With more and more brands being reborn after years of deep sleep, it may not surprise you to find out that Clerc was actually founded in 1874 and disappeared from the horology radar for a time.
The Clerc H1 Hydroscaph was originally released back in 2008, a dive watch that was like no other on the market with its unique octagonal bezel design and very unusual locking mechanism. With the collection growing over time to include many more complications and options until we get to this, the H1 chronograph DLC limited addition.
The dial is stacked with features but it doesn’t feel cluttered or overloaded, just everything you need in a sports/diving watch. Large hour and minute hands dominate the face showing real purpose while two sub-dials sit proudly at 3 & 9 with running seconds at 3 O’clock and a GMT dial at 9 O’clock on its own sub dial instead of the usual extra hand on the main dial. The reason for a GMT subdial is clear when you think that this is a chronograph but Clerc didn’t clutter up the dial with additional sub-dials making it unreadable.
Instead they thought about it and worked out that most recreational sports or diving wearers wouldn’t need a chronograph to measure more than 60 minute segments, so they added a double main second-hand to show the elapsed chronograph time. The white hand on top shows the seconds with an orange hand directly underneath showing the minutes on an orange minute track running round the edge of the dial, a very ingenious complication. The date is shown in a small window at 6 O’clock with nice legible black on white numerals. Pushers for the chronograph are located at the normal positions of 2 & 4 O’clock however Clerc have fitted pushers that hinge out from the centre crown giving a nice symmetrical feel.
At 10 O’clock the Hydroscaph features one of their signature elements: a bezel locking system.
To operate the bezel you lift the hinged flap which personally reminds me of screws used in cameras, you then have a choice of either manually rotating the bezel crown to move the bezel (120 clicks) or rotate the bezel anti-clockwise by hand which also moved the bezel crown simultaneously. When finished and the bezel is in the desired place just return the flap back down and the bezel is locked into place once more.
Strap wise on the H1 Hydroscaph the choice is varied with leather straps, rubber straps or a metal bracelet to choose from. This is fitted with an orange rubber version with a double folding clasp which suits this piece perfectly and sits excellently on the wrist. Also, Clerc have added a nice vanilla smell to the rubber which I did get a few strange looks when I was caught smelling it. If you’re wandering around outside it smells very nice indeed.
Turning the piece over there is a solid screw down case back with a small window to show the beating heart of the piece. The window does remind me of a porthole on a ship and again shows its intentions as a serious dive watch. The movement is a Clerc C608 automatic with a module added for the chronograph giving power reserve of around 44 hours.
Having owned several divers watches over the years including the likes of Omega and Rolex this piece I can honestly say got the most admiring looks and comments from friends and colleagues. With its unique looks, contemporary feel, superb dial layout (especially the centre chronograph functions), this is one piece I would most happily have in my personal collection. My advice to anyone looking to purchase a divers watch please do look further than what the masses wear and check Clerc out because you will not be disappointed.
John Galt caught thehorology bug back in 2010 on his first visit to a London watch show and has snowballed since; John has become an avid writer and blogger of timepieces of all kinds, from everyday timepieces to modern Luxury HauteHorology, his favorite brands being HYT and GreubelForsey that push the boundaries of modern watch-making. John keeps a keen interest in the UK watch scene with their many emerging brands and timepiece’s. John Galt currently contributes watch related articles for online publications in the UK and USA. You can follow John on Twitter @johng73Read his articles here.