If you’ve ever heard me rant about the racket that is modern horology you’ll understand the joy – and trepidation – I feel when talking about Brathwait. The company is one of the first watchmakers that I’ve seen take all the best marketing tricks from the modern startup playbook and incorporate them into watch marketing. Imagine Dollar Shave Club had a baby with Bonobos and you get the general idea.
Brathwait is essentially saying that nice watches are too expensive thanks to a long chain of retail chicanery that started in Switzerland circa 1800 and never let up. This is true. They are also saying that they can make a superior product to many “expensive” brands and sell it for $359. This, I would argue, is a bit more difficult.
Don’t get me wrong: if you like this watch then you’re going to get a great deal. Almost $400 for a Miyota automatic with date is not too shabby. A quick perusal of eBay brings up many “Submariners” and other goofball clones for a bit more than $400. Brathwait gets it right: they offer a solid sense of luxury and utility without a huge price tag.
The watch itself is reminiscent of Movado or Xetum: understated, simple, and bold. The case is quite nicely crafted and I was unable to get at the innards because whoever screwed the back on did it with a piston wrench. This means you should be fairly water resistant as long as you don’t do much more than shower in it accidentally. The band – made of “top grain Italian calf leather” will last a few years of infrequent, gentle use (I did manage to rip one corner of it while manhandling it so don’t play rugby in it.) In short, as a replacement for your old Fossil you got in High School this can’t be beat.
Further the company is tapping into customer pleasure through a community page. For example, one happy customer writes:
And this, friends, is exactly why I’d recommend a Brathwait. Think of it as an Orange Monster for folks who need to wear suits. It’s basically a basic, entry-level automatic at a nice price that can create further cravings in the right kind of consumer to, perhaps, start to understand the industry a bit more and to grasp that Brathwait is being vaguely disingenuous in its marketing. While I’m all for sticking it to Big Basel, we must also understand that a handmade watch, especially one from a mid or top-tier manufacture, is a joy and a keepsake. This watch is, at best, a stepping stone. I also appreciate the company’s dedication to message. Big watchmakers could learn a lot from a company that essentially creates desire by offering a gateway to knowledge. Whereas most fashion watch makers write that they’re pieces are timeless, designed by virgin gnomes in the Jura Mountains, and evoke the belle époque of Marilyn Monroe’s first visit to a cigar factory in Cuba (I’m reaching here, but I’m not far off) Brathwait is basically saying “Hey, dummy. Take off your ball cap, put on a suit, and wear a nice watch. You’ll go far.”
And that’s actually really great. While I wouldn’t recommend this to a connoisseur this can definitely be your go-to piece for folks who ask you “What watch should I buy for my brother?” or “I need to replace this broken Casio calculator watch. What should I get?” Instead of pointing to a Longines or Tissot and then hear an earful about how “these crazy prices are crazy” you can simply slip them the link to Brathwait and go back to your life. That, I’d wager, is worth its weight in rose gold-clad stainless steel and deployant clasps.
UPDATE – Got the pricing wrong but it doesn’t change a lot of the sentiment here. This piece is now on par with other Miyota-powered “eBay pieces” but it’s still superior in a few clear ways.