Designing the Hydra began with a deceptively simple question: how does one make a dive watch with a date function and a 12-hour bezel?
The easiest thing to do would have been to tack on these elements to the Neptune. This was something we actually attempted (albeit briefly). A date function can detract from the clean lines of a classic diver’s dial. 12-hour bezels, in turn, can overwhelm a watch with numbers—making it difficult to adhere to the principle of making a watch handsome, yet purpose-built.
Thus, the Hydra.
The trapezoidal date window at 6 perfectly integrates the date function with the clean symmetry of the dial.
First, we placed the date at 6 o’clock, instead of the usual 3 o’clock position. This creates a better sense of symmetry between the hour markers. To better harmonize the date function, we also the date window a trapezoidal shape, using the same angle as the 29- and 31-minute hashes. Also note that the datewheel is the same color as the dial--this way, the date function looks like an integral, intentional component of the watch, rather than an afterthought.
For the bezel, we decided to get rid of numbers entirely, taking cues from vintage references such as the Breitling Superocean ref. 1004.
The vintage Breitling Superocean, one of several dive watch references without numbers on the bezel. Photo credit: Vintage-Breitling.com
This not only gives the watch a sleek look, but enhances its functionality. A bezel without numerals makes it possible to time minutes—the signature function of a dive watch—while providing the option of tracking hours as well. The one drawback, however, is that it takes a while for the eye to become accustomed to associating the bezel markers with their corresponding numerals. To address this, we put minute ticks from 12-3/0-15. This way, minutes can be timed much more easily, and as for hours, 3-6-9 can be identified at a glance.
Tracking a second time zone with the Hydra bezel. Excerpt from the Hydra owner’s manual.
The Hydra’s overall design was inspired by some unlikely sources—our pre-Lorier “collection”: a vintage Omega Seamaster Deville for its elegance, and a Seiko SKX013 for its utility. The Hydra is no exception to our overall design philosophy: to make watches ready to be worn for any situation or occasion. This way, the Hydra is both a tool watch that handles adventures with style, and a handsome watch that you know can take a beating.
Sitting at the intersection of dressy and rugged.
To give the Hydra its dynamic appearance, we gave it elongated markers that echo vintage references such as the Breitling ref. 1004 (seen above), and the Omega Seamaster ref. CK2913. Additionally, gilt, red and white highlights give the Hydra a vintage panache.
Gilt, red and white—a trademark of vintage references.Photo credit: Rolex Passion ReportFor those looking for something sportier—the Hydra in a vibrant Royal Blue
True to its vintage ethos, the Hydra sports a dramatically domed plexiglass crystal. Oft overlooked, it’s the old school alternative to synthetic sapphire crystals commonly found in modern watches. Plexiglass is more rugged, impact-resistant, and optically superior: the mark of an era when watches were instruments (something you don’t want to break), rather than ornaments (something you don’t want to scratch).
There’s nothing that plays with light quite like domed plexiglass.
Finally, the Hydra features a lumed acrylic bezel, a more durable, non-radioactive version of Bakelite bezels used in midcentury sports watches.
The Hydra uses Swiss Superluminova BGW9 to illuminate its dial and bezel.A Zenith S.58 with tritium, briefly reactivated under UV light. Photo credit: A Collected Man
So, how do we maximize utility without compromising the spirit of the vintage dive watch in the process? The Hydra is our answer. Dynamic in style and rugged in capability, it incorporates luminosity, minute timing, timezone tracking, and a date function while still maintaining the clean, handsome, sporting look we have come to associate with classic divers.