You might remember my review of the Hydrium in which I commented on the collecting opportunity offered by this watch from British based brand Isotope. Well now two more have joined the line-up, the Hydrium Pro Nordblad and the Hydrium Nasa.
Hydrium Pro Nordblad
This is the second watch from Isotope developed as a tribute to the achievements of Johanna Nordblad, a the world-renowned ice diver. LIke the previous “Goutte d’Eau version this watch features a blue second hand. Limited to 100 pieces, it is the first of a series of Hydrium Pro watches, exceeding specifications above ISO 6425, the official divers watch certification . The watch case is made of sandblasted 316L stainless steel. All the crystals, including the bezel, are made of sapphire crystal and the movement is a top-finished and regulated Swiss Landeron. If any of these watches remain unsold they are offered at £900 (ex VAT) on the Isotope website
As well as Hydrium collectors, this second officially NASA approved watch, launched on April 15th, should appeal to the many space fans out there.
Apart from the special NASA nato strap what makes this watch stand out is the polymer-ceramic coating, Cerakota that has been applied to the 316L steel case. This coating replicates the texture of the re-entry capsule’s vitally important heat shield. Then there is the NASA logo above the six o’clock position.
This watch is also available from the Isotope website for £825 (ex VAT) includedin this price is an extra grey quick release FKM strap
This watch is limited to 200 pieces, and available to pre-order through www.isotopewatches.com with expected delivery starting in August 2023. Currently priced at £825 (ex VAT) which includes a second grey quick release FKM strap.
This watch took me a little by surprise, I like to think in pre-pandemic times I would have been a little more on the ball. Well, I was not, so surprise a diving watch from Vertex. On reflection this should not be a surprise as most watch fans would expect every self respecting watch brand to have a diver in their range, with the honorable exception of Fears of course. The difficulty is to produce a watch that can be identified/classified as a dive watch without it being a submariner homage.
So Vertex offer us all the essentials:
40mm stainless steel case
The usual selection of straps, steel, rubber & nylon
Sellita SW300-1 Chronometer automatic movement
Date or no-date option
Ceramic uni-directional bezel
Meeting ISO 6425 professional dive watch standard
You will all probably now think of Vertex as a British watch company producing modern updates on the their historical military models. With this watch there is also a “back story” it is directly linked to the work of Claude Lyons who founded the firm back in 1916. A decade before establishing Vertex, Lyons borrowed £1,000 from his father-in-law to set-up another dial name called ‘Dreadnought’ which was symbolised by a mythical creature, half lion, half fish. All watches also carry a serial number on the case back and the movement that starts with ‘FN’ “Fear Nothing” being the natural translation of dreadnaught.
The M60 AquaLion – which is available with or without a date display (‘M60 D’ and ‘M60 ND’) – is also equipped with a uni-directional dive bezel made from matte-finished ceramic and featuring knurling based on the sight adjustment mechanism found on the Bren light machine gun introduced at the start of WWII. The Vertex-ness is added through the use of the moulded Super-LumiNova dial markings . In the case of the AquaLion, the Super-LumiNova used is of the latest ‘X1 Grade’ that glows considerably brighter and for up to 1.6 times longer than the standard material, offering unrivalled visibility in low light conditions both in and out of the water.
VERTEX M60 AQUALION – SPECIFICATIONS. Case: Stainless steel, diameter 40mm, thickness 14mm. Case back: Stainless steel, screw-down type with engraved AquaLion trademark. Crown: Screw down type. Bezel: Scratch-resistant matte ceramic with engraved dive scale filled with Super-LumiNova Grade X1. Dial: Matte black with moulded Super-LumiNova X1 Grade hour markers and Super-LumiNova X1 Grade coated hands. Water resistance: 60 Bar/600 Metres ISO Rating: 6425 (international dive watch standard) Movement: Sellita SW300-1 (with or without date). Hours, minutes; hack seconds. Power reserve: 42 hours. Straps/Bracelet: One stainless steel bracelet; one single-strand Zulu strap; one rubber dive strap.
Packaging: Multi-purpose Peli Case ‘Ruck’. Waterproof, buoyant. Price: £2,850 Including UK VAT £2,375 Excluding VAT
I think Don Cochrane has succeeded in presenting us a very clearly “Vertex” diver – well done
Is it me or are the watches getting more impressive? A few years ago I had he company in the category of “worthy” offering good value, but fairly anonymous watches online.
Well the last couple of releases have really made me start to think again. The latest to be released is this C65 Super Compressor.
The twin crown style might remind you of the Longines Legend Diver or indeed the Farer Aqua Compressor but they are very distinctive.
Christopher Ward claim this watch is the first genuine super compressor diving watch in 50 years. With every metre you descend, its ingenious mechanism increases water-resistance.
There are other compressor watches available, I suspect the difference here must be the word “super”. Reverse-engineered by the team in Switzerland, this is a fully functioning super compressor with the ’60s looks to match. Thanks to improvements in watch construction, it is the first one with an ‘exhibition’ caseback, through which you can see the ultra-thin compression spring. At 300 microns thick, the spring, which enables the compressor to work, is just four times the width of a human hair. Look again, and you will also spot the ‘diving-bell’ mark, the logo Ervin Piquerez used to signify authenticity..
Other than being a “Super Compressor” the details of the watch are:
Case MaterialStainless steel
Weight inc. Bracelet166g
Water Resistance15 ATM (150m)
Power Reserve38 hours
No of Jewels26
Complication Type3 hands
Vibrations28,800 p/hr (4Hz)
Overall an impressive looking watch available with a blue or black dial and a choice of four straps, steel, tropical or one of two leather for a reasonable price,£1000. I am pleased the logo has moved to the more conventional position just below the 12 indices.
I hope the opportunity come along to see one of these watches in the metal. In the meantime if I have wetted you appetite you can find out more at
I have been following the Hamtun brand since their first Kickstarter project in 2015. I first noted them as they were the first Hampshire watch brand I came across and despite now being a Greenwich resident I am originally from the county. I have still to actually see one of their watches in the metal, I live in hope. However, Ross Davis’ watches have won the admiration of many in the watch community.
This new kickstarter launch went live today and has, as I type, already well over 400 backers for a price of £279. for the version with the PT5000 movement. This movement, for those of you not already familiar, is a copy of the popular ETA2824-2 movement made by HK Technologies in Hong Kong for a considerably lower price.
Hopefully I will one day get to handle one of these watches.
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.
Brushed case, 316L stainless steel
Case diameter 40mm X 44mm (with lugs)
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
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.
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.
I have had a quartz Citizen dive watch since the late eighties, to its credit it has done great service as an indestructible beach watch, that is until the year before last when it started to leak after I changed the battery. As a quartz watch I realised I did not love it, but I did have a grudging respect for its reliability and durability, I now miss its infallibility.
Since taking more interest in the world of watches I have clearly kept these opinion at the back of my mind, a reluctance to accept quartz watches. However after several reflective discussions with other members of the watch community I am now coming around, these watches are accurate and reliable which is all that many people look for in their watches.
One group of users for whom these attributes are important are the military. It probably has not escaped your notice that the British military are now longer issuing Rolexes, Omegas and other brands that now fall into the “luxury” category to their personnel. In particular the Royal Navy no longer gives out the super collectable Rolex Milisubs to their divers. Sometime in the eighties they changed to different British based suppliers in particular the Cabot Watch Company and Precista, CWC from what I understand being the largest supplier, I have not yet got to the bottom of who did what in which year. As well as being from different suppliers these watches also moved toward the use of quartz movements. Both CWC and Precista (Timefactors) now offer various versions of these watches on their websites.
This vague interest inevitably leads to e-bay browsing, which lead to the inevitable purchase of a Precista PRS18-Q, thinking, incorrectly, they were no longer available. One piece of advice, if you live in the UK, buying stuff from Australia can prove to be considerably more expensive than the purchase price, as there is VAT to pay and the consequent Royal Mail handling charge. You live and learn.
Anyway, the watch eventually arrives, my particular watch is a PRS18-Q from 2013. The first impressions are very positive, the two piece rubber strap being very comfortable, though the brushed steel finish and the height making the not really a formal “office” watch. My teenage son commenting that it looked like a “toy watch”, a comment I ignored. Despite not being an office watch I made the watch my “watch for the week” as I would for one of my usual reviews and of course immediately changed the strap to a grey nato, which seemed to be the most appropriate. I then hit on the optimal strap/Precista combination, a black MN strap from Erika’s Originals or as in the picture above the green version. Though given the current political climate maybe this is not the right time to mix up equipment of the Royal and French navies.
Wearing the watch for a week I rediscovered the utility of an “indestructible” dive watch. The first advantage being the ability to wear it on my cycle commute without fear of the constant vibration of London’s uneven streets damaging the mechanism. I could also time myself using the uni-directional bezel. Then the lume ! I have never had a watch with such a bright glow.
As I mentioned earlier I have discovered my watch is from 2013, so is a slightly different specification from the current PRS18-Q that now uses the Ronda 715Li quartz movement that gives a ten year battery life which still leaves me another four years before I would have to change it.
These are the other key specifications:
316L stainless steel, bead blasted
Diameter Bezel 39mm, 43.5mm across including crown
Lug to lug height 47.5mm
Lug spacing 20mm
Anti-magnetic 4800 A/m
WR 300 meters, double Viton ‘O’ ring seals on case back
So in conclusion, if you are looking for a tough reliable watch with an interesting back story this Precista is definitely worth considering, especially when you consider the current COSC version is on sale at a very reasonable £245. These are I assume these are attributes requested by the Royal Navy. On a final note I wrote to an old college friend who until recently been a Royal Navy diver to enquire about his watch experience/memories. He told me neither he or one of his ex-colleagues could remember their service watches, he had bought his own Tag Heuer… maybe watch people get a little to concerned about what is on our wrist.
I thought Christopher Ward merit an honorable mention this week, they have recently announced some really nice looking watches which move them significantly away from the generic styles. The latest one to really catch my eye is this the C65 Trident Diver.
C65 Trident Diver – photo Chr. Ward
As you can see the look is vintage but I am not able to identify any particular watch as the inspiration, though I am sure there is someone out there that can.
This watch has a useful casual but smart look, a diver that is not so “in your face” as the usual desk divers whilst retaining all the practicality. A cool trick.
The specifications are:
Calibre: Sellita SW210 (hand wound)
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Water resistance: 15 ATM (150 metres)
Vibrations: 28,800 per hour (4 Hz)
Timing tolerance: +15/-15 seconds per day
Dial colour: Blue or Black
Lug to lug: 47.1mm
Strap width: 22mm
Leather or Rubber strap
I would really like to see one for real. The only potential negative for me might be the 41mm case size, I am curious to see how it wears.
Here is the usual nice video from Christopher Ward
For some reason I have steered slightly clear of Christopher Ward as a brand, I have not warmed completely to them. I think this might be because their positioning is based on a very commercial message, great value well made watches. I think I might have been doing them a disservice especially when you consider some of their recent launches.
Over the Christmas holidays I had the chance to see one of their watches for a little longer than the cursory trial at a show. My brother turned up with a Trident GMT on a “Bond” nato strap.
Although this model is one of the many “homage” to the Rolex Submariner, hence the Bond strap, it does have enough design details that make it a little more individual. For starters the case is 42mm. Then there is the trident shaped second hand and the textured ( I am sure there is a technical description) finish on the dial. The final obvious difference on this watch is the red second time zone hand.
Adding to the charm of this particular watch is the steel bezel and the old style Chr. Ward logo.
My brother tells me he bought this watch a few years ago in the sale, duty free, so paid well below the £700 plus of the current model. For this he has a well made GMT tool watch which he says he uses when visiting “dodgy” countries, were his more normal wrist wear might attract the wrong sort of attention. Maybe I should start checking eBay.
Bamford, the well known London based customisers of high end watches has for some time provided a “service watch” for their clients for use whilst their own watch is being worked on.
In two weeks they will make these watches available for sale.
Bamford Mayfair Range
The Bamford Mayfair range of watches are available in a number of combinations. From a choice in dial colour, bezel, coating and type of strap, you can choose a Bamford Mayfair to match your own taste.
The 40mm case will be made of military grade titanium. The movement will be a trusty Miyota calibre 2035.
For £425 you can look like you are having your Rolex customised.
Sometimes real life gets in the way of a blogger’s blogging. Last week I was invited to the launch of Farer’s new dive watch. As a fan of both dive watches and British watch brands I was really looking forward to attending – then I was stuck in a conference in Brighton and could not attend – bother.
The teaser photos on social media in the run up top the launch did not really give much of a clue to the final appearance. I think you will agree they have come up with a great looking watch. The Farer designers have managed to come up with a dive watch that does not follow the usual “submariner” direction. The look is individual whilst at the same time looking classic. The most similar design I can remember is the Longines Heritage Legend.
The Farer cushion case design was chosen for strength. Developed to allow the architecture of the Aqua Compressor system to work seamlessly within the water, it is carved out of a solid block of high-grade 316L stainless steel and finished with highly polished sides and case back, with a fine decorative edge lip cut into the case surrounding the bezel, creating a subtle contrast against the brushed top of the cushion case. The case is characteristic of Farer, dropping down at the lug for a more compact feel and superior comfort on the wrist.
The Aqua Compressor case has the key features of a classic Super-Compressor case design – twin crowns, screwed on case back, compressed O’ring gasket, internal rotating bezel. However the Farer Aqua Compressor design has evolved the specifications of the original system which was created when the water resistance of watches was a big challenge. With the progress of modern materials, they have gone through a whole series of developments to create a very compact but highly technically capable dive watch case. Now tried and tested to modern standards to be taken to depths of 300m / 1000ft.
The Farer Aqua Compressor collection is powered by the Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 Elaboré Non-Date Movement. This is a rare piece from ETA, in that it features no date within the mechanics to make this 100% functional for the diver’s needs. A highly reliable, workhorse movement.
There is a screw down back case to hold the flat sapphire crystal exhibition glass, both utilising compressor gaskets to secure the water resistance and withstand the high pressures to 300m/1000ft.
The watch is available as one of three variants, each named after ships of the Royal Navy.
As well as the natural rubber strap the watches are supplied with a 316L Stainless Steel bracelet.
All this for £ 1095 – which looks a pretty reasonable price. I hope to get my hands on a physical example of the watch soon. I think the Helga version is my current favourite.