In recent years we have seen many new brands enrich the world of watches with innovative approaches. Among them is Isotope, which likes to give a different twist to everything they do, from its rather novel GMT timepiece to how they approach diving watches. With their latest release, the Old Radium, they continue this tradition yet now with a watch that could have been but never was.
We can call the Old Radium retro, but for Isotope it was more a way of looking at history and imagining what kind of timepieces they would have made if they were founded in 1940 instead of 2016. A daring experiment, as this resulted in a pilot watch, a category in which there is no shortage of competition. With many famous brands that were around during the early days of aviation and the most decisive eras of pilots’ watches, what can Isotope offer by reimagining these times?
The answer to that question is quite short; a lot. Isotope layered detail upon detail to create a watch that offers fierce competition in this market segment, and I actually wonder how they can achieve all this in relation to the price. It starts with the 40mm large case, which is made from CUSN8 bronze. This takes on a wonderful patina quite quickly, giving the watch a lot of character and complementing the grainy structure of the dial. I was in particular delighted by the hands. They look quite ordinary at first glance, but when you look closer, you see that Isotope also played with the details there. The different levels of the dial, and the higher chapter ring around it, give it a pleasant sense of depth.
On the wrist, you appreciate the proportions of the Old Radium. 40mm is really a sweet spot. The crown gives it quite some character as well, but fortunately, Isotope did forgo one that is too large. Remarkably, it screws in, paying its contribution to the water resistance of 10 atm / 100 meters. As this is a pilot’s watch, nobody would have thought any less of it when Isotope would have gone for only half the water resistance. However, now it becomes, even more, an all-round companion, with hardly any activities for which you better take it off.
Not that you want to anyway, as the Old Radium is fitted with one of the most comfortable straps that I have experienced recently. The strap is quite thin and made from very supple leather with a grain that seems to mimic deer skin. A pleasant surprise was that the buckle is also made from CUSN8 bronze. While this seems obvious, many bronze watches don’t have this feature, making it all the more remarkable at this price point.
For the caseback, Isotope opted for titanium, as worn directly on the skin, bronze can sometimes cause mild allergic reactions. The engravings are nicely done and quite deep, further enhancing this Isotope’s value. Unique is also that the watches are individually numbered, a trouble even many much larger brands don’t go through these days. A sapphire insert shows Landeron Caliber 24. This automatic movement features a nice finish, including blued screws, Geneva stripes, and engine-turned surfaces. As an ample but also robust performer, it is a perfect match for the Old Radium.
Isotope is offering the Old Radium with three different dial colors, Olive Green, Ash Grey or Ox Blood Red, each limited to 300 pieces each and priced at 800 Pound Sterling, or just under $950 USD at time of writing.
For more info, visit Isotope, here