Taking inspiration from the iconic “Will return” clock door sign, Isotope’s new dive watch is a combination of charm and purpose. The Isotope HydriumX “Will Return” came about following José and Joana Miranda’s frequent trips to New York, and after two years in the making have now launched this model as a Limited Edition of 100 pieces. I don’t recall whether I have also seen this door sign on this side of the pond, but even without the reference spelled out the design still feels familiar to me as an Englishman who has only visited the Big Apple twice. The HydriumX “Will Return” makes an immediate impression. Its design is charming and quirky, but not for everyone – especially in a dive watch.
Putting the door sign into a watch design seems fairly simple, and for Isotope it’s almost tailor made. The brand makes heavy usage of the ‘Lacrima’ shape throughout their catalog of watches, creating a strong brand identity. Sometimes this shape is just used to create depth, or sometimes as part of a functional component as seen in the GMT 00 (reviewed here). In the case of the HydriumX “Will Return” the hand shape is a great alternative platform to make use of the shape. Staying fairly true to the door sign, the watch features two bold, red hands with no obvious second hand. In fact, the second hand takes the form of a third ‘Lacrima’ shape extending no further than the width of the other hands below. As such, this can be used to validate that the watch is running and not much besides.
Contrasting against the bright red hands, and representing the surround of the door sign, is the unidirectional 120 click bezel with sapphire inlay in Azure blue. In keeping with the strong and playful aesthetics the bezel contains only one reference mark which is again in Isotope’s teardrop shape. Although there isn’t much room to play with the design of the dial, the full Arabic hour markers and internal minute track are printed in black on top of a full-lume dial. This is arguably the perfect canvas for readability given the choice of large hands and numerals.
The dial may not scream “tool watch”, but the case and specs do. The 40mm stainless steel has a blasted finish all over (apart from the exhibition case back), and will be water resistant to 300 meters. Case height is a little over 11mm, but the measurement increases to almost 15mm when measured to the top of the heavily domed crystal. The prototype watch even has a Helium Escape valve, though this won’t feature on the final production model. Other checklist items you might expect for a dive watch, such as screw down crown, AR coated sapphire crystal, and automatic movement are ticked off too. In this case the no-date Miyota 9039 will be inside, which is a solid choice.
I wouldn’t anticipate anyone really using the HydriumX “Will Return” as a diving tool, but as a fun summer watch for the beach or the pool it’s certainly capable, and will perform with style. This Limited Edition of 100 watches is currently open for pre-order with prices starting at £450 (or £563 once pre-order ends). Isotope Watches