Gear Review: The Hawaiian Lifeguard Association Watch Collection

A watch series inspired by the ultra-respected Hawaiian Lifeguard Association is ideal for outdoor folk seeking adventure. 

It's easy to overuse the phrase, "I don't have any time."

Really? Because if we're being honest, time is all we ever really have in life. It's what we do with that time, and how we spend it, that tells the story of our lives.

It's these sort of lofty ideas that pop into my head when I glance at the official watch of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, which has earned a near-permanent spot on my wrist since I received it for a gear review last year.

Created by Time Concepts, the HLA Watch series is a high-performance, eye-catching line of watches built strong enough to satisfy the needs of a dedicated lifeguard. Though I'm not professionally trained in water rescue or into skin diving for recreation, I can still have confidence that the fishing, kayaking, duck hunting, and swimming I do regularly won't affect the quality or effectiveness of such a quality timepiece.

Let's run through some of the specs: The HLA watches have 316L stainless steel cases and 120-click unidirectional ratcheting bezels (for timekeeping while diving or doing other activities). They include screw in case backs and crowns, providing up to 200 meters of water resistance.

Each of the HLA watches have Japanese quartz movements, scratch resistant K1 glass crystals, and NBR rubber straps that feature a patterned back for ventilation.

The luminous watch hands and dial numbers glow nicely in the dark, especially while sitting in a duck blind waiting for sunrise. The glow from a smartphone can be detrimentally bright when you're trying to hide your location from the sharp eyes of waterfowl, making a watch like this one the preferred choice between the two.

Sure, the sorts of challenging situations a lifeguard in Hawaii finds themselves in make my so-called challenging situations look like a walk in the park. But that's a big part of the appeal: if these dive watches can stand up to the rigors of elite lifeguards, they can surely stand up to whatever I can throw at them.

Plus, a percentage of the proceeds of every wristwatch sale goes directly back to the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association in the "Spirit of Aloha." Honoring and supporting the organization helps ensure not only public safety, but the well-being of a cultural heritage worth preserving.

As far as pricing goes, the HLA Watch line will run $250 for each model, and there are various colored face, bezel, and strap options. Additional straps can be purchased (at $40) to change up the color combo if you so chose.

The HLA Legacy

The photo below is of Archie Kalepa, Cultural Advisor for the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, who can also claim the recognition of having won the Quicksilver Eddie Aikau Waterman of the Year Award and the honor of a rare Duke Kahanamoku Waterman Hall of Fame induction.

If anyone embodies the spirit exuded through this watch, it's Archie. His role as Cultural Advisor helps to ensure the lifeguards stay true to the beliefs of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Culture, and guides the organization into the future.

In a way, this watch collection is honoring Archie and the men and women like him. They're rugged and reliable enough to be put through the paces, but comfortable and stylish enough to serve as your everyday wear timepiece.

So even though I'm not battling any big waves or facing the enormous power of the ocean, I'm still confident I have a watch that's built to handle just about anything I can put it through.

To find out more about the HLA Watch and the Association itself, check out