A watch that combines a Submariner bezel with a Genta-style case: is the Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First more than the sum of its parts?
Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First Review
Bernhard H. Mayer sent this watch to WRUK free of charge for this review. Retailing at $2,140 (about £1,600), the PowerMaster first is a Swiss-made diver from a brand that claims a heritage back to 1871 – we suspect that the name has changed hands since then, but this is a proper Swiss watch: it was shipped to us from Bern. Presentation is good, with a weighty wooden box finished in piano black and a thick manual that explains how to use the watch for those who are new to automatic timepieces.
Case and Movement
The case of the Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First is clearly Genta-inspired, with is integrated strap and defined edges. It’s solid and heavy-feeling, with the only downside being some rather lacklustre brushing on the case sides. I would much rather see these polished (as is more common) and it’s an easy fix if you wish to do it yourself with a Cape Cod cloth. The crown, protected by sweeping guards, is a good size and easy to grip. The movement – Sellita SW-200 – could be considered as the standard Swiss movement in mass-produced Swiss watches. It is accurate, reliable and easy to service. Here, it is on display behind a mineral crystal.
The front crystal, as you would expect, is made of sapphire glass. The watch is 44mm in diameter, and I found it very wearable on my 7.5″ wrist with the feel and weight impressing me. The ceramic bezel looks good but does have about 1mm on bcckplay, although it lands square on the markings. The downside for me is that this watch has just 100m water resistance. For a diver’s-style watch – not least one costing over £1,500 I would expect a minimum of 200m. Of course, not many Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster Firsts are going to end up in the ocean but water resistance is often proxy for general build quality and buyers expect it in a watch that looks like this.
Dial and Hands
The gloss black dial is actually very slightly patterned with a vertical grey pattern. It looks great in sunlight, whilst almost matching the blue ceramic of the bezel in lower-light conditions. The hour markers and brand logo are all applied metallic pieces. It looks great, and the premium look is topped off with a pair of semi-skeleton hands with lumed tips and a red second hand.
I liked the date position at 6 O’clock: it balances the dial nicely and the metallic surround for the date window adds a touch of class. Overall, I enjoyed watching the light play with this dial and it does have that feeling of quality that is so hard to define but so obvious when you see it.
Strap and buckle
The strap of the Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First is made of a blue rubber which is a little stiffer than the usual compound for rubber straps and which I actually prefer. It gives an almost bracelet-like ability to hold its shape, and the way it has the brand logo stamped at the ends adds a touch of class.
The clasp is a standard butterfly design. It is not the best in the world, nor is it the worst, and I never once felt at risk of losing the watch from my wrist so it does the job just fine! The only thing that might divide opinion is the strap’s thickness – it is set between the lugs like a 116610 Submariner rather than the tight integration of an Audemars Piguet. Personally, I liked it – others commented that it looks too narrow.
Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First – Video Review
What I Liked
- I think the Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First looks great
- The watch is well made and comfortable to wear
- The rubber strap is particularly good – just the right balance between comfort and flexibility
What I Didn’t Like
- The brushing on the case sides could be a lot better
- 100m water resistance is unacceptable in a dive-themed watch at this price
- The price point is about double that of competitors like the best-in-class Christopher Ward C65
Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First – The WRUK Verdict
I’m torn when it comes to giving my verdict on the Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First. If this watch was around £500-600 I would have no hesitation in recommending it: I love wearing it, I love looking at it and there is no single part of it that would cause me any problems as a daily wearer. It has found a place in my regular rotation and will remain there for some time.
On the other hand, the asking price is significantly higher than competitors from better-known brands. A Christopher Ward Trident, for instance, can be had for half the price with better water resistance and a 5-year warranty. In the world of luxury watches, there is more in-play, of course, than price alone, but I wonder how many watch-buyers would pick a Bernhard H. Mayer rather than an NTH or Christopher Ward – or even saving a little more for a Breitling or Tudor. A good watch, then, but only if you can buy it at a significant discount.
Buy a Bernhard H. Mayer PowerMaster First
You can buy Bernhard H. Mayer watches direct from the brand at https://www.bernhardhmayer.com/
Edit: the brand has clarified that the BHM brand is still run by the 4th and 5th Generation Mayer family – Bernhard Mayer and JR Mayer (if you are interested, you can see them in action here).
The BHM family first started out their journey in coin minting and engraving back in 1871, and they eventually moved into the Swiss watch industry as the founder discovered his passion in the art of watchmaking. Today, BHM is working in partnership with QNET to market and distribute their watches.