A lot can happen in just an instant, especially while on the water. An instant can mean the difference between life and death, and for those involved in water safety, each fraction of time must be precisely calculated. In honor and recognition of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association (HLA), watch purveyor Time Concepts has produced a commemorative timepiece: the Official HLA Watch.
By John Tapley
The HLA was organized in 1990 as an offshoot of the Hawaii Lifesaving Association: a local chapter of the United States Lifesaving Association. Today it is a non-profit organization incorporated within the State of Hawaii, which supports the efforts of 500 professional ocean lifeguards.
“The HLA’s goals are to reduce the number of drownings and injuries that occur in Hawaii’s unique ocean and beach environments, to maintain high standards of lifeguard training and certification, and to actively prevent loss of lives through public education campaigns and messaging,” explains HLA founding member and director Ralph Goto. “The HLA also supports the Statewide Junior Lifeguard Program that involves over two thousand youngsters every summer throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”
“These are not your typical lifeguards: they’re the antithesis of a resort pool lifeguard, sitting in his chair and twirling a whistle on his lanyard,” says Time Concepts founder and managing partner Barry Cohen, who also founded and owned the Luminox Watch Brand. “These are ocean safety experts who devised means to be more effective – like the advent of the use of the jetski to save lives, which has become the template for the way lifeguarding is done around the world.”
The HLA sought just the right watch to represent its cherished history of supporting the state’s lifeguards – protecting the lives of millions of residents and visitors every year – and met with Cohen to establish the brand. Cohen appreciated the association’s mission and proud heritage and signed on to the project.
“Barry Cohen has worked with HLA representatives to develop a watch that can withstand the demands of Hawaiian lifeguards working in extreme ocean conditions,” says Goto. “The HLA watch is the result of combining Barry’s experience in the watchmaking field with the input from lifeguards and watermen who work in Hawaii’s unique and challenging aquatic environments.”
“With my wife’s family in Hawaii dating to the mid-1860s, it’s much more than just watches,” expresses Cohen. “For me, it was part Hawaiian culture, understanding the volatile nature of the Hawaiian waters; and an understanding of Hawaii in general. There are only a few big wave surf contests in the world and several are in Hawaii. It’s a unique water environment compared to most places. Hawaii has Jaws, Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay: all these places experience massive 30, 40, 50-foot waves.”
The Official HLA Watch has been designed with watersports in mind and is tailored for a variety of water environments – from crashing waves to serene dips into the sea. The timepiece is water resistant up to 200 meters (656 feet) and features a 44mm 316L satin brushed stainless-steel case, 24mm genuine rubber strap with a signature buckle, and a scratch-resistant K1 hardened mineral case with a screw case back and crown. Japanese quartz 3 hand movement and date movement keep the time precise. Beyond its technical craftsmanship, the watch brand sports a variety of strap and case colors, with cases in steel tone, black or gun metal plating, dials in black, white or blue, and straps in black or yellow with red being added this year to employ the three official colors of the HLA – yellow, red and black (yellow and red represent the represent caution and danger. A new smaller 42mm case size is being added this year in keeping with the downsizing trend in the watch industry. Like other Time Concepts brands, all assembly and manufacturing of HLA watches are made in a dust-free, temperature and humidity controlled clean-room environment to ensure quality. Time Concepts tells us they have never had a water failure in the five years working with their manufacturer.
“The HLA watch reflects the importance of the role of lifeguards in timely response to emergency situations,” says Goto. “When lives are on the line, reliable, immediate performance is essential.”
A percentage of all sales of Time Concepts’ Official HLA Watch go to help fund the association’s projects, including necessary gear and the Junior Lifeguard Program – helping facilitate the next generation of lifeguards.
Time Concepts’ Official HLA Watch sells for $250. Readers of Scuba & H2O Adventures Magazine can use promo code DNN25 for 25 percent off any HLA or Szanto brand watch.
For more information on Time Concepts HLA watch brand, visit https://timeconcepts.net/collections/hla. For more details on the HLA, go to www.hawaiianlifeguardassociation.com.