Breaking the Ice – The Hydrium Pro Nordblad
It is 2023 and we are still taking about mechanical watches, we cannot help it or at least I can’t. I believe that all this attraction happens because everything is so digital, so easy to access and although the technology available is sometimes beyond comprehension, the easy of use is always there, we forget or don’t care how things works as long as they do. With mechanical watches you tend to slow down a bit, and even if you don’t understand a watch from an engineer perspective, then you can appreciate the internal or external beauty, there is romanticism. But even if these 2 perspectives do not do it for you, then you always search for a third avenue: a good story. Nothing gives more emotional attachment to any object than inspirational moment, a story, could be a happy or a sad one you might be thinking that here is where I start talking about marketing departments, over playing the moon landing (which don’t get me wrong it was an incredible achievement) but there are plenty of other significant moments as well, moments that inspire you not only to dedicate time, but to design in this a watch an object, and this is what we have today, the Isotope Hydrium Pro Nordblad. I promise myself that I won’t use the work ‘dive’ to go into the story so, before we begin to look at the watch in detail, the main point is to avoid thinking that this is project that is just slapping a name on the dial for the sake of making a profit. The best way to understand the new Hydrium® Pro, is to go back and understand who Johanna Nordblad is, there is a great documentary on Netflix documentary called: ‘’Hold your breath: the ice dive’’ (please refer to that instead of me).
The history is truly inspiring, an athlete at heart and a passionate diver which performed admirably in other extreme sports as well, unfortunately, this resulted in a severe leg injury and pain for almost 3 years, after no improvement, Johana recurred to cold water therapy, at the beginning of the process, she eventually embraced the cold temperatures and naturally led her to freediving with a twist, under the ice. In her mind there was only on thing to cement the love for the sport that help her heal, which was to break the diving record on ice but not only for women but also for men, the adventure culminated in a 2 minutes and 42 seconds of apnea and reaching 103 meters, an impressive feat, and an impressive story. In this light, Isotope have decided to commemorate the achievement by using the best materials and know how at their disposal, always with Johanna’s approval and Swiss manufacturing we have what I think is one the most good-looking tool watches I’ve seen from the brand. Let us....start.
This is no ordinary Hydrium, and although we have the similar case that we know and love, there are some differences: the measurements are the same at 40mm by 48mm lug to lug, and I am glad because it works really well on my 6.25 inch wrist, it has the heft I like on a tool watch and that beautiful micro blasted case but here, is where the similarities end, this watch is the first Hydrium® Pro, a new series of watches that exceeds ISO 6425 certification, what it means is that it beats the standard of diving mechanical instruments, seems appropriate for this version. The lovely dial contains a lot of beautiful nuances, from the new logo, to the Nordbland name in baby blue which matches the elongated water drop shaped seconds hands, cohesive and well executed.
The matte black dial has what we call an ‘’explorer’’ configuration with raised numbers instead of markers at the 12, 3, 6 and 9, no date and no phantom position on the screw down crown, details, its all about the details. The bezel is made of sapphire just like the front and back crystal, it is refreshing to see that new Hydrium® Pro series can rub elbows with brands that give the same feeling and specification for 3x the price. As this is a serious divers piece the watch is rated to 300 meters, I am sure Johanna will not have any problems taking this beautiful piece under the cold water, it is ready to do the job. One thing I really enjoy is that the watch has a display case back with a nicely decorated Swiss Landeron movement, looks great and all of this comes back to that appreciation of mechanical watches, the watch is not just a bare tool, it is also a sophisticated one.
On the wrist
We know the feeling for and Hydrium by now the Pro series does not disappoint either, legibility and design are its calling cards, and we can also add thinness which is under 13mm. The short lug to lug distance really makes the watch wearable and the lovely rubber tropic strap makes wonders to keep the watch head in place, finished with a steel buckle finished to match the case, the ‘’Nordblad’’ (as I like to call this piece) feels like a winning formula. Coming back to legibility, the lume is incredible, the blue hue of the SuperLuminva is long lasting and visible, it creates a mini rave party on your wrist, even the seconds hands tip makes a late appearance, everything is where it should be, I almost forgot the bezel, yes, it has lume as well. I wore the Hydrium® Pro for a full weekend and did not disappoint, every time I glanced at it, I remember how much a love a tool watch, don’t get me wrong I love sophisticated-elegant pieces, but nothing gives me more joy than a tool that is here to perform and together with Johana’s story, well is a powerful eulogy.
What I love about the new Hydrium® Pro Norbland edition is that it tackles all the questions I have when a 300-meter watch is presented to me, its unique but functional at the same time. The fact that now we can have an offering for a professional tool watch at this price point (the new Hydrium® Pro is 900 GBP +VAT) it is incredible, brands like Isotope are not only offering the consumer alternatives to watches at high prices and long waitlists, they are also helping to put the market in check, I am sure longstanding brands are asking themselves: ’’how can we price this at.. if … priced it at…’’. From a watch enthusiast this is a very exciting time, I encourage you to watch Johana’s documentary and I can guarantee that when it is finished, you will appreciate this piece even more. Unfortunately, by the time this article will be live, they might be all gone as the Hydrium® Pro is limited to 100 pieces.
Micro-blasted case, 316L stainless steel
Case diameter 40mm X 48mm (with lugs)
Height 12.9mm (14.9mm with double domed Sapphire Crystal)
Uni-directional bezel with 120 clicks
Black Matte dial and white bold Arabic numbers filled with Super-LumiNova®
Water-resistance 300m / 30 atm / 1000 ft
Swiss Landeron Mechanical Movement
Power reserve 40 hours
More information at www.isotopewatches.com
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