In 2021, Isotope launched its successful Hydrium collection of dive watches with the limited HydriumX Will Return model. Based on the well-known shop door sign that indicates when the proprietor will return and the shop will reopen, the watch sold out quickly. The Hydrium case has since been the canvas for many interesting and attractive watches. However, not a week goes by without founder José Miranda receiving an email asking about the Will Return. Now, two and a half years later, it finally returns — but not in the form you might expect.

The original HydriumX Will Return, with bold red hands and a light blue bezel, was a 100-piece limited edition, earning a GPHG nomination in the Challenger category. Isotope remains committed to ensuring that particular watch remains limited. The brand will not return with more of the original design. Instead, the Will Return Red uses the same color palette but with little tweaks to the design to create something new.

Isotope HydriumX Will Return Red

Updated colors with a familiar feel

What’s different about this watch compared to the original is that the bezel and hands are vivid red, and the hands are updated to appear closer to those used on the iconic door sign. The hour and minute hands are no longer framed in white, though that outline still appears on the stubby central seconds hand as a lack of contrast here would render the sweeping shape almost invisible. The light blue bezel of the original Will Return was such a key component in linking the package back to its inspiration, yet you’ll notice the color is absent from the new watch’s hands, dial, and bezel.

Isotope HydriumX Will Return Red pocket shot

To tie the HydriumX Will Return Red back to the original watch (and door sign), Isotope has opted for a light blue FKM rubber strap. The watch is no longer a reworking of the door sign, but the colors and character are familiar. The white dial of the Hydrium is a full-lume dial, glowing bright blue in the dark. The large hands and bold numerals around the dial make for excellent readability.

Small changes aside, the rest of the watch is broadly equivalent to other watches in the Hydrium catalog. Central to that is the microblasted 40mm case, successfully straddling the line between chunky and wearable. Undoubtedly, a blasted case with tall sides and chunky, rounded lugs will look substantial. However, due to the modest diameter and 48mm lug-to-lug length, the Hydrium case is straightforward to wear. Admittedly, I say this as someone who enjoys a more oversized watch from time to time, but the Hydrium isn’t one.

Isotope HydriumX Will Return Red

The serious side of the Hydrium dive watch

With the brand’s familiar “lacrima” shape as a solitary lumed marker, the bezel is unidirectional with 120 clicks. Despite having a 300m water resistance rating, the watch doesn’t pretend to be a proper diving tool. Other watches in Isotope’s catalog, such as the Hydrium Pro Nordblad, have that covered. The double-domed sapphire crystal with internal AR coating results in an almost 15mm thickness, but it also plays an integral part in the overall aesthetic.

The Swiss Made Landeron 24 automatic caliber is inside the Will Return Red, visible through the display case back. This self-winding movement gives 40 hours of power reserve once fully wound, beats at 28,800vph, and will be accurate to ±12 seconds per day. Since adopting the Landeron 24 in the first Hydriums, Isotope has been happy to continue using this engine to power its watches.

Introducing the Wall Return clock

Whether you missed out on the original Will Return or not, and whether the Will Return Red hits the same notes, another option remains. In a stroke of genius, Isotope is also launching the Wall Return (pun very much intended), a battery-powered quartz wall-clock version of the original blue and red Will Return watch. The proportions appear similar to the watch, only upsized to an imposing 35cm diameter. The shades of blue and red used perfectly match the wristwatch and look even bolder in large format and mounted on a wall rather than a wrist.

The case uses aluminum rather than steel, the bezel doesn’t rotate, and the crown guards are absent in the Wall Return clock. Additionally, the dial and hands are almost a complete reproduction of the watch. This includes all three hands. Although a visibly running seconds hand is arguably less critical on a quartz clock than it is on a mechanical watch, it is fantastic to see that not only is it present here but that it sweeps smoothly and silently rather than ticks.

The HydriumX Wall Return is a bold statement, no matter the time of day

The Wall Return’s second party trick, which also mimics that of the watch, is a fully lumed dial. The clock makes a statement in daylight or dusk. I’ve had the Wall Return up on the walls of my house for a week or two in various places, and I’ve found that there’s no getting away from the boldness of it. With a bright, large, or ostentatious watch, I can slide it under my cuff to keep it discreet, but that’s not possible with a clock. However, whether it stands out against a clean wall or integrates as a quirky timepiece in a busier setting, I love the bold styling of the Wall Return as much as I did when I first saw the Will Return years ago.

The Will Return Red and the Wall Return clock will go on presale at 09:00 GMT on March 4th, 2024. The watch will sell for £1,000, while the clock will have a price of £174 (both including UK taxes). Rather than strictly limited numbers, the pre-order period for the new HydriumX Will Return watch will be open until midnight (GMT) on March 10th, 2024, with no further sales after this time. The Wall Return will also be restricted in quantity during this pre-order period, with each individually numbered. However, Isotope expects the clock to become a standard offering on the website, albeit without limited-edition numbering on the back and at a higher price.

Packages for the Will Return Red and the Wall Return will also be available, with a discount when purchased together. For more information on the watch and the clock, head to Isotope’s official website.

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Watch specifications

HydriumX Will Return Red
White, fully luminous with blue-glow Super-LumiNova and printed black indices
Case Material
Micro-blased stainless steel with red sapphire-crystal bezel insert
Case Dimensions
40mm (diameter) × 48mm (lug-to-lug) × 14.9mm (total thickness with crystal, 12.9mm without)
Double-domed sapphire with internal antiflective coating
Case Back
Micro-blasted stainless steel and sapphire crystal, screw-in
Landeron 24: automatic with hand winding, 28,800vph frequency, 40-hour power reserve, 25 jewels, accurate to ±12 seconds per day, decorated with perlage, Côtes de Genève, and blued screws
Water Resistance
300m (30 ATM)
Light blue Tropic-style FKM rubber (22mm) with pin buckle
Time (hours, minutes, seconds), 120-click unidirectional bezel with luminous time marker
£1,000 (UK taxes included, adjusted at checkout)
Special Note(s)
Available for pre-order from March 4th (09:00 GMT) to March 10th, 2024 (00:00 GMT)