The story of English watch brand Bremont doesn't begin with a cheery introduction. A tragic flying accident that led to the death of Euan English – the father of co-founders Nick and brother Giles – saw the Bremont brand born from the aftermath.
Created on the premise that the long-forgotten heritage of British watchmaking would make a comeback through the passion and determination of the two English brothers, Bremont was also a labour of love. Nick and Giles say Bremont embodies all that their father was renowned for, such as his dexterity with fixing old trinkets (like vintage watches), coupled with classic British craftsmanship.
A childhood dream
In Australia for the launch of Bremont's first brick and mortar store in Melbourne, co-founder Nick English believes Bremont will lead the pack in reinventing the 'Made in Britain' watch trademark.
"Growing up in our father's workshop, Giles and I watched him tinkering with old things all the time; he had a real talent for fixing vintage items," explains Nick English.
"It was only after [the accident] that we decided to not only pay homage to our late father, but to follow our passions for aviation and classic British craftsmanship. And what better way to inject the two than in a classic watch."
Aviation, military, and watchmaking
And It's the love of aviation, military, and adventure - and its uncompromising demands - that are inherent in every Bremont timepiece.
"Both Giles and I received a flying scholarship with the RF, a passion which stemmed from watching our father fly in airshows. So, you can say that the DNA of aviation was always there, combined with the necessity of wearing (and using) watches whilst flying," says English.
"But when started Bremont, it was absolutely critical that as much of the operations were to remain in the UK - it would be the most important thing we do."
A rebirth of industry
With a propensity for taking risks, the Bremont name is thriving 17-years on, with all design, manufacturing and assembly processes taking place in its watch making facility located in Henley-on-Thames, England.
"There are several hundred Swiss watch brands that don't do what we do; it's our biggest differentiator," he adds.
"I would like to look back with my brother in 20-years time and marvel at the industry around watchmaking in the UK; I would be immensely proud to know that we had something to do with that."
With a cutting edge, custom built British watchmaking facility located in South Oxfordshire, Bremont is at the forefront of in-house watch manufacturing, investing long-term in programmes aimed at developing watchmaking expertise in the UK.
"It's quite a complex business, watchmaking: on one end, you are designing parts that you are then going to engineer from a piece of steel, which is really hard. On the other end is the manufacturing side. You then have to also market your product because you have stores and products to sell," explains English.
"I guess if we were just another marketing company, like many watch brands are, where they design a watch but don't touch any other aspects, to me, there would be a massive hole - it would be soleless industry."
Making considerable investments in its UK-based watchmaking and manufacturing facility, Bremont are building on its advantageous in-house watchmaking knowledge to capitalise on local transferable skills in CNC mill-turning, metal cutting and finishing machinery and space. Meaning, Bremont are able to manufacture significant quantities of impeccably engineered and finished watch parts on British shores - a first of its kind in the UK.
Tried and trusted
When designing and manufacturing a timepiece of Bremont's calibre, the rigour each individual timepiece goes through is not only thorough, but is precise.
"The Bremont customer expects a huge amount from our watches, and rightfully so. We figured quite early on that the more testing we do, the better. So, we now do a lot more testing than virtually most other brands," says English.
All movements are tested individually to ISO International Chronometer standards for over 15-days. They then come back and we test them further; casings go through quality control (machine-based and visual). Then, as all of our watches are automatic, we ensure they wind up automatically, but that the power reserve comes on and off. They are pressure tested for diving purposes - it really goes on and on for days."
"What you realise is that you're not just doing it for the customer, but for the brand, also. If we can design a watch that just doesn't ever come back for faults or repairs, then we're doing some incredibly right."
The future is in good hands
It's safe to say that the British watchmaking industry is well on its way to reclaiming its title of being at the forefront of design and manufacturing, thanks to the reignited spark of the Bremont brand.
With what was once arguably the home to more advances in horology than any other nation, the excitement in Nick English's eyes when he explains its position in 2019 is that of pure excitement.
"British watchmaking and its industry was amazing once upon a time, but sadly died out through two world wars. But I know that the industry is only growing, and we can expect to see big advancements in the next 5 to 10 years," explains English.
"We have shown we can get somewhere exciting, and there is increasing interest in taking up a watchmaking apprenticeship here in the UK, so it's all very promising for the industry."