Bremont Watch Company, founded in 2007 by the charismatic English brothers, Nick and Giles is one of the few British owned watch companies in the Swiss dominated wristwatch market. Although the chronometers and chronographs are made in Switzerland, there is a distinctly British feel to these watches that embody the spirit of Britain and in particular, its aviation history.
"There are two things my brother and I know about: planes and watches so it was destiny that we were going to bring the two together" is how Nick first explained to me five years ago about how the brothers came to be making watches. Half a decade on and these two intrepid men have taken the brave and bold move of opening their own Bremont shop in Mayfair, with distinguished neighbours such as Purdey, the gun makers, just across the street and Marc Jacobs and Lanvin around the corner.
Still with their characteristic British boyish charm, Giles English, Co Founder of Bremont says of the boutique: "As a British company we felt we needed a show-case to promote ourselves to visitors from all around the world. The South Audley Street boutique will be more than a traditional watch store. There will be an explorers club based from there, a considerable watch library and it will also be the only place in the world to see unique items like the Bremont B-1 Marine Clock. It is never an easy decision to launch your own boutique, but when we were approached by Grosvenor regarding the location there was no hesitation. We felt it was perfect for our brand."
The English brothers, brought up in Norfolk spent their childhood tinkering with their pilot father in the garage, repairing planes, making clocks, models, musical instruments and fixing anything mechanical they could lay their hands on. Their father, after leaving the RAF, found fame as a WWII aircraft aerobatic pilot and the young boys used to sit in the back of the plane in their own little flying suits while Daddy was doing his barrel rolls and loops. Their father later set up a flight club and vintage plane restoration centre at North Weald airfield which explains the English brothers' obsession with old aircraft.
How Bremont got its name is improbable yet charming. As young pilots, while flying to France in a 60 year old plane, bad weather forced the English brothers to land in a pea field. The man who owned the field came to their rescue, helping them to hide their plane from the French Gendarmerie who does not take kindly to planes falling out of the sky.
Waiting for the weather to clear, the grateful brothers spent a few days in this Frenchman's home who turned out to be a WWII pilot and like them a watch lover, his house filled with antique clocks he had restored himself. A decade later, when the English came to set up their watch brand, it was the now late Monsieur Bremont's name they chose.
It is not surprise that Bremont's first watches were aimed at pilots who value reliability, robustness and visibility. The philosophy behind the watches is to create a limited number of watches all of which are COSC certified for precision earning them the right to call them chronometers. "Our watches have to be tough so you can bash them around in the cockpit, climb Mount Everest wearing one or go into the board room," explains Nick English.
Bremont has created limited edition ranges that incorporate panels from old Spitfires, a more legitimate use of the legendary name than some other recent examples. And don't expect to see any gold models: "I am not a fan of bling so there is no gold on the radar." The dials are reminiscent of cockpit controls and clarity is paramount. The look is honest and clean and decorative flourishes are limited to the use of clever case construction, interesting colour combinations such as anthracite dials or black counters against a creamy background. The design is inspired by the clocks found in the cockpit of the Spitfire airplane and they are available in two case sizes: 43 mm and 39 mm.
All the watches are manufactured in a small workshop in Bienne, home to giants such as Omega, Swatch and Rolex. Every detail on the watch has been well thought out and the brother's knowledge of engineering and philosophy of function driving form is evident. Take the cases, which are a complex structure made from three main components using a registered system they have called "Trip-Tick". The middle barrel of PVD-treated steel is sandwiched in between the bezel and the case back allowing the middle section body of the case to be made of a different material or colour and the effect mimics the look of a piston.
Small details such as the a propeller engraved on the crown, that lies horizontal to the case when the crown is locked show how much work has gone into Bremont timepieces. The Kevlar strap is no exception. This waterproof strap looks and feel like leather but with the advantage of having all the resistance of a man made fibre and is a practical option for those who want more than the standard leather strap.
Furthermore, all the cases and buckles are brought back to England to be treated for hardness with B-EBE2000 technology, a process used on the turbines of jet engines. The metal is first heated treated and the bombarded with metallic electrons at a high temperature that makes it nine times harder and scratch resistant, bringing up to 2000 Vickers.
On show at the launch amongst the comfortably distressed armchairs and cosy paraphenalia for grown-up fans of "Boy's Own" style adventures is the latest watch is the Victory that uses copper and timber from the HMS Victory for another take on all things British that so characterises this brand.
Orlando Bloom is a fan and was at the launch party to lend support to this brand that is often seen on his wrist. Bravo Bremont and three cheers for all the hard work!