Isotope is back with a new watch. This time, the brand has gone for a GMT watch with a few unique features: the Isotope GMT 0º.
Isotope GMT 0º Review
Isotope kindly loaned me a pre-production version of the GMT 0º which has some differences in finish and presentation from what will be the final production version. I will cover those in the course of the review, but none of them would significantly affect my opinions on the watch.
The Isotope GMT 0º case is rather reminiscent of that of the Goutte D’Eau: it wears a lot smaller than its dimensions would suggest. The short lug to lug length on the 41.5mm case helps the watch wear really well. It is nicely balanced and although it looks relatively thick at 14.2mm it does not feel at all cumbersome. You get 200m of water resistance, in case you want to take the watch underwater.
The finish is excellent, with brushed steel keeping the chamfered angles looking sharp. On top, we have a domed crystal with good AR to prevent problems with reflections and underneath is a half-solid case back that exposes a signed, black rotor and is engraved with various cities around the world. The engraving is not very deep, and although I like the cut-out Lacrima shape that is Isotope’s signature, it did not quite convince me it was any better than either a fully-solid or display case back. This is because the wording on the dial seems very close to the edge of the window and, in most positions, it is partially obscured.
The crown has a nice, crisp engraving and is well-sized: this is important for a GMT watch as it sets time, date and also is regularly used to adjust the GMT function. The movement is a Swiss-made movement from Swisstech. I remain unconvinced by such movements when they are relied on by a manufacturer to add perceived value, as there is significant controversy over just how “Swiss” they really are. In this case, the price tag is not excessive (a Christopher Ward with a movement from a more established name will set you back over £1000) and the GMT function does work well, the disc crisply flicking between hours and not free-moving as in cheaper watches like the Parnis GMT. You also get a three year guarantee for your money, which adds confidence. In the final version, the finishing on the lugs (which I thought was fine) will be even further improved.
Dial and Hands
With the Isotope GMT 0º, much your money is going on the dial: Isotope tells me it is the first watch in the world to have both a date that hows through a cut-out on the dial and a GMT disc. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it, and I love the way the dial looks. On this prototype it is almost impossible to read the date but the brand will improve contrast in the production models. I hope that they use lume instead of a red dot, for extra clarity.
The GMT function is brilliant, with a smaller Lacrima shape indicating the 24-hour time. Perhaps not so easy to read at a glance but I think it looks great and works well. The “normal” hands are of a semi skeleton design that is easy to read and avoids dominating the dial. The green colour of this review sample is superb, with good contrast against the orange second hand and a high-quality finish. I found the colour made the black text and Isotope logo at 12 a little hard to read, so I would prefer the white dial.
Strap and Buckle
The military canvas strap matches the dial well and is well made – if a little stiff (this will be corrected in the final production watches). The stitching looked good but I did find the buckle – though well finished – a bit big for my tastes. The oversized tang was quite tricky to fit into the strap. The watch’s lugs are 24mm which is very large in relation to the case. The Goutte D’Eau had similar dimensions, but the dimensions seemed to suit a bracelet better.
One aspect I did like was the choice to use thick screwed bars to secure the strap rather than spring bars. It adds to the “tool watch” feel and added to the overall feeling of superlative build quality that comes across in every aspect of the Isotope GMT 0º. The production watches will also have a leather strap option if you prefer.
Isotope GMT 0º – Video Review
What I Liked
- Build quality, fit and finish is superlative in every area
- The unique design looks fantastic
- The watch is extremely comfortable to wear
What I Didn’t Like
- I’m not convinced by the half-display case back
- The buckle is a little large for my tastes
- All of these custom parts come at a price: this is not an “impulse buy” watch
Isotope GMT 0º – The WRUK Verdict
Overall, I am very impressed with the Isotope GMT 0º. It doesn’t quite speak to me in the same way as the Goutte D’Eau but it looks unique, works well and has some unique features that set it aside from the crowd. The negatives: the relatively high price; a movement that will raise the eyebrows of some Swiss-made purists; are not major issues in my opinion, and I think that this represents one of the better value GMT watches on the market. The positives: the great design and superb build quality are at or above my expectations for this price point – especially with the preorder discount. A highly recommended watch.
Buy an Isotope GMT 0º
You can preorder the Isotope GMT 0º direct from the manufacturer’s website for £710 (£820 for the limited edition options). However, you can currently get 20% off (between 12 and 22 February) which drops to 15% off until 31 May so get your order in quick!