I discovered HEGID thanks to an exciting interview of two of its co-founders, Henrick Gauché and Emeric Delalandre, on the Horlogerie francophone Facebook group. A few days later, thanks to Ryo Saeba who conducted the interview and put me in touch with Henrick Gauché, I was holding in my hands a splendid HEGID box set for a test. I have had great fun. I’m happy to share with you my impressions.
What about listening a little music while reading? I let you guess the link between HEGID and this TRABBANT 33 Pizza Napolitana playlist!
HEGID (short) story
Despite it sounds like a name coming out of the Greek mythology, HEGID is, in fact, a French young brand founded in 2015 by three musketeers, Henrick Gauché, his brother Gregory and Emeric Delalandre. These three found their d’Artagnan in 2019 when Jérôme Coste joined the team as artistic director.
Does the word HEGID mean anything ? No. It’s an acronym : H for Horlogerie (Watchmaking), E for Evolution, G for Global (meaning you can use your watch in a lot of situations), I for Identity (everyone has his own and wants a watch that fits with it), D for Different (I don’t wear the watch of Mr Everyone). I’m not sure knowing this will change your life forever. But it sounds good!
The union between the French Hexagon and the first letter of the brand’s name gave birth to the logo. Very graphic. I love it.
The HEGID logo has been drawn by Jerôme Coste, long before he joined the team.
While looking for information, I have been quite lucky to find the Instagram publications of xanaxprincesseguerriere, family member of one of the co-founders… I thank her for her authorization to reproduce the below sketches. HEGID is truly a family and friendship story.
Make your evolution
If you are a watch collector, you perfectly know that none of us is happy with a single watch. We like to choose our “watch of the day” according to our mood or what we have planned to do during the next hours, select the strap according to the season or our clothing style and so on. For this reason, you probably know and already appreciate the quick release system that allows you to change your strap without any tool, available on some leather bands, or even on steel bands like on the Direnzo DRZ 03 about which I’ve recently made a review. Surfing on this trend, luxury brands such as Panerai or Omega also developed and patented their own system.
The founders of the brand took the concept much further by proposing to the owner, thanks to their patented EVOL® system, to be able to change not only his bracelets, but above all to change the case just as simply, and without any tools. And that changes everything! The case middle, called the “carrure”, becomes, like the bracelet, an accessory of the watch core part, the EVOL® capsule. In less than 20 seconds, it is possible to completely change the style of one’s watch.
To illustrate the point, let’s spend a few days with HEGID…
Monday. Busy Day. Ready for a quick ride through the city!
Tuesday. The sun is shining. What about taking the cabriolet to drive to the restaurant?
Wednesday. Dreaming about my next holidays. What about a snorkeling spot?
Rmq: I am not really fond of this bezel, despite there is very interesting details on it, such as the “caïn eye”. It is not appropriate for diving and, moreover it is raised above the surface of the glass. It thus forms a kind of bowl that can, in my opinion, store dust or sand. As it is bi-directional, with 60 clicks, I would have imagined instead a Dual Time type bezel, which would have seemed to me more adapted to the style of the capsules as well as to the use of the watch. But let’s not forget that criticism is always easier than art.
Thursday. Still Dreaming… What about Crete?
Friday. Nabucco at the Opera. I’m supposed to be ready to go in 10mn…
Saturday. Change of cufflinks and strap. Oh. I changed my shirt too…
Sunday. Won’t tell you… haha.
Focus on the EVOL® system
Changing the carrure is child’s play, thanks to HEGID’s patented locking device, made of a rotating ring that can be manipulated with two fingers, on the back of the watch. It is difficult to describe the thrill of handling this ring. But it makes you want to play and change your watch configuration 10 times a day.
The concept of modular watch made of a core capsule and a middle case is not totally new. For instance, in the late 90’s, Jean-Paul Suchel (presently technical director of Bell&Ross), who had just bought the French JAPY brand, developed a sport watch with this concept. The collection was of high quality and presented interesting design details such as a bowl dial.
However, the watches were pretty massive, and the capsule concept was not as elaborate as on HEGID watches.
The EVOL® system, designed in 2006 by Henrick and Gregory Gauché, has been patented in 2017. It really deserves some technical attention. I have been impressed by both the ingenuity and the manufacturing quality of this system. Once the capsule and the case middle are assembled, there is almost no unnecessary clearance between the different parts, illustrating a high level of precision in the parts design as well as the quality of the machining.
I thank Henrick Gauché who allowed me to go further in my inspection and authorized me to remove the capsule locking ring:
Made of titane grade 5, the ring has three 3 tension tabs that are sliding around the 316 L steel case, along three grooves carved into its side. On the bottom is a wave spring, that maintains the tension by pulling the ring away from the case. The small notches bring the the playful feeling that I mentioned above. On the capsule laying in the background of the picture, it is easy to guess the round notches which allow to unscrew the caseback.
Read More: Direnzo DRZ 03 Eclipse | Love at first sight
How does it work?
As you can see on the pictures below, the grooves form ramps that spread the ends of the legs of the locking ring outwards as the capslock is rotated. In this position, they are taken inside the groove dug all around the inside flank of the case middle. The cap is thus perfectly held in place, without any play, considering the precision of the machining.
In their interview for the Horlogerie Francophone Facebook group, Henrick Gauché and Emeric Delalandre explained that 2 years of research and development, including 7 months for testing the prototypes, have been necessary to improve the system up to its maximum reliability, in particularly regarding the friction resistance of the components. The EVOL® is able to is able to undergo 10,000 cycles of assembly/disassembly of the capsule. Do the math: this represents 27 years of daily manipulation!
Made in France quality
The HEGID system is designed to last. It’s not only an advantage for the owner. In the watch industry, the cost and management of the after-sales service are an obsession. The less the watches are coming back for repair, the better it is. For a new and little company like HEGID it is also a crucial stake to build its reputation.
This is also the reason why the Gauché brothers and Emeric Delandre chose to produce their watches’parts localy, mainly in Franche-Comté near Besançon and Morteau, the cradle of French watchmaking, where it is possible to find small companies with a very high technical know-how (only the Sellita movement comes from switzerland). They want to be able to jump in any train to go and see one of their suppliers within a few hours if necessary.
The capsule is waterproof up to 100m, with screwed crown, tube and bottom. Not enough to be a dive watch. But waterproof enough to be the perfect watch to wear in “any circumstance”, well protected against water and dust intrusion. Another way to prevent the watch from coming back for repair because of small daily life incidents.
HEGID watches are equipped with a Sellita SW200-1, with exclusive adjustments in order to guarantee the best stability of the settings over time. There are in fact 3 levels of finish at Sellita: Standard, Special, Premium. In addition to the more or less elaborate decorative finishes, these versions are different above all by the increasing quality of the setting, which is adjusted in a greater number of positions. Of course, this comes at a cost. The Premium level can even be improved at the COSC level. No one shares his manufacturing secrets. But without revealing anything to me, Henrick Gauché nevertheless whispered in my ear that the movement benefits from a specific exclusive treatment for HEGID, which allows to keep the movement settings longer than on the other finishes. I assume that there is something to do with the airspring regulator and the racket area, probably strenghed. If I can, I will try to find out more by offering Henrick a beer… In the meantime, if you are interested in the subject, you can read the technical characteristics of the movement on the Sellita website. The Sellita SW200-1 is the direct competitor of the famous ETA 2824-2. But, unlike the ETA movement, any watchmaker can request and purchase spare parts for the calibre. Another good point for maintenance.
As I think it is always interesting to go deeper in the understanding of the watch industry, I invite you to watch this short video of the visit of the Sellita factory filmed by Chrono24 in February 2018.
Proud of their watch reliability, HEGID offers to its customer a 3 years guarantee, that can easily be extended to 4. You just need to pass a funny (and easy!) test proving you’ve read the maintenance tips. To compare with brands you know, Jaeger-LeCoultre offers 2 years guarantee. Rolex and Omega five. Not bad, huh?
High grade stainless steel
But that’s not all. HEGID doesn’t use the usual 316L stainless steel to manufacture its case middle. For the Mirage carrure, the company decided to use the 1.4441 inox steel, a steel with restricted tolerance for impurities. Here is a quick presentation I found on the web.
“This steel is the classical austenitic stainless steel for medical applications. It has been specifically developed and originally optimized for internal fixation devices […]. The 1.4441 IMPLANT steel is ESR remelted to a particularly low S content. Its composition ensures that it is ∂ (Delta) Ferrite free, and not forming ferromagnetic α (Alpha) martensite up to the highest required cold worked strengths. It can be easily cold worked to high strength levels.
This steel has a good corrosion resistance, especially against pitting corrosion. And exhibits fair high fatigue endurance limit at 107 cycles. This 1.4441 IMPLANT steel is well adapted for numerous applications in the medical field and more particularly for bone surgery, like implants for joint replacement, internal fixation devices, high strength guide wires and Kirschner wires for internal and external fixations. It is also well indicated for non-medical applications with similar requirements, such as components of the watch exterior. It can be fairly easily machined. » Source: http://www.kleinmetals.ch/shop/Datenblatt/E/555.pdf
I hope you understood everything… Because I didn’t.
There were four carrures in the box set that Henrick Gauché entrusted to me. The Mirage and the Expedition Sauvage are my favorites. Nevertheless each one has its own personality, with, in all cases, high quality manufacturing using, for example, DLC (Diamond like Carbon) surface coating.
Before continuing I suggest you watch this nice HEGID corporate video showing the machining of the Carrure Mirage (source: HEGID Youtube channel)
My favorite details.
I know, I know. You would like to have more pictures to look at, and less blah-blah-blah, especially if you are reading this review in the public transports, on your smartphone screen, with an anti-covid mask on the nose (with a little luck, you also have fog on your glasses…).
But the customer is king. Here is a series of photos on details that caught my attention, and that make the difference, as often in the watch industry.
I’m not used to seeing crowns with added color in the engraving. The HEGID logo, which he highlights here, is perfect for this style exercise.
The Inaugural capsule
The Inaugural Capsule has been designed by Henrick and Gregory Gauché. 90 items were produced. 30 in brown, 60 in black. Look at the precision and thickness of the luminescent dots. The glossy surface of the central disc of the dial is a feast for the eye.
It took me a while to spot all the details on the second hand: red end, the hexagonal lollipop and most of all, the hand counter weight that is the exact cutting of the “H” part of the brand hexagonal logo. Do you want one more funny detail? Compare the shape of the 3, 6, 9, 12 indices with the brand logo… The Gauché brothers’ taste for precision and quality is undeniable.
My favorite configuration with this brown capsule is probably when it is associated with the very masculine Expedition sauvage carrure and the Rallye strap.
I felt in love with this carrure, with its unique shape. It is surprisingly comfortable to wear thanks to its short lugs.
The Mirage capsule
The Mirage capsule, carrure and straps have been designed by Jérôme Coste, who joined the team las year, as artistic director. This information is not anecdotal. Jerôme Coste is already well known as the founder of the luxury helmet brand, Ruby. He doesn’t come from the watchmaking world. His collaboration with HEGID is most probably a sign about the positioning that the brand wants to adopt as well as on the kind of customers it wishes to conquest.
First, you will notice the stripped-down style with long thin polished stick markers and sword hands. No more logo on the dial. Just five printed letters. However the brand logo is still there, used as counter weight on the long and thin second hangs.
I do like the Mirage word font, which evokes for me the signatures of the Italian brands Maserati or Lamborghini. Or even of the French Air Force jet fighter Mirage? I let you choose.
The very dark gray surface of the dial is finished with a superb satin sunray brushing. The way it catches the light is a pure enchantment.
The beveled cutting of the date aperture, revealing the date matte black disk is perfect. Note that the gasket on the crown tube is not there for a waterproofing mater. Its function is just to keep in place the capsule at this point of the carrure and, I think, to absorb shocks that could damage the tube. This could be a weakness part of the watch. But as it is supposed to be able to withstand 10,000 change cycles, I guess that there should not be any problem. And even in case it happens, a gasket is a very easy part to change.
I will end this part with a funny detail about the minute indices. For the five last minutes (or seconds), dots replace the sticks as if there was a kind of countdown. This detail was already there on the Inaugural Series capsule.
Innovative, even in the distribution model
I am very seduced by the innovative services developed by HEGID to enable a greater number of customers to discover its products, even remotely. They are particularly well suited to this period of health crisis linked to COVID 19.
I won’t list them all here. You can easily discover them yourself on the dedicated page of the brand’s website.
But I can at least mention three of them that I find particularly clever or totally unexpected.
Don’t you live next door to one of the few HEGID representation points? It doesn’t matter! Make an appointment for a personalised video presentation with a brand expert. Then ask to test the model that you find most appealing. HEGID will send it to your home for a 7-day test. Great, isn’t it?
The most surprising? You can pay for your watch in… crypto currency! Enough to seduce the most atypical customers…
HEGID Watches are not Mr everyone watches.
First, they are not accessible for all budgets: you will have to pay 3,200 € on HEGID website in order to treat yourself to a Mirage Model (capsule + carrure + strap). But quality has its price. And if you have well read this review, I have no doubt that you will find this price a fair one.
Then, the unusual concept may leave some customers a little confused. But it doesn’t take long to be totally fond of it, as soon as you hold a watch in hand and manipulate the ingenious capslock to change the carrure.
As on an HEGID watch, the main cost is the capsule one, I think the real challenge for HEGID owners is, first of all, to find the watch face that will give the maximum freedom to draw the future carrures, while keeping the coherence and homogeneity of the watch.
I believe this is the key factor that will incite owners to complete their kit with new carrures as time goes on. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that from this point of view the Mirage capsule currently has the best potential.
The EVOL system evokes technology and modernity. I’ve found this spirit in the Mirage capsule as well as in the Wild Expedition and Mirage carrure, which I believe are the most suitable for it.
I am convinced that it is in this way the company has to continue its adventure. Henrick Gauché suggested it in half a word: the technique being mastered, the EVOL system paves the way for various artistic collaborations that will bring the collection to life over time. I can even imagine limited series, numbered and signed, which would respond very well to the expectations of exclusivity of the “trendy” customers who seem to me to be the natural target of the brand.
A watchmaking story to follow with attention! I A very big Thank you to the HEGID team for the loan of its watches. I wish them the best. HEGID deserves it.
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I hope to see you soon again very on Clock Me tender.
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