Hands-On With The Isotope Hydrium Seconde/Seconde/
Isotope is now seven years old. While still an ankle-biter in the horological world, the brand has grown and developed enough to feel like a new logo and branding are in order. To celebrate its anniversary and the new logo, Jose Miranda approached Romaric André — an even fresher face and the creative mind behind seconde/seconde/ — to create a watch marking this occasion. Introducing the Hydrium Seconde/Seconde/ in all its glory.
Instead of a watch that celebrates new beginnings, here we have a fresh take on a memento mori watch. It is a piece to remind us of our mortality. The death of the old logo is remembered along with a gentle nudge to remind us that our time is slipping away. The Isotope Hydrium has already been the backdrop to some playful dials, including the Will Return and Blink. Thus, the Hydrium makes a successful canvas for this vivid new creation. Ahead of its release, I took a closer look.
A failing heartbeat
Seconde/seconde/’s clever customization of a seconds hand makes any watch immediately cooler. André designs all modifications with a strong link between the watch and the new hand that will adorn it. Successful collaborations in the past have included Nivada Grenchen, Louis Erard, and Bamford. As you’ll see here, the seconds hand takes the form of a failing heartbeat. Thoughts of Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts in the 1990 movie Flatliners come to mind. The neon-green colorway also feels reminiscent of that era.
To me, the evocative heartbeat seconds hand hits harder than any skull dial would. We’ve almost become immune to skulls on watches, tattoos, and other imagery. A skull is no longer as shocking as it should be. This seconds hand is a more true-to-life reminder of our mortality. The matte black dial also features an improvised logo, showing the Isotope name scrambled to form “Otopsie” — a loose play on “autopsy.” As with the standard Hydrium models, there is height to the dial. The lower main surface is surrounded by the slightly raised chapter ring. Finally, a raised surface at the center takes the shape of the Isotope Lacrima logo.
Neon green isn’t reserved for the punchy seconds hand alone. The hour markers, bezel marker, and green details of the logo all glow the same bright green as the hands. This doesn’t make for a fully functional dive watch. Still, the single bezel marker is suitable as a reference point, and the whole package looks very cool lit up.
A strong case for the Hydrium Seconde/Seconde/
The Hydrium case is a great combination of wearability and substance. The watch is manageable for most wrists at only 40mm in diameter and 48mm from lug to lug. However, with thick lugs and a total height to the top of the domed sapphire crystal just shy of 15mm, I can’t deny it has presence. In particular, I believe that the lugs contribute heavily to the bulky-feeling watch here. As well as being broad, they don’t show any height reduction from the mid-case until the rounded lug tips. The blasted case finish and large, knurled crown make this a fun tool watch rather than anything close to formal — but with a dial like this one, you’d expect as much.
You’ll find elements of the Isotope branding on the reverse of the watch too. The six indentations for opening the screw back are shaped like a Lacrima too. The same silhouette is engraved on the rotor seen through the display case back. The movement that you get a partial view of is the Landeron 24. It’s a Swiss automatic caliber giving 40 hours of power reserve at a beat rate of 28,800vph. Even with that display case back, this model has a depth rating of 300 meters.
The Hydrium has presence on the wrist
With the Hydrium Seconde/Seconde/ comes a calf leather strap. The strap measures 22mm wide and has sharp green stitching to match the colorful accents of the dial. The quality of the calf leather is good, but if you decide to switch it out, I find rubber straps work exceptionally well with the Hydrium. The fat lugs and the straight edge of the case between them point to an abrupt transition between case and strap rather than a seamless progression.
Despite the overall dimensions being suitable for wrists smaller than mine (7 inches, for reference), the Isotope Hydrium often feels larger than it looks. The funky dial complements that combination of modest size and wrist presence. It’s easy to wear all day long but brings a smile every time I look at it, even if a memento mori watch is supposed to bring darker thoughts to mind.
Concluding thoughts on the Isotope Hydrium Seconde/Seconde/
I love collaborations. It’s fun to see how two creating minds interpret each other’s work, seeing which things harmonize and which are disjointed. If you are familiar with previous creations from seconde/seconde/, you’ll appreciate that a good helping of both complementary and contrasting elements is essential. This piece shows two brands that are either working in perfect harmony or whose approaches to the whimsy of watchmaking are closely aligned. The theme of ever-present mortality, and the fact that we get closer with every passing second, is just a perfect way to tie it together. Only 50 pieces of the Isotope Hydrium Seconde/Seconde/ will be available, priced at £900 excluding VAT. Find out more on the Isotope website.