Over the last year-plus, we have spent time with just about every watch that has come from the team down in Sidney, IL. Some of these have been with watches that were already in production and hitting normal retail channels, and others – like we have today – we actually got to wear around while a Kickstarter campaign was underway. This latest campaign – which is more than fully-funded at this point – is for the brand’s first field watch, the Smith & Bradley Springfield.
Many of the prior watches from the company have focused more in on the tactical side of things (in terms of functionality and styling), but the Smith & Bradley Springfield takes things in a much simpler direction – the classic American field watch. These are the sorts of watches the American companies of days gone by (Elgin, Hamilton, etc) produced for the American military. These were simple watches built with reliable movements inside, and ease of readability being of paramount importance. Oh, and the watches needed to be tough, given that they might encounter some rough conditions.
Well, on the Smith & Bradley Springfield, the toughness part is taken care of by the 44mm 316L stainless steel case (in either a brushed or PVD finish) topped with a sapphire crystal, and paired to either a NATO strap or a robust cordura strap (which I feel is the better option). In terms of that simple readability, this is a style of watch that is readily recognizable. In fact, one day when I was putting it on, I realized that it had a very Hamilton sort of a feel to it, which is not a bad association to be making on a watch of this style.
I will say that when I first got the watch in, I felt that the strap looked a bit too narrow with the 20mm lugs on the watch. And, when you look at it on a flat surface and your eye can see the difference between the case diameter and strap width, it does seem undersized. Once it is on your wrist, though, that visual discrepancy goes away (at least it did for me). The narrower strap does not add unnecessary bulk under your wrist, and given how much of the wrist the case itself covers, the strap drops off to the sides quickly. Just goes to show that initial impressions sometimes need to be reassessed.
When it comes to sizing, there is one thing I have definitely given the guys at the brand some grief about, and that is the handsets. I feel that the Smith & Bradley Springfield is their best offering in that regard. I like how the minute hand stretches out to the outer edge of the dial, and the proportions between it and the hour hand are good. Modern sensibilities might expect the hour hand to be wider, but in this sort of classic field watch style, I think keeping them similar is thematically correct – and there certainly is no issue with telling them apart.
With the handset, I do also want to call out the C3 Superluminova that they used. Not so much for it’s initial glow (which is as you would expect), but more for the longevity of the glow. As a point in reference, I had it sitting out at night in a room that only briefly had the lights on. So, it did not pick up any excessive amount of charging. When I got up the next morning (about 8-9 hours had elapsed since it last saw light) the Smith & Bradley Springfield was still readable. Sure, it was faint, but in the darkened room, I could still note the time. Many times we will focus in how bright a luminant is after the initial charge. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on that show, it’s how long it glows that really makes an impact to the wearer day after day. Here, you’re covered.
Even though the Smith & Bradley Springfield has a larger steel case, it comes in at a weight of 72g, which made for a comfortable daily wear. The cordura strap our review sample came in on is thick, and has a leather lining on it for comfort. Despite it’s thickness, it molded to my wrist without much issue, and I found the strap to be comfortable. For long term use (and abuse), the thicker cordura is a good idea, is will hold up pretty well over time, and can be washed up pretty easily as well. Ours was in a dark olive green, which was a color combination on the watch I ended up liking a good deal better than I expected; of course, there are other color options available when it comes to the straps.
In the end, I think the Smith & Bradley Springfield accomplished what it set out to do – create a simple, American-assembled watch that is affordable, even with being powered by a Swiss movement (a quartz Ronda in this case). As to the affordability, you can jump in the project (before November 13th) for only $159. or pledge to get two for $285. Sure, there are risks with Kickstarter projects, but at this point with the brand, it’s a safe bet, especially as they’ve far exceeded their funding goals. As for the watch itself? Any way you slice it, this is another solid entry from the brand, and a great introduction to their wares for anyone looking to “buy local”. smithbradleyltd.com
- Brand & Model: Smith & Bradley Springfield
- Price: $185
- Who’s it for?: You like the look of a vintage field watch, but want something reliable and affordable
- Would I wear it?: Sure would – past everyday wear, this would be a solid option for rough duty outdoors
- What I’d change: Perhaps a sandwich dial would be an interesting avenue to explore
- The best thing about it: For being built to a spec, it does not feel like corners were cut. It’s well-done and achieves it’s goal.