Founded by José Miranda in 2016, Isotope is an English microbrand that specialises in dive watches with a twist. These watches often feature funky colours and unconventional design elements, such as a playful short, stubby seconds hand that is almost invisible at a glance. However, the brand has now departed from its usual styling and introduced two new timepieces designed with athletes or professionals in mind: the Hydrium Pro Nordblad and Hydrium NASA.
Both of the new models have the same specifications, but their appearance is markedly different, highlighting Isotope’s creativity in design. The first model is the Hydrium Pro Nordblad, still bearing the signature teardrop-shaped counterweight on the second hand, which is painted in a striking baby blue and also doubles as the brand’s logo. However, the watch is different due to its high level of legibility and practicality, with Arabic numerals on both the dial and bezel, a feature that is not commonly seen in the brand’s other “dive” watches, which typically have blank bezels.
The excellent legibility is attributed in part to the collaboration with Johanna Nordblad, a Finnish ice-diver and freediver with over 25 years of experience. Johanna made history in 2021 by becoming the first person to swim 103 m under ice without fins, wearing only a swimsuit. Her achievement was documented in the Netflix film Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive.
The Hydrium NASA, on the other hand, is a diametric opposite of the Hydrium Pro Nordblad while still maintaining a minimalist design. This model is entirely clad in white, including the bezel insert, making it the first-ever watch from Isotope that is entirely “lumed”, with the hands, dial, and bezel all painted in luminescent material.
What sets the Hydrium NASA apart are the red details, specifically on the NASA logo, which is prominently featured on the dial (likely the result of an email exchange with the space agency). The high-contrast black, red, and white colour scheme is visually striking, and its resemblance to the Speedmaster “Alaska Project” only adds to its appeal. To allow the dial to take centre stage, the case is finished with a muted, greyish finish achieved through Cerakote coating, which is a thin layer of ceramic and polymer blend.
The rest of the watches remain stock, keeping the brand’s signature tear-drop shaped downturn on the lugs and the unusual flat flank on the bezel, with knurling only at the very top. The watch is powered by the Landeron24, a clone of the ETA 2824, providing a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. The movement has been regulated to maintain a maximum deviation of 12 seconds per day, whether positive or negative.
Isotope distinguishes itself from other microbrands with a consistent and unique design language that is present in all their models, giving each watch a distinct character. The new Hydrium Pro Nordblad and Hydrium NASA continue to embody Isotope’s playful and recognisable style, while also offering a practical and professional feel. This added touch of gravitas could potentially broaden the brand’s appeal to a wider audience, while still retaining its existing fanbase.
Isotope Hydrium Pro Nordblad and Hydrium NASA
Movement: Landeron24; automatic; 40 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Case: 40 x 14.9 mm; steel; water resistant to 300 m
Strap: Rubber strap with additional NASA Strap included for the Hydrium NASA
Availability: Limited edition of 100 pieces (Hydrium Pro Nordblad) and 200 pieces (Hydrium NASA)
Price: £900 (Hydrium Pro Nordblad) and £900 (Hydrium NASA)