In October last year, we introduced the Cover Drive by Bangalore Watch Company. As you’ll recognise from the name, it’s inspired by the game of cricket, which enjoys the status of religion in India, and is arguably the single-biggest unifier of the country’s billion and counting. A curious thing, then, that there’s been no other ‘cricket watch’ until now.
For a fan of the sport as well as a watch enthusiast, there is much to pique interest here, from cricket design elements to the overall package on offer. It’s the kind of smart, comfortable, everyday watch the market ought to have more of.
With two variants of the watch in hand, let’s see how it all comes together along with what works and what doesn’t. Having covered most of the basic details in the introductory story, we’ll keep this one for the nitty-gritty, wrist-feel and overall verdict. Let’s dig in.
Taking a step back: The place that BWC occupies in the Indian watch scene
Enthusiasm around wristwatches in India has seen a definite and undeniable rise over the last decade. Some part of it, of course, can be attributed to generally increased interest in watches in the global mainstream (thanks to social media), but another crucial piece of the puzzle is evolution of the Indian customer. Tastes are starting to become more confident, individual and distinctive, while being increasingly approached with a more open, independent mind.
We don’t necessarily have many local, cultural tie-ins of note when it comes to watches in the 20th or 21st century – the kinds commonly found in the West (watches of statesmen, sports figures, adventurers and the like); and HMT has effectively said its goodbye. So if we’re talking modern watches with Indian connections, one is basically staring at a blank slate for horological inspiration. Underwater exploration, sailing a yacht, camping in the countryside – none of these are things that organically strike a cultural chord, even if they’re marketing headliners for many brands we covet.
But as Bangalore Watch Company have shown in the 3 years they’ve been around, there are uniquely contemporary Indian things, whose stories can be brought into timepieces, in a manner that speak the vernacular. These are watches that Indians can connect to, understand and bond with. It’s just more fun that way, no?
PS: The good thing about Bangalore Watch Company timepieces, in general, is that they’re quality-first and not loud about their aspirations. They are undeniably more relatable for watch buyers in India, but as a result of the aforesaid conservatism, universal in their appeal. Now back to the Cover Drive.
Quick basics and specification overview
The Cover Drive is a collection of three stainless steel, elegant-sporty watches with 40mm cases (12.3mm thick, 48mm lug to lug), powered by Swiss Sellita automatic movements. They have 100m of water resistance, a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, luminescent hands and markers and a unidirectional countdown bezel.
The spec sheet clearly checks all the essential boxes expected of a robust, high quality timepiece.
The three colour variants are matte black (Pavilion), olive green (Outfield), chocolate brown (Pitch). Each of the watches are paired with tan or brown leather straps with a pleasing natural texture as the leather is oil pull-up.
Hands-on with the Cover Drive
If I were to sum up the feeling of seeing the Cover Drive in one word, it’s handsome. And while what I’m about to say might sound like an overstatement, its handsomeness is largely owed to its confidently modest 40mm size (by today’s standards). Many so-called gentlemen’s watches don’t feel gentlemanly at all, but by playing it a bit under-the-radar with its proportions, the Cover Drive thankfully doesn’t suffer from this. The watch is at apparent ease with its urbane character.
Viewed macroscopically, Bangalore Watch Company’s Cover Drive looks clean, but has no less than 6 visible cricket-related touches. But I said it when the watch launched and I’ll say it again – the Cover Drive’s biggest strength is its ability to stand on its own merit as a well-designed, executed and finished wristwatch, without having to rely on its cricket leanings. My days of obsessing over the game are long gone, but as a watch guy in India, I’m very upbeat on the Cover Drive and the idea that it brings to the table.
This isn’t a common occurrence, but in the Cover Drive, it’s genuinely hard to decide if the star of the show is the case or the dial. Bangalore Watch Company have crafted this case thoughtfully, intelligently and elegantly.
The Cover Drive is decidedly sporty in its overall character, but without any hint of being brutish. A large part of this comes from the curves and lines used to fashion the case, which is mostly brushed (quite uniformly, I must stress). Then there are polished, bevelled edges running along the sides which provide contrast and play of light, while also defining the overall silhouette of the watch. The polished circumference of the bezel complements this effect.
These contrasting finishes impart the kind of finesse and dimension one looks for in a smart daily wearer. I also think it relevant to add that finishing details like these aren’t that common to come by in this price bracket. Entry-level offerings from more widely-known brands tend to have cases that lack depth and interest.
The sense of quality that the case evokes extends to to the edge of the bezel where you see a cross-hatch pattern executed particularly well. This pattern (in a slightly larger size) is carried over to the crown too, and is inspired by the rubber grip on a cricket bat. As a subjective assessment, the crown is perhaps the one element of the watch which feels a touch incoherent with the other elements, as its light-play has a more ornamental quality to it.
The dial is where the cricket inspiration becomes really clear as you start to look deeper. At first glance, you’re greeted by the 4 and 6 hour markers, which stand out by virtue of being the only Arabic indexes (and signal the boundary shots, of course). The other markers are in the shape of stumps, with a wicket to denote 12. My favourite design nod by far is the counterbalance of the seconds hand in the shape of a cricket bat; organic integration at its best.
The rehaut has the minutes/seconds marked, with a cricket ball taking the place of 60. The hands and indexes have received a generous application of SuperLuminova and the dial uses a ‘sandwich’ construction (i.e. luminous material applied in between two parts sandwiched together). We saw a strong focus on good luminescence on the Mach 1 as well, which says something about the brand’s intent to offer features that take a pragmatic view of utility (I know the jury’s still out on whether watches have any utility at all, but since you’re here reading this, we can block that noise out).
The hands themselves are faceted (not flat), diamond-cut and rhodium-plated. They confidently add to the overall design without being generic, forgettable or distracting.
Bangalore Watch Company have exercised good design restraint on the dial of the Cover Drive, especially by opting for a clean, no-date layout. If you give it just a passing look, there’s barely anything which immediately screams cricket. Even the colours in which it is offered complement the elegant-sporty vibe; they don’t feel deliberate.
However, there are two things which are valid concerns if you haven’t spent any time with the watch in hand – the font used for ‘Cover Drive’ and the asymmetry of not having 8 on the dial to offset the 4. I had them too until I received the watches and it proved yet again that there’s only so much you can communicate through images in case of a watch – sometimes you really just have to hold it and wear it.
So here’s what I thought about these two divisive elements, so to speak. The missing 8 is a non-issue in the metal. This has been addressed quite deftly by BWC’s designers in terms of space, position as well as proportion, and there’s no sense of any visual tension. I tend to be picky about design harmony, but I’m happy to report that the Cover Drive is not lacking on this parameter in any way.
Coming to the cursive font used to write Cover Drive – this one can get really subjective and a font like this is something I’m neither particularly used to on modern watches nor is it something I’d expect on a watch of this genre. Now it’s not new to Bangalore Watch Company since they’ve used it in the past on the Stri (their ladies watch), but no matter which side you’re on, the good thing is that feels more like a yellow accent rather than a calligraphic element most times I’ve viewed the watch on my wrist. Between the black and green dials, the writing feels more nondescript on the green, due to lesser contrast.
Overs countdown bezel
This is the ‘fun’ part of the Cover Drive. What is basically a rotating minutes countdown bezel, has been adapted to the theme of the watch as one that can count down the overs in a game of limited overs cricket.
If you’re unfamiliar, an Over is akin to a Game in tennis, wherein a bowler pitches the ball six times to a batsman. In a limited overs game, there can be 50 or 20 overs, and the excitement in counting down overs tends to happen in the second innings where the team batting second is chasing a target.
The countdown bezel of the Cover Drive is designed in a manner that allows you to count down from 50 to 0. The bezel itself (unidirectional and 120 click) has no play and the action is smooth and consistent with an engaging tactile feel.
I found the overs countdown bezel to be a nice touch that fits in well with the broader context of what this watch is trying to be. It’s a cool improvisation on storytelling through a timepiece. A cricket fan will doubtlessly find charm in it, even though it’s entirely possible to question if this watch will ever be used for that purpose. But to take that line of argument, in my opinion, misses the point of this watch and makes discussion around it far more serious than it needs to be.
Cover Drive watches are paired with tan or brown oil pull-up leather straps with subtle, natural texture. I’m really happy to see Bangalore Watch Company go the extra mile on these. Straps tend to be afterthoughts in many cases (right up to the big brands), without something truly different or customised to complement the watch.
Choosing different tones for each dial and opting for a tapered, textured strap is a strong move, and the straps themselves are of good quality too. They are fitted with quick-release spring bars, which allows for easy changing of straps without the need for any tools, and a brushed steel buckle with the BWC logo.
The black dial Pavilion has a fantastic affinity for various straps, and I’ve experimented with 3 combinations (tan, distressed olive, black NATO) to great effect. It’s managed to conjure a different mood each time, which speaks volumes of how versatile the watch really is.
On the wrist
I have a wrist which measures just slightly over 6 inches and lament not-so-privately about being puzzled about sizes like 42mm being considered ‘standard’ under the garb of being modern. Admittedly, there’s a lot more to how a watch wears than just its case size, but long story short, there is joy in how a modestly sized watch sits on your wrist – comfortably and confidently. It sounds counterintuitive, but I find that for sportier watches, a smaller size actually enhances their appeal by staying relatively quiet about their ruggedness and capabilities. You know how those 36mm 1016 Explorers get everyone going ooh and aah? Yeah. Watches don’t have to be large to be sporty.
The Cover Drive has an on-paper case size of 40mm. Thanks to the bezel and concave rehaut, the size of the dial opening is actually not that large. The downward sloping lugs and a contoured case back come together to aid wearing comfort and further contain that size visually. The general feel of the watch on the wrist is elegant, compact and comfortable.
The black dial Pavilion is undoubtedly the safer and more familiar choice. However, the matte green presents a novel alternative – it doesn’t feel that adventurous and eye-catching (in a good way), if you’re considering venturing outside your comfort zone. This choice ultimately comes down to the place the watch will find in your collection. Main watch? Go black. Fun watch? Go green. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to see the brown dial ‘Pitch’ version, it may just be the dark horse.
The watches are powered by the Sellita SW200 Automatic movement with 38 hours of power reserve. While they don’t come from BWC with any stated accuracy parameters, I observed the review units to be running at between +2 to +9s/day on average.
All watches in the Cover Drive collection have a brushed case, sapphire crystal and 100m of water resistance. These factors add to the ease you feel with the watch on your wrist, because there’s not really much to worry about – it’s more than capable of handling what daily life throws at it.
Bangalore Watch Company have clearly made some bold choices with the Cover Drive, if you consider the market they’re primarily trying to serve. This is a no-date, 40mm watch in unconventional colours after all. The watch itself is interesting, well-executed and wonderfully appealing on the wrist. It offers a lot of versatility in a serious package, without letting that seriousness enter the story it’s trying to tell. You could even say it’s a very tastefully done conversation starter.
So many of us associate the game of cricket with a plethora of positive emotions and to have a quality timepiece reinforce those is something certainly worth cheering for.
Whom is it for: A cricket fan looking for a smart, everyday watch; or a watch collector looking for something fun and offbeat.
Talking point: How many Overs to go?
Best thing about it: Lots of cricket stuff without anything being in-your-face; superb wearability
Winning combination: Case size + finish + just-enough quirk
One thing I’d change: Crown design
Price of the Bangalore Watch Company Cover Drive is ₹56,680 or $760. Watches can be ordered online on the Bangalore Watch Company website, and you can explore the full Cover Drive collection here.
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