The Brathwait Classic Slim Wristwatch Review
Brathwait is not a household name in the watch industry. They are, in fact, a recent start up with an unusual idea. Transparency.
Brathwait makes mens dress watches. They have a quartz model (in gold plate and stainless) and an automatic model. On their website, they give a detailed breakdown of the parts and prices that they pay to put together a watch. Their idea is this, you will get a watch from them that uses substantially the same components as watches that cost significantly more for a low price. You will enjoy this benefit by dealing directly with the manufacturer and avoiding the various levels of retail markup that other good watches are subject to.
This is obviously not a new idea when it comes to product marketing. It is the first time I've seen it in the watch industry though. Few people, even watch collectors, really know what the component costs are in a watch. The bottom line is that the markup is pretty steep in most cases. And, while that is not a surprise, seeing the numbers in black and white on the Brathwait page is illuminating nonetheless.
Now as interesting as the business end of putting a watch together is, it wouldn't really matter much if the final product was not appealing. Fortunately, that isn't an issue with the Classic Slim model. Visually, the Brathwait is a very clean and attractive design. The face is easy to read and the overall look of the watch suggests high quality. It is hard to quantify it but this watch has that certain feel that you get when you are holding something that is really well done.
By the numbers, the watch measures 40mm in diameter (but wears much larger thanks to the slim bezel), 7.5mm high and has a 20mm band lug width. The crystal is domed anti-reflective sapphire fitted to a gold plated stainless steel case (Brathwait explains that their gold plating is 6 microns thick which should last a very long time). There is no lume on the face or hands which is fine for a dress watch. Internally, this model is powered by a Swiss Ronda quartz movement, something of an industry standard that should work for a long time. Water resistance is rated at 100 meters which is honestly more than any dress watch needs but is nice to have anyway. Brathwait sells this model on a pretty nice leather band (pictured above) with a matching gold plated deployment clasp or on a nylon band (which you might think wouldn't work with a dress watch and yet it does).
All told, for $150 to $185, the Brathwait Classic Slim is a pretty good deal. It is very handsome and made from quality components. Google around a bit and you will see that Brathwait has gotten some favorable press coverage for its efforts so far. By the way, the company is named after Richard Brathwait, the 1631 author of The Complete Guide to the English Gentleman.