Many of you reading this article will not be strangers to Isotope watches. The brand’s unique diver is back in an all-new colorway and ready to pass judgment. Today, we take a first look at the Isotope HydriumX “The Judge” dive watch. This brand-new release is the second-darkest offering from the brand in the Hydrium line. And as much as Isotope dabbles in creating some truly colorful watches, there’s definitely something about their stark architectural design that suits a less light-hearted livery. Those who agree will find this black and red incarnation of the Hydrium diver to be right up their alley. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the brand’s boldest offerings. These have proven to be some of the best-selling watches that we’ve seen from Isotope.

Recently, Isotope introduced the HydriumX Blink (shorthand for “blue and pink”). It was an instant summer hit and didn’t last long on the proverbial shelves. In my opinion — and that of more than a couple of editors here at Fratello — nothing quite compares to one of the brand’s most inspired releases, the HydriumX “Will Return”. Inspired by “will return” signs found in small shops known as bodegas in and around NYC, this was one that we hope to see make a comeback someday. In the meantime, you can read all about it here. After that short trip down Isotope memory lane, let’s focus on the brand’s latest offering. Court is officially in session! Presiding, the honorable judge Hydrium.

Isotope HydriumX “The Judge”

Whereas previous offerings from the British microbrand Isotope have worn their Carnaval colors, the new HydriumX “The Judge” is dressed for court. José Miranda, the brand’s founder, explains that black and red are colors traditionally worn by judges in the UK as part of their uniforms. In suiting up the dive watch with judges’ colors, Isotope hopes to imbue the watch with the authority of these gavel-wielding agents of the law. But other than a change of uniform, the HydriumX DNA remains. This means that the watch still comes in the distinctive curvaceous micro-blasted 40mm steel case. Its screw-down crown and case back give the watch a 300m water-resistance rating. The bright red sapphire 120-click bezel surrounds a deep black dial. Much like previous models, the bezel remains free of markings, other than a lumed “lacrima” (a signature of Isotope).

The watch’s dial has the same layout as on previous models, with crisp white lume-painted numerals. The hands, with the distinctive shape found in Isotope’s HydriumX watches, have the same deep red shade as the bezel. A white lume outline separates them from the darkness of the dial. They remain safe and sound under an AR-coated, double-domed sapphire crystal. Flip the watch over, and you’ll appreciate the wonderful, deep engravings on the case back. Through its sapphire center, you can also enjoy the nicely decorated Swiss Landeron movement. It provides the watch with automatic winding, a 40-hour power reserve, and an accuracy of ±12 seconds per day. The watch is delivered on a 22mm FKM rubber strap and wears comfortably on the wrist despite its 14.9mm thickness (2mm of which is the domed sapphire crystal) and 48mm lug-to-lug.

Final thoughts

The latest offering from Isotope is limited to just 100 pieces, each individually numbered. With its more subdued yet undeniably strong looks, I don’t think this model will stick around for long. Pre-orders for the watch are currently open. Finally, price-wise, you’re looking at £700 (about €800). So, if you’re looking for a favorable verdict, you’d better be quick. Otherwise, in the space of time it takes for the gavel to strike, the HydriumX “The Judge” is sure to be gone. Court adjourned!

For more information, please head on over to the Isotope website.