Bremont is a British company that makes excellent watches with some great designs but I’ve always had them down as a bit, I don’t know, gimmicky? By this I’m referring to their limited editions, some with bits of old aeroplanes and ships used in their construction and of course the seemingly limitless special projects for the armed forces. I have nothing against that per se but I didn’t really get it. What I do get is the fact that they are bringing mass production and in house manufacturing of wristwatches back to the UK and that has to be applauded. Whilst not yet at the point where they produce their own movement they do a fantastic amount of their own manufacturing in the UK and an in house movement is well along the development path.
When an opportunity to have a tour around Bremonts head office and assembly/service facility along with their manufacturing facility presented itself even though I didn’t “get it” I jumped at the chance!
Bremont are situated a few miles from where I live and over the past few years I’ve watched them construct their purpose built head office, which they’ve now outgrown. They’ve now commissioned a state of the art production facility in the village where I grew up, this will bring all their production and assembly/servicing under one roof instead of being split across multiple sites as it is at present, and it’s due for completion in 2020 I believe.
After seeing first hand Bremonts facilities and spending a few hours in the company of Nick at their head office and Giles at their case manufacturing facility I must say my perception of the Brand has changed. To see the passion the brothers have for doing what they do and the sheer attention to detail that is shown by all the members of staff I met was an eye opener. I now understand why they create all their special projects and why they are such a core part of their business, as I said previously I thought it was a bit gimmicky but it really fills a niche in the market that no other manufacturer has properly tapped into and I believe the brothers are doing this for the right reasons. Being shown around the assembly and service areas I had a big case of workshop envy, their workshop equipment is currently being completely upgraded and the investment must be massive. Seeing their case making and development facility first hand really blew me away! The accuracy of the machines that are used to produce and finish the cases is jaw dropping and I think Bremont are the only watchmaking company outside of Switzerland to have these German/Japanese machines.
What I also found incredible is the traceability they’re striving for, when all their new systems are up and running, in addition to the usual manufacturing “build sheet” which is basically knowing which tech assembled or serviced your watch and on what date, they will also be able to immediately ascertain from the live online database which machine and at what time the various components were made, the complete records of all the timing tests it had undergone in the factory, the pressure test results, even down to having a log of how tight the various individual movement screws were torqued down to. Jaw dropping stuff.
I was so Impressed with what I’d seen I did what I’d been thinking about for a few years and started looking in earnest for a used example of my favourite model, a Bremont MBII. I tracked one down that was being sold by a horological journalist friend of mine and the deal was done.
As you can see it’s a Black dialled MBII from 2013. I bought a new Bremont Nato and buckle for it and it hasn’t been off my wrist since the day collected it.
The accuracy of the watch is astounding, more accurate than any other watch I own or have owned and you can include many top brand Swiss makes in that. The watch was running beautifully but as it was already 5 years old (and me being me) I wanted to see what had been done to get the Selitta movement to perform so stably so I thought I’d have a peek inside and give it a service whilst I was at it. This is the first watch of my own I’ve serviced for over 4 years, I just never seem to get the time to do my own stuff so this Bremont was a bit of a treat to be honest. The caseback is held in place with six screws and carries the Martin Baker logo. Martin Baker (the ejector seat company if you didn’t know) actually helped Bremont with the testing of their watches leading to the tag line “tested beyond endurance”. They really are!
With the back removed you can see the cover for the movement. This serves two functions, it acts as a Faraday cage to help prevent the effects of magnetism on the movement and it also keeps any foreign particles out if you want to the case barrel changed on your watch. Mine being orange was the colour I wanted anyway but I could choose from bronze, green or blue if I so wished. There is also a red barrel for the MB1 but to qualify for that you have to be a Martin Baker ejectee. You apply for the watch, your records are checked with Martin Baker and if it all checks out kosher you can buy one. Your watch is then engraved with either your call sign, name, or date you ejected, and will feature your Martin-Baker Tie Club membership number. On my tour around Bremont Nick told me that one chap has three engravings on his watch as he’s a triple ejectee 🙂
With the cover removed the Selitta 220.1 is now visible. With the distinctive Bremont “radial engine” oscillating weight, with the plates decorated with perlage and the watches serial number engraved onto the train bridge it’s a very pretty movement.
I next removed the weight (which has a proprietary securing screw fitted) and the autowind mechanism. The large rubber spacer you can see around the edge is a key component of the watches shock absorbing qualities.
The crown and stem and barrel was the next piece I removed, ready for an ultrasonic clean along with the caseback and screws.
I stripped the balance assembly, the ratchet and upper crown wheel which left the movement ready to be removed.
With the movement out you can see the gear for the inner bezel, this inner bezel mechanism has two springs and detents which give a positive click for each minute graduation.
Here is the dial ready for the removal of the handset, note the yellow and black loop at the pinion end of the sweep hand, a nod to the ejector seat pull on a Martin Baker seat.
The dial has the usual spacer fitted below but also has a complete steel plate under it.
Under the dial sits the day/date wheels in French and English, fitting for the brand I think!
Under the day wheel you can see the calendar work, as you can see the 220.1 is pretty much a clone of the old ETA2824 workhorse.
I continued the stripping of the dial side.
I turned the movement over to tackle the train side, again you can clearly see the origins of this movement.
The strip down continued…
….until it was ready for the cleaning machine.
Once through the machine and inspected I was ready to begin the reassembly, beginning with the balance jewels and the mainspring as usual.
The barrel and bridge is next to be refitted….
….then the train, train bridge, ratchet and upper crown wheel….
….then the pallet fork and balance assembly.
I turned the movement over to refit the keyless work and an inspection of the stem and crown revealed 4 o-rings, two on the stem and two in the crown, very belt and braces!
I continued with the dial side….
….and when it was done the movement was turned over and the autowind was rebuilt and refitted.
I turned the movement over again and refitted the dial and handset. The anti-shock script on the dial refers to…..
….this component which is a large rubber shock absorber that protects the movement from any sudden shocks or jolts, very ingenious.
You can see the movement fitted into the case without the shock absorber….
….and with it fitted between the movement and the case. It puts me in mind of the Certina DS system albeit Bremont’s is a lot more engineered.
Next to be refitted was the cleaned case barrel….
….then the movement shield….
….then the caseback was refitted. For those that don’t know, the red line you can see is actually part of a caseback sticker which helps protect the caseback from getting a ‘rash” from the Nato strap rubbing on it.
And that was it, job done!
In conclusion I think the performance of the watch is simply down to the care and time taken during the build and adjustment process. During my tour I was very impressed with the amount of time devoted to adjusting, regulating, documenting and testing each individual watch. As I said at the beginning my watch didn’t really need servicing but you can’t argue with figures like this once completed, a tiny delta (it would actually be 5.4 if you discounted the 12H position which isn’t part of COSC) and a thumping amplitude. I know I have it dialled in as an ETA2824 but let’s not split hairs, they are the same beat rate and lift angle 🙂