Review: Méraud Bonaire

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The sea of micro-brand dive watches is not a shallow one, and with crowd-funding platforms making it easier than ever before for enthusiasts to bring to fruition new brands and watches, the waters are filling up. I see a lot of these projects as they make their way through my inbox, but, to be perfectly frank, few are worth writing about. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not much of a dive watch guy, so a diver really has to be special to catch my eye. The Méraud Bonaire is one such watch. 

Allow me to qualify “special.” The Bonaire isn’t doing anything new or particularly unique. The Bonaire is a neo-vintage diver, with an aesthetic that clearly pulls from the heyday of dive watch design, so it’s not really moving the needle. But what does make this watch special is the high level of execution. Méraud’s proprietor, Stijn Busschaert, is a watch enthusiast through and through, and the Bonaire, his first watch, shows it. From the excellent case finishing to the movement within, Stijn considers the little things that make or break a watch in the eyes of a persnickety watch-head, and the Bonaire is all the more better for it. 

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$744

Review: Méraud Bonaire

Case
Stainless Steell
Movement
STP1-11 (ETA 2824 Clone)
Dial
Marine Blue, Onyx Black, and Graphite Grey
Lume
Super-LumiNova
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Leather; Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
200 Meters
Dimensions
39mm x 48mm
Thickness
12.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screwed Down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$744

Let’s run through the dimensions. The Bonaire measures 39 millimeters wide, 48 millimeters lug-to-lug, and 12.5 millimeters thick. To my eye (and on my wrist), this is a dive watch sweet spot, and I found the Bonaire to be extremely ergonomic. 12.5 millimeters is a reasonable height for a dive watch, and here that height is tempered even further because of the way the case back, mid-case, and tall bezel come together. Furthermore, the mid-case features dramatic flaring bevels, which, in profile, take some of the visual height off the mid-case. Altogether, the dimensions here are nicely balanced, and some neat design tricks further that balance to create a case that wears well and looks great on the wrist.

The Bonaire is a great fit on my 7-inch wrist.
Note the excellent balance between all case elements here.
The taller bezel allows for an easier grip.

The finishing here is excellent. The case is largely brushed and features polishing along the top edge of the bezel and the aforementioned bevels along the lugs. Any slop here and the Bonaire would feel like a lesser watch; thankfully, the demarcation between the two finishes is sharp, elevating the piece. 

The case is a touch wider at the bezel, and the bezel is very easy to grip and turn in part due to the overhang, but also because it is quite tall. The mechanism is springy with the tiniest bit of play. The bezel insert is curved sapphire over lumed markings, a combination that furthers the Bonaire’s neo-vintage vibe. Because the bezel is quite narrow, the curvature of the sapphire isn’t overly pronounced, and the effect here is subtle. I dig it.

If I had to lodge on complaint about the case, it’d be the crown—or rather, the size of the crown. I found it to be a tad small, and its size combined with the slight overhang of the bezel made it a touch difficult to manipulate. Aesthetically, the crown works, but I would welcome it being scaled up a bit for ease of use.

The machining along the case back is also well executed, and makes the Bonaire feel like a more expensive watch.

The Bonaire is available in three versions: Marine Blue, Onyx Black, and Graphite Grey. Marine Blue and Graphite Grey feature sunburst dials and C3 Super-LumiNova. Onyx Black has a glossy black dial with vintage-toned lume. Otherwise, the layout is the same on all three dials. All of the applied hour markers (a mix of circles, triangles, and an Arabic 12) feature a metallic frame. Had these been simply printed, the Bonaire would have looked like it was pulled out of catalog from 50 years back. Instead, this detail contemporizes the watch a bit.

The hands are polished swords. Some might find them to be a bit thin, but I think they’re elegant and fit the watch well, and they’re quite legible, too. Overall, I found the dial and hand design of the Bonaire to be extremely effective.

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The applied markers are considerably tall.
The Bonaire is a torch at night.
The trio.

Powering the Bonaire is the Swiss-made STP1-11 caliber made by Fossil. This is, for all intents and purposes, a clone of the ETA 2824, but what makes this version of the movement noteable is that it is a true date-free movement. Phantom dates aren’t a dealbreaker for me, but they’re a bit annoying because watches with phantom dates just feel incomplete. That’s not a problem here.

The Bonaire comes with numerous strap options. The first is a tapered rivet bracelet with a simple fold-over clasp. However, if you’re not into bracelets, you can instead opt for a textured strap made of French leather. It’s an elegant band and it’s definitely a quality strap akin to something one might buy from a third-party maker. Included in the package, whether you’re going for the bracelet or leather, is a rubber tropic strap and seatbelt-style mil-strap, as well as a strap changing tool. The lugs are drilled, so regardless of your preference swapping out bands will be a breeze.

The Bonaire bracelet tapers from 20 millimeters at the lugs down to 16 at the clasp.
Styled after an old-school rivet bracelet.
Textured French leather straps.

Personally, I’m a huge advocate of getting a watch with a bracelet if one is available. You can always take it off and put on a third-party strap later should you want to, but sourcing the OEM bracelet after the fact will always cost more than getting it from the outset. Just my two cents.

All in all, Méraud’s inaugural watch is a winner and a solid first step that has me genuinely excited about the future of this company. From the design to the execution of that design, Méraud nails the details, and the few issues I’ve noted are minor ones. And while the watch isn’t breaking new ground, it is a solid product, and at the current preorder price of €655 (roughly $744) it’s a great deal. The preorder lasts through January 31, 2019, so now’s a great time to jump on this. Méraud

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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