Say hello to Clerc's first three-hand version of their popular Hydroscaph dive watch collection. Called the Hydroscaph H1, this watch is meant to be an entry-level priced way of getting into the independent watch brand who has lured a lot of watch lovers with their quality designs and impressively bold colors. Like many new watches in the Hydroscaph collection, the H1 is offered in a whole range of color styles. The one we had for review had a deep metallic blue dial accented with a lime green hand.
The Hydroscaph should not be a watch that is unfamiliar to aBlogtoWatch readers. We last reviewed the Clerc Hydroscaph Chronograph LE. We feel that it is a good idea to read some our past Hydroscaph watch articles to understand what this watch case is all about. Though we will give you the basic details. In a nutshell it is a 44mm wide dive watch that is water resistant to 500 meters, and has some impressive utility and comfort features that you can't easily find elsewhere.
The funnest features of the Hydroscaph case is the locking rotating bezel system with fold-out key. When the key (located at 2 o'clock) is folded down, the bezel is locked from rotating. When opened up, the bezel can turn either by twisting it or by turning the little key. On a daily basis it is more fun than useful, but wearing this watch I find myself surprised at how often I play with the bezel. For people like me it is a good idea to have things I can fidget with to release idle tension. Fun fact: with some people, fiddling with something in their hands frees up parts of their brain to do deep thinking, and thus leads to more productive cognition. So bring on more watches with little moving and clicking parts to play with.
On the comfort side, the Hydroscaph case has slightly articulating lug structures. They move a bit with the strap and act to mold to your wrist. Despite a tall profile and relatively large stature, I have to say that the Clerc Hydroscaph is a damn comfortable, albeit large watch. Anyone who is finicky with how their watches wear, should certainly check one of these out
Produced here in steel, the Hydroscaph case also has a range of fine details. From the multi-part crown to the nicely engraved and printed bezel, this is a cool case that is aging well. I keep saying that it is aging, which is true, but at the same time I am secretly waiting for Clerc to update the case and offer a brand new Hydroscaph. No matter how classic or good a design is, it can always get better. So with Clerc's talent I am sure that anything they decide to improve on will be exciting if and when the Hydroscaph case gets a facelift.
Nevertheless, the Hydroscaph is still undeniably cool, modern, durable, and again comfortable. So it isn't as though I am waiting for Clerc to actually fix any problems. But you know, when it comes to wild watches we always want more right? There is one issue I do have though. Clerc uses the same Hydroscaph case for the H1 as it does for its chronograph and other models, such as the GMT (hands-on review here). For those other models I get why the case is on the thicker side - given the size of the movement. While it would have cost a lot of R&D money and perhaps have changed the water resistance, would it perhaps have been a good idea to produce a thinner version of the Hydroscaph for this three-hand version? A slimmer three-hand dive watch would be very much appreciated - especially with these cool looks.
Having said all that, the Hydroscaph H1 makes a business case for itself just in its appearance. While there is inherently nothing novel added to the Hydroscaph family with the H1, it just looks good enough to eat. Especially when checking out some of those other color options (if blue and green aren't your thing). The black and red H1 (for example) is one handsome devil. What Clerc got very right with this watch is in executing what most people want in a watch dial (whether or not they know how to ask for it).
What do they want you ask? In short, people are looking for watches with easy to see hour markers, properly sized hands that reach out to the end of a dial, no unnecessary reflections that cause distortion or blur, high contrast colors between the markers and the face, and that special mix of visual design and utility that is equally functional and attractive. This watch has pretty much all of that. The large applied hour markers have flat polished surfaces that offer the right type of reflection (for you know, a little bling), and colors that help key elements stand out properly. The dial also looks crisp and technical alluding to both performance and high-design.
It is really the little things on the dial that make it look interesting. You see a bit of the Clerc DNA in the expanding triangle that goes from where the hands intersect to the open date window. In fact, it is even done in a way where the open date window doesn't really bother me. The dial doesn't even try to suggest that it is a functional element - and is clear that it is purely for decorative fun.
Can you spot the homage to Rolex? The text under the hands is directly inspired by what Rolex has printed on the dials of Submariner watches for years. First is the name of the model, then the water resistance, and then of course the overly verbose language about it being a Chronometer. Rolex watches actually say "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified," while Clerc has adopted it to say "Officially Certified Automatic Chronometer." It is a nicely flattering adopted element from a gold-standard leader that I feel helps tie-in the Hydroscaph with the larger world of luxury dive watches.
Inside the Hydroscaph H1 is a Swiss automatic COSC Chronometer movement. Clerc calls it their caliber C609 movement. On the back of the watch you can see the movement through two smaller sapphire crystal caseback windows. I've always felt that the caseback on Hydroscaph models was done particularly well with a nice attention to detail and design.
Attached to the Clerc Hydroscaph H1 is either an alligator leather strap or a rubber strap. The straps are custom made and fit snugly in the lugs and taper down a bit to the deployant clasp. A good strap helps make a nice watch even better, and especially on the alligator strap, it makes the H1 look stellar. While Clerc went for simplicity rather than novelty with the H1, it is probably because it's an actual diver that they've given it a simple and easy to read dial. It is an expensive watch given the competition, but significantly more accessible than other Hydroscaph models that cost thousands more. Overall simple and satisfying, the H1 is probably a great watch for those who've owned a few of the classic dive watches out there and are ready for something a bit more unique and modern. Price for the Clerc Hydroscaph H1 on rubber is $8,900 . clercwatches.com
Model: Hydroscaph H1
Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
Friend we'd recommend it to first: Dive watch lover who has worn a range of classics and wants to branch out.
Worst characteristic of watch: Pricey, and leaves fans eager for an updated, thinner case design given the more simple movement.
Best characteristic of watch: Still cool, the Hydroscaph case wears nicely with a dial that is attractive, modern, and inherently legible.
Review courtesy of www.ablogtowatch.com