In our exclusive first look at the prototypes of the new Isotope Goutte d’Eau our Editor wrestles with the question: how much better will Microbrand dive watches get in 2019?
Isotope Goutte d’Eau Review
2019 is turning out to be a great year for British Microbrand dive watches. First we had Hamtun’s exquisite Kraken, then the Newmark 71 which launched on Kickstarter yesterday. And now another one joins the fray: the Isotope Goutte d’Eau. This watch completes a triumvirate of superb watches that cover every base: from the Kraken’s lightweight titanium, through the Newmark’s 12-hour bezel to this watch’s sandwich dial and compressor case. Isotope kindly lent me both of the prototypes, which are slightly different from the final production versions, which I’ll explain later. Let’s get one thing clear right away: this is a brilliant watch.
The Isotope Goutte d’Eau comes in a matt finished stainless steel case with twin crowns. The one at 2 O’clock rotates the internal bezel; the one at 4 O’clock is the one for setting the time. They are a little small and hard to grip so will be increased in size in the final production watch. The bottom crown is signed with the Isotope “i”; the top has a coloured “teardrop” which is Isotope’s signature. You’ll also see the shape the 6 O’Clock marker and inset into the dial. I like the idea of the colour, but it didn’t quite work for me. I mistook it for the blue covering you get to protect the finish on chronograph pushers at first!
The case itself is 40mm but looks deceptively larger thanks to the expanse of dial and internal bezel. On the flipside, it feels smaller on the wrist thanks to its short lug to lug measurement. There are little notches at each corner of the case which at first I was unsure about, but also help it wear smaller and break up its lines a bit.
The orange watch comes with a display case back; the blue with an etching of Ice Diver Johanna Nordblad, after whom that model is named. There’s a lot of text on the back of the orange watch, and the engraving seems deeper than the blue. Both are very nice, but you can’t mix and match: it’s a choice between blue with a closed case or orange with display case back. I like both, with the orange’s glass back just edging it for me. Inside you get a choice between a Miyota 9015 or an ETA 2824. Both are excellent movements but I’d keep costs down and buy the Miyota, which is an excellent and reliable choice.
Dial and Hands
The Isotope Goutte d’Eau is very legible thanks to its contrasting white dials and markers on the black dial. The dial has a nice layered effect thanks to its sandwich design (the markers are inset and filled with lume) and the addition of Isotope’s signature “teardrop”. The second hand and first 15 minutes of the bezel are picked out in colour. It’s a great looking watch.
If I had to pick fault, the lack of a date is disappointing for me, as I cannot survive without a date function on my daily wearers. However, a lot of people prefer the cleaner lines of a no-date, and will not be put off by the lack of choice. An option for a date dial will open up if the campaign makes £250,000 but that’s by no means certain.
The movement is correctly set up for a no-date, without the “ghost click” position where the date change would normally be. Lume is excellent – note that the orange watch will have the first 15 minutes lumed in the final production versions.
Strap and Bracelet
When you buy your Isotope Goutte d’Eau on Kickstarter you get a bracelet, but rubber and NATO straps are also available as add-ons. In reverse order of greatness: the NATO is adequate but no better than an aftermarket choice; the rubber strap feels great and is made of high-quality rubber but lacks a second “keeper” to stop the strap end flapping about; and the bracelet is amongst the best I have ever handled.
In my humble opinion, the best-engineered, best feeling, chunkiest bracelets in the world are fitted to Omega’s dive watches. This one looks, feels and works just as well. It is solid-feeling, finished perfectly and has a brilliant hidden ratcheting diver’s extension that I demonstrate in the video review – and which I now want on all my watches! In all seriousness, this watch is worth having to experience the bracelet alone!
Isotope Goutte d’Eau – Video Review
What I Liked
- The watch looks great and is really well built
- Both colour choices are unique and distinctive
- The bracelet – especially its ratching diver’s extension – is one of the best I have ever handled
What I Didn’t Like
- I’d have liked to be able to choose to swap to a different case back instead of it being fixed for each watch variant
- The alternative strap choices are adequate as stretch goals, but can’t compare to the bracelet
- The lack of a date option from the get-go is unfortunate, but will also be seen by many as a positive feature!
Isotope Goutte d’Eau – The WRUK verdict
When I reviewed the Hamtun Kraken, it was about my favourite watch since starting this blog. When the Newmark 71 arrived I thought it would not be beaten this year. And now the Isotope Goutte d’Eau is here and it’s just as good as those two favourites. I can give no higher recommendation than suggesting that you get over to Kickstarter and back it today. So I will do just that! I can only wonder if it’s possible for dive watches to get any better in 2019.
Buy an Isotope Goutte d’Eau
There are about 12 days left on the Isotope Goutte d’Eau Kickstarter campaign. It is about two-thirds funded and if it doesn’t cross the line then it might never come to market. So, if you are a fan of dive watches and haven’t already spent up on the Newmark 71, get over to Kickstarter and back this one! It’s £299 for the Miyota version and £449 if you prefer a Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement.