Bern Milford Diver
The Bern Milford Diver and the journey to their Kickstarter Campaign have not been an easy one. One of their first prototypes, (shown in this review) did not have a rotating bezel. It also was not QC’d very well either, as you can see in many of my photos that there is a lot of dust under the crystal. Yes, that is the watch that was sent to me for review, but knowing this was far from the final product, I had to look beyond that, and look at what the watch was going to be, not what it currently is. That is not always an easy task, and as I write this article, it has been some time since I have had this watch in hand. I will save you from going over the entire timeline, but I will just say there were delays because Bern listened to some of my feedback and others about the movement and production. On their campaign, you will see watches that look better than the one here in the photos and that’s simply because samples were redone. This watch was originally sent to me in June. It’s now October and by the time you are reading this, the campaign is already live. With steel models starting at $299 ($350 for the bronze being reviewed) and watches set to ship in December, let’s discuss all the good about this new upstart brand.
Bern Milford Diver Specifications:
- 42mm Stainless, PVD or Bronze Case
- 22mm Lug Width
- 50mm Lug to Lug
- 12mm Thick
- Sapphire Crytal
- 200 Meters Water Resistant
- Seiko NH35 Automatic Movement
- Leather and rubber Strap
- Super Early Bird KS Price $299/Steel, PVD $350 Bronze.
Even before I had the Bern Milford Diver sent for review, I had a lot of communication with the brand owner. Over the course of the past 6 months, I realized they were very committed to not only having a watch delivered in a super-fast turnaround after the campaign ended but also delivering the best watch they can for the price. The campaign start date was not really publicly announced, and that’s a good thing since privately it had changed many times. One of the reasons for that was the movement change. Bern listened to me and other enthusiast’s feedback who suggested a change from the Miyota 8215 movement. Bern did exactly that and switched to the Seiko NH35. Obtaining all the movements ahead of time contributed to the ever-changing campaign date. Unlike many Kickstarter brands where production doesn’t start till the funding is over, Bern wanted to start production well before they even went live. They wanted to get the watch in the backers’ hands as quickly as possible.
As I stated, the watch I had in hand was far from a finished product. That really did limit my ability to review it for what it will be, but taking just the case and dial design of the Bern Milford Diver at face value, I really like what they have produced. The case design is nothing groundbreaking but it has nice clean, sharp lines and with comfortable angled lugs, crown guards to protect the screw-down crown and the overall size and dimensions fit well on my 7 1/2 inch wrist. The dial is easy to read, not cluttered with text and I love the sharp brushing of the applied dial markers. The hands are also very reminiscent of ones used on a Clerc Dive watch, and they are hands that are not seen very much. So even though they are heavily inspired by a luxury brand, I still like their use on this Milford watch.
I will sound like a broken record I am sure, but it is very important to note this was a very early prototype, and as such, some things just do not look that great. There is no AR on the sapphire crystal, which makes some of the dial shots look hazy and show reflections, the dial itself has a lot of lint on it, the bezel doesn’t rotate and the crown feels less than confident when setting the time. This sample still has the Miyota 8215 in it, and that is probably why there are issues with the crown and setting, not to mention it just feels like it was slapped together. The lume is decent be not great either. I could hide all of these facts from the review, but then I would just be doing a fluff article. The reality is, I like the design and look of this watch, and HOPE that final production models will have all of these issues corrected.
As always, I do not pull any punches here. Some can (and do) disagree with my opinions, and that is all well and good, but some of the things stated here in this review are not opinions, but rather facts. It is difficult to imagine how great a watch can be when you have a subpar quality sample in hand. I have noted that through the review and I do feel by looking at the campaign photos that the other samples look much better than this. I hope the production pieces look even better than that. This watch will come in many different dial colors along with steel bracelet options (steel and PVD versions only) and both a rubber and leather strap (at least for the campaign versions.) 500 of these models will be shipped in December, with more ready to ship in February 2020.
The full retail price of the Bern Milford Diver will be $395 for the steel/PVD and $495 for the bronze shown here. With the stated specifications, that price will still be a nice offering, though it would be better to get it $100 cheaper through the Kickstarter campaign. Bronze has never been my favorite (though I recognize its popularity) and looking at the other options, the stainless blue, and stainless white dial are my favorites of the bunch. I also like the use of the orange text and orange minute hand on the steel/PVD models. Overall, at the price they are offering it for through the KS, it is a very nice watch and a great way to get a budget watch for those that want something that won’t break the bank or those dipping their toes in the microbrand watch pool. As I said, the greatest part will be if they pull off the December delivery. If they do and the customers are happy, all of their hard work will have paid off. I hope to get a production model in hand sometime in December as well. If I do, I will update this review with a few words and photos, or do so on our social media pages. I also look forward to those having a little fun and dubbing this watch the “MILF” 😉
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