Spinnaker Bradner SP-5057-05 Review
The microbrand watch world is getting a bit out of control. Take one look at Kickstarter, and you'll browse past a dozen different budding brands attempting to differentiate themselves with oddball minimalist designs or strange gimmicks. Now, I'm an avid supporter of microbrands, I believe that these smaller businesses can afford to take larger risks, and look at watch design with a fresh set of eyes that can allow them to do truly interesting and unique things. However, I don't believe all microbrand watches are worth your hard earned dollars. I recently took delivery of this watch, the Spinnaker Bradner SP-5057-05, after the brand reached out and offered to send out a review unit. Having little knowledge of their brand, and with how new the company is to the space, I wasn't sure what to expect. At a price tag of $285, I imagined I'd see some clear areas where Spinnaker cut costs, and see some obvious shortcomings of the piece. Upon receipt and after a week on the wrist, I have actually been incredibly surprised by the Bradner and what it brings for its cost. Let's dive in deeper.
The case design of the Bradner is based on the old compression style cases seen on many vintage dive watches, featuring two crowns and an internal rotating bezel. The case is made of stainless steel, and measures in at a 41.9mm diameter, 13.83mm thick, with a lug-to-lug of 50mm. On my 6.5" wrist, this size is fantastic. It has just enough wrist presence to retain the tool-watch feel that I love, while not being overbearingly large, heavy, or tall.
The entirety of the case is a brushed finish, and as expected at this price point there are no fine details such as polished facets, etc. Surprisingly, however, this watch does feature a display caseback, allowing you to glimpse at the NH35 beating along inside. Capping off the case is a sapphire crystal, and given it is a diver, it is resistant to 150m.
The Bradner is available in 5 different dial colors, including a black w/vintage lume (02), black with standard lume (01), a brown dial (04), and a blue without vintage (03), and blue with vintage (05). My review unit is the 05 model, featuring the blue sunburst dial with vintage/cream style lume. I really like the shade of blue that Spinnaker chose for this watch, it's a nice deep blue, that thanks to the sunburst finish, plays nicely with the light.
At each hour marker, there are applied indices that are all lumed, with a date window at the three marker. The date window here is not color matched to the blue dial, and instead is black with white text. While it would have been cool to see Spinnaker match the date wheel to the dial's blue, at the $285 price point, this is something that is far from a deal breaker. There's a fixed chapter ring that surrounds the dial, with minute marks and numerals printed upon it. And, of course, the internal rotating bezel surrounding that. The internal rotating bezel is printed like a standard dive bezel, with each numeral and bar marker being nice and raised, adding a nice amount of depth to the dial of the watch. One odd choice here, was the inclusion of these bumps/dots between each numeral...I'm not sure if these were intended to be minute markers for the bezel, but it's a design choice that immediately caught my eye as being strange. I don't dislike the dots, but I don't particularly like them either. Thanks to the boxed sapphire crystal, there is a cool bit of distortion that occurs when looking down at the internal bezel, that makes it a pretty fun watch just to glance down at.
Overall, the dial text of the Bradner is quite clean. You have the Spinnaker logo at the top, and along the bottom "Automatic, 500ft/150m". I appreciate the fact that Spinnaker didn't print a novella on the dial, as some brands tend to do. The dial design of the Bradner, in total feels familiar if you've seen any vintage compression style divers, however, it is very fun to wear, and I found myself glancing down at my wrist just to take a look at the watch, rather than just to check the time.
A pet-peeve of mine when it comes to tool watches, is when they don't come with an appropriate strap. This is something that is especially present in the microbrand world of tool watches, I've found. All too often a watch is advertised as the ultimate adventure diving watch, ready for you to just jump right into the ocean and start exploring shipwrecks, or going down in your submarine. And then it's got a leather strap that is in no way meant to support those activities. To clarify, if you choose to buy a dive watch, and then take the rubber strap off, and put on something like leather or canvas, I have no issue with that. You should wear what you think looks good. However, if you choose to advertise your watch as a dive instrument, I think the strap should support that use case.
Spinnaker chose to include a "waterproof" leather strap on the Bradner, that really does look quite good on the watch. The light tan matches nicely against the blue dial of the watch, and the strap is also quite flexible and comfortable. I would have liked to have seen Spinnaker sub a rubber strap, over the waterproof leather, or perhaps include a branded Nato, but, I appreciate the fact that Spinnaker at least made sure they were including a waterproof strap with their diver.
While it is comfortable, I do wonder about the long-term status of this strap. After just a week on the wrist, there's already some noticeable discoloration/staining, just from me wearing it to and from work, and doing normal activities. I have a feeling this light tan color will get dirty very quickly.
As mentioned earlier, the Spinnaker Bradner is powered by the NH35. This is a great, reliable movement, that is starting to make its way into more and more microbrand divers as the Miyota offerings get more expensive, and harder to find. I've had a few watches now with the NH35, and I have no complaints here with the timekeeping. Visible through the display caseback, the movement is nothing special to look at, but Spinnaker did slightly customize the rotor, adding their branding to it, which is a nice touch. The NH35 is a 24 jewel movement, with a frequency of 21,600 bph, and is both hacking and handwinding, with a power reserve of 41 hours.
Spinnaker is still relatively new to the watch world. However, in their short time, they've already introduced a solid amount of models. I wasn't sure what to expect with this Bradner, but I was quite impressed overall. The case is well finished, the dial has some nice depth and an eye-catching design, and it's powered by a quality, reliable movement. For just $285, there really isn't a lot to complain about with this watch. The strap isn't the highest quality, but that's far from a deal breaker for me. If you're looking for an affordable watch for a good everyday watch, or a vacation watch, or even a good gift watch, I think the Spinnaker Bradner would make for an excellent choice. spinnaker-watches.com