June 10, 2020
On a general note, I don’t own many quartz watches these days. I’ve been a bit spoiled with the engineering and charm of mechanical timepieces, and in a sense, the bar has been set outside of the realm of the typical quartz watch. The thing about Braun watches is that with their rich design history and simplicity dating 20 years prior to the current minimalist trend, they have a unique position in the market.
As a designer, I’m drawn to the icons of the past century, and Dieter Rams and Dietrich Cubs fall straight into that mix with their innovations at Braun throughout that period. Their combined simple designs from the mid-century have stood the test of time and have inspired some of the most beautiful products in the market today, most notable are Apple products under Jony Ive. While Dieter and Dietrich didn’t design this watch, Dietrich’s original design characteristics of the AW 10 from 1989 shine through in this watch almost 30 years later, showing the real timelessness of the design. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Braun timepieces and clocks, check out this article.
I’ve talked previously about my other Braun watch, the BN00032, and was drawn to the BN0171 because it retained the functionalist and minimalist design, but with the added character of a ceramic body, strap, and a primarily monochromatic color scheme.
I wasn’t expecting anything fancy regarding packaging when it arrived, so I wasn’t in shock when I opened the box to reveal the watch inside of a plastic box, with a transparent front window.
After removing it from the box and trying it on, it was swimming on my forearm from the sheer size of the bracelet. I had to take out four links for it to fit correctly, which was a bit of a surprise, but it then fit perfectly. It’s something to be aware of if you order this watch, but isn’t a big deal considering watch repair kits are under $20 on Amazon, and removing the links didn’t take more than a few minutes.
The first thing I noticed was the uniform soft grey color, and matte texture of the watch from the stone ceramic.
They did a great job with the strap design itself. There is minimal flex, and the links visually blend right into each other.
As with most Braun watches, the initial splash of color is their signature yellow on the second hand. This design choice goes all the way back to 1984 with Dietrich Lubs’ design of the ABK 30 clock.
This watch uses a deployment clasp, which creates an entirely fluid transition between both ends of the strap when it’s closed.
You can see how uniform the strap looks with the individual links laying slightly on top of each other.
At 39mm, the case size is perfect for this type of watch. The trend of large watches is slowly coming to an end, and these sub 40mm sizes tend to lend themselves to a particular gracefulness.
The stainless steel butterfly clasp isn’t anything out of the ordinary and is somewhat of a standard design for models at this price point.
Flipping the watch over, you’re greeted with the Braun logo, model number, and the water resistance level. It’s resistant to 99 feet, but I doubt mine will ever see water. Underneath the case, you’ll find a standard Japanese quartz movement ticking away keeping accurate time. It took me three years to do my first battery replacement on my Braun BN00032, so I imagine this one will be around the same.
Here you can see the seamless transition of the strap when the clasp is closed. It’s one of my favorite parts of the design.
Here is the BN0171 and the BN00032 next to each other. The ceramic material and grey color give it a unique look not just compared to Braun watches, but to watches in general.
Both retain the simple characteristics, but the BN0171 goes one step further, removing the date window and numerals. From these simple features, Braun watches, and clocks have received ten red dot awards, six iF awards, and two gold iF awards since their first wristwatch in 1977.
I tend to switch out the straps on my other watches regularly, but it doesn’t seem like this watch will take different straps nicely. Anything else from the ceramic bracelet would ruin the uniformity of the design.
Here is a size shot on my 6.5” wrists. Not too big, not too small.
If you’re looking for a watch under $300 that has a little bit more design history significance out of other similar watches on the market, I’ll always recommend something from Braun. There isn’t particularly anything special about the Japanese quartz movement on the inside, but the rich history of the Braun design team is what counts. This watch is something simple and unique, and the minimalistic design, color scheme, and ceramic materials of the Braun BN0171 make this a good bet for a watch in this price range.