Here’s a luxury watch brand that’s not Swiss. I have to admit to never actually holding an actual Bremont in my hand and stopped following them when the founders, brothers Nick and Giles English through “naive enthusiasm” failed to mention that their movements were Swiss-made ETA and Le Joux Perret while claiming they were “in-house” and proudly British. However, a couple of years on and the recent releases at their “Basel-on-Thames” experience, together with some pretty awesome collaborations, has piqued my interest again.
Every agent in the film ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ wore one of the limited edition automatic chronometers and with ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ releasing in Spring there is bound to be more swashbuckling wrist action from British watchmakers Bremont (Breh-mon). Pippa Middleton’s new hedge funder husband James Matthews wore his E-Type Jaguar-inspired MKII 43mm stainless steel bi-register chronograph at their wedding and the skipper of the Oracle Team USA will be keeping a close eye on his Regatta AC Titanium during the 15-minute countdown to each of the 35th America’s Cup qualifiers.
The watch maker has also created two chronographs inspired by legendary British motorcycle brand Norton to complement the company’s limited edition V4, the road-going derivatives of its SG6 race bike. I could go on. For a watch company that made its first appearance only 15 years ago, it clearly has an impressive following and list of adventure-seeking collaborators.
The world sets its time to GMT and because the Swiss dominate the luxury sector and get the somewhat biased respect of aficionados, we forget that it was great British innovators who lead the way in mechanical watchmaking over the past few centuries. The lever escapement for example was invented by clockmaker Thomas Mudge in 1755, as was the coaxial escapement created by master horologist George Daniels in 1974 — used in Omega watches since 1980.
Although the core businesses of both Daniels and his protégé Roger W Smith were founded on creating unique pieces designed and entirely hand-built by themselves on home soil, there are more accessible UK brands worth noting with enough of their components locally made and assembly done at home for ‘Made in Britain’ to surely still apply. ‘Swiss Made’ carries only a 60% Rule, so if we apply the Rolls-Royce approach to watch making — does a BMW-powered Roller make it any less British? — then using in-house, modified respected Swiss engines to power your watches seems like a clever move, especially that initial set up costs for a new brand would be prohibitively expensive.
Bremont along with others such as Graham and Garrick are putting the country back on the horology map through their individual design approaches. With a marketing payoff line of “tested beyond endurance”, Bremont are not only tested for robustness but also COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certified chronometers to ensure incredible accuracy and reliability under some pretty extreme conditions. If we look at the range, at the heart of Bremont is a story that is appealing to anyone with a sense of adventure and love of beautifully engineered mechanical devices. Now that is what I call the best of British!