Hands-On Review – Hegid Modular Watches

The Modular Watch Brand

I have a colleague at work who doesn’t understand why I write about watches. He once told me “I needed a watch when I was a kid but I have my cell phone now. Watches are just jewelry.” I wasn’t entirely sure how to respond because watches do serve a decorative and social signaling purpose. However, unlike jewelry, they DO something. At a minimum they tell the time, and complications like a chronograph or GMT extend that function. Those functions may now be extraneous because of the internet connections via cell phone, but having a mechanical marvel on the wrist is a pure delight.

Hegid is a new independent brand that brings something new to the watch world with its user-friendly EVOL system. The movement, dial, and crystal are a modular unit that they call a “capsule.” This can be removed from the case, or “carrure” by twisting the caseback counterclockwise about a quarter inch. There are large textured grooves on the caseback which allow for easy gripping with the thumbs. Once the capsule has been removed, it can be placed into a new watch case and twisted clockwise to lock into place with a click. It is a well-engineered mechanism with quality construction. Popping out the capsule and clicking it into a new case is as easy as changing a strap using a quick release spring bar system, which also comes standard with the watch. Having both systems in place allows for on-the-go customization of strap, case, and dial.

The sales strategy is very different from traditional watch brands and emphasizes the modularity of the system. While they sell a range of complete watches, they also sell the capsules, cases, and straps separately on their website for maximum customization. I was provided with 2 capsules, 3 cases, and 5 straps, so I will review them separately. The watches come in a large wooden box with multiple compartments to fit additional watches or watch components.

Capsules

The Skinny: Inaugural Series/Black
Movement: SW 200-1
Water Resistance: 100 meters
No date
Price: 2,400 Euros

The Inaugural Series Capsule Neo has a black dial. There are luminescent markers at every hour interval that are perhaps appropriately pill shaped at 3, 6, and 9. The 12 o’clock marker has a line dividing it in half. The hands also have lume and are pencil-shaped with a dividing line in the middle of the minute hand. The seconds hand had the divided pill as a counterweight and a luminous tip. Overall the markers and hands are a bit small for the overall size of the watch and the lume is not particularly bright because of the smaller quantity used. The minute markers are dashes except between 11 and 12 o’clock where they are round. The dial has a two tone effect with a shiny inner portion which is slightly raised and has a crosshair and an outer portion which is matte. The logo is at 12 and the features of water resistance, model name, and automatic are marked at 6, creating symmetry.

For the outer portion of the capsule, the logo crown is screw down, allowing for 100 meters of water resistance. It is large enough for comfortable winding and screws and unscrews smoothly. The module has a flat sapphire crystal and is constructed of 316 stainless steel and a titanium caseback ring and locking mechanism. The large grooves with a textured finish make it easy to lock and unlock the capsule into place. There is a machined dot which is aligned to a dot on the case when the module is locked into place. There is a clear caseback showing what the company describes as a “Swiss Made automatic mechanical movement.” On inspection underneath the balance wheel it is marked as a Sellita SW 200-1, a workhorse movement which is the Sellita version of the venerable ETA 2824. There is some black and a logo applied to the rotor. The caseback is marked “Made in France” which must refer to the components other than the movement.

The Skinny: Blue Mirage
Movement: SW 200-1
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Quickset Date
Price: 2,600 Euros

The Blue Mirage capsule is constructed in the same way and is interchangeable with other capsules. The price is 200 Euros more, but includes a quickset date at 3. The dial is blue with a subtle sunburst effect. The markers are sticks, and again the minute mark dashes are replaced by dots between 11 and 12. The hands are sticks and have lume except for the seconds hand which has a counterweight logo. ‘Hegid’ is printed with no logo above, and the print at 6 does not mention the 100 meters of water resistance. Overall the design is more simple and dressy than the Inaugural Series capsule.

“Carrures” (Cases)

The Skinny: Vision Eclipse Carrure
Diameter: 40 mm
Thickness: 12.3 mm with capsule
Strap: 22 mm quick release
Lug to lug distance: 47 mm
Price: 500 Euros

The Vision Eclipse Carrure is their diver’s case with a rotating bezel. The case is in 316L steel and the bezel is anodized aluminum with a lume plot at 12. There is an eye shape around the lume plot for the “vision” theme. The bezel is bidirectional and has arabic numerals at 10 minute intervals with hash marks at 5 minutes. 15 and 45 has T shaped marks and the 30 has a line over it. One minute dots are also on the bezel. There is a satisfying click. The front of the case is brushed with polished sides and back. The outside of the spring bar holes in the lugs are decorated with black screw heads. These have no function as the lugs are not drilled through and the straps come with quick release spring bars.

The Skinny: Mirage Carrure
Diameter: 39.6 mm
Thickness: 11 mm with capsule
Strap: 22 mm quick release
Lug to lug distance: 45.2 mm
Price: 400 Euros

This is my favorite case of the group due to my fondness for sporty 1970’s style. The tonneau shaped case is angular and brushed. The only polished surface is the front of the bezel. The 22 mm strap integrates well due to the shape. The lugs are stubby and the case wears on the smaller size.

The Skinny: Laboratoire Carrure
Diameter: 38.5 mm
Thickness: 11 mm with capsule
Strap: 22 mm quick release
Lug to lug distance: 47 mm
Price: 250 Euros

This case is more moderately priced and is a dress option. It is polished all around with no brushing. The lugs are relatively wide apart due to the 22 mm strap but emulate a fancy shape with some soft bevels and angulation where it meets the case. The decorative screw heads on the outside of the lugs are again present as part of the design language. The prominent lugs make it wear larger than expected.

Straps


Mirage Noir – This is a padded black leather strap with quilting on the watch side. It was a bit stiff. 200 Euros.
Legende – Black leather strap. Softer and more comfortable. 100 Euros
Pilots – Brown perforated racing leather strap. Comes in light and dark brown. Despite being the least expensive this was probably my favorite strap. 80 Euros.
Black Rubber Strap – Soft and comfortable with vanilla scent. Not listed on website.

The buckles have a logo. They are a bit on the large side but do the job.

Some historical precursors

Breitling 7103. This was a manual wind 7740 chronograph with a long power reserve sometimes referred to as “Long Playing.” The chronograph module popped out and could be used as a separate stopwatch. Images from on Expertswatches.com, link here.

Dugena 7734 chronograph. This is my watch, very similar to the Breitling 7103. There is no locking mechanism, and the module is held in place by friction and some sort of paste-like material.

Omega Geneve Dynamic. Excellent article on these from Valazs Ferenczi over at Fratello, link here. Although the case and dial were not interchangeable, this perhaps has the most similar spirit. The watch came with a plastic tool that unscrewed a ring holding the watch to the strap or bracelet, making it easy to swap. The Dynamic line was meant as an affordable, fun, fashionable youth line and this customization was far ahead of its time in the 1970’s.

Fratello.com

Conclusion

The social component of watches sometimes gets lost in reviews of new watches. I think the fun and “wow factor” of the EVOL system is my favorite aspect of this watch. Even my watchmaker Daniele, who is notoriously hard to impress, enjoyed the watch. I showed it to a bored looking salesman in a watch store whose face lit up when he saw the capsule pop out. The most satisfying part was showing it to my colleague at work who I referred to earlier. Hearing the guy who says “watches are just jewelry” change his tune to “wait, what? Let me see that!” was the most satisfying response of all.