BACKGROUND Founded in 1874 and based in Geneva, CLERC Watches can trace their diving roots back to the 1950s when they produced their first diver’s watches. These authentic underwater exploring machines were equipped with hermetically sealed innovative cases providing an airlock for the movement thanks to thick glasses, impressively (for the time) sturdy gaskets and robust screwdown casebacks.
At a time when the trend for underwater exploration was in its heyday, CLERC dive watches were able to meet the demands of professional scuba divers by remaining water-resistant and operational despite the strong pressures to which they were subjected to.
With the release of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s film The Silent World, the greater public also begun to discover these previously little-known deep waters. Scuba diving gradually became more and more accessible and its popularity has steadily grown ever since.
Gérald Clerc the current custodian and head of Maison Clerc was also bitten by the diving bug and regards the conquest of the depths as the most formidable human adventure of all time. His first watch collection created in 1998 gave rise to the successful Hydroscaph collection that has fast become one of the most coveted high-end dive watch collections available, today.
There are several innovations and design cues that define a Hydroscaph not least of which is its -
DIAL that boasts extraordinary depth of design. This is in a type of subtle matte slate-blue color that offers excellent legibility when viewed from pretty much any angle. However it comes to life in a stunning electric-blue when caught by the light.
The dial is marked out with applied polished 3D-markers that create the illusion of being distorted by water. Arabic numerals have been used at 3 and 9 o’clock.
The HANDS are fairly simple in their design - somewhat reminiscent of tuning-forks. The minute hand is a little larger and longer than the hour hand (as it should be on a diver) but I would have liked to have seen even more distinction between them and perhaps a little more drama. Maybe even the use of some different colored lume?
There's a light blue MOP (mother of pearl) GMT counter at 6 o’clock and a Power Reserve indicator at 12. This watch is a pre-production model so the yellow second hand lacks a luminous area. The production model’s seconds indicator is way better looking and lots more functional.
CASE The Hydroscaph has one of the most complicated and futuristic case designs that there are. Comprising of literally dozens of individual components that offer not only a feeling of supreme quality but a real sense of high-technology - it combines brushed Stainless steel surfaces with polished beveled edges and DLC.
Features include: side impact protection, articulated lugs, a Helium Escape Valve (8 o'clock) and a patented -
BEZEL that is operable via a small yet solid steel flap at 10 o'clock. The bezel with its four sloping sides is a CLERC trademark design – that has been imitated on occasion but never equaled.
To operate the bezel, simply lift the flap and turn - then push down again to safely lock-in your desired dive-time. The timing scale has been engraved while a massive 12hr marker has been lumed.
Like all Hydroscaph models, it has successfully passed a set of particularly stringent tests designed to ensure it meets standards extending well beyond conventional norms: traction, shocks, visibility, magnetism, water-tightness in deep waters, resistance to seawater and corrosion.
CROWN This is a pretty cool design. It works beautifully but I would prefer something even more substantial perhaps to balance out with the bezel-flap on the other side of the case.
CASEBACK Here's another example of a CLERC original design feature. The caseback which has been secured with 8 screws offers a unique view of the movement inside thanks to a Sapphire crystal spy-hole. Actually the viewing field of the Hydroscph’s spy-hole seems to have gotten wider over the years but this is still a really cool twist on the traditional exhibition caseback.
Because this is a pre-production model - there are no markings on the caseback.
CRYSTAL The watch is fitted with a tough anti-reflective treated Sapphire crystal.
LUME The dial markers and 12hr marker have been applied with Swiss SuperLumiNova. Which I believe is C3 with a green hue. The lume is pretty bright and long lasting but it doesn't wow me. I wanna be blown away but I'm not! Lume rating is still - good.
WR This model had a respectable 800M of water-resistance. I'm not sure why it wasn’t given a thousand meters. I guess we could ask the same question about Omega's choice of 600M for their PO collection. 800M is more than sufficient but I can't help wondering what CLERC would be able to achieve should they ever decide to explore extreme water-resistance???
MOVEMENT The watch is fitted with a precise and reliable new Clerc Caliber C610 that is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). This mechanical self-winding movement is endowed with a 42-hour power reserve that drives an oversized 24-hour dual-time display at 6 o’clock.
BRACELET This, I believe is one of the first CLERC models to be supplied with their new solid Stainless steel bracelet. The design of which is a simple yet elegant three-link affair with a toolish brushed finish. It closes with a simple yet solid butter-fly clasp. There's some nice pearlege on its inside.
However I really think CLERC should look to towards developing their own proper security-locking divers clasp with trip-lock and divers extension etc. They should be looking at developing something at least as good as that on Ball Watch Co.'s DeepQUEST or better.
BUILD I have absolutely no clue where to begin. And first we must remember that this is a pre-production model. Every last detail has been flawlessly executed to within an inch of its life. This is a proper high-end luxury divers watch. It looks and feels absolutely beautiful. We could always discuss the possibility of changing this feature or that feature, but on quality I cannot fault the watch. Simply perfect!
on the WRIST please follow the link to see a wrist-shot taken by IG user, and OceanicTime photographer @timemonki. This illustrates that even on a smaller women's wrist this watch looks and wears very well. However this is a very heavy timepiece on its steel bracelet make no mistake. But because of tricks such as its articulated lugs it can fit on pretty much any wrist very snuggly. ;)
PRICE I believe that the model in this review can be had for a tad under 6000USD, which is actually pretty reasonable for this level of quality. CLERC haven’t quite got a strong a brand name as others do (that is changing slowly but surely), which I feel is reflected in its price. Otherwise this is easily a 10,000USD watch!
OVERALL CLERC timepieces are in a class of their own. I've been scratching my head all day and at best one could look to Linden Werdelin for something equally special but the same, no way! Clerc have defined themselves as the leading Swiss high-end dive watch focused brand.
And I think that, that focus specifically on diving instruments has allowed CLERC to specialize and ultimately excel in their chosen field of expertise. I've been lucky enough to have had a number of Hydroscaph models in my possession but I have felt most drawn to the solid steel charms of the GMT. It's a bit of beast of watch (in other words - really solid and robust) but it is also elegant, unique and evocative of the sea and for me that is what high-end dive watch ownership is all about. :)