A look at a new(ish) French independent maison – Hegid watches have a unique proposition which blends the French sense of style and fashion with practical engineering to offer a watch which can transform itself and adapt for many environments.
We were recently contacted by Hegid to be introduced to their watches. We do get a lot of requests of this nature, and mostly ignore these emails. But Hegid watches had a very interesting and unique proposition. And representative was visiting Singapore. So with our curiosity piqued, we went to meet him, and be introduced. We took the watches back to our studio for photography. Here is our impressions.
Hegid watches: a look at the new French independent
The brand was first seen in 2018, after three years of development, and the intent is to bring watchmaking to Paris and blending it into the fashion scene. The basic idea is to offer a watch with a basic Swiss movement (Sellita) in a case which they call a capsule. And to be able to swap in and out other style elements like the case holder (known as the carrure) and strap. Switching the elements will offer a completely new watch, and this is done without any tools. And this is the key differentiation and unique selling proposition: the cases and straps can be swapped quickly and easily. Each switch transforms the character of the watch, to match the owner’s clothes, environment and intended use.
We had the opportunity to examine the S.I. Neo. S.I. stands for Serie Inaugural, meaning the inaugural series. We had a close look at the first working prototype, in a set with three carrures in a box. Do note that this is a watch is worn and used on a daily basis.
The concept: the EVOL system
The system comprise of three components:
- The capsule. This is the cylindrical case which contains the movement, dial and handset. The capsule can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the carrure.
- The carrure, or the body of the watch. Together, the capsule and the carrure make up what we traditionally think of as a watch case. The key difference is that the part carrying the movement can be customized for different looks.
- The strap.
The design is work of Hegid’s ArtisticDirector: Jerôme Coste, who conceived the aesthetic elements as well as the architecture for the swap mechanism to make it an easy and convenient switch. Hegid calls the system of interchange EVOL. Here is a Hegid video showing how the change is done:
We tried it, and found the system to be very intuitive to use. The insertion of the capsule into the carrure and twisting action to lock it is very similar to inserting a lens into a bayonet mount, and twisting it to lock into place. The strap change system is also easy to use, with the strap releasing when the release lever is pushed, and a new strap just snaps into place. Overall the experience of changing the look of the Hegid watch is good.
The SI Neo Capsule
The capsule is perhaps the case in a classical watch. It is in 316L stainless steel and Grade 5 titanium. The steel used meets DIN steel 4441, which is considered a medical grade stainless steel with extremely high levels of purity and cleanliness, thus making it excellent for prolonged contact with the skin. The capsule measures 34mm in diamter, and provides water resistance up to 100m. As we understand it, the capsule and carrure is made in France.
The dial is black, and finished in two levels with different surface treatments. A sandblasted matte finish is applied to an outer ring which serves as the hour chapter, and the inner circle is slightly lower and lacquered black. The dial itself is laid out very classically for a three hand watch with sweep seconds and legibility in good regardless of lighting conditions. The index markers are appliqué and in-filled with lume. The markers for the 3/6/9/12 hours are elongated ovals with sharpened ends and the other markers are round. The minute markers are dashes which are transfer printed to the outermost edge of the dial. The center circle is marked as a sector dial. On it, are the appliqués for the Hegid logo and “HEGID” on the top half, and “SI” “100M” and “AUTOMATIQUE” in three lines on the bottom.
The hands are sword type for the hours and minutes, and a long sweep seconds hand with a hexagonal lume dot on one side, and a modified Hegid logo as counterweight. Overall the hour and minute hands are a bit short, not quite reaching the indices or even the chapter ring. The crown is ribbed, and engraved with the Hegid logo, and sticks out from the capsule quite a lot. This is to allow for the space to fit the carrure.
The fit and finish of the capsule elements are excellent. the sapphire crystal is seamlessly fitted over the base of the bezel (the actual bezel of the watch is provided by the carrure). And the machining for the bayonet which Hegid calls the patented Capslock rotating ring is excellent.
The Laboratoire is one of the three carrures in the review sample. The design is quite classical, and follows Art Deco lines. The epoch which it takes its inspiration from the refined watches of the Années Folles. This was the age of intense progress in the artistic world as well as the business environment. An age where watches were being challenged to transform from the field of precision in advanced observatories to one which suits the elegance and beauty of the time.
This carrure is in steel, with classical, and rather simple lines, and quite beautiful curved lugs, measuring a final diameter of 38.5mm and 11mm high with the capsule.
The next carrure we had was a much sportier one, which Hegid calls Vision. It takes the inspiration from aviation, and is equipped with a bi-directional bezel in with a black anodized aluminium insert with a “third eye” as a design feature. Switching from Laboratoire to Vision makes a complete changeover, and this is a totally different watch.
This carrure is also in stainless steel, and is 40mm in diameter with a height of 12.2mm inclusive of the capsule.
The third carrure we had on hand is the Mirage. Which again transforms the watch into a totally different personality. This carrure has more of a 60s vibe, with flat edges, and large chamfers. The designer, Jérôme Coste imagined it as the ultimate companion behind the wheel of a transalpine supercar; the Lamborghini Miura, sailing on the sinuous and hilly roads of the Riviera. The voluptuousness of Mediterranean sunny days, leads harmoniously to magical evenings when the sun goes down; enter the world exhilaration under the stars the night sky.
The carrure is also in steel, and has a nominal diameter of 39.6mm with 11mm thickness.
The movement: Sellita SW200-H
The movement is a rather standard Sellita SW200. We are not sure what the H designation stands for, perhaps H for Hegid, as our search of the Sellita database does not yield any SW200 with a -H. The only variant to the original SW200 is the SW200-1 with small but important technical tweaks. It is our expectation that the movement used is the SW200-1.
Typically, SW200 movements are nothing special to look at in terms of decoration, But examining the movement through the sapphire case back reveals that the movement installed is reasonably well finished, and leads us to think that this is supplied by Sellita as their Premium finish. The automatic winding rotor is customized. The movement measures only 26.6mm in diameter, and is visible through a porthole in the case back. The movement does look a bit small in the carrure/capsule, but this is visually minimised by the grip corrugations which are necessary to twist lock the capsule into the carrure. This carries a cog wheel aesthetic with circular brushed parts which are raised, and sandblasted parts which are in relief and darkened. Overall a very pleasant looking case back.
We were quite impressed with this first touch with the Hegid watch. The watch is well designed, with a very well thought out system to enable the switcheroo. Very elegant and easy to use. But all would be nought, if the watch was unattractive. And here is where Hegid excels again. Given the aesthetic goals, we think it is a superb achievement. The watch, in either of the 3 guises look excellent, and complete. Each look is different, with its own vibe. Not only does it look different, but it feels different. Bravo to the Hegid team for this! The fit and finish is excellent.
The asking price is about EUR 3,650 for one capsule, three carrures and three straps for the set as reviewed. This lands the Hegid at a very tough competitive landscape of SGD 5k to 6k. However, if one looks at it as buying three watches for the price of one, then this unique selling proposition of being able to morph itself becomes a significant advantage.
The watches can be configured in multiple ways. The Hegid website has a configurator which allows one to visualize the combinations.
The Hegid watch set was photographed in our studio. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 and HC 2.8/80 + H26 with H Adapter G. Profoto strobes.