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).
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.
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.
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”.by