Special Edition – Bremont

This post title as you might imagine is a little tongue in cheek. Bremont have made a name for themselves launching numerous collaborative special editions, such as HMS Victory, the Wright Brothers or most recently the H4.

Well this week the announced the opportunity for all of us to collaborate to create our own watch, based on the MBII.

The MBII is for me “the Bremont watch” in so far as it is a good, well designed, distinctve watch. The watch has been available in a variety of colour/strap variations for sometime.

You can now specify your own choice of colour for the case, barrel and dial with a display or solid case back – all at the following website https://www.bremont.com/pages/mybremontmb

Hamtun – Kickstarter

I have been following the Hamtun brand since their first Kickstarter project in 2015. I first noted them as they were the first Hampshire watch brand I came across and despite now being a Greenwich resident I am originally from the county. I have still to actually see one of their watches in the metal, I live in hope. However, Ross Davis’ watches have won the admiration of many in the watch community.

This new kickstarter launch went live today and has, as I type, already well over 400 backers for a price of £279. for the version with the PT5000 movement. This movement, for those of you not already familiar, is a copy of the popular ETA2824-2 movement made by HK Technologies in Hong Kong for a considerably lower price.

Hopefully I will one day get to handle one of these watches.

A Positive Story

It is difficult to to think of normal life and how the world was only a few weeks ago during the current health crisis, which makes it difficult to blog about watches. This difficulty is increased as there is very little watch news to report on. On the other hand most of us “non-essential” workers now have more time on our hands so writing could be a useful distraction.

Garrick Watches have solved this dilema for me. Last week they announced their latest watch the S3.

Now, I am not usually a big fan of skeleton dials but I think this is a really attractive looking watch, The blue hands and indicies really make telling the time clearer than it often is with this dial type, which I now understand is not a skeleton but “open worked”.

The S3 feaures a development of the exclusive movement Garrick movement known as UT-GO4., assembled, finished and regulated in Garrick’s own British workshop.

Limited to only 5 pieces per year. Available in steel or gold.

Please note: Each watch is handmade to order and our current build time is around 5 months. Priced at£24,995

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Bremont News

Bremont were really unlucky last week, they announced three new watches just as Boris Johnson announced the shutdown of the country. The thee being, The “Project Possible” limited edition, the ALT1-C Griffon and the ALT1-P2 Jet.

This doubly a shame because there are two of the watches that I quite like. Given all of us will have a little moretime in the foreseeable future I think I will post what information about these watches separately.

I will start with my favourite of the three, the limited edition “Poject Possible”.

This limited edition watch is based around the standard Supermarine S500, with a titanium case ( although the spec says steel ?) and a bronze bezel. I am very interested to see this first use of bronze by Bremont, it is not the case but at least it is a start – as you might have noticed it is a material I am pretty fond of.

Now if you are wondering were the name comes from, this watch has been launched to celebrate Nirmal “Nims” Purja’s completion of the Bremont Project Possible which saw him reaching the summits of the earth’s 14 tallest mountains in less than 7 months.

Slightly disappointingly Nirmal wore a regular white dialled S300 whilst completing the project.

Specifications

Case Size: 43mm

Case Material: Stainless steel with DLC treated case barrel

Bezel: Unidirectional, bronze Cusn8

Glass: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment

Case Back – Display

Crown: Screw-in

Water Resistance: 500 metres

Movement: BE-93-2AE automatic winding

Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT, date

Power Reserve: 42 hours

Jewels: 21

Frequency: 28,800vph

Dial: Blue metal with Superluminova hands

Strap: Khaki green leather

RRP: £4,995

Limited Edition: 300 pieces

As we have come to expect from Bremont there is a very comprehensive explanation of the project and the watch onBremont’s website

https://www.bremont.com/collections/bremont-project-possible

Roger Smith Lecture

Last November I was fortunate enugh to attend the 2019 George Daniels lecture, given by Roger Smith at London’s City University. A lecture featuring these two names is clearly a must for anyone with an interest in British watchmaking.

You might think I have been a little slow in posting this entry, which I probably am. The reason was I was looking for suitable material to post. I did not think anyone would be intested in reading my memories of what Roger presented. After intermittent searches I have come across this video, of the whole lecture. All you miss was the glass of wine afterwards.

The key point coming out of this lecture is that in Roger’s opinion reliability and hence longer term accuracy is better acheived using lower frequency movements as this minimises wear. His presentation makes this conclusion seem very logical, but does seem to be at odds with the companies marketing high frequency movements as being the way forward.

From my position of minimal technical knowledge Roger’s position does appear to to make sense. My only real doubt about what he had to say was about his apparant dis-interest in using modern materials to reduce friction and hence wear in watch movements. I am sure he has good reasons for his views which are beyond me.

Having attended one of these lectures I really hope there are more in the future I can get to. They do really help casual enthusiast like myself understand what is going on “under the hood”.

Fears partners with Great Britain campaign

Fears Watches are to partner with the UK Government’s GREAT Britain campaign, which highlights the best the country has to offer the world. It’s an honour for Fears to have its 174-year heritage and British credentials recognised during the company’s fourth year of trading since its re-launch in 2016.

The announcement comes as Fears concludes production of its final Quartz powered watch at the end of February 2020. Since the launch of the mechanical Brunswick in 2017, Fears has been slowly moving towards an all mechanical watch line up. Once the remaining stock of quartz watches are sold all Fears watches will be powered by mechanical movements and, like the Brunswick, will be hand built in the UK. Fears builds its watches in the East Anglian city of Norwich using bespoke components made in Germany (cases & dials), Switzerland (movements & winding crowns), UK (hands and strap leather), Hong Kong (sapphire crystals) and Belgium (strap

Commenting on the announcement of Fears partnering with the GREAT Britain campaign and concluding Quartz production, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, (4th) Managing Director of the Fears Watch Company says, “It’s an honour to have Fears’ extensive heritage recognised by the UK Government’s GREAT Britain campaign. The GREAT Britain campaign does outstanding work in highlighting and promoting British manufacturing and highlighting the many things that make Britain great today. Fears has a unique history in the British watch industry. Having traded for over 130 years from the middle of the 19th Century until 1976, Fears used to export to 95 countries around the world, something I hope we will achieve again. This recognition comes at a time when we’ve ended production of the Quartz watches that re-launched Fears in 2016 and now focus solely on hand building mechanical watches here the UK. The first three years of trading since the relaunch have been beyond all expectations with a lot planned for the coming year.”

Commenting on Fears becoming a partner of GREAT, Jack Karet, Chief Partnerships Officer of the GREAT Britain campaign says, “The GREAT Britain campaign shines a light on the very best of what our whole nation has to offer to inspire the world to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK. Partnership is at the heart of this, and we are proud to celebrate our iconic heritage brands, such a Fears, across the globe.”

Isotope Goutte d’Eau – Review

I cannot remember when I first started seeing images for the Isotope Goutte d’Eau on Instagram; I do remember despite the great design and superb images dismissing them as being a French kickstarter brand therefore not on my radar.

My impressiion dd turn out to be slightly correct the brand was originally on Kickstarter, however the only link to France was the name of this particular model.The brand is actually the creation of Jose Miranda a Portuguese based in the UK. Having established the brand should definately be on my radar I arranged to meet Jose for a couple of beers. As with so many people in the British watch industry Jose is a super enthusiast, one of those people you can chat to really easily about watches and in particular his watches, they are after all his labour of love.

During our chat Jose let me handle some early examples of the Guotte d’Eau and I was impressed straight away, especially with the remarkably confortable metal bracelet. I left the evening with a promise of the opportunity to review the watches when more example became avalable.

With the New Year a package arrives, not one watch to review but two, both versions of the Goutte d’Eau,the Orange and the Nordblad. The Nordblad with the Sellita movement and solid caseback, the Orange with the Seiko movement and display back. Both watches were on steel bracelets but with them came an alternative rubber strap. The first impression when picking up the watches on their bracelets is weight, these would be useful to divers joked my colleague in the office. I put the watches away until I had a moment to to fit the straps properly. As the cases of both watches are identical I decided to mount the Orange on the rubber strap to enable a comparison.

Once I had managed to size the steel bracelet on the Nordblad and mount the rubber on the Orange I decided the Nordblad should be my “workday” wear leaving the rubber dive strap for the weekends.

As the Nordblad got the most wrist time I will cover this version first. This ia a special edition designed to endure the hardest Finnish winter and to dive under the ice with the Ice Freediving World Champion, Johanna Nordblad. I have put the video of her exploits above.

Technical Specifications

  • Brushed case, 316L stainless steel
  • Case diameter 40mm X 44mm (with lugs)
  • Height 13.3mm
  • Stainless steel screw-down case back (Nordblad)
  • Security inner bezel
  • Anti-reflective crystal sapphire
  • One crown with 4 gaskets at 2 o’clock for the inner bezel and one screw-down crown at 4 o’clock to adjust the time
  • Date window at 4 o’clock
  • Hands, bezel and sandwich dial with Super-LumiNova® BGW9
  • 22 mm brushed Isotope Tread Bracelet and extension clasp in 316L stainless steel
  • Water-resistance 200m / 20 atm / 656 ft
  • Automatic, self-winding Swiss caliber Sellita SW200-1
  • Power reserve 38 hours
  • Accuracy -12/+12 s/day

So, as I mentioned earlier the first impression of this watch is weight. This weight disappears when the watch is on the wrist the sensation for my fairly normal 7 1/2 inch wrist was one of comfort. Not only is the bracelet very comfortable the case design allows the watch to sit very well. This is probably due to the short lugs. For their part the short lugs do result in a snug fit should you want to change straps. Another contributing factor is the twin crown case design, with the upper crown operating the inner rotating bezel, there is no central crown that can dig into your wrist. This bezel is a neat design feature seen on several iconic watches such as the Longines Legend Diver, I personally find the traditional rotating bezel more convenient for timing baked potatoes, but this design does look really nice.

It is dfficult to decide which is the feature that makes these watches so interesting. The watch head it self has its distinctive shape then there is the sandwich dial and the subtle cut out tear drop.Then finally in the case of the Nordblad the blue details, the second hand and countdown indices 0 to 15. Lots going on but in no way overdone.

Then you turn the watch over to find the engraved solid caseback, with the tribute to Johanna Nordblad . Which is as you can see I had a little difficulty photographing.

The Nordblad I had on review was the Sellita powered date edition. It is also available as a “no date” or with the Seiko movement, both date and none. The “Swiss” version on the website for £469, the “Japanese” for an even more reasonable £349.

Now I would like to turn to the”Orange”which as I have already mentoned I straight away on the extra rubber strap. On this strap you instantly notice a difference in weight, which intrigued me so much I had to compare both watches on over kitchen scales. The result of this “scientific” check was 90 grammes on the rubber strap and with the steel almost double that at 175 grammes. Clearly the steel bracelet makes a significant contribution..

The key difference between these two watches is the movement. Both using relaible “work horses”, in the case of this example of the “Orange” it was fitted with the Seiko NH-35A. I expected the automatic rotor in this movement to be noisier than the Sellita but on the wrist you hardly hear it. This then brings me to the display back, Personally I prefer solid case backs especially when the movement being showcased is,sticking to equine terms, a “work horse” rather than a “show pony”.

Then finally there is the most obvious difference, the colour used on the dial and second hand. In this case orange.

Seiko Movement

Automatic, self-winding Japanese caliber Seiko NH35a

Power reserve 41 hours

Accuracy -20/+40 s/day

Of course I need to make a special mention of the distinctive steel bracelet. When I first tried the watch over a beer i was immediately strick by how comfortable it was. As you would expect on a diver’s watch this bracelet is fitted with a useful extension clasp. A non-extending clasp might make the bracelet a little less hefty and let the clasp lie a little flusher.

So conclusions- very impressive.Distinctive and well made, at a very reasonable price. My personal choice of varient would be no date, solid caseback with Sellita movement. Maybe on the NATO strap which unfortunately only tried in the pub.