The photography on the Schofield bulletins is really nice I thought it would be nice to share some recent ones with you.
The Beater dials are beautiful.
Bremont has been making aviation-inspired watches since the very beginning, but 2014 marked the first time that Bremont and legendary aeronautics company Boeing collaborated on piece. Being able to design watches with and for Boeing is a major privilege for the English watchmaker and was never seen as an opportunity for a mere rebranding. Bremont could have taken one of their popular designs, like the Solo, and put some Boeing logos on it and a different color scheme and called it a day. Instead, not only are these not limited edition watches, but aside from the chronometer-grade movements, which they share with many other Bremonts, the watch is entirely new. What we see here, the Bremont Boeing Model 1, is the result of that thoughtful collaboration.
There are currently only two models of Bremont Boeing watches available today, the Model 1, which we are looking at today, and the chronograph variant, the Model 247. Each of those is available with two options: your choice of dial color, white or black, and your choice of case material and that’s perhaps the big story here. Boeing models can be had in either a proprietary Boeing steel alloy, 465, which is engineered to have excellent hardness and resistance to corrosion, or you can choose the super light, aviation grade Ti-64 titanium. I believe that this is the first use of either of these materials in the world of horology, and for the foreseeable future, only Bremont Boeing models will have these materials available.
The particular Bremont we have today, the Model 1 in black, has the 465 steel case, which is my preference. I like a little heft to my watches, especially when there’s no bracelet, and while Ti-64 should be very hard for titanium, it won’t be anywhere near as hard as this special stainless steel, so I appreciate the scratch resistance. The Model 1 features a bidirectional rotating bezel and screw down crown, but my favorite feature of this watch is the cool, propeller-esque crown guard at 4:00. I also appreciate the relatively austere dial which is not a major departure from other popular Bremonts like the Solo. But perhaps most of all, I enjoy how subtle the Boeing branding is. I’m not in aviation, so I admit upfront I may not appreciate the branding as much as some people who are, but I’m glad Bremont took this as an opportunity to collaborate on a watch, not really as a marketing vessel for the two brands. Indeed, you won’t see a single written reference to Boeing at all when worn on the wrist–it’s only on the caseback.
Like virtually all Bremont 3 handers, the BE-36AE is used, Bremont’s adaptation of the popular ETA 2836-2. It is, of course, chronometer grade, for guaranteed high accuracy, but more noteworthy is the amazing decoration that Bremont uses. It’s easily one of the prettiest ETA movements I’ve ever seen, to the degree you almost don’t even recognize it. Also worth paying attention is to the anti-shock mount that surrounds the movement. This helps insulate the movement from trauma, which not only reduces the chance of breakage but may even increase the accuracy by mitigating the effect of vibration throughout your daily life.
Just to be straightforward, I think the Boeing Model 1, in either dial color, is the best looking production watch Bremont has ever made. It really elegantly captures what Bremont is all about.
I particularly like the bi-directional sapphire crystal bezel. Like every Bremont I’ve tried, it has really solid and clear detents but it’s a little lower effort than their divers, which is a subtle, but positive, change in my opinion. The pip is lumed, but I would have loved to see all the markers lumed–that would have given a brilliant display at night. I also like how narrow the bezel it is. The dial is maximized at the cost of bezel space, but I think that’s a good tradeoff.
The black dial (as well as the white) is of the matte variety and is an excellent proving ground for Bremont’s bilateral anti-reflective coating. Black dials pose all sorts of additional concerns for photography because the glare is normally so bad. I usually compensate by using a black canopy which can have its own negative side effects. In this case, not only did the AR coating lack the blue hue associated with some AR coatings, but it was so good I didn’t use a specialized canopy at all, which is why you can see a little bit of the white ceiling reflecting back. Very impressive.
The watch is extremely high legibility, even more so than the white dial. The blue lume is white in decent lighting and it, along with the white Arabic numerals and lumed markers, stand in stark contrast to the matte black dial.
The blue lume is pretty bright as well, although don’t expect diver-esque portions. It’s more than adequate, however.
Again, the Model 1 is actually an exercise in subtlety, and not just in the sense of being versatile. Notice that there is not a single mention of the Boeing collaboration anywhere on the face of the watch. The only hint is the subtle tip of the seconds hand, derived from the Boeing logo. The whole effort just feels more sincere to me than many other collaborations within the watch industry where a logo is thrown onto the dial and maybe a special color is used for the hands and that’s the whole effort.
The biggest story in the Model 1 is the case, or more specifically, what it’s made of. For the first time ever, as far as I can tell anyway, Boeing’s proprietary 465 stainless steel is used, which is supposed to be both harder and more corrosion resistant than other steels on the market. For those who prefer a lighter watch, Ti-64 aviation grade titanium will be available. For my money, I prefer this still, but it’s nice to have two unique options.
In addition to good metallurgy, I really love the crown guard on the Model 1 (sadly, due to the chronograph pushers, not available on the 247). In terms of shape, it reminds me of their propeller logo and just looks really cool. I also like how the off-centered crown looks on this watch–no particular reason, I just think it works here.
Also of note is the Trip-Tick construction which allows Bremont to choose three different elements to construct each case. In this instance, the black barrel is a cool, eye catching addition.
My only criticism of the crown guard is that, as you can see, it’s sealed from the top, meaning that when you set the watch, you actually have to grab the crown from below which can be a bit awkward.
Still, worth it to have this cool little sculpture that is actually molded from the lug of the watch and meets an additional component halfway.
Aside from the cool crown guard and narrow bidirectional rotating bezel, the 43mm Model 1 is not a major departure from other Bremont watches, which is probably a good thing since Bremont is one of the most respected case makers and designers around. For me personally, a man of 5 feet 10 inches, I might prefer it to be a hair smaller, maybe 41mm, but the size difference wouldn’t keep me away from it, particularly since this is a dedicated sports watch.
I normally don’t do a movement section for watches with ETA movements, not because they’re inferior, but because there’s such a wealth of information about them already that I’m not really contributing much. Bremont does primarily use ETA movements but puts their own spin on them. Many Bremonts have solid case backs so you can’t appreciate their contribution, but here it’s all on display.
As you can see, there is an extremely thorough and beautiful perlage across almost every available piece of the movement. At first glance, you won’t even recognize this as an ETA movement.
That impressive decoration, as well as the Bremont-made skeletonized rotor, unique to Boeing models, transform the ETA 2836-2 into the BE-36AE you see here. Virtually all Bremont movements are chronometer grade, and this is no exception, so the performance ought to be on par with most other Swiss chronometers and well within the +6/-4 seconds per day rating.
I also want to point out the anti-shock mount that surrounds the movement. This helps to insulate the delicate movement from shocks and trauma which not only makes the movement more durable against impacts, but may even help prevent timekeeping instability caused by everyday vibrations (through your steering wheel, your shopping cart and so on).
Check out the Bremont Model 1 in high-definition with our newest video.
I have a new favorite from the Bremont collection–the Model 1. Without a doubt, the Model 1 would be my first choice in a new production Bremont.
Would I choose the white dial or the black dial though? Stainless steel or titanium? Well, I’ve already tackled the materials issue–I’d go with the Boeing steel, but the dial color question is much more difficult. Initially I found the white dial more appealing, but having spent a little more time with the black dial, it’s harder to say. I think right now, I’d have to side with the white dial, but I need to get both in hand before I can make that decision. I can say that, although the Model 247 Chronograph is very cool, I actually prefer the simpler Model 1. It’s more distinct to me–it has that cool crown guard, and I like its relatively subtle design. This could easily be an everyday watch.
I love being able to see the movement and anti-shock mount. I don’t care that it’s an ETA at heart, it’s just gorgeous, particularly with those bold blue accents.
The Model 1 got a bit overshadowed by the super popular Terra Nova, but I actually think this is the one to be paying attention to. For one, the Terra Nova is a limited edition, so it won’t have a lasting impact on Bremont’s lineup. But I also think the Model 1 is just prettier, and I appreciate being able to see the movement. It’s really a great example of how to do a collaboration watch instead of a hollow marketing exercise.
There is a delightful depth to the dial, courtesy of raised stainless steel chapter rings, mounted on steel pillars. The chapter rings are held in position with thermally blued screws, adding a flourish of colour with their vibrant bluish-purple hue, differentiating this watch from those which are mass-produced.
A sense of tasteful restraint is the order of the day. The case is constructed of stainless steel 316L, arguably one of the finest materials available for this purpose, measuring a highly agreeable 42mm in diameter, conferring ubiquitous appeal. The surface of the case features Garrick’s unique scratch resistant treatment, helping to preserve the factory-fresh appearance of the Shaftesbury sm301 for many years to come.
The incorporation of an onion-shaped crown will proffer ease of operation, as well as an elegant aesthetic, cohesively complementing the exterior of this handsome Garrick timepiece.
A talented team of English-based, Swiss-trained, watchmakers use an existing vintage Unitas 6498.1 base movement and enhance it to Garrick’s exacting standards. The specification includes an in-house free sprung balance, open spring barrel and thermally blued screws. Adding the free sprung balance means that the Shaftesbury is an extremely accurate timepiece and performs well above expectations.
The artisans based at Garrick’s workshop, further enhance the movement by adding in-house open bridges with hand bevelled edges, evincing a traditional mien.
The Shaftesbury sm301 is set to be a fine English watch with impeccable breeding.
The price of the Shaftesbury sm301 is £3995
Smith, who manufactures just 10 watches each year with his team on the Isle of Man, joined 25 other ambassadors of the far-reaching international campaign, all leading lights within their own fields, at the event in December, where David Cameron thanked them for their involvement.
Just to keep you interested here is another article from the Daily Telegraph celebrating Roger Smith. Happy New Year.
If you want an exquisitely designed timekeeping instrument, you don’t necessarily need to look towards Switzerland. Mechanical miracles are being handcrafted and designed in an unassuming cottage on the Isle of Man.
Welcome to what is probably the world’s most exclusive watch factory where Roger Smith has devoted his working life to making timepieces. His team of seven uses hand engine-turning equipment to produce watches from scratch, and each watch can take up to 11 months to complete.
The finished articles sell for anything between £100,000 to £250,000, and are sought out by collectors around the world – there is currently a four-year waiting list for an RW Smith watch.
“Watchmaking at this level is very unusual,” says Smith. “I compare it to a Ford Fiesta and a Bentley. The Bentley has leather interior and immaculate piping. It doesn’t make any difference to the running of the car, but it’s nice to have.”
Smith has mastered 32 distinct trades to design and build every component of a watch from start to finish – and he’s one of only a handful of people in the world with this sk
He learned his craft from master watchmaker Dr George Daniels in a partnership that lasted 20 years until Daniels’ death in 2011.
Dr Daniels was the first person in recent history to make every component of a watch, from scratch and by hand and dedicated some 60 years to the art. His “co-axial escapement” invention of 1974 – designed to make a watch’s mechanism run more precisely – was regarded by experts as one of the most significant horological developments in 250 years. It was even taken up by Swiss watchmaking giant Omega in 1999.
The inner workings of his Open Dial watch, which can cost around £150,000
“The introduction of the modern quartz watch in the late 1960s meant that the world was talking of the end of mechanical timekeeping, but George Daniels refused to accept that,” says Smith.
Since Dr Daniels death, Smith has taken over the workshop and continues the watchmaker’s method of handcrafting timepieces.
“Our customers want something unique. They’ve bought the branded watches but now they’re after something different. Our clients appreciate the technical side of the watches and are fascinated in nuts and bolts. They like the idea that someone sits down and makes them a completely bespoke watch.”
Each piece is expertly crafted, and Roger Smith can spend a week perfecting a tiny cog
Buyers come from America, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and various other countries with collectors eager to get their hands on a truly unique British masterpiece.
Smith’s path to horological excellence was a painstaking one. He studied at the Manchester School of Horology and began a seven year self-imposed apprenticeship with Dr Daniels shortly after graduating.
The first handmade pocketwatch he presented to his mentor in 1992, following two years of hard graft, was described by Dr Daniels as a “good first attempt but try again.”
His second completed attempt in 1997 was finally acknowledged as a success and Smith’s watchmaking career took off, launching his Series 1 watch shortly after.
His Series 2 timepiece, which took three years to develop, was the first wrist watch to have been designed and made entirely within Great Britain for over 50 years when it was completed in 2007. Series 3 will launch next summer after being in design since 2012.
A bespoke watch from the Series 2 collection
The key to Smith’s watchmaking method is dedication, absolute detail and a great deal of patience.
Each component will be worked on for weeks until it is perfect in every way. Even a small lever, hidden inside the watch, might take two days to polish to get it just right.
“It’s all been self-funded. I’ve nearly gone broke a few times, but I’ve come through,” says Smith.
His team is made up of an engineer who builds the raw components, while the others all have a watch repairing or restoration background. They aim to recreate the standards of English watchmaking in the 18th and 19th centuries, before mass production.
Three hundred years ago, Britain led the world in watchmaking but now that accolade goes to Switzerland.
Lauded for their precision and quality, Swiss watches are synonymous with luxury and was one few industries to have come out of the global recession relatively unscathed.
Smith says he’s observed developments in recent British watchmaking with varying degrees of encouragement and dismay.
“We have this incredible heritage out there. I see no reason why we can’t build on that. But it takes huge investment and time. The industry’s all but gone in the UK. We’d have to rebuild it into the national consciousness, but this is my life’s work and I’m willing to keep at it. It’s wonderful to create something that is going to carry on working beautifully for 200 years.”
A short article on George Daniels by the BBC.
This is a letter from Roger Smith I found on the Hondikee website, I’m not sure to who but he makes some interesting points. Over to Roger.
Over the last few years I have observed a renewed interest in British watchmaking with varying degrees of encouragement and dismay.
For the last twenty-five years, I have absorbed myself in designing and making complete and original pieces of horology in keeping with our great history of British watchmaking. As apprentice to the last great British watchmaker, Dr George Daniels, I had the honour of witnessing such history at first hand.
My reputation and methods are entirely founded on being a British watchmaker in the truest sense of the claim; by making watches in their entirety in our studio including, most importantly, the movements.
Today I am encouraged that much is happening with investment and job creation in watchmaking, as well as renewed interest in our rich horological heritage.
But I am dismayed by the current direction and ethos (or lack of it).
We are very much in the infancy of a revival in the British watchmaking industry, but we are also at its most critical point. Our actions today will define the future.
Since my studio only produces around ten pieces per year, they are clearly available to only the most determined of collectors. The field therefore remains open for the first volume-produced ‘true’ British watch, which will of course include a British movement, designed and made in its entirety within our shores.
To date, this has not been achieved by any current British watchmaker. So where, in fact, are we?
In my view today, there are three other distinct types of British watchmaking company.
The first (which is typically an overseas holding company) will rake through our horological history books and appropriate a watchmaker’s name (and valuable heritage). They then make extraordinary claims as to their company having direct lineage back to that original watchmaker.
This is clearly misrepresentative and it is frankly embarrassing when I meet collectors who have bought watches from a “heritage brand” in the false belief that their watch is directly connected to the company’s founder or has been produced in Britain.
The second type is the product designer who simply adds some design flourishes to an existing ‘base’ watch, either Japanese or Swiss. Calling them “watchmakers” is akin to calling a maker of picture frames the “artist.”
The third type (and includes the makers I feel should be conditionally applauded) is a new British watch company, started from scratch by founders with their own vision.
However, despite some noble aspirations, they again readily tap into our rich history, mention a few horological greats, choose a very “British” sounding name, and then quickly discard this rich British watchmaking heritage by conveniently buying in foreign components.
Looking back in history, we see some eminent British watchmakers buying in quality Swiss movements and so you may say “what’s wrong”?
Well, these days it is all about the presentation together with lofty claims of provenance.
Recently I witnessed a British watchmaking company claiming to have designed and made their new movement in house in England. If you can’t “kid a kidder,” just try kidding probably the best informed collecting community there is! Within minutes, eagle-eyed watch devotees online realised that the movement in question was designed and made in Switzerland. The fallout was astonishing, but not a surprise, because the watch devotees had been lied to and taken for fools. The statement was quickly retracted. But the damage was done – and not just to the individual company.
With new British watch brands I hear, all too often, talk about these manufacturers blazing the trail for a re-birth of British watch making and yet, on even cursory inspection, their watches are ostensibly of foreign origin. Furthermore, for anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of our recent history British watchmaking never really died, thanks to the pioneering work of the late aforementioned Dr George Daniels.
While the number of Daniels’ entirely British watches was extremely limited, their significance was global and historic. Above all, Daniels proved that the mountain could be climbed, that it could be done!
These premature and deceitful claims diminish Britain’s rich horological past, and prejudice its present and its future.
Let me state once again, there is no shame in a British watchmaker using Swiss movements to drive their watches. Some of our forefathers did just this, driven by economic expediency and the quality of movements available.
Today there are no movements being mass produced within Britain and so common sense dictates that we must look to Switzerland for the supply of quality movements until we British are in a position to honestly declare that we are able to mass produce high quality mechanisms to drive our watches.
This is an incredibly difficult endeavour. It will take huge investment and a concerted effort – perhaps an unprecedented partnership between our British watch companies.
But isn’t that the point? A true British watch is not meant to be easy. Easy has no interest or value.
George Daniels achieved his acclaim and rightful place in horological history by climbing that most difficult face of the watchmaking mountain. Lacking any readily available British components, he worked out how to make each and every one of them and hand made his watches from scratch. It was brave; unprecedented. It should have been impossible – like using an ascent of Everest as a course in rock climbing!
Today, the current crop of ‘watchmakers’ are indeed planting their Union Jacks in the same spot at the top of that mountain.
But instead of climbing it, they are flying up it, business class – courtesy of ‘Swiss Air’.
Let me be absolutely clear here. If we take a ‘binary’ view on provenance, taking a Swiss movement, finessing it and framing it does not constitute making a ‘British’ watch. Claiming otherwise diminishes the very heritage these companies seek to gain value from. At last year’s Salon QP, I spoke about the need for British watchmakers to take the challenge of producing true British watches more seriously if our revival is to be anything more than a fantasy.
Within a year of making that speech (which can be found online), I am therefore dismayed to find that some of my fears have already come true.
I make no apology for being a purist. Ours is the purest of mechanical arts.
Perhaps I am an alarmist? But when I read comments from collectors all over the world talking (justifiably) about “more British smoke ‘n mirrors” is it really such a big conceptual leap for this to slip into the collectors’ consciousness and cause long-term damage to the reputation of British watchmaking?
For me an industry’s ability to self-regulate is a privilege, not a right.
The only fundamental right should be that of the consumer to be able to purchase products which are precisely what they say they are.
It seems we can learn a thing or two from the food industry and their Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The purpose of the regulation is to protect the reputation of regional foods and eliminate the misleading of consumers by non-genuine products.
So even if I spend £2 on a “Melton Mowbray Pork Pie,” the regulation dictates that my purchase has been 100% made where it claims to be made, and to a process consistent with its heritage.
However, if I invest £5,000, £10,000 (or more) on a wristwatch, it currently seems that no such integrity of provenance is even required, let alone protected.
This seems pretty ludicrous.
If we are to become the beneficiaries of Britain’s incredibly rich heritage in watchmaking, then we must be curators of its reputation. Perhaps we should look to establish our own basic standards to establish our country’s watch making provenance.
Let’s hope nobody does it for us, because I believe British watchmaking is currently taking liberties with that privilege. Some of its participants are making misleading claims as to the British provenance of their watches in order to boost the value of their products.
Our country rightly has claim to significantly defining what we carry on our wrist to this day. Many inventions, which the Swiss have brilliantly mass micro-engineered into the watches of today, were actually British in origin.
This wonderful heritage contributes to what makes a British watch worth owning. British country-of-origin bestows a watch with significant added-value.
So what needs to be done?
While we continue to be self-regulating, I ask for aspirant British watchmakers to show restraint in their claims. I ask for them to take their responsibility as curators of Britain’s watchmaking heritage – and its future – more seriously. As heirs apparent to this heritage we need to curate that reputation instead of simply trying to cash in on it.
Having devoted my working life to developing British watchmaking I passionately believe in our industry and its potential. My aim is not to denigrate the aspirations of those who are intrepidly setting out to create mass-produced British watches. It is my hope that the global community of watch collectors will also forgive recent indiscretions as the exuberance of youth.
But let’s not spoil our ongoing efforts by prematurely popping the champagne corks and declaring the “Second Coming” of British watchmaking.
Above all, let’s ensure that we protect our industry’s reputation by applying the only true virtue for which we should be renowned…
Roger W. Smith
Well this is one that slipped below my radar, it appeared on Pinions July newsletter, just as I had switched myself into holiday mode. This is a very handsome looking watch. I hope to get to see one at Salon QP.
Well why not, why should I concentrate my commentary on “British” watches to mechanical time keepers. Part of the quirky London brand Hoptroff’s range is this Mecca watch.
It offers not only time and seconds, but also the direction to Mecca and the times of Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha
Under the elegant exterior, a built-in magnetometer in the timepiece and a Bluetooth transceiver to access the GPS in your phone, are used to determine the direction to Mecca and the prayer times.
950 Platinum £9000 + sales tax
Britannia Silver £1650 + sales tax
Available November 2014
Pre-orders now being taken