Spinnaker Bradner Automatic Bascom Limited EditionBrands are always looking for interesting designs to create a dive watch that stands out from the sea of options that customers have. Whether it’s color, material, or function, we’ve seen it all. When it comes to affordable timepieces, and especially the done-to-death diver, the only thing that’s novel is how a brand combines and executes on its chosen design elements. Spinnaker always seems to offer watches that are just a bit different: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a generic design from the brand, with each model offering its own little twist on more traditional design. That doesn’t mean that everything it makes is appealing, just different—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. The brand has just released the Spinnaker Bradner Automatic Bascom Limited Edition, which skews toward being a little different, with a few compelling quirks that don’t sacrifice the basics.

The Spinnaker Bradner Automatic is an existing collection from the brand, introduced in 2018, that is now being expanded with three new Bascom Limited-Edition models: Steel, gold-tone Medallion, and black-out Stealth. The Bascom LEs are named for scientist and multihyphenate Willard Bascom, who is credited with suggesting Neoprene for use in wetsuits to his colleague Hugh Bradner, the collection’s namesake. The limited editions carry the same dimensions as other Bradner models, but with added pops of color, a new three-link bracelet, and a unique forged carbon fiber dial with a fun trick up its sleeve.

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The Bascom Limited Edition features a fully brushed 42mm stainless steel case that measures 15mm-thick with a 47.5mm lug width. It’s not a small watch but didn’t overwhelm my seven-inch wrist. The diameter helps to mitigate the thickness, as do the curved lugs and fitted endlinks, the latter of which create a continuous profile as the watch transitions to the bracelet. To be sure, on straps, I found it to wear a bit larger as it stood out more. The clasp on the bracelet is a generic push-button foldover clasp that was plenty secure. The watch features a domed sapphire crystal that creates some distortion at the edges and has a blue AR coating that constantly gave the internal bezel a blue tint, often making me second guess what color it actually was.


The case has a compressor-style design with dual crowns controlling typical time-setting and the internal bezel. They’re set against the mid-case, which has a vertical brushing that I really enjoyed (as opposed to more common horizontal brushing). To allow for its bright red color, the internal bezel crown is made of anodized aluminum, while the blue setting crown is made of stainless steel like the rest of the case; I didn’t notice any meaningful difference in tactility or durability. I found the 2 o’clock crown too easy to nudge by mistake, and in this review, you can see the effects of that in the shifted bezel. A bit more tension would have been welcome, or the addition of actual detents as I’ve seen on other similar bezels, though that would obviously increase the overall price. While the 2 o’clock crown doesn’t screw down, the watch maintains an uncommon but respectable 180 meters of water resistance.

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Ignoring the chromatic pop afforded by the crowns, the case is straightforward, and as such, the eye is drawn to the dial. There’s plenty to see here, so let’s break it down. The internal dive bezel is bidirectional and contains one of my favorite design elements of the watch: the raised pips. The minutes are round while the 5-minute markers and numerals rise a bit higher and have a healthy dose of lume. The watch isn’t lacking in depth, but this does a great job of creating interest in a component that is usually quite bland, and in a way that doesn’t clutter the dial. The handset and applied markers have the same Super-LumiNova as the bezel, with brushed metal surrounds and an hour hand that bulges like an ampule. The red depth text and matching lollipop seconds hand are complemented by a red and blue minute ring just inside the bezel, which also matches the crowns. One thing I did notice when I cropped in for a few macros was some shoddy finishing on the grooved minute ring, though it wasn’t noticeable during regular use.


The main dial offers a brooding swirl of greys and is made from forged carbon fiber. But that’s not all. When you first get a look at the watch, the carbon fiber dial is obvious. What’s not obvious and what left me oohing and aahing were the twists of lume intermingled with the carbon fiber. I took this watch out of the box right when I got it, but it wasn’t charged up, so I didn’t see anything but the black and grey. A day or two later, after stepping out with it on, I came back inside and, chancing to look down, was rewarded by the glowing dial. Among my many annoyances is when a brand has a fully lumed dial with fully lumed hands and markers—the hands and markers should be unlumed to create contrast against the glowing dial. The Bradner Bascom, though, has a random enough distribution of lume that it allows the hands and markers to stand out sufficiently. And it looks cool.

The Bradner collection runs on that affordable Japanese mainstay we all know, the Seiko NH35. This reliable automatic movement has long been a favorite for microbrands and larger manufacturers alike, with a 41-hour power reserve at 21,600 vph. Factory accuracy is quoted at -20/+40 seconds per day, and from my experience with watches equipped with the NH35, you can expect that or better. Using a Miyota 9xxx or other movement would have allowed the case to be slimmed down a bit, but also would’ve markedly increased the price. When the watch is taken as a whole, given the price-congruent quality, I think the movement choice makes sense.

Spinnaker excels at good, affordable fun. When I browse its catalog, I’ve never been intrigued by some of its plainer designs, but the quirkier stuff has always caught my eye. (This isn’t to disparage the plain stuff: the now sold-out Spinnaker Spence was a 300m under 11mm-thick for just $650.) The Bradner Bascom LE is an example of that fun, though, and it offers color, texture, easter eggs, and functionality at a killer price. The Spinnaker Bradner Bascom Limited Edition SP-5111-11 is priced at $390 USD, while the gold Medallion (SP-5111-22) and black Stealth (SP-5111-33) models are both priced at $430 USD. Each model is limited to 200 pieces and individually numbered. For more information, please visit the brand’s website

Necessary Data
>Brand: Spinnaker
>Model: Bradner Bascom Limited Edition SP-5111
>Price$390-$430 USD
>Size: 42mm-wide, 15mm-thick, 47.5mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Any time I need a watch that’s fun and rugged that I won’t have to worry about
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for an affordable diver with a twist
>Best characteristic of watch: Limed carbon dial and dual-tone crowns
>Worst characteristic of watch: Quality is exactly what you’d expect from a sub-$500 watch, with imprecise dial finishing and an inner bezel that rotates too easily

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