There is a recent trend of watch brands re-releasing watches with various improvements over the original version. Nodus, Monta, and others have taken what the community has said and suggested about their watches and released updated versions. The latest in line to do so is Spinnaker with the Bradner automatic.
Spinnaker is one of the more prolific modern brands with a heavy presence on social media platforms. Spinnaker offers budget-friendly watches in a wide variety of colorways and styles. They have a heavy focus on dive watches. Most of their dive watches appear to be purpose-built, chunky, big, and functional.
One of their more popular releases, the Bradner, has been re-released with improvements over the original. Regardless if you are familiar with the original or not, do the improvements make this watch a viable option in the sea of affordable dive watches? Let’s find out.
Form & Function
I’ll start with the improvements Spinnaker claims over the original Bradner. Spinnaker added AR coating to the sapphire crystal, improved lume application, an upgraded water resistance rating (180m from 150m), and smoother gearing of the internal bezel. Having never handled the original, I cannot speak to whether these improvements are actually improvements. With that said, I am going to look at the sum of the parts of the Bradner and let you decide if it is worth your money.
The first thing most will notice when looking at the Bradner is the internal bezel and the distortion of the bezel from the curved sapphire crystal. While not a true super compressor watch, the internal rotating bezel and dual crowns makes the Bradner a compressor-style dive watch. This alone helps the Bradner stand out from the crowd of under-$300 dive watches. If you are unfamiliar with how an internal bezel operates, you will find it easy to use. There is a second crown at the 2 o’clock position that rotates in either direction to turn the internal bezel.
The bezel itself has a lot of depth. The numerals and markers stand tall from the face of the watch and contrast well against the dial. Individual minute markers are also raised on the bezel but match the color of the bezel, making them difficult to see when compared to the other markers. I would have liked to have seen these markers also filled with lume to provide more legibility in darker environments.
Moving in from the internal bezel, the chapter ring steps down as you get closer to the dial. The chapter ring contains minute markers with numerals at 5-minute intervals. The chapter ring is a slightly lighter color than the bezel, providing contrast and separation between the bezel and dial.
Regardless of what color dial you choose, you will be greeted with a nicely finished sunburst dial. The blue dial option seen here is radiant and plays with the light in a pleasing way. I’m a sucker for sunburst dials so I automatically have an affinity for the dial on the Bradner. The markers are lume-filled squares with the 12, 6, and 9 o’clock markers being rectangles to aid in orientation. There is a date window at 3 o’clock. All dial colors on the Bradner have a black date wheel.
The unique handset on the Bradner is also lume-filled and complements the shape of the markers. A lollipop seconds hand with an orange accent ticks around the dial.
The lume application on the Bradner is done in Super-LumiNova and is applied evenly and sufficiently . It isn’t going to compete against Seiko’s lume applications but is more than adequate. The application among the bezel, markers and hands was even and faded at the same rate.
Case & Construction
There is no denying that the Bradner’s 42mm case is chunky. At 15mm thick with a lug-to-lug of 51mm, it is a large watch. While the Bradner does wear large, it is not uncomfortable. The lugs curve down and hug your wrist. This curvature helps the Bradner feel a tad smaller. With that said, the Bradner is a dive watch and is allowed to be big.
Part of the chunkiness is due to the curve of the crystal. Because the crystal encapsulates the internal bezel, it adds to the thickness of the watch but might not be apparent when looking at the watch straight on.
The crowns of the Bradner are proportionally large and are easy to operate. The screwdown main crown at 4 o’clock is easy to unwind, set the time and screw back in. The 2 o’clock secondary crown that operates the internal bezel spins easily with a small amount of torque. It may be difficult to rely on the internal bezel for accurate timekeeping in any sort of rough activity since there is no way to lock the crown. If this crown also screwed down, it would have been much more reliable. However, there is no reason this wouldn’t work as a simple timer if you don’t foresee the watch rubbing up against anything that might spin the crown.
The included leather strap on the Bradner is equally as chunky as the rest of the watch. I found the strap a bit too thick for my wrist and swapped it out. The strap would most likely better conform to larger wrists. Spinnaker now offers a beads-of-rice bracelet option if the leather strap isn’t your style.
Something I noticed on the Bradner that I really liked was a cutout on the case. In between the lugs at the bottom of the case, there is a small notch that is removed to accommodate thicker straps so they don’t rub against the case. This attention to detail is nice to see in a budget-friendly watch and is something I wish more watch manufacturers would do.
The options for under-$300 dive watches are increasing every day, especially given the increasing market for microbrand dive watches. Cult classics like the Seiko SKX and Citizen Promaster are always going to rise the top of buyers’ minds.
There are pros and cons to the Bradner that are going to make this a love-it-or-leave-it watch for a lot of enthusiasts. Regardless of your opinion, there is no denying that the Bradner is built well, has an original look, and checks a lot of boxes for dive watch lovers.
|Lug-to-lug Height||51mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Crystal||Curved Sapphire||Strap||Leather Strap|
|Water Resistance||180 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova®|
More Images of the Spinnaker Bradner
Check out the Spinnaker website