It’s been a decade since luxury watchmaker Bremont made its big debut in the world of horology. Founded by brothers Nick and Giles English, it was a series of unfortunate events involving two plane crashes, one of which resulted in the tragic demise of the duo’s father, that made the founders decide that life was, indeed, too short to not pursue a noble goal. For their particular case, it was to create a watch that would outlast a lifetime. As Peter Lao, General Manager for Bremont Asia, describes it: “Just thinking about how the brand came about gives me chills.”
Lao was down in Kuala Lumpur recently to celebrate the launch of Bremont’s 2017 collection. Held at the Swiss Watch Gallery in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Lao revealed that those in attendance were among the very first within the region to witness the spirited new collection up-close and personal. Lao admits that business in the Asian region has been challenging over the last few years, but added: “We just have to be a bit patient. The brand wants to grow faster and we’ve started to get some good success in Hong Kong. We currently produce somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 watches per year. The main challenge is to get the Bremont story out there because once people explore the brand, they end up really liking what they find.”
When asked what convinced him to sign on with Bremont, Lao brings up his very first encounter with the founders: “Prior to meeting with Nick and Giles, I did some research and remembered feeling inspired just reading their stories. And when you do meet with them, you feel as though you want to be part of this great story. In a way, Bremont is a bit of the underdog in the watch industry, mostly because nobody really expected it to do as well as it has done so far. Both founders are also very charismatic, adventurous and engaging storytellers, which is why I enjoy sitting in during their interviews – I always end up learning something new.”
As an example, Lao said that when the company was just starting out, Nick and Giles had told their wives that they will be producing watches within one and a half years’ time. But in reality, it took five years of research and development before they were finally ready to release their first collection, which included the popular chronograph, the ALT1-P. “This year, we introduced the latest evolution of this pilot’s watch, which includes a new cream dial and larger hands that make it a bit more special, while the caseback has also been opened up,” he explained, before proceeding to flip the timepiece over to showcase the beautiful finishing of the BE-53AE automatic movement.
As with most of the watch models in Bremont’s core range, the case of the new ALT1-P has been assembled using Bremont’s patented Trip- Tick construction that allows the separate middle section flexibility in both durability as well as design. “During the first five years of R&D, this case construction was one the things they developed. It’s one of the core manufacturing capabilities of the brand,” Lao states before moving on to the case material that features a specially treated stainless steel infused with carbon electrons, resulting in an alloy that comes with a hardness of 2,000 Vickers, which is roughly seven times strong than standard steel. The case has also been paired with a convex sapphire crystal that features nine layers of anti-reflective coating applied to both sides of the glass for enhanced legibility.
With such attention to detail, it’s little wonder why this particular timepiece has become a cult favourite among aviation professionals and watch-lovers alike. “For the founders, the goal was always to create watches that are classic enough for the boardroom, yet solid enough to endure any extreme condition. This is also why, during the early days of Bremont, they would ask explorers to wear their watches during expeditions and take measurements to find out how to improve on them.”
The main challenge is to Get the bremont story out There because once people Explore the brand, they End up really liking what They find. –Peter Lao, General Manager of Bremont Asia
Additionally, Lao proceeded to highlight Bremont’s earliest collaboration that saw it team up with British aviation company Martin-Baker, which supplies 70 per cent of the world’s air forces with fighter ejection seat technology. “The founders decided that if someone was able to survive being ejected from the plane, they truly deserved a special watch. This led to the development of the MB1, which can only be purchased if you have proof that you have been ejected from a plane. Even the founders, both of whom have survived plane crashes, don’t own one because they were not ejected from their seats during their crash! During a recent meeting with the founder of Martin-Baker, who has owned an MB1 for the last decade that has endured more than 20 tests and it is still ticking today, he told us that it costs around GBP500,000 just to execute each test, which means his watch alone has already gone through over GBP12 million worth of testing.”
“A lot of military squadrons around the world buy our watches and they make about 25 per cent of our core business. Not only do they insist on wearing Bremont watches, but they also want Martin-Baker to certify that these watches would work in the conditions that they operate in. These watches not only have to endure crash tests but also trials for extreme temperatures, salt fog and so forth. It has to be built to endure anything that these pilots go through, and that has always been the ethos of Bremont.”
IMAGES RAISA AZZAM & BREMONT