Following the recent announcement that Bremont was announced as the Official Timing Partner to the 35th America’s Cup and to the defending champion, ORACLE TEAM USA, Man of Many was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with Co-Founder Giles English.
How did your love of watches and all things mechanical start?
It started at an early age, Nick and I had this wonderful upbringing spending most of our time in our father’s workshop. He was an amazing man, a PHD aeronautical engineer from Cambridge and had a strong passion for building things, he restored old aircraft and even built a boat that we went to live on as kids. He also had passions for watches and clocks, to keep us quiet as kids he often used to bring out an old grand-father clock and let us tinker with it until we thought we had it working! So Nick and I grew up around watches and clocks and have always loved them.
From the outside, Bremont is a brand is full of rich history but we were surprised to hear you only founded the company in 2002. How did you go about building such a strong sense of heritage and tradition in such a short amount of time?
I think it’s all happened very organically, there has to be a massive amount of passion involved. Because Bremont is a relatively new brand, some people think we’re an overnight success. They don’t realise the amount of hard work Nick and I have put in – and the stress! We have also been able to build on the wonderful history of British watch making and tell a story that many people are not aware of.
Your watches have been worn by the likes of Tom Cruise, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom and Prince Philip. What has been your proudest moment for Bremont so far?
With every business you go through highs and lows and around every headland there is always another one further away so you never feel you have achieved your full potential. I think holding our first watch we ever made was pretty special, seeing our watches in the first ever retailer being sold and making the Wright Flyer watch are all pretty big highs for us.
Bremont was recently appointment as the Official Timing Partner to the 35th America’s Cup and to the defending champion, ORACLE TEAM USA. What do you think makes this event such a great fit for Bremont?
To be the first British Timing Partner since the first race in the UK in 1851 works very well for us, we have always associated ourselves with engineering and adventure whether in the air, on the land or on the sea and with projects that are close to our heart. The history, adventure and engineering that has been fundamental to the America’s Cup since 1851 makes the sport an obvious partner for us. Both Nick and I had always loved sailing and I trained as a Naval Architect, so yes there is also a strong personnel interest which helps. Technically we will learn a lot from the partnership and we hope it helps promote Bremont around the world.
Tell us more about the timepieces you are releasing as part of the announcement?
The great thing about a long term partnership is the ability to enter into a long term development cycle to create some special timepieces that are targeted towards the sailing community and telling the history of the Americas Cup.
We will share engineering and technology know-how, explore the use of special materials and bring cutting-edge R&D from oracle team USA into our watches. The Team Oracle Collection need to withstand the extreme conditions these America’s Cup sailors endure and the Americas Cup collection needs to have classical elegance. The Oracle I and Oracle II watches as based on our Supermarine Diving watch collection and AC1 and ACII watches with their Blued Steel hands and polished cases are far more traditional in their design.
Timing is everything in racing. How does Bremont ensure accuracy and precision is built into its watches and for the America’s Cup?
We take an enormous amount of pride in all of our watches to ensure they are immensely precise, reliable and durable and this is why all of the watches in our core range are COSC certified which means that movements are independently tested for 15 days, in five positions and at three different temperatures. The Americas Cup is all about timing and we have also built all the clocks that will be at the races, timing in sport is naturally very important.
As engineers by trade, what similarities do you see between modern catamaran design, aviation and Bremont watches?
Good design and engineering is all about practical design for the purpose your designing for. Designing a watch, racing yacht or aircraft is about detail with very little compromise. I trained as a naval architect, ran an aviation business and build watches, all the skills are transferable as they are built on the same principles. The hardest thing everyone finds with watches is the small scale you have to work to.
We heard a rumour Bremont features in the new Bond film? Could you tell us how this came about?
Sadly we are not the watch of choice in the film, but the CX75 Jaguar that we built a clock for when we first started working with Jaguar, plays a prominent role in the film.
There was a bit of controversy around the limited edition Wright Flyer with the ‘in-house’ movement. What lessons did you take out of this?
For us, it was an incredibly exciting stage in the development of the brand. The movement did not exist until a lot of time, effort and money went into its design and development both in the UK and with our long term movement partner, Le Joux Perret, in Switzerland. We felt and still do that this is massive step forward as a business but people were confused as to what definition of “In House “ means, this is very much a grey area and we found it frustrating. We are making considerable investment in our UK manufacturing and are on a very exciting journey and are totally committed and passionate about bringing back watch-making to the UK.
Giles, you famously crashed a 1930s de Havilland Gipsy Moth in 2013 and have been labelled a hero for you’re your handled the situation. How have things changed for you following the crash? Have you approached life differently?
We have had our highs and lows throughout our lives but ever since Dad’s death in a plane crash we said we always wanted to live life to the full.I was flying my 1930 Gipsy Moth in the summer of 2013 and the engine stopped at the wrong time. We crashed and I broke my back in 3 places as well as a number of other bones. We were very lucky to survive. So has this changed me since the crash? I don’t think it has too much, except by giving me the strong desire to spend as much time with my family as possible. Ever since Dads death both Nick and my phylosiphy has been about living life every day, it is too easily not to.
I know it’s like picking your favourite child, but what are your favourite watches from the Bremont collection?
The Wright Flyer is definitely one of my favourites, alongside our first ever prototypes, of which I am most proud. When you think about the material the Wright Flyer actually contains, it blows your mind. The time and effort we put into the movement is also something we are immensely proud of. It is without doubt a beautifully designed. Not many watches built these days have the combined package this watch has. It is truly wonderful.
And finally, who would win in a sailing race?
Me, of course!