Video Review: The Superfecta Ascot from Van Brauge

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Today, we’ll be taking a look at the new Superfecta from Van Brauge, a brand that many of you are likely not too familiar with. Van Brauge is a relatively young, British company named after its founder and owner Max Van Brauge, a long-time watchmaker, engineer, and industry veteran. We were introduced to Van Brauge’s offerings last year, and we first played with the watches at Wind^Up (full disclosure: Van Brauge is a sponsor of this year’s upcoming show). That inaugural series—dubbed The Oxford—has a distinctly British flair, or rather, I should say it embodies what I have come to expect from more mainstream, contemporary British watchmaking. The watches are decidedly classic—pulling liberally from historical British watch design—though there’s enough of a contemporary bent that they ultimately feel and wear like modern pieces. And as far as overall finishing goes, Max’s industry experience shines through.Van Brauge’s second collection—The Superfecta—goes for a more vintage, sporty vibe, though I wouldn’t call it a sports watch. It’s a bit of a chameleon in that regard, which makes for a versatile piece. Where The Oxford featured textured dials and applied numerals, The Superfecta goes for a more casual look.

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$2950

Video Review: The Superfecta Ascot from Van Brauge

Case
316l stainless steel (brushed; polished0
Movement
VB-24B (rebadged ETA 2824); custom rotor; Faraday cage; MBR anti-shock ring
Dial
Silver and grey
Lume
Super-LumiNova
Lens
Doubled-domed sapphire (three layers of AR inside and out)
Strap
Two straps: leather mil-strap and leather two piece
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
43mm x 49.4mm
Thickness
14mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
Screw down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$2950

The case measures 43mm wide with a lug-to-lug of about 49.4mm and a height of 14mm. Some thoughts on the dimensions. Though its 43mm, which is generally the upper limit of my personal comfort zone, the lug-to-lug length is reasonably tempered at just a hair shy of 50mm. With these proportions, the watch doesn’t wear overly large on the wrist at that size. On paper, the height at 14mm is undeniably tall for a three-hander. But on the wrist, it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing an overly thick watch. There are a couple of reasons for that.

The Superfecta comes in two sizes: 43mm and 37mm. The one we’re looking at today is the former.

First, the case sides are rounded, so you’re not stuck with slab sides that somehow always manage to overemphasize the height of a watch. Second, the lugs come off the watch in a way that mitigates the perceived height. They start high on the case and curve downward dramatically, following the natural curve of the human wrist. The end result here is that the watch doesn’t look like its floating off the wrist, which can be a problem for thick watches. Finally, there’s the slightly domed case back. Now, I’ve reviewed a few watches on Worn & Wound with case backs not unlike this the one, and I did not like the way they wore; the watches sat high on the wrist and sort of wobbled. Here, the curve is small enough that it doesn’t create that wobbly effect when worn, and the positioning of the lugs help pull the case closer to the wrist. Altogether, the watch is very comfortable.

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The finishing is superb, even between the lugs.
Really sharp transitions between the polished bevels and brushed case.

The Superfecta comes in several variants; the one we’re looking at today is the Ascot. The design pulls heavily from the ‘40s, mixing finish, color, and typography in a way that might make you think this was a re-issue of a classic British timepiece. The printing is exceptional, with the different sections of the dial bordered in a thin black outline. I’ve seen some very high-end brands fail to get this right. The center of the dial features circular brushing, which contrasts nicely against the more matte printing on the hour’s track. A silver chapter ring gives the dial some dimensionality and an extra pop of red. The hands are heat-blued steel.Powering the watch is the VB-24B caliber, essentially a rebadged ETA 2824 modified heavily by Van Brauge. Unfortunately, The Superfecta comes with a solid case back, so you can’t see the movement. Personally, I think the ETA 2824 is a damn good movement, but it’s never been much of a looker. That said, Van Brauge’s modifications are quite ornate and interesting, and I especially like the way they use the mu-metal ring around the movement to display the specs. It’s a bit of a shame that we can’t see it here, but I’d also venture a guess that by having a closed case back you’re getting much more use out of the mu-metal holder.

Another thing worth noting is the movement is suspended in a Metallocene Butadiene Rubber (MBR) ring that is fitted around the mu-metal holder to protect it from excessive shocks.

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The Superfecta comes with two straps, one of which is this really cool take on the mil-strap concept.

Now, the price. The Superfecta comes at $2,950. This puts the watch squarely into a very competitive price bracket and against brands that have some serious name recognition. And if you’re of the belief that a watch is largely its movement, the price will likely be a hard pill to swallow. But I’ll also put it this way. Does the watch compete with, on the merits alone, against similarly priced competitors offering similarly spec’d products? I think so, and in some instances, I’d argue it even outshines them, too. From the movement modification to the case engineering and finishing, this is a top-notch product with no evidence of corners being cut. Whether consumers think so is another question entirely. Van Brauge

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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.
ryvini
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