Reservoir Hydrosphere Air Gauge.
Reservoir Hydrosphere Air Gauge.
Image: Supplied

In the words of Bruce Lee: “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

For thrillseekers, adventurers, divers, pilots, racing drivers and maybe even kung fu fighters, the gauge is not just an instrument of measurement but an instrument of provocation, there to test your limits, push you beyond. From 0-100, there is a definite correlation between the acceleration in heart rate and a needle shifting in an arc across a dial. These are symbols of endurance and high performance for both man and machine.

Among the independents in the Les Ateliers hall at international watch and jewellery industry trade show BaselWorld this year, I was drawn to the bold, functional, retro appeal of the Reservoir timepieces. The team behind this four-year-old brand design unique pieces inspired by the functionalities and aesthetics of vintage, precision measuring instruments such as the Smiths speedo, mileage and fuel gauges found in classic cars and the gauges on scuba diving cylinders. Each collection is conceived in Paris but handmade in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in compliance with traditional craftsmanship, to carry the “Swiss made” label. Reservoir pays tribute to legendary racing drivers, pioneers of aerospace and the deep, and “to all those heroes determined to push the limits of their time”.

Reservoir pays tribute to legendary racing drivers, pioneers of aerospace and the deep, and “to all those heroes determined to push the limits of their time”

The 45mm Hydrosphere Air Gauge (RSV03.HY/130-21), with stainless steel case in satin finish, is a fresh take on diving watch conventions. The Hydrosphere is driven by a self-winding mechanical movement with 37 hours power reserve, based on an ETA 2824-2 calibre with a patented proprietary 124-piece module. Its friendly white dial is Super-LumiNova coated with black indexes for superb legibility.

All collections have the same three complications, with dials featuring retrograde minutes on the outer arc – in this instance recalling pressure gauges – with jumping hours revealed in a magnified “mileage” window and the power reserve indicator, both located where you’d normally find the 6 o’clock mark.

The rev counters of classic racing cars are referenced on the dials of the GT Tour collection and the Supercharged pieces with their “red zone” indicators. The unidirectional, ceramic, rotated bezel has a double scale for reading the time at different diving depths before and after the retrograde minute hand makes its rapid return to zero. This watch is waterproof to 250m and features a helium valve for deep dives. It is presented on a stainless steel strap, which screws onto the body, but also comes with a rubber strap.

The company’s emblem is derived from the cross-like embossing on the side of traditional jerrycans and, I guess, these cans could be viewed as the reservoirs of fuel for your next adventure.

Reservoir Hydrosphere Air Gauge, about R60,000.

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