With the Old Radium Bronze collection, the small independent watchmaking company Isotope pays homage to the heroic airmen and -women who fought in the Second World War. It captures the classical elements of a pilot’s watch and mixes them with Isotope’s own signature style of fun design cues, colours and textures. This original take on the concept of what a pilot’s watch should/could be, results in an unusual yet charming combination of elements that packs loads of character. It falls in line with watches like the GMT 0° Terra Maris or Hydrium, but the Old Radium takes a turn towards the more Steampunk-esque end of the spectrum. With that in mind, we’ll take you through the new Isotope Old Radium Bronze Tobacco, the most recent addition to the family.
The case for the Isotope Old Radium Bronze Tobacco uses the same CuSn8 bronze alloy as the “regular” Old Radium Bronze trio. This is a mix of copper, tin and other materials and develops a nice patina over time. During the few weeks I had with the watch, I could already see some traces of the patina building, as you can probably tell from the images. If you want, however, you can easily clean it up again and bring it back to a factory-fresh look (minus any potential scratches and dings you might have picked up wearing it). The case measures a very comfortable 40mm across and 10.1mm in height, with a sturdy diamond-shaped crown on the right-hand side. The lug-to-lug size is very doable for most people as well, at 47mm in length. The entire case is brushed, which fits with either the pilot’s watch theme or the choice for bronze. Both sides of the watch are covered by a sapphire crystal.
The dial is where the Isotope Old Radium comes alive. It’s built up with multiple layers and has a nice feel of depth to it. The centre ‘Lacrima’ section of the dial, Isotope’s signature element for the Old Radium, is finished in Military Olive green. This is matched with a similarly coloured raised minute ring on the outer perimeter. The section between the two, which is at a different level to create height/depth, is finished in the Tobacco Brown that gives the watch its name. The applied numerals, as well as the centre fillings of the hands, are luminous. The grained texture of various elements on the dial brings even more character to the watch.
The movement inside the Isotope Old Radium is a Swiss-made Landeron Automatic (essentially an ETA alternative), which we don’t see very often. During my time with the watch, it performed perfectly fine. It’s running at a rate of 28,800vph, uses 25 jewels and provides 40 hours of power reserve when fully wound. It’s finished with blued screws, perlage and Côtes de Genève, as you can see through the caseback. This caseback is done in titanium, so your wrist doesn’t come into direct contact with the bronze case. This slows down the tarnishing of the case a bit and also prevents a nasty green stain on your skin.
The Isotope Old Radium Bronze Tobacco comes on a soft calfskin leather strap with a grained texture and bronze hardware. As an alternative, Isotope offers what it’s labelled as the 4L’MENTS strap, which is essentially an MN-style strap in leather, again with bronze hardware to stick within the theme. The Old Radium Bronze Tobacco is limited to 100 pieces and retails for GBP 900, including taxes. This means you’re hovering around that psychological 1k mark, which is a tough market to compete in. But in all fairness, the Isotope Old Radium Bronze Tobacco has a lot of charm to it and comes with its own identity, and that’s something we always appreciate!
For more information, please visit IsotopeWatches.com.