Bremont founders Nick (left) and Giles English
The story of how Bremont came into being is the stuff of modern watch legend. Back in 1995, Nick English – one half of the founding duo with his brother Giles – was flying with his father, Euan, when the 1942 WWII Harvard aircraft they were in crashed.
Euan didn’t make it and, with over 30 broken bones, there was only a slim chance that Nick would.
Fortunately Nick did and the accident forced the two brothers to reevaluate what they wanted from life. They decided the one thing they loved was crafting beautiful mechanical devices. So, in 2002, Bremont was born.
How they came up with the name “Bremont”, which sounds distinctly French, making it an interesting choice for a brand that prides itself on its British heritage, is also part of the brand’s legend.
In the late 1990s Nick and Giles were flying across France when the weather started to close in and a rough-running engine forced them to make an emergency landing. The French authorities don’t usually look too kindly on this sort of behavior, so the brothers were very grateful that the farmer, whose field they had landed in, was more than happy to help them, concealing the aircraft in a barn and giving Nick and Giles a bed for the night.
On entering the farmer’s house it transpired that, like the brothers, he too was a gifted engineer who also loved restoring old clocks.
Because of his kindness, Nick and Giles promised the farmer that his hospitality would never be forgotten. His name? Andre Bremont…
The Solo, one of Bremont’s first watches
Bremont’s modus operandi has always been to try and bring watchmaking back to Britain. When it started, it obviously wasn’t able to do this, due to the size of the company, though all the watches were still designed here.
It wasn’t until it finally opened its workshop in Henley-on-Thames, in 2013, that it was able to assemble key movement and case components and finish the parts here too.
Bremont has continued to emphasise its Britishness thanks to collaborations with Norton, Jaguar and Martin-Baker.
One of its major design elements is that every watch should be, to use the tagline, “tested beyond endurance”. One of the reasons these watches can withstand the rigorous testing they undergo is thanks to Bremont’s trademarked Trip-Tick case construction, which consists of three parts.
There is the hardened steel bezel element, which contains the sapphire crystal, the central body section, consisting of a titanium or DLC-treated middle barrel and finally the steel-and-crystal case back. This makes the watches incredibly durable, but, the three-section construction allows flexibility.
In keeping with its “best of British” ethos, Bremont has collaborated with notable British institutions with its limited editions. There is the Codebreaker, into which was incorporated historical artifacts from Bletchley Park, where the Engima Code was broken; the Bremont Victory, which had oak and timber from the HMS Victory on its rotor and, with ejector-seat marker Martin-Baker, it created a watch that could withstand the forces associated with being ejected from a plane.
From left: Codebreaker, Victory and Wright Flyer
Its most recent collaboration was the Wright Flyer, which had scraps from the muslin that covered the Wright Brothers Wright Flyer back in 1903 in Dayton, Ohio in its rotor, and also featured Bremont’s first in-house movement, the BWC/01, which was developed in conjunction with La Joux-Perret.
The back of the Wright Flyer, showcasing the BWC/01 movement
Bremont is a brand that has achieved cult status in the watch world in just 13 years. Its watches have graced the wrists of great Brits such as Hugh Bonneville and Ronnie Wood; been tested in the harshest of elements by explorers such as ex-paratrooper Levison Wood, who recently walked the Nile, and been picked up by Hollywood A-listers, such as Orlando Bloom and Tom Cruise.
It has gone from selling a small, core collection to having boutiques selling its watches everywhere from London to Hong Kong and now New York.
And all with a very British sense of humour and spirit of derring-do.