There’s a lack of transparency in watchmaking. This isn’t news – the history of clock and watch production is littered with companies that use (or have used) partners, third parties, suppliers and agents to design, build, manufacture, power, cover or finish their pieces. Just look at the world of pocketwatches, where the point (and indeed location) of sale was often far more important than the movement within. However, even two hundred years on, in a world in which no information is secure, few of these relationships are disclosed, and many remain relatively unknown, even to the horological cognoscenti.
Evolution can be defined as the change in the inherited characteristics of a population over successive generations, and might well be used describe the approach that Bremont Chronometers has taken with this, the next iteration of their MB series of watches.
First shown in 2009, the MBI was a dual crown three-hander, designed and tested in collaboration with Martin-Baker, the Bucks-based ejection seat manufacturer. Martin-Baker’s change in focus from producing aircraft to saving the lives of pilots through the development of ejection seat technology was, rather poignantly, due to a similarly-named ‘plane, the MB3: Captain Valentine Baker lost his life whilst executing a difficult forced landing, crashing in a field in 1942.
While industry standard tests simulate dropping a watch from one metre onto a hardwood floor (a shock of 5,000G according to the literature), Martin-Baker’s tests are limited by the forces that a human pilot can withstand. An ejection can take place at up to 18,000ft at Mach 2, producing 25-30G on exit (it’s interesting to note that any watch on the wrist of an ISS astronaut is subject to a mere 3G as the main engines ignite). Martin-Baker challenged Bremont to produce a watch that could withstand the same tests and simulations to which they subject their seats, including salt fog and humidity, altitude, extreme temperature, vibration and (finally) ejection.
When the English brothers took to the small stage in the Science Museum’s Flight Gallery last Wednesday evening in front of an invited audience of Bremont owners, retailers, press, ‘bloggers and their staff, it was to announce, with some pride, their latest limited edition. In what has become an annual tradition, Bremont has developed a series of watches over the past three years that have incorporated historically significant items: oak and copper/brass from HMS Victory; paper from the code-breaking bombes in Bletchley; and now some of the original 1903 wing-covering material from the first ever powered flight – the Wright Flyer.