Launched last year, BND Watches is the brainchild of Frenchman Vincent Bonnaud, and results from classic inspirations, with glorious vintage watches in mind. Yet, the idea was to offer the flair and the style of the golden era of the dive watch, without the price tag that often comes along. The inaugural collection, which we reviewed here, was a simple, retro-styled and no-nonsense aquatic watch, but not yet a diver… This year, the brand is back with a new batch of watches, but also multiple improvements when it comes to the specifications. And the cool design remains untouched.
Taking inspiration from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the BND Watches Neo-Vintage Diver V1 was pretty much exactly what the name suggests. A compactly sized, nicely designed, straightforward aquatic-inspired watch with vintage looks, simple construction and reliable, accessible off-the-shelves automatic movement. And that, for about EUR 400. There were a few concessions made in order to retain a lower price, however, such as a simple push-pull crown, a plexiglass crystal (lovely to look at but not really resistant to scratches) and a 100m water-resistance, which could hardly qualify this watch as a diver.
Well, BND Watches is back this year with overall the same design – good point – and the same selection of colours – good again – but multiple improvements, making this new version of the Retro Diver even better for sports and daily use. But first, the basics. The brushed steel case retains the same dimensions as before, meaning 39.5mm in diameter, 47mm from one lug to another and about 11mm in height without the crystal. The case still features crown guards, a solid steel screwed back and the bezel is also solid steel, with a circular brushed surface. It is a unidirectionally rotating element, with 120 clicks and a 60-minute scale engraved on the surface, and filled with beige-toned Super-LumiNova. Overall, a rugged, purposeful design that merges vintage coolness and modernized elements.
What has changed then, for the V2 of the BND Watches Retro Diver? First of all, the crown is now screwed, thus offering better water-resistance. Indeed, the watch is waterproof to 200 metres. Second, the plexiglass crystal has been replaced by a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective and anti-fingerprint coatings. Two elements that are the results of Bonnaud’s own experience with the V1 models, but also feedback from customers.
What remains is the choice of dials. The BND Watches Diver is still available in black (MNBLA), in dark blue (MNBLU) and in a rather lovely tropical brown (MNBRO). Compared to the previous generation, most elements have been retained, such as the sword-shaped hands, the painted hour markers – all filled with beige “old radium” lume – and the anchor logo at 6 o’clock. The only small evolution concerns the tip of the seconds hand, which is now coated in SLN.
Inside the case, no surprise, we have the same automatic movement as before, the Seiko NH35. An accessible and reliable option, this movement helps to offer the watch at a fair price. It has 24 jewels, runs at a frequency of 21,600vph, and has an acceptable 41 hours of power reserve. The standard rate for this movement is -20/+40 seconds per day, which would be a let-down, but it has been regulated to a more acceptable -5/+20 seconds per day.
Finally, the new-gen BND Watches for 2022 have a new single-pass textile strap, matching the dial colour and with a central beige band to recall the colour of the lume. Each version (MNBLA, MNBLU or MNBRO) will be produced in 150 pieces and is priced at EUR 546 (meaning EUR 150 more than before) and can be ordered now online at bnd-watches.com, with deliveries in December 2022.