Never make a big decision after a life-changing moment, so the popular advice goes, but legendary lives and accomplishments have rarely been the fruits of well-meaning advice. Take the brothers English, Nick and Giles, whose great achievement was formed in the wake of great family tragedy.
In 1995, Nick and his father Euan were training for an airshow in the UK when their vintage aircraft crashed, killing Euan and leaving Nick with life-threatening injuries. Not only did the brothers resolve to return to the air, but after an emergency landing in the Champagne region and a serendipitous encounter with a timepiece collector named Bremont, Nick and Giles decided to set off on an unexpected course in their careers. They became watchmakers, deciding to name their company after their human inspiration.
Bremont co-founder Giles English
Inspiration, after all, is the force that trumps all common sense and expectation. It is also a word that perfectly describes the Bremont brand of timepieces that the brothers English have today raised to the level of visual and technical perfection. By insisting on employing the best available materials and using the most tested techniques, and by hewing closely to the maxim “Testing Beyond Endurance,” the Bremont watch company has quietly and coolly achieved a comfortable cruising altitude among the best of the great independents.
Taking to the air in the midst of great difficulties, after all, is one of those great British pursuits, but in Bremont’s case, considering the well-established pedigrees of Swiss tradition or Japanese engineering, Nick and Giles English have achieved a new kind of brand audacity, most apparent in their signature visual style.
The Martin-Baker range, for example, exemplified by the MBII White, continues to takes authentic cues from British ejection seat pioneer Martin-Baker, with whom the brothers have enjoyed a longstanding relationship. But it also consistently soars outside the range of horological design expectation, with its knurled barrel and contemporary proportions. Supporting all this is shock-resistant movement enclosed in an anti-magnetic field that, before it ever makes its soft, bright landing on anyone’s wrist, has been through a host of tests that will give the user as much confidence in his timepiece than in the vessel he is accustomed to ride—whether it is a luxury car or a Blackhawk helicopter.
In keeping with its aviation history, Bremont has also produced iconic limited edition watches that contain actual parts from famous aircraft, among them a 1942 Spitfire MK that was one of the most credited WWII fighters in existence, the Pacific War veteran 1944 Mustang P-51K-10 named “Fragile but Agile,” the record-breaking de Havilland DH-88 Comet “Grosvenor House” and, incredibly, the 1903 Wright Flyer.
This is probably why there are no more than 1,000 examples of each model annually, each designed to take lifetimes of abuse. For example, Bremont stainless steel cases are made to a hardness of 2000 Vickers—seven times the hardness of the average steel watch case. There are nine layers of anti-reflective coating applied to both sides of each sapphire crystal, and each movement undergoes the legendary COSC chronometer movement certification process.
Speaking of integrity, Bremont’s newly opened watchmaking facility in the Oxfordshire town of Henley-on-Themes has allowed the company to assemble their watches fully in-house, to be offered for sale notably at its award-winning flagship boutique in Mayfair, London, where its storefront sits side by side with the most admirable and loved British luxury brands.
The decision to own a Bremont, and the resulting experience of wearing one’s own, is therefore original and uplifting—arguably, more exciting than owning any of the other expected watch brands, and certainly more personal and intimate. But whether it will be life-changing is up to the owner—it’s their life after all, made up of all their big decisions. The brand is only there to provide the indelible inspiration.
Lucerne, Glorietta, Shangri-La Plaza, and Shangri-La at The Fort