Review: Bravur Scandinavia in Midnight Blue

Though I pride myself to some small degree on my ability to accurately determine a watch’s diameter by eye, the 39-millimeter Bravur Scandinavia threw me off. I’d have guessed 42 millimeters—a veritable country-mile when it comes to watch diameter. What threw me? It’s the ultra-slim bezel that leaves the dial wide open; it’s the curvature of that dial and the hands, both which seem to go on forever; it’s the long, thin applied markers that cascade down into the shadows where the dial meets the inside of the case; it’s the lack of a rehaut that allows for that shadowy descent; it’s the inner seconds track that divides the dial into generously proportioned inner and outer sections; and it’s the stout, narrowly-set, downward-sloping lugs that play with our perception of the size of the case. All of these details conspired to trick my eye.

I begin with the illusion of largeness because, despite the fine dress watch features of the Bravur Scandinavia, its apparent size is that of a bigger watch. However, the Scandinavia slips under tightly buttoned shirt cuffs like a dress watch should. Measuring just 10.1 millimeters thick and 44.5 millimeters lug-to-lug, the lugs rush downward for a tight fit.

The Bravur Scandinavia feels right at home here on a 7-inch wrist.

Review: Bravur Scandinavia in Midnight Blue

Swedish Sandvik Stainless Steel
Sellita SW300-1
Blue (Also Available White and Black)
Domed Sapphire (Internal AR)
Vegetable-Tanned Leather with Deployant
Water Resistance
39mm x 44.5mm
Lug Width

Bravur is a small Swedish company that sells their watches directly from their website. I enjoy reading their tag line “Since Now,” implying everything that needs implying about this young brand: that they’re aware of the conventional stories surrounding heritage brands, that Bravur doesn’t take themselves too seriously as those old brands so often do, and that being young—if given the proper spin—can indicate a fresh, nimble, and smart enterprise.

Bravur also tells us that the Scandinavia is a celebration of mid-century Scandi-style, which was perhaps the first so-called global style, having swept most of the Western world during the 1950s. Today, Scandi-chic is even more popular, an aesthetic hallmark of sophisticated globalism and jet-setting. Even ABBA is huge again.

The downside of Scandi-style’s resurgent ubiquity is that it is difficult to see products like this watch as specifically Scandinavian or Swedish or anything other than just generally stylish. With some irony, however, that stylistic standardization is one of the Bravur Scandinavia’s strong suits, making it equally sophisticated and versatile.

Offered in three classic dial colorways, each radiant, glistening, and ready for a candle-lit date or an important business meeting, the Scandinavia can also be that little pop that transforms a nice pair of jeans and a sweater into a festive outfit. This watch is only going to let you down if you need to get wet, but 50 meters of water resistance is de rigeur for a dress watch. Like countless others do, just throw on your diver for any rugged affairs.

The trio.

The hands are a marvel. Skeletonized with no lume to fill the gaps, these long syringes are exceptionally elegant. The hour hand just barely transverses the printed inner seconds track, while the minute and seconds hands are some of the longest I’ve seen on a watch this size. Achieving such tight tolerances as to allow these hands to pass each other while simultaneously passing through the small chamber created between the curved dial and the box-shaped sapphire crystal is no small feat. Those tight tolerances are imperative in Bravur’s quest to keep this watch so thin, and the hands are curved by hand to achieve these dimensions.

Exceptionally high tolerances here with the handset. Note the curved ends.
A domed dial for bit of that neo-vintage vibe.
The round date window with a golden frame really works here.

Generally speaking, round date windows seem to work better than rectilinear ones. Perhaps it’s because most watches are round, so the round date aperture echoes the shape of the watch itself, or perhaps it’s just that the round apertures are typically smaller and, thus, more discrete. On the Scandinavia, the round date aperture interrupts the seconds track to sit atop the six o’clock marker like the head of a lolly pop. The chamfered frame around the aperture is finished in the same metal as the markers (gold for the white and blue dials, chrome for the black). This frame is not just a nice touch, but is essential to giving the watch its elegant, finished look. Details are everything at this scale.
The Scandinavia features one of the better solid case backs I’ve seen in a while. Typically relegated to divers like Omega Seamsters and pricier dress watches, sculptural engraving on solid case backs transforms these often bland surfaces into something worth flipping the watch over for. Here we have a compelling geometric pattern—or lack of a predictable pattern, I should say—that was featured on the rotor of Bravur’s previous automatic watch, the BW300. The big picture is obvious in our photos, but under a loupe one finds the slightest vertical striping in the recessed brushed surfaces of this design. Six screws secure the case back for another classic touch.

A solid case back done right.
Just 10.1 millimeters thick, so it’ll slide right under a shirt cuff.
A domed sapphire for a more durable take on a vintage aesthetic.

The signed crown echoes the design on the case back, with the same kind of engraving revealing the two ‘Vs’ that make up Bravur’s text logo. I always have a hard time getting most crowns into the middle position for quick-setting the date, but I can get the Scandinavia’s crown into that position on the first try every time. What’s different? It’s that the crown is shallow and also trapezoidal (think of a cup-cake with its bottom against the case). By gripping this crown with two fingernails and giving a gentle squeeze, it simply slides out and falls securely into the quick-set position. I’m effectively prying, rather than pulling, the crown out. It’s so refreshing not to feel like a ham-fisted clutz in the morning—Bravo Bravur!

Perhaps some of the ease of manipulating the crown is also due to the movement itself, which here is a Sellita 300-1 automatic mechanical unit. Bravur chose this movement specifically for its mere 3.6-millimeter vertical dimension, helping them keep the Scandinavia so thin. The Sellita beats at the modern standard of 4hrz, will hold up to 42 hours of power on a full wind, and is as proven as any off-the-shelf Swiss movement today. As Bravur claims on the very bottom of the dial, on the clasp, and around the back of the case, this watch has a “Swedish Soul” and a “Swiss Heart.”

“Swedish Soul/ Swiss Heart”

The case is made in Sweden from Swedish Sandvik steel. Sandvik is quite famous, especially among knife makers, for its purity and hardness. While Bravur doesn’t tell us much about which specific grade of Sandvik they’re using, it’s rather refreshing to come across something other than the ever-present “316L Stainless.” That Bravur has used materials from their own region is in keeping with the spirit and freedom of these younger brands to shorten the manufacturing radius as much as possible (opinions vary on the importance of using short-radius suppliers, but I’m a supporter).

The case itself features soft connections between the various facets, with the mid-case’s brushed surface extending down the outside of the lugs, the rest polished. Those soft connections pick up on the dial’s curvature nicely, offering a compellingly mellow ambiance. While some watches come across my desk with what are obviously failed attempts at sharp connections, the Scandinavia’s gentle corners come across as intentional—a way to keep the surfaces inside and outside the crystal consistently curvy. Any questions about Bravur’s capacity to make exceptionally sharp connections should be address to the case back, which will confidently dispel your aspersions.

Vegetable-tanned leather paired with a deployment clasp.

One can choose from a number of straps for the Scandinavia, and the one we have here in hand is a black pebbled vegetable tanned leather with handsome seams and stitching—totally appropriate for this dressy watch. However accurately, I’ve long associated leather straps with deployant clasps with high-end dress watches, and I find the signed deployant that comes with the Scandinavia to be pitch-perfect. Closing it takes considerable pressure, but given my experience with other clasps of this type, I’m confident it’ll loosen up with use.

So, I’m going to be “that guy” and just say it: I wish this watch were smaller. I remember a day when 39 millimeters was decidedly too small for me; fashion norms were different; I had put on some weight; and I only allowed smaller watches into my collection if they were vintage. But I’ve come to love the increasingly common 36-millimeter case now, and I think the Scandinavia would really work at that size, especially since the dial is so wide open. I have similar feelings about many of Junghans Bauhaus-style watches, or really any watch that lacks a prominent bezel and a rehaut. With that said, mine is obviously a personal and subjective comment, though if we can translate it into something more objective, perhaps it’s just to return to where we started and note that this watch is going to look bigger than it is. For some that is going to be exactly what’s so great about it.

And other than that, I can hardly fault the Bravur Scandinavia. From a deeply thoughtful design to incredibly fine details and exceptional finishing, it really is shocking to get this much watch for just $995. Bravur

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At age 7 Allen fell in love with a Timex boy's dive watch his parents gave him, and he's taken comfort in wearing a watch ever since. Allen is especially curious about digital technology having inspired a revival of analog technology, long-lasting handmade goods, and classic fashion. He lives in a one-room schoolhouse in The Hudson Valley with his partner and two orange cats.