The young Swedish watch brand replaces the macho and flashy with intricate style
Bravur is a watch company formed by two friends—Magnus Svensson and Johan Sahlin—in 2011. The brand exists today purely because the duo couldn't find what they were looking for in the market as it existed; so they invented it. Thankfully, the pair comes from a design background which means Bravur's first watch, the BW001, is causing a stir among horological enthusiasts.
"I've got a cycle background actually and there was talk of investigating that industry at one stage, but eventually we went into watches as a way of seeing what it would be like to work together," says Svensson. "We found that balance between fashion and design really interesting as designers. So we started to think that might be the segment to create our first watch for. There didn't really seem to be anything that catered toward the kind of market we wanted to so it seemed perfect to start there."
As with all startup journeys things were not as simple and defined as the two Swedes initially thought. Regardless, they gathered their collective pluck and set about defining the real key to Bravur as a brand; its design touches. "Design and form first was our underlying ethos, technical elements were at the beginning less of a consideration. We knew though that it had to be Swiss-made. That was high on our list of priorities," Svensson says.
It took the team a number of attempts before really establishing a working relationship with a supplier who could reach their standards of quality. At first they did go to Asia, more out of curiosity than anything else—as many emerging watchmakers do—yet nothing materialized. Heading then to Switzerland, Bravur was nearing a stage where the famous 'green button' was to be pressed. "Suddenly, the producer just went quiet. Out of the blue. So we were back at square one, almost a year of hard work done and yet no closer to our watch being made," says the designer.
It's safe to say that Bravur is not content to simply produce a fine timepiece; it's the lifestyle that today's punter buys into, not necessarily the product. So the Bravur brand has been carefully constructed to reflect that. "Inside each box—with decals that match the color and material chosen by the customer—is the watch wallet, a cleaning cloth, strap tool and a quality certificate which is filled in and signed off by one of us before we send it out." says Svensson. Even the watch bag's zip is matched to the timepiece. As for the watches themselves, there are five options of Bravur's first model. A 316L stainless steel with graphite dial, a silver-dialed version, one with a deep, crisp black, gold-plated silvery/white dial and a black and grey option. All come with different strap options, some of which are Swedish-made, crafted in the tannery in Tärnsjö; a factory which was pretty much defunct until a year or two ago when many companies turned back to sourcing Swedish leathers.
"We'd love to have all straps made there, but they can't handle some of the finishes we're after. It's a shame and we hope that will change soon. But all our straps are solidly made and custom colored for Bravur, with clasps to match the color of the case," notes Svensson.
The watches are really stunning to look at. A mix of that stylistic Scandinavian clarity on the dial, with nice applied markers that rise sharply and give great readability. There's an inner minute chapter ring, which is repeated for the hours and a date above the six o'clock mark, which is chromed at its edges for a little extra pop. Bravur's own logo lies to the right of the center and finds its 'A' and 'W' as a repeated, recessed pattern on the slightly curved case back. The soft curve of the case back is mirrored by the subtly-domed sapphire lens, which is slightly chamfered where it meets the case.
The hour and minute hands have little cut-outs at their extremities, which let the hour and minute indications show through them, and are also dipped in lume—as if dipping a pencil into paint; a charming and inventive touch.
Viewed from the side; the details continue. Below the top of the case lies a ring of colored material to complement the dial color and break up the otherwise monotone of the case material. It's a relatively functionless addition but adds to the playful detailing. Below it lies the knurled case sides which traverse the case entirely and break up light. According to Svensson, it's a touch lifted from classic camera cases. And to ensure that the brushed effect of the lugs lines up perfectly, they're cut as one single piece that threads through the case.
The crown is the real star, though: "It's three pieces, but super-high tolerances so it's impossible to see even the slightest hint of a seam," says Svensson. In all, the watch is nicely weighted; not overly bulky and a good size (41mm across excluding crown). Its softly curved back sits comfortably on the wrist, has drilled, screw-in lugs for easy strap changing and it's clear that there's thought and quality gone into the piece.
While its quartz-driven insides might be a point of contention for watch enthusiasts, from the zips on its leather pouch to its ridiculously intricate three-piece crown and its chromed date window, Bravur's design and attention to detail is stunning. Traditional maker might be glad they've not released a mechanical model, but should be wary that one's soon to emerge.
Bravur watches are available online from $960.
Images courtesy of Bravur