tell that Herve has put attention to details here. For example, the length of the second hand is of the perfect length – it just brushes the outer edges of the blue center dial.
I also want to highlight the faceted lugs of the Alvia, which adds to the striking look of the watch. Again, I applaud Herve for having subtlety in its design. The lugs aren’t too ostentatious – as it could have been, with say teardrop lugs – nor is it the run-of-the-mill, factory case design. It adds to the attraction of the watch, but does not overwhelm it. In addition, I also want to highlight the domed sapphire crystal of the Alvia. Aesthetically, the domed crystal catch the light and infuse depth and dimension, no doubt inspired by retro acrylic designs of the past. Very well done.
The case of the Alvia is circular brushed, reminiscent of the utilitarian case finishing found on vintage watches. There’s also a screw-down crown, signed with the Herve logo. I’m pleased to see a signed crown, which isn’t always a guaranteed on sub-S$500 watches. The crown is well-sized too, making hand-winding a breeze.
The Herve Alvia features a sapphire exhibition caseback, through which one can view the Seiko NH35A movement. The finishing of the movement is quite bare-bones, though I can’t complain much at this sub-S$500 price point. There is a signed rotor, which is a nice touch. I should also highlight that the Alvia is limited to 100 pieces per dial colourway, with the limited edition serial number engraved on the brushed caseback – mine’s 43/100. I appreciate the fact that Herve actually bothered to inscribe a unique serial number on the caseback, instead of simply putting “1 of 100” on all 100 watches which I have seen some microbrands do.
On my 7 inch wrist, the Herve Alvia wears perfectly. While its 38mm wide case may seem small on paper, the long lugs make the Alvia wear larger than its dimensions suggest. It’s relatively slim at 12mm thick as well, and should have no problems fitting under a shirt cuff.
Ultimately, I absolutely love the design of the Herve Alvia. Honestly – and I don’t say this often – I can’t find any fault with its aesthetics. Everything is thoughtfully executed, from its stunning sunburst blue dual layer dial to its striking lugs. Its look reminds me a lot of the Universal Geneve Polerouter – a vintage classic. An absolutely lovely watch to wear on the wrist!
Shootout: Herve Alvia vs Baltic HMS 001
If you’re looking for an affordable, vintage inspired microbrand watch, the Baltic HMS 001 is one of your best bet.
In terms of specifications, I would say that the Herve Alvia edges out the Baltic HMS 001. Firstly, the sapphire crystal used on the Alvia is more scratch-resistant and durable than that of the HMS 001. Secondly, as mentioned above, the Seiko NH35A that powers the Alvia is also widely regarded as being superior to the Miyota 821A that the HMS 001 uses due to the stuttering issues (and non-hacking) that the latter movement possess. Thirdly, there’s lume on the Alvia (BGW9 and SLC1), whereas the HMS 001 is devoid of lume.
From an aesthetic standpoint, both watches are obviously stunners. The blue gilt dial of the HMS 001 is wonderfully executed, and I would not have the slightest hesitation to wear it on my wrist. However, I would also say that the sunburst blue dial of the Alvia is equally striking, and a joy on the wrist. Which watch looks better is up to your personal tastes – but both are sure to attract compliments!
That being said, the Herve Alvia is considerably cheaper (~30%) than the Baltic HMS 001. Given that it has arguably the better specifications, I have to declare the Alvia the better value proposition in this shootout.
Conclusion – so the Herve Alvia “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. In fact, I will say that the Herve Alvia is perhaps the best watch that I’ve reviewed this year. It has rock-solid specifications, a thoughtful design, all at a wonderfully low price point. It’s a perfect balance of vintage and modern styling, and wears beautifully on the wrist. If you’re looking for a vintage-inspired everyday watch, I honestly think that the Herve Alvia is your best bet under S$500.
For those who are interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off the Herve Alvia! After the discount, the Herve Alvia can be had for just $324 USD/ ~S$444, which I personally think is a phenomenal price for the watch. To be honest, I’m not quite sure why Herve isn’t as recognized, or as “hyped” in the microbrand watch world as some of the other brands are. I think the Alvia is a terrific maiden offering from Herve – I can’t wait to see what they offer next! (Hopefully a chronograph, that would be nice.)
View the Herve Alvia here.
Movement: NH35A Automatic Movement
Jewels: 24 Jewels
Vibrations per Hour: 21,600 bph
Power Reserve: 41 hours
Hacking (Second hand stops when winding): Yes
Case Diameter: 38MM
Case Height: 12MM
Lug to Lug: 47MM
Lug Width: 20MM
MATERIALS & FINISH
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Case Finish: Circular Brushed Finish
Water Resistance: 5ATM/50 METERS
Dial: Stainless Steel
Dial Finish (Top Layer): Sunburst Finish
Dial Finish (Bottom Layer): Matte Plated Finish
Hands: High Gloss Plated Finish
Strap: Genuine Calf Leather
Strap Thickness: 3MM
Strap Length: 120MM +75MM
Strap Buckle: 316L Stainless Steel with Engraved Logo (Front & Back)
Glass: Domed Sapphire Glass with Anti-Reflective Coating (Inner Surface)
Glass (Exhibition Caseback): Flat Sapphire Glass
Lume (Hands): BGW9 Super Luminova Lume
Lume (Indexes): Japan SLC1 Lume
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.