Although Tank watches has been around since 2015, my first experience with the brand was at Baselworld 2018, where I was struck by the brand’s all-or-nothing approach to watchmaking. Each timepiece produced by Reservoir is focused on a duel complication setup for time display. The hours are indicated via a digital aperture in the lower hemisphere of the dial that physically “jumps” when the minute hand strikes 60. The minutes are read through a retrograde display that spans the periphery of the upper two-thirds of the dial. dial. A power reserve display is located directly below the hour window at the bottom of each dial which uses either a hand or a sequence of three-dimensional spheres to indicate remaining battery life. On some models, a date window is placed to the right of the power reserve.
This dial layout, intended to recall the instruments and gauges on the instrument panel, is consistent across all of Reservoir’s different collections which rely on automotive, avionics or nautical motifs to stand out. The car-inspired designs are the most prevalent and come in three different sub-collections: Longbridge, GT Tour and Supercharged. Aircraft-influenced models are divided into Airfight or Airfight Jet, and nautical upgraded models rely on an underwater style in the Tiefenmesser and Tiefenmesser SH ranges. These three styles make sense, and each corresponds to a different type of cross-appeal for enthusiasts and amateurs alike.
Walking into this year’s Basel Fair, I didn’t have much reason to believe Reservoir would distract from that identity anytime soon. After all, the brand is a burgeoning young independent who must balance the communication of its watchmaking approach to the general public while maintaining its mode of distribution and increasing overall production. I assumed we would see some new case material in the GPHG nominated Longbridge collection (which we did) and maybe the expansion of the Tiefenmesser line (which we didn’t). What I did not expect is that the brand is launching a brand new collection of watches that deviates completely from what the brand has done before while retaining this identity centered on the jumping hour / retrograde minute. /gauge.
Composed of three colorful models with equally colorful names (Blue Hole, Blackfin and Air Gauge), the new Hydrosphere The collection is the brand’s first attempt at a legitimate dive watch and it’s a pretty impressive first round. The watch still uses the same dial layout with a retrograde minute hand spanning the upper two-thirds of the dial, a jumping hour located below the central axis, and a neat display of the power reserve that switches to assist. a satellite indication from red (requires power) to blue (full steam ahead). While the models in blue and black are attractive and funky in themselves, the white dial really stands out as it is completely covered in luminescent material. Just for that reason, I expect it to be the brand’s top seller even though the white dial is a bit less traditional for dive watch fanatics as a whole.
When handling the Hydrosphere, it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into translating the brand’s design language into a powerful diver. The watches come fully equipped with water resistance up to 250 meters and a helium valve in case you decide to go for saturation diving, or, more likely, for professional purposes. The large 45mm case is made from 316L stainless steel and features a brushed finish. Interestingly enough, the case design is entirely lug-less with the options of a three-link stainless steel strap and rubber strap (the watch comes with both) screwed into the caseback. The screw-down crown is covered with rubber.
The unidirectional ceramic bezel surrounds the watch. Since the time indication on the watch is limited to the upper periphery of the dial, Reservoir has fitted its bezel with minute sharps that circle the bezel in this exact limitation. In fact, the bezel features two 15 minute indicators (a so-called dual scale) because of this allowing you to read the dive stop time before and after the retrograde hand returns.
As with all the other Reservoir watches, there is no seconds hand, but Reservoir knew that if their dive watch was to be used for, you know, actual diving, then their combination of retrograde minute and Jump hour could be nerve-racking for divers who need to make sure their watch is constantly running at a glance. To do this, the brand has placed a rotating ring on the central axis which is in constant rotation. It does not necessarily indicate the time, but it does a full rotation once per second and ensures that the watch runs smoothly. This choice also offers an added touch of kinetic intrigue to the normal wait identity of the retrograde hour jump / minute design.
The movement used in the Hydrosphere models is the same caliber found in every Reservoir timepiece produced so far. It is an ETA 2824-2, a robust option if any, which has been modified with a 124-piece module developed by the manufacturing firm TÃ©lÃ´s exclusively for Reservoir. It offers up to approximately 37 hours of operating time. The module also provides additional protection with a special clutch that protects the movement from damage in the event that the crown is set the wrong way and the minute hand is pushed past the zero marker. Although the watches are conceptualized in the heart of Paris where the founders are based, they are all assembled by hand in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
Reservoir’s watchmaking approach may seem limited in its appeal with its dueling construction, but it actually fills a niche long entrenched in wristwatch history and was once the domain of prestigious brands like Gerald Genta, Caravelle and Enicar. In my opinion, the Reservoir Hydrosphere is an impressive statement to the ingenuity of the Reservoir team and a damn fun weekend watch for the office divers among us. It takes the retrograde jumping hour / minute design (which might be presented as a gimmick by some) and propels it forward rather than looking for inspiration in the past.
All three Hydrosphere Reservoir models are priced at $ 4,300 and will be available for purchase this summer. You can meet them at our next WatchTime Los Angeles show on May 3-4 at the Hudson Loft in downtown LA. Click here to get your tickets!
Keep an eye out for the review of the Airfight Jet Reservoir inspired by airplanes in the printed May / June issue of Viewing time magazine.