Did you think tortoiseshell plastic is only good for making your grandparents’ glasses? The Briston Clubmaster encourages you to think again.
Briston Clubmaster Review
Briston says it is a French company with a British Spirit. I must admit I got more of a Chinese vibe from the Briston Clubmaster, but here at WRUK, we review the watch in front of us and not the company providing it. Presentation is sparse but sufficient for a watch with a sub-£250 price, with a felt watch bag within a cardboard box. The enclosed leaflet makes the brand’s fashion-watch aspirations clear from the get-go.
Case and Movement
The case is the star of the show here, made out of translucent acetate with a tortoiseshell finish. I remember seeing this on older people’s glasses, but here I genuinely think it looks pretty cool. It is not a material I can recall seeing in a watch before – so full marks to the Briston Clubmaster for trying something different. The result of this plastic is that the watch is lighter than its 40mm case size might suggest. A Miyota OS21 quartz chronograph movement helps keep the thickness down to 11.7mm. The PVF rose gold finish looks good on the metallic parts and blends with the tortoiseshell really well.
I’m not at all averse to a battery-driven movement in a chronograph watch, and the Miyota is reliable, accurate and allows the price of a watch to be kept to a sensible point. The crown is better than I’d expect for the money, with some very attractive knurling, and the case back writing – despite being laser-etched – is actually readable, which is not as common as you might think!
Dial and Hands
I did not expect to find a military-style dial on this watch. I think the classic three-handers will likely look a little more balanced as the stencilled numerals felt a bit out of place against the very dressy case material. I can see what Briston are trying to achieve, but it didn’t quite hang together for me.
Having said that, the dial is pretty well executed. The hands are clearly legible, despite matching the colour of the dial, and the printing is all crisp and clear. A little more depth – perhaps a deeply cut sandwich dial – would have looked good with this design.
Strap and Buckle
As ever, the weak link in the Briston Clubmaster’s chain is its strap. I’m not averse to a NATO, but the supplied watch band is made of the thinnest possible nylon, and it is very short – only just reaching around my 7.5″ wrist.
Perhaps that length is not a problem: the Briston Clubmaster is clearly aimed primarily at women, but it would have been nice to have the versatility if you buy one, factor in the cost of a decent seatbelt NATO.
Briston Clubmaster – Video Review
What I Liked
- The tortoiseshell acetate case is, as far as I can tell, unique
- The watch is light on the wrist so easy to wear despite its size
- Dial legibility is very good for a white-on-white watch
What I Didn’t Like
- I would prefer sapphire glass to mineral glass
- The supplied NATO is thin and very short
- Matching faux-military dial numerals with tortoiseshell is an odd design choice
Briston Clubmaster – the WRUK Verdict
Overall, I do respect what the Briston Clubmaster seeks to achieve – a dressy Panerai-style watch with a unique case material – but, for me, it does not quite hit the spot. There are some really well-executed elements – the metalwork and crown, in particular, are excellent considering the price. I think the tortoiseshell case is an interesting idea that could make this brand one to watch in the future, but for me, the Clubmaster just doesn’t quite achieve its potential.