According two Gerald Clerc, the founder of Clerc watches, there are two types of watch brands: those that sell watches due to large marketing and lifestyle campaigns, and those that sell watches due to originality and quality. Clerc is one of those latter brands. I have admired their work from afar since I learned about them a few years ago, and was happy to do this hands-on review of their Hydroscaph GMT. Clerc watches are mostly futuristic dive style watches with a functional twist, and I discovered that they are also pretty ergonomic and functional.
This Hydroscaph GMT watch came out in 2009 and is available with a few dial styles. This one has a two dial zones. One on the bottom that is brushed metal, and another on the top in glossy black with an interesting almost Clos du Paris style 3D pattern. The dial really does have a lot going on, but there are versions with more solid dials in case you find this type harder to reader. The dial pieces are crisply made and contribute to a special three dimensional feel that always suits high-end watches nicely - especially when going for an ultra modern look. The unique hands are large and visible, and I like the way that the hour markers and Arabic numerals have been applied. Of course, as a dive style watch there is tons of SuperLumiNova for easy darkness reading.
Inside the watch is an exclusive for Clerc automatic movement they call the caliber C606. The movement is decorated with blued screws and Cote de Geneve stripes. It is an automatic and has a power reserve of 47.5 hours. The movement has the time, date, subsidiary GMT dial as well as a power reserve indicator. There are very few watches out there with subsidiary GMT dials.
As far as small GMT dials go, this one is pretty easy to read. The movement uses a dedicated screw-down pusher between 10 and 11 o'clock to adjust the GMT hand. The indicators are small but slim with a precise feeling needle-style hand which makes the best of the space. Opposite at the bottom of the dial is the more unique looking power reserve indicator. This uses a disc-style hand that has been partially cut-away as the indicator. It is decorative of course, but helps keep the "interesting factor" high.
The case is easily the best part of the Hydroscaph collection. It isn't new, but it is aging gracefully and is a great design. While it plays a lot of tricks on your eyes, the 44.6mm wide case is more or less round with steeply curved movable lugs. The lug structure moves a bit to wrap around your wrist and I must give Clerc high marks for the comfort of the this rather large timepiece. The steel case is made out of a number or parts. Most of it is polished and there are some black parts as well. It uses hex screws and just offer a lot to look at from each angle.
Looking like a futuristic dive tool, the case design isn't for everyone, but I like it. I found myself wearing the watch a lot due its comfortable position on my wrist as well as boldly assertive and modern instrumental look. The case is water resistant to 1000 meters and includes and automatic helium release valve (located on the back of the watch). The rear of the watch also has a small sapphire exhibition window right on the escapement area of the movement.
As a diving watch, this Clerc of course has a rotating diver's bezel. To operate it on the Hydroscaph you need to flip out a little key and turn it as though the watch were a windup toy. This moves the bezel in one direction in secure little clicks. There is a large lume pip at the 60 minute mark on the bezel. While the bezel isn't as easy to operate as those you can grip, the system does offer a more secure means of turning the bezel in those instances where you really need to rely on it.
Detailing all over the watch is impressive. There are no sparsely decorated areas and I really enjoy how Clerc keeps things interesting with this Hydroscaph GMT as well as the other models. The strap on this Hydroscaph GMT is natural Swiss-made rubber with a high-quality deployment clasp. I like the soft feel of good rubber and the vertical texturing on it. The strap is also not super thick (but not too thin), making it pleasantly flexible. You'll notice how the strap is thicker toward the lugs.
Loving the Clerc Hydroscaph collection is a matter of taste but the quality and functionality is there. These isn't a watch that for the price you feel as though you paid too much. It is also nice to see Clerc holding its own in terms of originality and a slick modern appeal. This is truly an independent brand with an independent sense of thought. Price for the Clerc Hydroscaph GMT starts at $7,750.