Brands to Watch in 2023: Hegid
This French watchmaker is here to help you choose your own adventure.
As much as we admire the architecture of an iconic watch, sometimes we want something iconoclastic. Something that comes along and smashes things up stylistically. That is why the Watchonista office is currently obsessed with French watchmaker Hegid’s interchangeable and patented Capsule system and its selection of bold case shapes – specifically the angular Celeste.
Here is why we have our eye on Hegid in 2023.
The Hegid team, comprised of Emeric Delalandre and brothers Henrick and Grégory Gauché, all have a background in the luxury world and combined their expertise in marketing, sales, and design to start their own brand. Like many horological startups, they already had a shared passion for watches and wanted to build the timepiece of their dreams.
Here’s where the Hegid story detours from the usual startup narrative: This trio also wanted to give buyers a chance to create their own customized watches. Hence, the concept of dressing up a reliable mechanism with different dials, bands, and case options was born.
The timing also feels very correct. Hegid launched in 2019, and while the last three years have seen unprecedented technological achievement in the world of horology as brands compete to innovate with super thin movements and space-age materials, it feels like ages since anyone has done anything outrageous in design.
In fact, the last golden ages of disruptive interchangeable design were in the 1960s and 1980s. During that time, brands explored the idea of dressing up a watch by using interchangeable elements is not new. In the 1960s, for instance, Rolex had the Chameleon (a collection of tiny cocktail timepieces with a wardrobe of colorful straps that could be swapped out in seconds). Meanwhile, in the 1980s, Gucci’s 11/12 series used a colorful variety of screw-on plastic bezels to customize its bangles.
Of course, the 1970s saw a rise in watch cases with more angular, sculptural designs that changed the paradigm and pushed the boundaries of acceptable aesthetics. It was the age of superstar designers such as Gérald Genta (the Royal Oak and the Nautilus), Jorg Hysek (the Vacheron Constantin 222), and Emmanuel Gueit (the Rolex Cellini).
Amazingly, Hegid captures the disruptive spirit of customization of the 1960s and 1980s while it also embraces the edgy case aesthetics of the 1970s.
Freedom of Choice
Here’s how Hegid works. On the configuration tab of the brand’s website, the consumer starts with selecting a central waterproof capsule (comprised of a stainless steel shell, dial, hands, the movement, crown, and protective sapphire crystal), which contains a self-winding Sellita SW200-1 movement and a traditional time display. This capsule is then easily snapped into your choice of the case or carrure (French for “middle”). Of course, the bracelet is also easily switched out.
It is a bit difficult to wrap your head around, but according to Hegid, a customer with a selection of carrures can change the look of their watch in less than 20 seconds. Moreover, this system allows you to have a diverse collection without making an enormous investment because, while the least expensive capsule comes in at an entry-level luxury price point (approx. $2,625), the extra elements (carrures and bracelets) are a bargain!
And speaking of luxury, Hegid’s collections feel très français. In fact, 85% of each Hegid watch is created in France, while the remaining components are Swiss-sourced. As for the craftsmanship, every element (except for the Sellita-made movement) is designed, produced, assembled, and prepared by French watchmakers.
However, the arresting look of a Hegid watch is not limited to the case. Indeed, the unusual case is only one of the reasons we’re drawn to the most outré model in the Hegid catalog – the Celeste. Again, there are nods to the past (the constellation-like layout of indices recalls another great “Made in France” series of timepieces: The Pierre Cardin Espace collection).
Limited to 99 pieces, the Celeste represents several bold moves for Hegid. The brand invited Jérôme Coste, the maison’s Artistic Director, to design a collection on the theme of space-time. This timepiece also houses a radial time indicator.
Because it is a limited edition, the Celeste’s angular satin-finished case is not available as a standalone carrure; instead, it is only available via the purchase of a full version of the watch. Lastly, the Celeste comes delivered in the exclusive Hegid Ecrin wooden watch box.
Pricing & Availability
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)