Brellum DuoBox Pandial Chronograph Review

By Michael Penate

More often than not, it’s a chronograph that really ends up hooking oblivious, future watch maniacs. The layers of complication and sport utility are usually the biggest factors, and it’s always stimulating to interact with the built-in features as you pass the time. There are some great options across several price ranges, but things really do start to get interesting once you pass the $1K mark – what the community usually considers a forbidden area for micro-brands to experiment in. Luckily, today we have a handful of boutique brands like Brellum that aim to bring quality and value at a price just below entry-level luxury. But what do you get, exactly? Let’s take a look as I gather my thoughts after spending some time with the 2,490 CHF Brellum DuoBox Pandial Chronograph.

Now, I should be clear. We don’t usually review too many watches in this price range. But I think it’s important to understand what brands have to offer – especially when they venture into higher price brackets dominated by household luxury names. At 2,400 CHF this Brellum is facing pretty steep competition. Honestly, you can still score a used (no box + no papers) 1861 Speedmaster Professional for this kind of money. So what gives? Well, I’ll start by saying that the Brellum is really for someone that wants something a little more luxurious than a beat-up Speedy. This is due to a cool set of features and finishing touches that elevate the watch above several competitors in this space.

Case

The case features consistent finishing along the lug tops and case edges – resulting in an immediately satisfying experience when you strap the watch on. The polished surfaces aren’t too glitzy but somehow, everything feels like it’s coming from the dressiest chronograph you can get under $5K. One thing to note is that the Duobox gets its name from the dual, chunky sapphire crystals over the dial and caseback. On the wrist, this really pronounces the 15.9mm thickness but thanks to the perforated calf leather strap, the watch can sit nice and snug without flopping around.


 
 

Pump pushers and a Speedmaster-like tachymeter bezel round out the sporty look. Case diameter is 43mm but for some reason, it wears more like a big 40mm or a 42mm. This might be due to the lug curvature and for some reason, I really wasn’t put off by the sizing, even if it does look big on paper. Crown is a push-pull variant supporting 50m of water resistance, nothing I’ll be complaining about when it comes to these motorsport-inspired chronographs. Overall, a beautiful case, even if it is a little thick.

Dial

Here we get a feel for why this series is referred to as the “Pandial.” Each watch in the collection features some sort of high-contrast design between the sub-dials and primary dial space – ranging from traditional black/white to something a little more subtle, like this “Meteor Grey” version. I’ll be straight with you. I simply could not be more impressed with the look and the construction on the dial side. The indices possess an incredible level of depth and polishing and the seafoam green touches are just something you don’t see every day. Combine that with the smokey, brushed dial texture and the 7750 chronograph layout, and you have yourself one seriously cool-looking dial. Plus, you also get a telemeter scale (in addition to the tachymeter) in case you ever have to time enemy artillery shells… as you do. Honestly, I’d just cut the “Swiss Watchmaking” bit out from under the Brellum wordmark. It adds clutter, it’s a little cheesy, and “Swiss Made” at 6 o’clock would take care of what they’re trying to communicate.

Strap

One of the more pleasing aspects of this review experience came after handling the rally strap. It’s a high-quality, black calfskin leather strap with comfortable perforations and contrast stitching. I’ll be the last person to reach for leather, but this is one of the nicest options out there and I actually would even look to purchase it as a separate accessory from Brellum directly. The deployant clasp is straightforward with dual pushbutton actuation and perlage finishing throughout most of the hardware. Brellum also ships the watch with a rubber NATO (I didn’t get to sample it) and you can even fit the Duobox with their Milanese mesh bracelet for the full stainless steel package.

Movement

I may be guilty of affectionately referring to the Valjoux 7750 as the Honda Civic of chronograph movements… but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. As you can see in the photo above, this is really the showstopper when it comes to the Brellum Duobox Chronograph. This is a chronometer-grade, COSC certified movement that has been beautifully finished to death. As with all 7750s I’ve handled, actuation is crisp and it features a 46-hour power reserve and a frequency of 28,800bph. Again, the crystal over the movement seems to magnify the entire package and I was constantly catching myself removing the watch just catch a glimpse. Finally, we also see that the movement finishing is above average for your run-of-the-mill 7750 – with blued screws, perlage, and Côtes de Genève.

Final Thoughts

So I have to keep asking myself – “who is this watch really for?” Well, at just over $2K it may have difficulty scoring points with diehard, value-conscious collectors, but I actually think it’s good that Brellum has the balls to put products like this out there. If this came from IWC, it would be a $6K watch, easily. What we have here is a COSC-certified chronograph with a luxurious feel to it and quality that matches, or even exceeds, that which you’d find in plenty of mainstream luxury products. I’m all for it and I want to continue to see smaller brands play in this price range while offering the best package possible. They have to fight harder for it. To me, it’s for the collector that might be sick of fly-by microbrands, botched Kickstarters, and boring heritage brands. In that case, the Brellum is an excellent choice. Besides, it’s a 7750 chrono at the end of the day and everyone should have one. Just pick the one that’s right for you.

Brellum


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