Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer

The Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer Ref. H1-1.11R.1 is a diver’s watch, featuring a complex case composed of 81 elements. Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with this fascinating timepiece and appraises the many facets of its composition.

This detailed review of the Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Clerc_Hydroscaph_H1_Chronometer_wrist1 - - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies - wristwatch reviews

When it comes to diamonds, most of the world’s rough cut stones pass through a district of Antwerp. As well as diamond traders, numerous cutters and polishers also work in the industry. I am reminded of these latter two professions whilst holding the Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer from Clerc. Its case features many facets and a multitude of gleaming surfaces. Moreover, these traits also extend to the distinctive hour markers which grace its dial. Surprisingly, these aesthetic flourishes of style seem at odds with the utilitarian role of a diver’s watch.

Clerc is a Genevan based maison which can trace its watchmaking lineage to 1874. Today, the brand’s Creative Director, Gérald Clerc, is responsible for the company’s stylish and innovative approach to horology.

I was provided with a choice of models from which to select for appraisal and succumbed to the comely combination of a silver toned dial with pale blue indexes, paired with a blue alligator-finish rubber strap. On receipt of this watch, an extended period of evaluation ensued with regular observations being recorded to my notebook.

The dial

The dial canvas has a light silvery hue, featuring a very subtle vertical brush. The hour and minute hands are faceted near the central axis, partially open-worked and lined with white luminescent fill which emits a green emission in restricted light. The minute hand is partly blue, providing further differentiation from the hour hand. A slender, luminescent central sweep seconds hand circumscribes the periphery of the dial.

Clerc_Hydroscaph_H1_Chronometer_dial - - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies - wristwatch reviews

An altimeter style date display resides at 3 o’clock. It features sharp white text sans serifs, standing out wonderfully against the black date disc, elevating readability. The prevailing date is indicated with a pale blue triangular mark, positioned to the right of the date aperture.

I particularly appreciate the ‘individually machined 3D SuperlumiNova applique markers’ on the dial. They consist of faceted metal surfaces, lined with blue luminescent fill. The angled metal sits above the blue SuperlumiNova, playing with depths to delightful effect. Moreover, the hour markers taper downwards on the edges nearest to the centre of the dial. The polished metal surfaces gleam, aiding legibility. At 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock, Arabic numerals supplant batons, reinforcing the sense of modernity with their contemporary font.

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A neat chapter ring aids read-off with both the minute and seconds hands kissing the short black strokes presented.

A prerequisite for any diver’s watch is the ability to read the dial easily, especially underwater. While I confess I have not ventured into oceans deep to evaluate the Hydroscaph, on terra firma I can attest that this timepiece lucidly communicates with its wearer.

The case

I can think of few watches, especially at this relatively modest price point, which feature such a complex case construction. The patented case design features ’81 elements’ and is water resistant to 500 metres.

The 48mm steel case appears smaller than its vital statistics would suggest. Nevertheless, I found the watch comfortable, although there is no escaping the fact that this is a large timepiece which makes a confident statement about its wearer.

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A crown, positioned at 2 o’clock, rotates the unidirectional bezel. It features a locking function to prevent the bezel accidentally rotating whilst underwater. A second screw-in crown, located at 4 o’clock, provides adjustment of the hands and date.

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The upper surface of the bezel is vertically satin brushed with a luminescent triangular index located at noon. Intervals are marked on the bezel every 15 minutes with black text and sloping, satin-brushed semi-circular areas. The vertical sides of the bezel are highly polished, conferring a welcome contrast to the case ensemble.

The aforementioned high levels of comfort can be partly attributed to the adjustable lugs. They cleverly flex near the union with the main case body, moving slightly in order to fine tune the interface between the wearer and his watch. This attention to detail is very impressive.

Clerc_Hydroscaph_H1_Chronometer_movement - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies - wristwatch reviews

Unlike traditional divers’ watches which typically featured solid case backs, the Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer features two sapphire crystals. The larger of the two dorsal windows accords sight of the balance and a partial view of the oscillating mass. The smaller sapphire crystal features a Clerc motif on its underside, exhibiting a smile-inducing soupçon of style.

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The blue strap is paired with a superb folding clasp. The clasp features a mix of highly polished and satin-brushed surfaces. The brand’s name and logo are engraved on the clasp.

Clerc has imbued the Hydroscaph with a plethora of pleasing details. The abundance of vertical, horizontal and beveled surfaces on the case are notable and they harmoniously coexist whilst revealing that much effort has been expended on the case construction.

The movement

The Hydroscaph contains the ‘exclusive’ Clerc C609 automatic movement. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz). The movement contains 21 jewels and has a power reserve of 42 hours. The watch is a certified chronometer (COSC).

Owing to the limited view of the movement, it is impossible to appraise the finishing of the movement in detail and comment further.

Closing remarks

The Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer is an impressive diver’s watch with a supremely legible dial. The case and strap ensemble delivers sublime levels of wearer comfort. Precision is assured, courtesy of the independent chronometer certification, while the maximum water resistance of 500 metres should fulfil the needs of the most active wearers.

Clerc_Hydroscaph_H1_Chronometer_clasp - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies - wristwatch reviews

Where this timepiece proves particularly notable is that it delivers an incredible degree of quality, especially considering the relatively modest pricing, £4090 (RRP as at 21.6.2016). Evaluating the complex case closely reveals a hewn from granite solidity, capable of post-apocalyptic survival.

Clerc_Hydroscaph_H1_Chronometer_dial2 - - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies - wristwatch reviews

Whilst this is a luxury timepiece, it delivers value and provides a welcome alternative to some of the more familiar divers’ watches. The repeated mix of different surface finishes augments its visual appeal.

The countless blemish free facets of the Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer remind me of a flawless gem that shines brilliantly. This diver’s watch deserves inspection at close quarters with a loupe in hand to fully appreciate its numerous attributes and profound appeal.

Technical specification

  • Model: Clerc Hydroscaph H1 Chronometer
  • Reference: H1-1.11R.1
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 48mm; water resistant to 50 bar (500 metres); sapphire crystal to front and case back.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; date.
  • Movement: Clerc C609 movement; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Blue alligator-finish rubber strap paired with a steel folding clasp
  • Price: £4090 (RRP as at 21.6.2016)

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