I have had the opportunity to handle and review a number of Spinnaker’s watches over the last two years. All of them have been sturdy, attractive designs. And all of them would make excellent starter watches for burgeoning enthusiasts. Within the limitations of nautically-themed timepieces, the brand manages to create a wide range of styles, from the vintage to the ultra-modern. While they are at times quirky reinterpretations, with bold colourways, the watches remain tasteful and sometimes downright charming–like the Bradner, featured here today.
I am on record as loving the aesthetic of a dual crown case. The Bradner is no exception. Borrowing from the EPSA Super Compressor, created by Ervin Piquerrez--without actually being a compressor case–the Bradner uses one crown to set the date and time, while the other operates the rotating interior bezel. The first crown is screwed down. The second is not. The style is certainly retro; however, the technology suggests otherwise. The back of the watch is screwed down, but offers a pane of sapphire glass through which to view the NH35 powering the show. The Bradner is rated to an odd, but not insignificant, 180m of water resistance. This may well be a nod to the early super compressors that were typically rated to 600 feet.
The watch is a reasonably sized 42mm in diameter, though it is thick at 15mm. The lug to lug measurement of 50mm, might also give you pause. However, the design is such that the down-turned lugs drop below the caseback and hug the wrist, thereby eliminating some of the chunk and a lot of the length. While it does not wear like a small watch, the Bradner does belie its dimensions–especially on the stainless steel beads of rice bracelet which drapes nicely. In addition, the muscular milled clasp, with its diver’s extension, does well to balance out the timepiece.
With a wide selection of no less than eight colourways, the Petrol Black (featured here) is a shoe-in as my favourite. I run hot and cold on textured dials, but I do like the way this one is buttressed by a smooth outer chapter ring indicating the minute increments, and a further smooth, matte black bezel which doubles as the rehaut. There is depth aplenty in the Bradner dial. And I think the brand has made good choices in the applied block indices and traditional handset. Even sharper is the red-tipped lollipop seconds hand. Many will be happy with the date wheel, which is colour-matched to the dial, and as such, nicely integrated. The indices and hands have been treated with C3 Super-LumiNova.
For me, a highlight of the Brander is the domed sapphire crystal, which offers pleasant distortions at the edge that play with the large bezel numerals and raised markers.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
50mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
180m Water Resistance
Internal Rotating Bezel
Exhibition Caseback (Screwed)
|Crystal & Dial||Domed Sapphire|
Sand-textured Black Dial
Black Date Wheel at 3 o’clock
41-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||316L Brushed Stainless Steel Bracelet|
Signed Clasp w/ Diver’s Extension
The Bradner takes its name from American physicist, Hugh Bradner. During his time at the University of California, Bradner was credited with inventing the neoprene wetsuit. The buoyant, flexible material would revolutionize recreational diving by using an ambient layer of water, trapped between the diver’s body and the interior wall of the neoprene, to keep the wearer warm.
As a side note, Bradner was also part of the Manhattan Project, during the Second World War. This earlier experience would eventually see him involved in nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands. As a professor at the Scripps Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Bradner would go on to years of oceanographic study, including the DUMAND Project–which was an effort to build a telescope five kilometres beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
I appreciate the effort Spinnaker makes to rekindle these lesser-known moments in history through their timepieces.
It is difficult to find fault in a well-built watch at this price point. Additional features, of course, lead to additional costs. That being said, drilled lugs would be a small improvement to consider. The bracelet, while robust, would also be better if it articulated fully. And the clasp, which has only three increments of micro-adjust, might be better served with a couple more. Ultimately, though, the only technical weak point in the design is the crown at 2:30 which operates the internal bezel. Like a bi-directional friction bezel, the Brander’s internal dial can be accidentally and unwittingly moved during wear.
The Spinnaker Bradner Petrol Black is a classy-looking tool watch. The compressor-style case, with its two crowns, coupled with the beads of rice bracelet, definitely gives off a vintage vibe. That being said, its size, the textured dial, and the display caseback, establish it firmly as a contemporary design. Despite its thickness, I enjoy the weight and comfort of it on wrist. This colourway, with its small pops of red in the seconds hand and in the line of text above six, is particularly handsome. With its inclined internal bezel and varied dial architecture, the watch has real depth–especially when viewed from angles through the sapphire dome. The case brushing is uniform and smooth. The movement is a Seiko-made workhorse. With its 20mm lug width, there are plenty of great straps out there with which to dress it up or down. I think a tropic-style band would be pitch perfect. Wear it with a white tee and jeans, or roll up your cuffs.
The Spinnaker Bradner retails for $375USD and is available now. For more information, visit the brand website.
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