Topper Fine Jewelers 2014 Bremont at Baselworld Recap.
Bremont was my first appointment at Baselworld this year, and as always, it was a pleasure to meet with their team. I sat down with co-founder Nick English, and U.S. Director Mike Pearson, and eagerly went over the 2014 collection.
A photo of the front and back of the new MBIII from the Bremont Press Release
The first watch we discussed was the MBIII, Bremont's long awaited GMT entry into the Martin Baker Collection. Nick and Mike each referred to the MBIII as the "people's watch" in acknowledgment of the vast amount of user feedback they considered during the watch's development. When designing the MBIII, Bremont's challenge was to add a GMT hand and a 24 hour scale without compromising the legibility or balance. Upon looking at the prototype MBIII in the booth, I could immediately see they succeeded in their efforts. In order to keep the watch from looking too cluttered, each GMT related addition was mirrored by the removal of a non-essential GMT feature. For instance, rather than inserting a 24 hour scale on the dial, they instead placed the scale on the internal rotating bezel. Accordingly, they removed the sixty minute/second counter on the internal bezel. With the addition of the independently settable GMT, Bremont removed the day of the week window. The MBIII's hands, lume, case, and dial markings are otherwise identical to the MBII.
Color is as important a part of the MBIII as it is to the existing watches in the Martin Baker collection. Like the MBII, the MBIII comes in three barrel color choices: anthracite, orange, or bronze. The first two colors are the same available on the MBII, with the bronze as a new color for retail Bremont customers to choose from. Mike noted "the bronze color was originally developed for use in a squadron watch for an F-22 Military edition squadron watch developed last year. The color of the barrel was inspired by the F-22's distinctive anti-radar reflecting canopy."
The bronze barrel of the MBIII is a new color for the Martin Baker line
A wrist shot of the MBIII prototype that was at the Baselworld show.
Pictured above, the MBII with signature orange barrel. The day of the week and 60 minute timing scale were eliminated from the MBIII in order to keep the visual balance similar to the original.
A picture of the Bremont Terra Nova from Bremont's Website
A wrist shot of the Terra Nova 2014 from Baselworld.
The Terra Nova Limited Edition joins the MBIII as one the two new non-chronograph GMT models ("four hand") in the Bremont Collection. These two watches are the first two Bremonts with this type of layout. The Terra Nova is named after Captain Robert Falcon Scott's famous 1911-1912 polar exploration, where he and his team perished in their return journey. In the over 100 years since, no explorer was able to retrace their route. Earlier in the year, British explorer Ben Saunders and his teammate successfully retraced Scott's route and completed an extreme arctic walking expedition that covered 1795 miles. Each of the two men wore a Bremont Terra Nova watch strapped to the outside of their jackets. Despite the fact that they were subjected to temperatures as low as -46°C, Ben, his teammate, and the two Bremont watches all came back in good health. Now available at retail, it is a 300 piece limited edition which celebrates Saunders successful expedition and commemorates the late Captain Scott's original endeavor.
At it's essence, the Terra Nova isa Supermarine S500, but the limited edition has several features that differentiate it from the traditional dive watch on which it is based. First, the case is significantly lighter in weight as it is made out of titanium instead of stainless steel.
The case of the Terra Nova (left) is slightly darker than the case of the S500 (right)
The professional expedition features that Ben Saunders required for his polar trek have made their way into the retail limited edition as well. The Unidirectional Dive bezel of the SuperMarine has been replaced with a bi-directional compass bezel. The scale of 60 minutes/seconds on the dial edge has been replaced with a 24 hour scale. Like the MB3, the Terra Nova adds a fourth GMT hand and eliminates the day of the week window for balance. The vertical textured lines of the supermarine, have been replaced with a more globe themed pattern. Functionally the compass bezel and GMT were particularly useful on Saunder's mission as the watch could measure longitude and find the South Pole using the GMT hand and the sun. Russ and I really enjoyed the Terra Nova and were happy to secure a large quantity of this limited edition for our clients.
The Supermarine S500 features a sixty second scale on the bezel and a uni-directional rotating bezel. Both of these features were replaced on the Terra Nova. In their place, The Terra Nova utlizes a compass bezel and a 24 hour internal scale.
The Bremont Boeing Partnership
Bremont and Boeing announced their partnership a few months ago and the watch industry has buzzed about the nature of the partnership ever since. After listening to Nick English discuss the partnership for a few minutes, it became clear to me the Boeing partnership is less about licensed product and more about forwarding several of Bremont's core goals: supporting a manufacturing base in the U.K, expanding the manufacturing facilities at Henley on Thames, and a new inspiration for their watches throughout the history of aviation.
While Boeing is an American company, Nick spoke with pride of working with The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC in Sheffield, England). Mike, who lives in Detroit, said that Sheffield mirrored his adopted U.S. city's experience in that once it had been a thriving center of industry with a robust infrastructure that had subsequently fallen on hard times since the 1980s. The AMRC set-up shop in Sheffield with Boeing as one of it's two main original patrons, and the center has provided a boost to the city's economy. Nick spoke with pride about how Bremont is currently sponsoring two Ph.D. students at the AMRC who were specifically looking at how watchmaking could be made better. When he spoke of the AMRC's track record of finding ways to improve aeronautical parts by making them lighter and stronger, some that had been made the same way for 30 years, it was clear that he felt these were the experts he wanted to consult to critically examine Bremont's methodology, and to look for ways that it could improve.
Last year Bremont invested heavily in their facility at Henley and created a state-of-the-art facility where they could test, repair, and assemble watches in conditions that would rival any established Swiss brand. (Click here to read a recap of my visit last year to Bremont H.Q.) This year, they are developing a new area where the case machining will take place. The bright minds at the AMRC have been vital in helping them set up their equipment and protocols. Nick and Giles' call to bring real watchmaking back to the U.K. is closer than ever to being realized thanks to this partnership. The creation of the cases of the Boeing watches, and the case hardening process of the core Bremont line, will all take place at Bremont H.Q in the future.
As stated by Bremont's North American Brand Director Michael Pearson, "Boeing is only ten years younger than any kind of aviation, and they've been industry leaders since their founding in 1916. This partnership gives Bremont access to the historical records and archival documents of Boeing that span virtually the entire course of aviation. The possibilities of inspiration ranging from vintage to the space program are endless."
The Bremont Boeing
The white dial Boeing 1 from Bremont's website.
TheBremont Boeing collection initially consists of two models; The three handModel 1 and the Model 247 chronograph. The biggest difference between the Boeing models and other Bremont pilot watches is that the Boeing watches feature an external sapphire bezel. This sapphire bezel is similar to the Supermarine models, but it is bidirectional and considerably thinner. According to Mike Pearson "This bezel came out of demand from the military division where pilots loved the internal bezel of the MB series, but wanted a bezel that was easier to use in flight. We considered using a ceramic bezel, but found that the sapphire bezel, especially when thin, heightened the sense of luxury. The Bremont Boing watches also features a series of new engineered components that have never been in a Bremont watch before; a "gear-twisting" bezel edge, crown, and chronograph pushers.
The Boeing logo on the Model 1 & Model 247 is tasteful and minimal. On the front of the watches there is a subtle blue asymmetrical tip on the second hand. Their casebacks feature a signature Boeing blued rotor with skeletonized turbine, and the word "Boeing" quietly etched around the display back. Both the Model 1 and the Model 247 share the typical full sized Bremont dimensions of 43mm width and a 22mm lug width.
The materials used in the Boeing line are a first for the watch industry. With the help of the AMRC, Bremont has developed a special steel alloy called 465. Nick said the blend has a similar hardness to Rolex's heralded 904L steel. While Bremont is also planning a version of the Model 1 and Model 247 using aerospace grade titanium, more information including the exact design and specs on that watch will be available until later in the year.
Photos from the Booth at Baselworld of the Bremont Model 1
The black dial Boeing Model 1
Photos of the booth at Baselworld of the Bremont Model 247
Wrist shot of the Bremont Model 247 chronograph
The blue rotor is the most directly Boeing inspired aesthetic on the Bremont Boeing Model 1 and Model 247
The crown used on both the Boeing Model 1 & Model 247
A crown pusher of the Bremont Model 247
Bremont Alt 1 C High Polish
Bremont also showed a prototype of a steel version of last year's Alt1-C rose gold! As wediscussed in 2013 when the rose model came out, it leans heavily on the aesthetic of the Bremont Victory and 19th century British watches This would be Bremont's first high polish steel watch, and if it does come to market it would have the hardened 465 grade steel developed by Boeing. This watch provides a great example of how the partnership with Boeing will enhance Bremont's production in more subtle ways.
A prototype of a formal Alt 1 C with a high polished case. Here's our review of the 2013 rose gold version
Unlike some of the larger brands where the executives are completely shielded from the public, anyone who visited Bremont at Baselworld 2014 could have walked straight into their booth and been able to meet Nick, Giles, Mike, Sarah and the rest of the Bremont team. While it is possible that some of them would have been meeting with press or retailers, they were all right there in plain view, often interacting with individuals that were visiting the show. What makes Bremont different than all the other brands that we sell is the humor of this hardworking and innovative team, it is inescapable and captivating. When I sat down and was presented with their collection, Mike made a joke as he set down the tray, then took a picture of me while I tried not to laugh. The next thing I knew it was on Bremont's twitter feed! Before we talked about watches, Mike explained to Nick, in humorous detail, how I started following his beloved Aston Villa football club, and how I tried to learn all the players and their tendencies by playing a season of FIFA on the 360. When Nick suggested that I catch a Villa game in July either before or after Bremont's launch of the Codebreaker, Mike pointed out that it was the off season for Villa. The reason Nick didn't know this was because he was too busy following the rugby leagues of Dubai.
Trying, and failing, to keep a straight face while taking in the Bremont collection at Baselworld.
The day after my appointment, Kiss drummer Eric Singer was at the Bremont booth to check out the collection and meet the English brothers. One of Eric's favorite dive watches is the BlancPain 50 Fathoms, so it is no surprise the Bremont he liked the most is the Supermarine, and of the new release, he likes the most is the Terra Nova, a variation of the Supermarine. It was really fun watching him meet the Bremont team. Mike described to Eric how he loved "Detroit Rock City" as an anthem for his adopted American home city. The English brothers talked about their love of Queen while they discussed Eric's time playing with Queen's lead guitarist, Brian May. For the next hour, as Eric became later and later for another dinner with another watch company, they had one of the most entertaining discussions I've ever witnessed. They discussed cars, planes, the insurance policy on Brian May's guitar, and the technical construction of Bremont's pieces in rapid fire succession.
Kiss drummer Eric Singer wearing a Terra Nova while talking to the English Brothers about a vast array of subjects
I bring all of this up, because the details about the watches themselves are only part of the story of Bremont. The English brothers have created a watch company with a culture based on authenticity, witt, and enjoying life. It is these values, and their joyful spirit, that are an inseparable part of the Bremont experience. I think that those that add Bremont watches to their collections are investing in a company with great values and a bright future.The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.