FighterSweep and its parent company, Force12 Media, have recently launched a parternship with Bremont Watch Company. Bremont is now the official time keeper of Fighter Sweep and Force 12 Media.
FighterSweep was lucky enough to sit down with Bremont co-founder Nick English to get his thoughts on the new partnership and how the Bremont Watch Company has been a favorite of military pilots.
Bremont has been creating special bespoke watches for military crew and squadrons for almost a decade. Its timepieces are built to withstand the same level of rigorous forces placed on the aircraft and pilot.
A great storyteller and an accomplished pilot in his own right, Nick and FighterSweep had a lot to talk about.
FS – Nick, can you quickly tell us about Bremont and how you became involved with Force12 Media and Fighter Sweep?
Bremont really started at an early age for my brother, Giles, and myself. We had this wonderful upbringing spending most of our time in our father’s workshop where he built everything from aircraft, cars, to musical instruments. He also built a sailing boat that we went to live on as children.
One of his passions was also watches and clocks – basically anything mechanical. His passions included restoring old clocks and he’d buy one from an auction and get us to help restore it as children.
As we grew up, our father did a lot of flying, especially in vintage 1940’s aircraft. Our family did a lot of air-show flying. Life changed for us in 1995 when my father and I were in a plane crash, whilst practicing in a 1942 T-6 Harvard for a formation routine.
My father died and I broke over 30 bones and was in intensive care for many months. When I recovered, Giles and I agreed life is very short and wanted to do something we both loved doing, so that’s exactly what we did.
We decided to make watches. We knew Britain had an incredible history for watch-making and we wanted to help re-establish it. It was five years until we launched our first watches onto the market in 2007. It’s very much created out of passion for beautifully engineered product, and a lot of sweat and tears!
The connection with Force12 and Fighter Sweep happened very organically. Just out of interest for what each party was doing, Bremont’s military watch division and Fighter Sweep started sharing interesting content on social media. Very quickly we realized we had a lot in common and shared many of the same enthusiast base.
FS – Why do you think that Bremont Watch Company has become such a favorite of the military, especially military pilots?
Bremont is a brand born from aviation and a love of all things mechanical. Our father and both Giles and myself were both sponsored through University by the Air Force and we genuinely have a huge appreciation and interest in what the military do.
What is interesting is that the majority of military we talk to share very similar passions to us. They fully appreciate what goes into a beautifully engineered product, whether it be a beautifully engineered aircraft, firearm, motor-car or wrist watch. A well maintained aircraft from the 1940’s will work as well as the day it was built, and the same applies to a mechanical time piece.
What I do love about the military watches we manufacture is the kin-ship that goes with it. There is an immense sense of pride in the squadron, regiment or military unit they come from. This passion needs to be reflected in the product itself. They are under no doubt whatsoever that they are getting something really rather special and unique when they receive their timepiece.
FS – There are a lot of watch companies that like to sell to military members, especially pilots. What sets Bremont apart?
I totally agree. There are some lovely brands out there, all doing slightly different things. When you look at it in a little more detail, I actually believe there are a few things that differentiate Bremont from other watch companies.
I think having an aviation background and a small exposure to military life gives us a different outlook to other brands when we are producing watches. Not many brands take this area of their business as seriously as we do. It is not about just sticking a logo on a dial – it about much more than this, and you can see it very clearly when you see some of the projects we have done over the last few years.
To achieve this, I have to say, we do have a very special team internally at Bremont who focus on nothing but military and special projects (counter terrorism etc). Not many watch companies can boast about having an F-15 flying ex-USAF Colonel in their team! The respect for what the military do therefore goes without saying at Bremont.
The big difference comes down to the product itself. We only make mechanical chronometer rated watches. They are all manufactured in the UK. Many of our watch parts are made at our facility in Silverstone in the UK.
If you ever visit there you will literally see a bar of steel going in one end of the factory and a watch case or watch part coming out of the other end. If you then come to Henley-on-Thames, you will then see rows of specially trained watch makers assembling the watches individually.
We make a finely tuned mechanical machine that a military member can wear with pride and really appreciate. It tells something about them. We take pride in the fact that our watches are all mechanical, meaning they don’t have a battery. We will never make an inexpensive quartz watch. We joke that a battery powered quartz watch has no heart or soul!
We go to extra lengths to put the DNA of our customer’s jet, squadron, or organization into our watches. We take one of our core line and make modifications so the watch is very special to the group that commissions it.
For example, our KC-135 watch has a 24 hour Zulu hand marked with the colors of the air refueling boom, or the rotor on the back of the watch for an A-10 squadron which is designed to rotate and look like their very unique Gatling gun. Not many other brands go to that level of customization.
FS – You seem to have really integrated with military culture and understand your unique customers. How does a British Luxury brand manage to do that?
The first every military watch we did was for the US Navy Test Pilot School together with the Empire Test Pilot School in the UK. These projects started close to 10 years ago and we are still making watches for them!
This was all happening at much the same time we started working with the British Ejection Seat manufacturer, Martin-Baker (MB). This partnership organically brought many US Navy and Marine pilots (who sit on Martin Baker seats) into the Bremont fold.
Martin-Baker have saved over 7,500 lives to date, which is an incredible statistic. To work with MB our watches had to go through the same testing as their seats themselves. We learnt a huge amount from this testing programme and the Bremont MBII was born – a watch that was very durable and great looking.
If you see anyone wearing a Bremont MB watch with a red-barrel on it, it means they have punched out of an aircraft! They all have such a special story attached to them.
Further to this, we started to recognize that the Bremont brand was being noticed by more military when a U-2 pilot saw one of our watches on the wrist of Bear Grylls, a former SAS Special Forces member who had a TV show called “Man vs Wild”. He asked that we produce a watch for their U-2 Spy Plane Squadron at Beale AFB in California. Wearing the watch on the outside of the space-suit, we could also prove to them that during the MB Testing programme, the watch had been subjected to -50 degrees C at 100,000 feet!
Our more recent partnership with aerospace giant Boeing has further validated us as a brand that military trusts and respects.
We became acquainted very early on with a veteran US Air Force F-15C pilot who was a big collector of mechanical watches and recognized what we were doing. He was one of the first fighter pilots to wear Bremont and quickly became our unofficial consultant on military related topics. When he retired from the military, we brought him on officially within the brand. We understand how important it is to “get it right” with our military customers.
Lastly, we like to think that we provide a customer service to our military clients that is second to none. The team is outstanding, they really are. We understand how busy and stressful a military lifestyle can be, so we strive to be efficient and responsive to all enquiries or concerns. At Bremont, we never think a military customer should be honoured to wear our watches, rather it is us who are genuinely honoured that they choose to wear Bremont!
FS – It is very exciting hearing a little more about the Bremont brand. Any last words Nick about what the future holds?
We are seeing our military side of the business grow each year which is wonderful, and something of that we are immensely proud. It is all very organic which makes it that much more special.
The ideas that military members come to us with are fantastic and many times end up being incorporated into civilian watch models.
Our 2016 celebration of Boeing’s 100-year anniversary is also very exciting, and we have built a limited edition of only 300 pieces for them to help celebrate this incredible milestone. The Boeing connection was always very material research led, and hopefully you can expect some other interesting developments on this!
All I would say is that if you have any questions you would like to ask about this side of the business please do send a note to [email protected] and they will quickly get back to you. You must also follow them on social media (@bremontmilitary) – there really are some wonderful photos and stories being posted.
FighterSweep is excited about the new partnership. Get your official FighterSweep time hack from the Bremont watch above! (Mobile users at the bottom of your scroll)
Top Photo: Bremont co-founder Nick English with the 1954 Max Holste Broussard, affectionately known as the “Bremont Bus”. Photograph courtesy of Andy Wilson.