The Watch for Hard Times
Bernhardt Watch Company Corsair
…and by “hard times,” I don’t just mean economic ones. Men like wearing indestructible watches on their wrists, even if it’s just to grill steaks or boast at the water cooler. With a 316L stainless steel case sealed to 200m of water, solid screw-linked bracelet, scratch proof sapphire crystal and 25-jewel Swiss automatic movement (ETA 2836 for you watch geeks) the Bernhardt Corsair holds its own with most other dive watches crowding the market. It is a legitimate sports watch, capable of surviving almost any evil abuse you can cook up.
Yawn… ok, so you say there are dozens of decent companies putting out dive watches with similar specs and hyperbolic ad copy these days. Well, take note: where the Corsair stands apart is its price tag. It costs considerably less than $400. Read the feature highlights again, slowly. Swiss auto movement. Sapphire. Quality bracelet. 200m water resistance. Now read the price: $369. Mate all this with classic good looks and you’ve got a horological stimulus package right on your wrist.
Read the feature highlights again, slowly. Swiss auto movement. Sapphire. Quality bracelet. 200m water resistance. Now read the price: $369.
The Corsair bears an obvious resemblance to a certain famous dive watch from Switzerland. But there are a few differences that help it stand apart from run-of-the-mill homage pieces. First of all, the case lugs sweep down from the bezel in a curved, lyre shape. This detail gives the watch an elegant look, avoiding the slab-sided bricks more commonly seen. The bracelet has heavy, solid links that are held together with screws, not pins. This makes bracelet sizing a cinch and gives the watch a nice weight and wrist presence. My only gripe with the bracelet is the lack of a wetsuit extension but, admittedly, most dive watches these days never go diving.
The bezel also is distinctive, with a silver insert showing the time-lapse track in black, five-minute increments. The bezel has a unidirectional, 120-click action that is a bit noisy but should do the job, whether you’re timing the steaks or your no-deco time. The dial and hands are classic without being copies of anything. Applied minute markers, minimal text, and modified sword hands give a good instant read of the time, a feature being forgotten all too often on sports watches these days. The Corsair I tried had a black dial but it is also available in blue, yellow and white.
Timekeeping on my test watch hovers at a respectable +15 seconds per day. That isn’t good enough to navigate a sailboat with, but it’s not that bad either.
In this age of cheap digital quartz watches, there isn’t much room for mechanical sports watches anymore. But where they still win is in their ability to go from dive boat to boardroom with equal aplomb. I wore the Corsair kayaking one night and then to work the next day and it looked equally at home in both places.
A man looking for one watch that can do it all while looking good through hard times should put the Bernhardt Corsair on his short list.