Bremont | The Best Of British
Quintessentially British, Bremont are firmly making a name for themselves in the watchmaking world. And with their involvement in this summer's box office-hit Dunkirk, the spotlight has found this proudly British brand.
But in a world where Swiss watches tend to rule all, how (and why) do Bremont stay true to their British roots?
Founded by brothers Nick & Giles English (yep, we clocked the very-British name as well!), Bremont’s story is an interesting and moving one.
The two brothers share a deep vested interest in flying and aviation, thanks to their father Euan. In March 1995, Nick was practicing for an air display with Euan in a 1942 WWII Harvard aircraft, when they were both involved in an accident. Sadly, Nick & Giles' father, Euan was killed, and Nick had broken over 30 bones.
Six months later however, Nick was back in the air being flown by Giles. The two brothers decided to pursue what they enjoyed most; a life crafting beautifully engineered mechanical devices.
When they weren’t flying old aircraft, Nick & Giles spent most of their childhood in the workshop of their gifted father – an ex-RAF pilot with a PHD in Aeronautical Engineering. Euan was also passionate about mechanical timepieces, bringing home old clocks from auction for the brothers to try and get going again.
In the late 1990s, Nick & Giles were flying across France in their 1930s biplane when they were forced to make an emergency landing. Keen to avoid the French authorities, the brothers accepted the gracious help of the farmer whose field they landed in. They stayed in his home, the aircraft was kept in the barn, and it transpired their host had flown aircraft during the war as well as being a gifted engineer. Similar to their late father, half-restored clocks lay everywhere, together with numerous engine parts.
The brothers promised his warm hospitality would never be forgotten and they'd repay him one day. Can you guess where we’re going with this? Yup, the farmer was called Antoine Bremont. A name suspended in history forever (okay, we know this is French, but still... ).
With the foundations for an intriguing watch brand now laid, here's how the two brothers began to build their British empire.
Watchmaking is actually a very British trade. Many horological advances were made in Britain, including every major escapement design and around three quarters of related innovations.
Here are some great British names and their inventions.
- Thomas Tompion (1639 – 1713); often referred to as the ‘father of English clockmaking’
- Thomas Mudge (1715 – 1794); invented the lever escapement still used in most watches today
- John Harrison (1693 – 1776); solved the problem of accurately telling the time at sea and calculating longitude
- Robert Hooke, 1664; invented the balance spring
- Daniel Quare, 1690; invented the minute hand
- Thomas Young, 1807; invented the chronograph
- John Harwood, 1924: invented automatic winding
In 1800, Britain made around half of the world’s watches, but by 1900 this had declined by half. The problem lay in the handmade nature of English watches. The Swiss and the Americans were much quicker and more successful in adopting mass production techniques, meaning the industry in Britain pretty much collapsed.
Today, Bremont’s ultimate goal is to bring back as much of the process to the UK as possible and to play a pivotal role in the re-invigoration of this industry on British shores.
All Bremont watches are designed, manufactured and assembled in England – including most of the bespoke parts used in limited editions and their handmade leather packaging. Not only do they have a facility in Silverstone to produce case and movement components, Bremont’s watchmaking headquarters is located in Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire.
Custom built for watch manufacture, this beautiful building is where all of Bremont’s key movement and case components are assembled and finished.
And, for those that don’t know, it goes without saying that all of Bremont’s movements are of the highest quality and all of the watches in their core range are COSC certified – placing them amongst only a few Swiss giants such as Breitling, Omega and Rolex.
It’s a big YES from us to bringing back the art of mechanical watchmaking to Britain.
Britain’s history as a manufacturing base for pilot watches has always been important to Bremont, combined with their passion for flying and aircraft that was instilled in them from an early age. The two brothers established Bremont with the intention to be recognised as a watch brand with aviation at its heart.
Many of Bremont’s collaborations and partnerships showcase this deep-rooted passion…
Bremont & The Dunkirk Film
Bremont Ambassador and Director of the Aircraft Restoration Company, John Romain, provided and flew some of the planes for this year’s blockbuster film - Dunkirk, including the only flying Blenheim MK1 left in the world.
The RAF were the only hope for halting the German bombardment at Dunkirk, shooting down enemy planes before they could reach the beaches. The mighty Supermarine Spitfire MK1 was fundamental to the ‘Dunkirk Miracle’, helping to save over a third of a million soldiers with its high speed manoeuvres.
John Romain wears…. Bremont Airco Mach 1
The newly released Bremont Airco Mach 1 is a classic pilot watch that looks right at home in the cockpit of an iconic Spitfire. Bremont’s first 40mm pilot watch, this Airco Mach 1 is named after the Aircraft Manufacturing Company Limited - one of the first British military aircraft manufacturers.
Bremont & Martin Baker
Martin-Baker is a British aviation company responsible for supplying 70% of the world’s Air Forces with fighter ejection seat technology. First joining forces in 2007 to create the definitive aviation watch, the watch had to withstand the same rigorous testing programme as the ejection seats themselves.
In 2009, the Bremont MBI was born, a limited edition piece solely for pilots who have been ejected from an aircraft using a Martin-Baker seat, whereas the MBII and MBIII are available for all of us who haven't yet ejected themselves from a moving aircraft!
Bremont MBII & Bremont MBIII
For any serious collector, the MB range is put through tests such as:
- Live ejection testing, putting the watch under extreme G forces
- Extreme temperature endurance; the watch is held for 24 hours in temperatures as low as 40C and another 24 hours in temperatures up to +40C
- Vibration testing, to simulate a 30 year life of an aircraft
- Altitude testing, to simulate taking the watches up to 100,000 feet for 60 minutes before being rapidly brought down again
- Aircraft carrier deck test, simulating the level of salt fog and humidity that an aircraft carrier deck would ensure during a 6 month tour
Bremont & Jaguar
A truly British partnership, Bremont and Jaguar first collaborated during the launch of the Jaguar C-X75 concept car in 2010, for which Bremont created a unique analogue clock in keeping with the 778 horsepower hybrid supercar’s futuristic nature and 205mph performance.
The two quintessentially British firms have since reinforced their partnerships with a range of Bremont Jaguar timepieces.
Bremont Jaguar MKII
Reflecting one of the most beautiful and fastest cars in the world, this immaculate Bremont Jaguar watch is heavily inspired by the suave interior of the Jaguar. The blue leather strap is taken from the same Connolly leather used for the car's interior trim, the hour markers are in the same style of the numerals found on E-Type instruments, and the dial is influenced by the Jaguar's dashboard.
We sat down with Nick & Giles about their wonderful watch brand, and we were suitably enthralled with what we found out... Watch the video of our chat with the two brothers below.
Bremont are not only bringing watchmaking back to British shores, but they're doing it in serious style. Swiss or not, a watch can be judged on its quality, authenticity and history - and Bremont are not only ticking the boxes, but going above and far beyond.