In horology’s busy world of high complications, precious materials, and time-proven brand DNA, sometimes all it takes is a good cause and an ingenious design for something really cool and commendable to be born. The Eone Bradley timepiece is affordable, comfortable, looks boldly refreshing – and is overall a watch that I was excited to review the moment I first saw it earlier this year when meeting with the brand at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2015.
The Eone Bradley watch (as I just recently learned, pronounced as the letter “e” and the number 1) was originally designed to accommodate both sighted and vision impaired users equally. Since the Bradley doesn’t require eyesight to tell time, Eone likes to call it a timepiece and not a watch – but no matter what we call it, the Eone Bradley is a great alternative for those looking for something that goes beyond your run-of-the-mill fashion watch.
Named after Bradley Snyder, an ex-naval officer who lost his eyesight in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011 and who, proving his incredible power of will, went on to compete in and win gold and silver medals in swimming at the 2012 Paralympics in London. Eone says that Bradley was the inspiration for the Eone Bradley timepiece and that they have worked together with him and others with visual impairments to create a timepiece that allowed them to easily tell the time.
To accomplish that, the Eone Bradley uses an open dial – it is a watch without a sapphire crystal or watch hands in the traditional sense – allowing the wearer to touch the indices. To tell the minutes and hours, two small metallic balls function as the hands of the watch, with the minute ball situated on the top of the watch, while the hour indicator is a ball in a groove cut into the profile of the titanium case. This allows those with visual impairments to reach to the timepiece and determine the location of the metallic balls by touch, and hence tell the time with relative ease.
Inside the Eone Bradley is a Swiss quartz movement that has been modified in a way so that it comprises two small but rather powerful magnets that carry the two balls around their course. Should you accidentally (or on purpose) move any of the balls out of place and break the bond between it and the magnet, the ball will just float around inside the groove – but never fall out – while with a flick of the wrist, they snap right back into their place as the magnets are amply powerful to catch them. A rather ingenious system – and one similar to which we have seen with the Christophe Claret X-Trem 1.
While the system was designed with a good cause in mind – that of adding a new alternative to the rather limited range of watches designed for the visually impaired – it is also a lot of fun to play around with. While I tend to be glued to my cell phone when commuting on public transport, in case in some miraculous way I find a few minutes to spare, I do tend to find myself playing around by letting the minute indicator ball free and just toying around with it until it’s picked up by the invisible magnet inside the case. Also, and not unsurprisingly, the Bradley works well when you want to be able to tell the time without being caught looking at your watch, a functionality that may come handy from time to time.
In this review, we looked at two versions of the Eone Bradley. Both came in a 40-millimeters-wide titanium case and dial, making the Bradley watch feel light and, for those who are not familiar with the properties of the material, maybe a bit cheap. Don’t get fooled by the light weight though, as titanium is not only more comfortable because of its light weight – I actually found myself moving my wrist about to feel if the watch was actually still there – but also because it picks up your body heat much faster, it is not a cold lump of metal like steel is when you put it on on a cold winter morning.
One of the versions has a uni-color design meaning that the dial and case both appear in that usual greenish-greyish hue of titanium, and had a stainless steel mesh bracelet fitted to the 20mm-wide lugs, while the other version had a lighter colored dial and a grey textile strap with soft leather lining on the inside. For the price point, both are of decent quality, although the watch clearly looks more fashionable, and indeed a bit more feminine as well as of higher in quality with the textile strap.
The case of the Eone Bradley watch uses a swiveling lug system that makes the 40mm-wide case all the more comfortable even on smaller wrists. Because of this extension, the lugs do extend quite far off from the round case – the lug-to-lug size is 53 millimeters – but, again, because they swivel, the watch does sit snugly on the wrist.
While there are a number of dial color and strap color options to choose from, there is only one Eone Bradley timepiece, and yet, its design is rather unisex in the sense that just by swapping the strap to a different color or material greatly changes its appearance. While the Eone Bradley is not a high-end watch by any stretch of the imagination, it is a very noteworthy substitute for anyone who’s been looking to get a fashion watch for daily wear.
Originally, the Eone Bradley debuted on Kickstarter.com and actually turned out to be one of those true success stories, becoming one of the top-funded design campaigns on the site; their crowdfunding goal was $40,000 but they ended up raising nearly $600,000 from 3,861 backers across 65 countries. The Eone Bradley today lives on not on Kickstarterm, but through the brand’s website, with prices for the Eone Bradley timepiece ranging from $285 to $335, depending on the strap and dial color option selected. eone-time.com
>Price: $285 to $335.
>Size: 40mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The one looking to get a cool, genuinely new watch without breaking the bank.
>Best characteristic of watch: Ingenious, reliable, highly legible design with a thoughtful and fun element to it.
>Worst characteristic of watch: More size, color and dial options would be nice to have.