Isotope Goutte d’Eau – Review

I cannot remember when I first started seeing images for the Isotope Goutte d’Eau on Instagram; I do remember despite the great design and superb images dismissing them as being a French kickstarter brand therefore not on my radar.

My impressiion dd turn out to be slightly correct the brand was originally on Kickstarter, however the only link to France was the name of this particular model.The brand is actually the creation of Jose Miranda a Portuguese based in the UK. Having established the brand should definately be on my radar I arranged to meet Jose for a couple of beers. As with so many people in the British watch industry Jose is a super enthusiast, one of those people you can chat to really easily about watches and in particular his watches, they are after all his labour of love.

During our chat Jose let me handle some early examples of the Guotte d’Eau and I was impressed straight away, especially with the remarkably confortable metal bracelet. I left the evening with a promise of the opportunity to review the watches when more example became avalable.

With the New Year a package arrives, not one watch to review but two, both versions of the Goutte d’Eau,the Orange and the Nordblad. The Nordblad with the Sellita movement and solid caseback, the Orange with the Seiko movement and display back. Both watches were on steel bracelets but with them came an alternative rubber strap. The first impression when picking up the watches on their bracelets is weight, these would be useful to divers joked my colleague in the office. I put the watches away until I had a moment to to fit the straps properly. As the cases of both watches are identical I decided to mount the Orange on the rubber strap to enable a comparison.

Once I had managed to size the steel bracelet on the Nordblad and mount the rubber on the Orange I decided the Nordblad should be my “workday” wear leaving the rubber dive strap for the weekends.

As the Nordblad got the most wrist time I will cover this version first. This ia a special edition designed to endure the hardest Finnish winter and to dive under the ice with the Ice Freediving World Champion, Johanna Nordblad. I have put the video of her exploits above.

Technical Specifications

  • Brushed case, 316L stainless steel
  • Case diameter 40mm X 44mm (with lugs)
  • Height 13.3mm
  • Stainless steel screw-down case back (Nordblad)
  • Security inner bezel
  • Anti-reflective crystal sapphire
  • One crown with 4 gaskets at 2 o’clock for the inner bezel and one screw-down crown at 4 o’clock to adjust the time
  • Date window at 4 o’clock
  • Hands, bezel and sandwich dial with Super-LumiNova® BGW9
  • 22 mm brushed Isotope Tread Bracelet and extension clasp in 316L stainless steel
  • Water-resistance 200m / 20 atm / 656 ft
  • Automatic, self-winding Swiss caliber Sellita SW200-1
  • Power reserve 38 hours
  • Accuracy -12/+12 s/day

So, as I mentioned earlier the first impression of this watch is weight. This weight disappears when the watch is on the wrist the sensation for my fairly normal 7 1/2 inch wrist was one of comfort. Not only is the bracelet very comfortable the case design allows the watch to sit very well. This is probably due to the short lugs. For their part the short lugs do result in a snug fit should you want to change straps. Another contributing factor is the twin crown case design, with the upper crown operating the inner rotating bezel, there is no central crown that can dig into your wrist. This bezel is a neat design feature seen on several iconic watches such as the Longines Legend Diver, I personally find the traditional rotating bezel more convenient for timing baked potatoes, but this design does look really nice.

It is dfficult to decide which is the feature that makes these watches so interesting. The watch head it self has its distinctive shape then there is the sandwich dial and the subtle cut out tear drop.Then finally in the case of the Nordblad the blue details, the second hand and countdown indices 0 to 15. Lots going on but in no way overdone.

Then you turn the watch over to find the engraved solid caseback, with the tribute to Johanna Nordblad . Which is as you can see I had a little difficulty photographing.

The Nordblad I had on review was the Sellita powered date edition. It is also available as a “no date” or with the Seiko movement, both date and none. The “Swiss” version on the website for £469, the “Japanese” for an even more reasonable £349.

Now I would like to turn to the”Orange”which as I have already mentoned I straight away on the extra rubber strap. On this strap you instantly notice a difference in weight, which intrigued me so much I had to compare both watches on over kitchen scales. The result of this “scientific” check was 90 grammes on the rubber strap and with the steel almost double that at 175 grammes. Clearly the steel bracelet makes a significant contribution..

The key difference between these two watches is the movement. Both using relaible “work horses”, in the case of this example of the “Orange” it was fitted with the Seiko NH-35A. I expected the automatic rotor in this movement to be noisier than the Sellita but on the wrist you hardly hear it. This then brings me to the display back, Personally I prefer solid case backs especially when the movement being showcased is,sticking to equine terms, a “work horse” rather than a “show pony”.

Then finally there is the most obvious difference, the colour used on the dial and second hand. In this case orange.

Seiko Movement

Automatic, self-winding Japanese caliber Seiko NH35a

Power reserve 41 hours

Accuracy -20/+40 s/day

Of course I need to make a special mention of the distinctive steel bracelet. When I first tried the watch over a beer i was immediately strick by how comfortable it was. As you would expect on a diver’s watch this bracelet is fitted with a useful extension clasp. A non-extending clasp might make the bracelet a little less hefty and let the clasp lie a little flusher.

So conclusions- very impressive.Distinctive and well made, at a very reasonable price. My personal choice of varient would be no date, solid caseback with Sellita movement. Maybe on the NATO strap which unfortunately only tried in the pub.

Watch It Show – A Scottish View

I saw the “Watch It” show announced on Instagram, but due to me being based in London and the show falling at a particularily busy time for me family wise I was unable to attend.

So the first “Watch It” show, a spin off of the Watchitallabout watch blog, was held on November 9th in Rugby. The idea to being to offer an event for watch enthusiasts in the Midlands. And by all accounts was a great success. I am therefore pleased to have found a report of the event by the very amusing gentlemen from the Scottish Watch blog.

During this edition of the podcast there are some interesting short interviews/chats with a few of our favourite British brands (Pinion and Zero West) as well as several more I was less familiar with. Definitely worth a listen.

Ronnie Wood

Photo : Henley Times

You might have noticed I am often a little sceptical about the various Bremont limited/special editions, they do get released pretty frequently. Considering this I am quiet taken by this limited series of 47 watches with dials hand painted by the legendary Rolling Stone, Ronnie Wood.

Obviously these watches are not very cheap, they are priced at £38,950 each. But to justify the effort of the afore mentioned rock god Bremont have also created watches with suitably high end components and materials.

The 42mm three piece Trip-Tik cases are made of 18 carat white gold.These house a special Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier movement is a modified calibre 11 1⁄2’’’ based on the DTE3022-31 with moon phase and fitted with a decorated rotor featuring Ronnie Wood’s signature. Each has 28 jewels, Glucydur balance and Anachron balance spring, with Nivaflex 1 mainspring and a rated frequency of 28,800 A/h with 46-hour minimum power reserve.

So ,if you are a Stones fan with a £38k burning a hole in your pocket take a look at the Bremont website. My personal favourite is the “Rock On Time” in the picture above.

Woollen Straps

For sometime Schofield watches have offered a variety of custom straps to make their watches even more individual. As well as the more conventional leather straps they offer several woollen straps.

Some Woollen options from Schofield

When these first appeared I mentally put them in the “Schofield eccentricity” box, that charactises the brand. I could not image anyone else following their lead.

Then last month, low and behold the slightly less eccentric more classic British brand Fears announce a range of their own woollen straps in collaboration with Romney Marsh Wools. As you can see from the opening picture of this post they look very distinctive rather than eccentric.

More information is available at the Fears website.

These straps fit the 20mm lugs of Fears watches but there is nothing to stop you fitting to other watches, will this be the trend of the winter ?

Marloe Dive Watch

I am strangely fascinated by the young British watch brand Marloe. When they launched their first watch, the Cherwell, on Kickstarter in January 2016, I was a little sceptical. The Cherwell was another Kickstarter project with a Chinese movement. There was something in the design that did not win me over completely, so I did not expect the brand to have come on as much as they have.

The new watch, the Morar joins the range of four other watches with a variety of case designs and movements.

The watch has a 316L steel case, a unidirectional 120 click bezel and a 310m deep rating. There are three case finishes to choose from, plain steel, bronze or titanium plated. Each version is driven by a reliable Miyota 9039 automatic movement.

As you can see the refreshing aspect of these dive watches is the do not follow the generic “desk diver” aesthetic. Which will please some and dissuade other.

The watches are on sale for £449 and more information can be found at the Marloe website .I have not bought one of their watches, but I must declare a financial interest. I am now a very minor shareholder of the Marloe Watch Company so I wish them every success with this latest addition to the range.

Surprise – Bremont Special Edition

The British watch world’s big event this week was the announcement of the latest Bremont limited edition the H-4 Hercules. Limited to just 300 stainless steel, 75 rose gold and 75 platinum pieces. Unfortunately my invitation to the launch event didn’t get to me, however Bremont’s excellent video below tells the story.

The Story

All the watches use the 25 jewel Bremont BWC/02 movement based on the original proprietary automatic BWC/01 calibre built in partnership with movement house, La Joux Perret, and is housed in a 43mm case. Prices range from £9495 for the steel version to £24995 for platinum.

Bamford Popeye

The Mayfair watch customisers Bamford of have just announced an interesting addition to their range, this limited edition Popeye version of their GMT watch.

This watch has all the features of the original Bamford London GMT with an automatic Sellita SW330-1 movement and 24-hour GMT hand function. The design provides a splash of cartoon colour on the dial, contrasted against a 316L grade 40mm stainless steel case. The asking price £1500.

I would be interested to have a chat with Bamford, I assumed that their watches were just an amusing sideline to the main business. They now offer a range of watches based on their quartz Mayfair and mechanical GMT. Are they building a watch brand ?

Military Rivals

First of all apologies for my “radio silence” over the summer. No excuse really other than the usual “non-watch” commitments in the real world.

Starting anything again after a little time can often be a little daunting, there are always reasons to put it off again. Well today I re-started two activities I have been putting off. Firstly,I have just returned from my first motorcycle ride for a couple of years, just a couple of miles around my area but satisfying feeling my intuitive operation of the controls returning.

So now here I am back at Grinidgetime, my return to the keyboard prompted by several announcements of new watches from the British value brand Christopher Ward. My particular attention was caught by three watches in particular, produced apparently with the approval of the UK Ministry of Defence. There is a watch for each of the three arms of the British military, Army, Navy and Air Force. A remarkably similar initiative to Bremont’s Armed Forces collection launched earlier this year.

Taking the watches one by one I will start with the Sandhurst, named after the Royal Military of the same name. The watch follows the now almost generic design of the Smiths W10. This modern re-interpretation comes in a 38mm brushed steel case with a rugged and precise Swiss-made automatic movement – a chronometer-certified version of the Sellita SW200-1. Usefully, this watch has a 150m depth rating.

It is very difficult not to compare this watch to the Bremont Broadsword. Both watches offer C.O.S.C certified movements. The Bremont is slightly larger at 40mm with a lower depth rating of 100m. The big difference being the price,The Sandhurst is offered at between £795 to £895 depending on which strap option you choose. The Bremont Broadsword £2595.

The next service to cover is the Royal Navy, here Christopher Ward offer the C65 Dartmouth, named after the famous naval officers training academy. The design is inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 ‘Big Triangle’ – initially known as the Royal Navy 0552, a Ministry of Defence commissioned piece that saw the first appearance of the popular inverted triangle. The Dartmouth uses a 41mm brushed steel case and the same Sellita movement as the Sandhurst, the watch is also rated at 150m.

For people looking for a Royal Navy watch the Christopher Ward offer differs significantly from the equivalent Bremont Argonaut. The Bremont having a slightly larger case (42mm) and higher depth rating of 300m. Again though there is a significant price difference. The Dartmouth at £795/895 compared to the Argonaut at £2795.

Then we get to the youngest of the three services, the Royal Air Force. This watch is called the Cranwell, named after the famous training college, it finds inspiration in two of the most definitive pilot’s watches ever made: the ‘6B/346’ models produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. Again the movement is same Sellita as the other two housed in a 41mm steel “light-catcher case.

For Royal Air Force fans Bremont have their mono-pusher model, The Arrow; again at a significantly higher cost £3595 against £795/895.

This collection of military watches from Christopher Ward clearly offers an alternative to watch buyers wanting to show their support of one on Britain’s armed forces. The advantage being the cost and the use of the single arms insignia on th ecase back. The Bremont range with the Argonaut and Arrow do offer more features but at a price.