First Impression: Bremont Wright Flyer

Wright Flyer

Bremont has become well known for two things: producing really tough tool watches, and releasing (arguably) overpriced limited editions. Just Wednesday, they announced their latest limited edition piece, this time taking aim at the origin of heavier-than-air flight.

The Wright Flyer – as it has been named – is, for a few reasons, Bremont’s boldest watch to date. Like the Codebreaker and Victory, this piece comes with a bit of history built in. Believe it or not, Bremont scored some of the original fabric used in the creation of the Wright Flyer, and worked it into the rotor. I don’t believe the full details are out on how this material was acquired, and/or when Ocean’s Fourteen will be released, a documentary of the museum heist executed by Bremont and George Clooney (tongue firmly in cheek).

Business end of the Wright Flyer

Business end of the Wright Flyer

The other big story here is Bremont’s announcement of their first in-house caliber, which is powering the Wright Flyer. Seen through the exhibition caseback, the caliber BWC/01 is objectively attractive. The Geneva stripes on the mainplate contrast very nicely with the black rotor. As far as performance, the BWC/01 boasts a 50-hour power reserve, and will beat at 28,800 bph.

At face value, the Wright Flyer is a good-looking, vintage-inspired pilot’s watch. You’ll find Bremont’s almost standard 43-millimeter Trip-Trick case, but this time, with a decorative copper ring running through the middle of it. The luminous numbers have the ever-popular aged look to them, matching the lume on the spear hands. Finishing off the vintage aviator looks is an onion crown, which is something new for Bremont.

We don’t like to get overly subjective in our First Impressions, often because all of the pertinent details haven’t been released, or we haven’t actually gotten our hands on an example. However, in this case, I’m going to go out on a limb. Straight from their website, there’s this:

 

Just as significantly, it showcases Bremont’s first ever in-house movement, the BWC/01, designed and developed in Britain.

 

 

Bremont and Base Overlay

Bremont BWC/01 overlay with La Joux-Perret cal 6901

I hope I’m not jumping to conclusions here, but this is a misleading statement. It’s quite clear – as can be seen in the picture on the right – that the caliber BWC/01 is not an “in-house” design. Aside from a customized mainplate and a nice rotor, the Bremont movement is  a modified La Joux-Perret caliber 6901 – therefore, not designed and developed in Britain as they literally said. We also came across a picture of an Arnold & Son DSTB (below), which was introduced at Basel this year and uses their caliber 6003. Well, Arnold & Son have partnered with La Joux-Perret in the past, and their 6003 was based on the same caliber 6901 as the Bremont.

Arnold & Son DTSB

Arnold & Son DSTB showing its caliber 6003 — courtesy of ABlogToWatch

Since the Wright Flyer’s announcement, the watch forums and comment threads have been on fire with lots of speculation about the new Bremont movement. Whatever the full story is, Bremont really should be clearer with the movement’s origins. It seems as though Timeless Luxury Watches (a Bremont retailer) released a statement from Bremont on WatchUSeek addressing the movement hysteria. The “too long; didn’t read” of it is that some of the blueprint photos of the base caliber were never released to the public, and therefore leaked illegally. They also go on to change the story a bit on the, “designed and developed in Britain,” by saying, “parts of this movement are being made in the UK for the first time by Bremont”. That’s a huge distinction. Now the problem seems to be backtracking. If Bremont had just laid the story out honestly from the beginning, I think a lot of folks would have liked to hear about Bremont’s expanded production capabilities. But as they say, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Unfortunately, the movement’s origins aren’t the only sticking point. Price is the other. I don’t think anything’s official yet, but it looks like the stainless steel version will land somewhere in the low $20K range. Seriously? That’s insane. I know their previous special editions have done well, and I don’t even doubt the future success of this one, but that’s beside the point. If the price really does reach VW Jetta range, I have no idea how it can be rationalized – especially if the movement isn’t truly in-house. A piece of fabric the size of a nail clipping? Even if that does represent the actual cost of acquisition, we’re talking Royal Oak Jumbo pricing here.

Maybe the meaningfulness of the built-in artifact doesn’t resonate enough with me, but it just comes off as a marketing ploy. I think the it’s fact we appreciate Bremont’s standard line so much that it makes limited editions like this stick out like a sore thumb. I’m sure we’ll hear more about the movement in the coming days, so maybe this article will require an update at some point. If that’s the case, and this mess gets cleared up, I will be sure to change my tune accordingly. But for now, we’ll look beyond the Wright Flyer, and focus on new references like the MBIII and Terra Nova.

Let us know what you think of this whole ordeal in the comments. I really think the “in-house” terminology, and how loose it’s become, requires a bigger discussion. Look for an opinion piece from us addressing the topic in the near future. Bremont may have made a little mistake here, but there are by no means the first, or the last, watchmaker to stretch the meaning of “in-house”.

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Shane is one of the founding members of Wound For Life and an active contributor for Gear Patrol's Timekeeping section. A lover of all things mechanical, his true passions lie with watches and adventure. To keep up with the latest from Shane, you can follow him on Twitter (@shanegriffin1) or Instagram (@shanegriffin25).

10 Comments

  • Reply July 25, 2014

    gyang333

    Thank you for covering this. It seems like the other watch blogs such as Hodinkee and ABlogToWatch are keeping their mouths shut on this (perhaps until they hear officially back from Bremont) despite the comment section exploding with claims that it’s not in-house. I think there was a bit of sabotage involved, as the movement and the watch was discussed before the announcement on the tz.uk forum, but it doesn’t change the fact that for a supposedly in-house movement by Bremont, they somehow got the jump by Arnold & Son with the world premier of the “in-house” movement since the Arnold & Son watch was previewed at Basel World in March. You would think that if it was truly in-house and proprietary, Bremont would have been the first to unveil the movement.

    The founders of Bremont can feign outrage all they want (albeit their claims of sabotage do have some merit) but if they weren’t lying their pants on in the first place, would it matter if “blueprints” were leaked without their permission or knowledge?

    • Reply July 25, 2014

      Shane Griffin

      Thanks for the comment. After hearing about the possibility that some of the pictures were leaked blueprints, I was going to back off a bit. However, when I realized A&S was using the same caliber, I decided to go with that I had. For me, the main takeaway is watchmakers need to start being more honest. I know a lot of other brands have shielded the truth about where their components come from, but this seemed like such a blatant fabrication. I don’t want to come off as a Bremont hater, so I plan to give the same level of attention to other watchmakers doing the same thing.

  • Reply July 25, 2014

    Isaac Wingold

    Prices have now been announced by a few authorized dealers. $25,900 in steel, $40,000 in rose gold, and $45,000 in white gold. They’re a little steep if you ask me.

  • Reply July 25, 2014

    Humanloop

    Holy pricing insanity batman! Mildly Lu-di-crous. Good looking watch. I like the idea of incorporating the muslin cloth. But…someone bumped their head.

  • Reply July 26, 2014

    Marcel

    As a quick note : Arnold & Son and La Joux-Perret belongs to the same company. It is like F. Piguet and Blancpain or Nouvelle Lemania and Breguet. All these luxury brands produce and use movements for themselves but do also sell their movements to other selected clients. Also JLC do sell its movement to AP, VC and, in the past, even to PP, etc. There is nothing wrong I think. Bremont apparently not bought the movement “as it” but went a step further as they have their own bridge design (not only the rotor) and also the click system seems to be different. It does obviously not make the movement entirely new but it is still different and such kind of changes must cost some extra money.

    • Reply July 27, 2014

      Shane Griffin

      Marcel,

      I agree that there’s nothing wrong with A&S using an LJP movement, because, as you say, it’s pretty common in the industry for this type of arrangement. However, in Bremont’s case, they are independent, and not under the same parent company as LJP. It appears (at least as of right now) they bought an LJP movement and then modified it. To call something a designed and developed in-house movement gives the impression that it incorporates a lot more than just modified bridges. We’ll have to see what Bremont says this week, should be interesting. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment.

      Shane

  • Reply July 27, 2014

    dela

    Well done Shane. True investigation and impartial writting. Other blogs should learn a little bit about real reporting and not just to be sold to the market. On the brand, they had a second chance to make it up, but again they dropped the ball. Fought back with rhetorical non-sense.
    Nick and Giles; the sun cannot be covered with a finger.
    Good job WFL.com

    • Reply July 27, 2014

      Shane Griffin

      Thanks for the kind words, Dela. Bremont is excellent at marketing, but I think this issue will really put their skills to the test.

  • Reply July 27, 2014

    Matt

    Bremont certainly do have some questions to answer with regards to calling this movement in-house.

    With regards to pricing, I think people need to look at these limited edition (LE) watches more as advertising than their actual collection. I do not think the LEs are aimed at your average watch collector, they are aimed at people that have loads of cash in their pockets and want something truly special with a piece of actual history on their wrist that they can walk around with all day.

    These LEs get talked about A LOT and so it is brilliant and clever marketing for Bremont who do not have to pay for their name to be plastered all over the Olympics (Omega) or the F1/Tennis/Golf (Rolex). The LEs get the name out there while they still offer their main collection which, for what you are getting compared to competition, is quite reasonable.

    • Reply July 27, 2014

      Shane Griffin

      Matt,

      Thanks for the comment. You make a good point about the marketing intentions of Bremont. Regardless of their plan, the price still makes me shake my head. I’m looking forward to what Bremont has to say about this whole thing.

      Shane

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