The British watch world’s big event this week was the announcement of the latest Bremont limited edition the H-4 Hercules. Limited to just 300 stainless steel, 75 rose gold and 75 platinum pieces. Unfortunately my invitation to the launch event didn’t get to me, however Bremont’s excellent video below tells the story.
All the watches use the 25 jewel Bremont BWC/02 movement based on the original proprietary automatic BWC/01 calibre built in partnership with movement house, La Joux Perret, and is housed in a 43mm case. Prices range from £9495 for the steel version to £24995 for platinum.
First of all apologies for my “radio silence” over the summer. No excuse really other than the usual “non-watch” commitments in the real world.
Starting anything again after a little time can often be a little daunting, there are always reasons to put it off again. Well today I re-started two activities I have been putting off. Firstly,I have just returned from my first motorcycle ride for a couple of years, just a couple of miles around my area but satisfying feeling my intuitive operation of the controls returning.
So now here I am back at Grinidgetime, my return to the keyboard prompted by several announcements of new watches from the British value brand Christopher Ward. My particular attention was caught by three watches in particular, produced apparently with the approval of the UK Ministry of Defence. There is a watch for each of the three arms of the British military, Army, Navy and Air Force. A remarkably similar initiative to Bremont’s Armed Forces collection launched earlier this year.
Taking the watches one by one I will start with the Sandhurst, named after the Royal Military of the same name. The watch follows the now almost generic design of the Smiths W10. This modern re-interpretation comes in a 38mm brushed steel case with a rugged and precise Swiss-made automatic movement – a chronometer-certified version of the Sellita SW200-1. Usefully, this watch has a 150m depth rating.
It is very difficult not to compare this watch to the Bremont Broadsword. Both watches offer C.O.S.C certified movements. The Bremont is slightly larger at 40mm with a lower depth rating of 100m. The big difference being the price,The Sandhurst is offered at between £795 to £895 depending on which strap option you choose. The Bremont Broadsword £2595.
The next service to cover is the Royal Navy, here Christopher Ward offer the C65 Dartmouth, named after the famous naval officers training academy. The design is inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 ‘Big Triangle’ – initially known as the Royal Navy 0552, a Ministry of Defence commissioned piece that saw the first appearance of the popular inverted triangle. The Dartmouth uses a 41mm brushed steel case and the same Sellita movement as the Sandhurst, the watch is also rated at 150m.
For people looking for a Royal Navy watch the Christopher Ward offer differs significantly from the equivalent Bremont Argonaut. The Bremont having a slightly larger case (42mm) and higher depth rating of 300m. Again though there is a significant price difference. The Dartmouth at £795/895 compared to the Argonaut at £2795.
Then we get to the youngest of the three services, the Royal Air Force. This watch is called the Cranwell, named after the famous training college, it finds inspiration in two of the most definitive pilot’s watches ever made: the ‘6B/346’ models produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. Again the movement is same Sellita as the other two housed in a 41mm steel “light-catcher case.
For Royal Air Force fans Bremont have their mono-pusher model, The Arrow; again at a significantly higher cost £3595 against £795/895.
This collection of military watches from Christopher Ward clearly offers an alternative to watch buyers wanting to show their support of one on Britain’s armed forces. The advantage being the cost and the use of the single arms insignia on th ecase back. The Bremont range with the Argonaut and Arrow do offer more features but at a price.
In the absence of review watches I recently dedicated a little time to watch podcasts. Many of these tend to be american which despite often promising interesting content end up irritating me, so it was pleasantly surprised when I came across an interview with Mike Pearson, who recently returned to Bremont in the US.
The podcast in question is “Keeping Time” by Oster Watches, an independent jeweller from Denver, Colorado. I briefly met Mike at the first Bremont Townhouse event and enjoyed a short chat about the merits of bronze watches, so I understood he is an enthusiastic talker. During the podcast he gives a little of the insider’s view of Bremont and the enthusiasm of the founders Nick and Giles.
I really enjoyed the chatty style of this interview and it helped counter some of my Bremont cynicism.
You might have noticed that Bremont’s latest trio of watches developed together with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, The Broadsword, Arrow and Argonaut are chronometers, certified to ISO 3159 standard, not C.O.S.C. . Which I found very refreshing.
To my mind this has been a subtle way for the Swiss to maintain the perception of the superiority of their watch industry. Several British brands using Swiss movements are highlighting this certification, which I have always thought detracts a little from their British-ness, not in a negative way only in the way that we acknowledge the Swiss as the watch “authority”.
The term “chronometer” means that a watch has been certified to have a certain accuracy per day and is tested in a few different positions at a few different temperatures. While individual corporate and national chronometry certifications differ in details, the ISO 3159 is the baseline recognized by the 163 international members of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization. ISO 3159:2009, the latest version, last was reviewed in 2015, and is described as follows:
The C.O.S.C. standard as you might have suspected is slightly more rigorous. Current standards for the COSC certificate entail passing the above evaluations while deviating by no more than -4/+6 seconds per 24 hours; achieving a mean variation in rates of two seconds; a maximum variation in rates not exceeding five seconds, a greatest variation (i.e. greatest individual positional deviation from the mean) in rates not exceeding 10 seconds, and thermally-induced deviation not to exceed +/-(.6) seconds. Additional conditions apply, but these are the principle guiding measures that underpin COSC certification.
Historically though there was a more rigorous standard, and it was from Britain., Kew “A” Certification. Watches tested at the Kew Observatory were given more strenuous testing and held to a higher standard than at the others as the Kew Observatory (a subsidiary of the Greenwich Observatory) was responsible for certifying marine chronometers before they were issued to the Royal Navy. While a standard Swiss chronometer test would last 15 days, the Kew test lasted 44 days. Any watch certified as an “A” chronometer from the Kew Observatory was known to be extremely accurate and robust in all positions in a wide range of temperatures.
So well done Bremont for not falling back on C.O.S.C. But, how cool would a British watch with Kew “A” certification be ?
The “big” horological event in London last week was probably the Bremont Townhouse; during which Bremont present their range, especially the new models to the public. This event, their third I think, has taken the place of a very expensive presence at BaselWorld.
This years event took place in a lovely Georgian building in Clerkenwell. The watches central to this year’s event was the three new military models. Bremont has always made much of their military connections but the three new watches are particular as they are the first presented as a collaboration between Bremont and the three arms of the British Armed Forces.
The core of the collaboration between Bremont and the military was the signing of an Armed Forces Covenant. The signing took place at Bremont’s Headquarters in Henley-on-Thames and is the first time an Armed Forces Covenant has been signed by any watch brand. Air Commodore John Wariner, Air Officer A6/A6 Force Commander based at High Wycombe signed on behalf of Defence to signify the start of a mutual relationship in support of Defence which will be further developed over time.
The collection ids made up of three watches, one for each service. The obviously “military” being the Broadsword (£2595) the “army” watch.
This watch is styled after the famous “Dirty Dozen” military watches of World War Two, which houses the chronometer rated BE-95-2AV automatic movement inside its two-piece 40mm hardened steel case as well as a sub-seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Multiple layers of luminous paint on the hands and dial complete the original specification for the British Army.
The “air force” watch is the Arrow.
The Bremont Arrow ( £3595) is a 42mm cased mono-pusher chronograph. The pusher at 2 o’clock on the two-piece hardened steel case will start, stop and reset the stopwatch on the chronometer rated BE-51AE automatic movement. The Arrow is aimed at the airman with its chronograph functionality, a necessity for any timed mission. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is a running seconds, and the chronograph has elapsed minutes on the 3 o’clock counter.
Finally, the model for the navy is the Argonaut (£ 2795 ), a name inspired by Greek mythology and synonymous with Navy history having appeared on Commissioned ships for nearly 250 years. This e 42mm hardened steel-cased military dive watch, houses a three-handed chronometer rated BE-92AV automatic movement. The internal rotating bezel is operated by a crown at 4 o’clock.
Each of these watches feature a solid caseback featuring Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Heraldic Badges.
One design element strangely missing from these watches is the British MOD arrow sign, this being explained by the fact these watches are not issue watches but developed together with the armed forces. One other feature the watches in this collection miss, that has been integral to most Bremont until now, is the “Trip-Tik”; case construction, this was apparently to keep the cost reasonable.
Personally, I found these watches a little disappointing, especially that they have been produced to a price point. I would have liked something developed with the military to show a little of that over-engineering that military watches are known for. However, I applaud the English brothers for wanting to give something back to the world to which they owe much of their products marketing and design.
Last week there was a significant amount of stories in the blogosphere about the latest limited edition from Bremont.
The watch was launched at an event at the London Design Museum, an event for which Grinidgetime’s invitation was “lost in the post”, or at least I kid myself.
The watch is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Concorde and incorporates parts of the supersonic aircraft. It will be available in three case materials, steel, rose gold and white gold at prices from £9495 to £17995.
To save me time Bremont have published their usual video explaining all we need to know.
This is a very handsome looking watch celebrating an important part of Britains aviation history. I just wonder at the logic of using a manual wind movement, what does that say about advanced technology ?
Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to attend Bremont’s Townhouse event in London. This evening is the occasion during which Bremont present their new watches for 2018.
The evening kicked of with a presentation by the Arctic explorer and Bremont ambassador, Ben Saunders. As with other similar talks given by Bremont ambassadors, Ben gave a really interesting talk which make you feel like a super coach potato. Ben, with the help of Nick English, also managed to explain elegantly the justification for his relationship with Bremont. An explorer needs a reliable accurate watch to aid them with navigation which is especially important in the featureless terrain of the Arctic. The watch needs to be mechanical as quartz watches become less reliable in the extreme cold. An interesting fact I did not know.
The presentation of the watches was done with the usual Bremont style. I would only criticize the level of lighting, the low lights made it difficult to see the details of the watches well.
The star watch of the evening was the new Supermarine Endurance, the watch Ben used in the Arctic.
The second most eye catching new model for me was the U2/51-Jet.
This is an update of the existing popular U2 model with the addition of the vintage lume previously seen on the limited edition P-51 watch.
I then managed a quick try of the new S-501 divers watch which adds the more vintage styling of the S-300 series to the larger watch. This change works very well as you can see below.
I finished off my quick visit with a quick look at the understated Airco range, in particular the new white and blue dialled variants.
It blue the colour for this year ?
A big thank you to the Bremont for yet another well organised and enjoyable event. I hope to look at these and other new watches more in depth in future posts.
My posts have been a little infrequent of late. This is broadly as a consequence of real work, tax returns and another holiday. To try and put this right and buy myself a little time to write my next review I thought I would share my latest horological discovery – the “time4apint”podcast. Chris Mann produces these charming little chats on what seems like a monthly basis. They are an excellent way to pass a little dead time waiting for trains and other idle moments.
In particular and the most pertinent to the British theme of this blog was podcast 39 that was published last week, entitled “Jonathan’s Modern British watches” in which Chris discusses with collector Jonathan Hughes some of his watches. A Schofield, a Pinion, a CWC and a Bremont.
You can listen to it yourself following this link :
You might remember in the past I have commented on Bremont’s heritage building. This is clearly done to increase the perceived value of their watches once they come to market.
After writing my last update on the launch of the 1918 limited editions I came across this video on Youtube. This American gentleman seems to have missed the point somewhere. He goes on about how outrageously expensive these watches are. In a way that suggests Bremont might be stealing food from orphans. Surely a company has a right to offer for sale a product of this nature at whatever price the think appropriate. It is for the market to decide if they are right or not.
If we see lots of these watches discounted in a year or so we will know he was right.