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In his recent appearance on aBlogToWatch’s Superlative podcast, Marc Frankel shared a story with host and ABTW founder, Ariel Adams, about the moment he realized there was an opportunity in the affordable watch market. Regarding the founding of his brand, Islander Watches, Frankel explains, “I started the business when I found out Seiko was discontinuing the SKX007 [and] SKX009… I was selling a few thousand of them a year. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s going to be a major shortfall in revenue if I don’t do something about this.'” He goes on to say that a meeting with Seiko, in which he viewed the SKX’s replacement sealed the deal. Seeing the SKX’s successor used a mineral crystal instead of the SKX’s scratch-resistant sapphire, he remembered thinking, “[the replacement] has a push-pull crown; they lowered the water-resistance to 100 meters… the die-hard community is going to have a hissy fit! I knew immediately that I could come up with something better.'” In September 2019, Islander Watches was introduced as the company’s in-house brand of Frankel’s already popular Long Island Watch. Now with over 200 references to its name, Islander has premiered its first mechanical chronograph, the Bridgehampton. A two-register racing chrono, it’s available in four colors at launch and can be had for under $500 USD, making it a compelling piece for new collectors and OGs alike.

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Six years in, Frankel and the rest of the Islander team have developed a distinct design language by way of color. Rejecting the notion embraced by many smaller brands that standing out means using brash palettes visible from a statute mile away, Islander prefers to employ color in more restrained ways. In the Bridgehampton, the bi-compax chronograph dial uses darker hues broadly across the dial and bezel, while adding accents two at a time via the hands, minute track, and selectively on the dial text. The Islander branding is restrained, featured in monochrome shades appropriate for the dial variant. Options here include Pure White, Asphalt Black, Deep Blue, and Golden, the latter of which is a salute to Seiko’s “Pogue.” Using the same sunburst-gold dial paired with a “Pepsi” aspect, the ISL-237 is the most brazen of the Bridgehampton lineup. Whereas “Pogue” used the red/blue coloration prominently on the bezel, the Bridgehampton quietly features this scheme on the minute track running around the edge of the dial. The attention to detail is made apparent in the color-matched numerals set upon the IP-plated bezel insert. Like the hands and hour markers, these numbers are lumed, giving the bi-directional bezel a premium look. It’s these touches that bring to mind Islander’s fan-oriented ethos to make something affordable that’s better than the rest of the what’s out there.

While the golden-dial variant of the Bridgehampton stands out the most, fans will find the blue, black, and white versions wearable on an every day basis. On the Pure White selection, electric blue hands and text help the overall chronograph functionality stand out, while on the Asphalt Black piece, red coloration makes quickly locating the chronograph readouts a cinch. The Deep Blue reference is the most modern of the bunch, using a blend of light blue and bright yellow that jumps off the dial. Regardless of color, one clever aspect is the location of the tachymeter scale. Whereas most chronos feature this on a fixed bezel, the Bridgehampton places it beneath the domed sapphire crystal. This frees up the bezel real estate that has been repurposed with the aforementioned luminous 12-hour scale. As Frankel demonstrates in his helpful YouTube primer, the bezel can be aligned with the hour hand when starting the chronograph, turning what is otherwise a 30-minute chronograph into a 12-hour timekeeper.

Named for the town of Bridgehampton (part of Long Island’s glittering Hamptons area), the watch has sensible dimensions that won’t ruffle any feathers at your next bourgeois garden party. With a 40mm diameter and 48mm lug-to-lug, it’s sized in a way that works for most wrists. While reduced watches are all the rage, this is about as small as is reasonable for a chronograph, not simply because of the measurements of the actual movement, but also because if it were any smaller, it would become very difficult to read the fine details of the subdials with any accuracy. As such, the Bridgehampton occupies a sizing sweet spot that will be popular with fans. The 20mm lugs make sure strap options remain versatile, but that need is obviated, as each Bridgehampton includes both a solid-link, solid-endlink bracelet and a bonus leather racing strap. Each is successful in its own way. The bracelet features female endlinks, micro-adjustment, and a single-lock deployant clasp, while the strap boosts the Bridgehampton’s vintage character by moving it away from the current era and closer to Jay Gatsby’s end of the spectrum.

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Inside, the Seagull ST1901 movement keeps things on time. Visible via the exhibition caseback, it’s easy to see why collectors are increasingly curious about hand-wound chronographs, as their inherent complexity makes them strikingly different from automatics. By nature, they’re also just more fun to engage with, requiring manual winding on a regular basis. Whereas a quartz or an automatic can (at least in theory) be worn until it needs service, mechanical watches need to be taken off and wound by hand. It’s a technology that nearly went extinct, but in the digital age has seen a resurgence. Collectors wary of the ST1901’s tricky reputation for reliability can be assured that this is an issue that’s been addressed. As Frankel explained in a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything forum, a big barrier to introducing an Islander manual-wind chronograph was sourcing movements from the right place. Having secured a vendor partnership with a highly dependable factory, Islander is able to ensure that the Bridgehampton is more reliable than other watches with this movement. And if something does happen, Long Island Watch’s famously excellent customer service comes into play. Adding to the growing list of benefits, mechanical chronographs are typically thinner than their automatic counterparts, helping the Bridgehampton size in at just 14mm thick.

From the brand’s first watch, the ISL-01, Islander has been in the businesses of making the “watch-nerd’s watch.” But putting together a timepiece that nails the fundamentals is easier said than done. Frankel and his team make it look easy, consistently getting the little things right, and the Bridgehampton is no exception — with things like AR-coating on the underside of the crystal (to prevent splotching), curved lugs to aid wearability, and a value proposition that’s basically unparalleled. For those looking to dip a toe into the world of mechanical chronographs, and for seasoned collector’s looking to fill a gap in the watchbox, the Bridgehampton is a piece that fits right in. The Islander Bridgehampton is available now, exclusively from Long Island Watch, for $469 USD. Learn more on the brand’s website.

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Brand: Islander
Model: Bridgehampton Racing Chronograph
Case: Stainless steel. 40mm diameter, 14mm thick, 20mm lug width, 48mm lug-to-lug
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Crystal: Domed sapphire with inner anti-reflective coating
Strap: Stainless steel with deployant clasp + Bonus leather strap, 20mm.
– ISL-234: Black dial, black bezel, bonus black leather strap with red tie-off stitching
– ISL-235: White dial, black bezel, bonus brown leather strap with white tie-off stitching
– ISL-236: Blue dial, blue bezel, bonus blue leather strap with white tie-off stitching
– ISL-237: Gold dial, dark blue bezel, bonus blue leather strap with white tie-off stitching
Movement: Seagull ST1901 Handwound Mechanical Chronograph (center hour, minute, chrono seconds. 30-minute and running seconds subdials)
Power Reserve: 40 hours
Price & Availability: Starting at $469 USD via Long Island Watch

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