I have mentioned in the past that I believe successful brands are those that stick to their core competencies and know their strengths just as well as they know their weaknesses. Bremont is a brand that has a firm grasp on their skills and, thanks to a focused but patient energy, they have been able to build an enviable position as a distinctive and very capable producer of tough and interesting sport watches. Last year, I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks with their S500 Supermarine dive watch (which Ariel reviewed here) and came away very impressed by the excellent finishing and use of specialized materials in forming their interpretation of an everyday luxury dive watch. Having experienced their diver, I was interested in seeing something new from Britain's favorite watch brand and was thrilled at the opportunity to spend some time with the all new ALT1-WT World Timer. While the watch seen in this review is a late-stage prototype, we have received confirmation from Bremont that what is shown here does not represent any considerable departure from the production model.
Part of Bremont's product strategy includes producing special military-only editions of their watches, the ALT1-WT was originally seen dressed-for-duty as the C-17 Globemaster. Public response to the Globemaster was enough to warrant Bremont producing the civilian version featured in this review. The ALT1-WT takes its place in the Bremont family among fan favorites like the ALT1-C and ALT1-P military inspired chronographs. Personally, I feel the watch world has been thoroughly inundated with marketing fluff concerning watches which have been designed for military, or designed with help from various military groups. Provided that the watch in question is a good watch, I don't actually care if it is the same watch worn by the Navy Seals, GSG 9 or even the Girl Guides. That said, Bremont is able to use strong connections with many military outfits to test their watches, vet new technologies, or soft-launch new designs. From the ejection-seat-ready shock system of the MBII to the gauge-like design of the U2, I believe that Bremont's genuine passion for military, especially for pilots and aircraft, makes for a better final product.
The ALT1-WT offers a complete feature set for the active world traveler, effectively allowing a user to track both local, GMT, and any other UTC timezone on a rotatable inner bezel. With the UTC hand set to GMT-0, the user can rotate any of the listed cities (timezones) to the 12 o'clock position to coordinate the UTC hand to show the active time in that city/timezone. Thus if I rotate the bezel to place "Paris" at 12 o'clock, the UTC hand will now be pointing to the 24 hour time in Paris (a bit confusing in text so please see the included video). Once you have the UTC hand set to GMT-0, the world's time is literally at your fingertips.
Along with its timezone flexibility, the Bremont ALT1-WT is also an automatic chronograph with a traditional two-pusher layout and sub dials for 30 minutes (top), running seconds (left, 9 o'clock) and 12 hours (bottom). I really love this layout as it groups the Bremont nameplate and date in a way that seems balanced with the otherwise asymmetrical sub dial design. The date window retains the trapezoidal shape which was first seen on the C-17 model in reference to the shape of a C-17's aircraft heads up display.
Beating inside is the Bremont BE-54AE automatic chronograph movement. Visible thanks to the sapphire display back, this movement is derived from the ETA 7750 but has been modified with a 24 hour UTC function and then decorated by Bremont and COSC certified. As was my impression with past Bremont models, the ALT1-WT's feature list has been designed with actual use in mind. Bremont is not one for vaporware and the chronograph, UTC hand, and world timer bezel all boast strong legibility, reliable implementation and excellent ease of use.
The bi-directional rotating bezel for the 24 hour timezone listing is controlled via the crown at eight o'clock and uses Bremont's Roto-Click system so the crown is designed to exhibit a rather pleasing mechanical click as it is turned. This system, while requiring a fair amount of crown rotation, can be rotated to stop and hold at any point in its travel, regardless of the mechanical feedback from the Roto-Click.
As with all Bremont watches, the ALT1-WT is built using a three piece Trip-Tick case which consists of the case back (secured with five screws), a middle barrel with a black PVD treatment, and the top assembly which consists of a single piece spanning the bezel and the lugs, which are stunning in both their shape and finishing. Bremont employs a special process to harden the steel used in their case construction which increases its overall scratch resistance. The final product is said to boast a hardness rating of 2000 Hv, which is several times harder than the steel used in most watches and thus much more capable of dealing with the daily wear and tear to which we often subject our sport watches. Bremont seems to understand that a sport watch may occasionally come in contact with surfaces harder than the inside of a shirt cuff.
Bremont goes to similar lengths with the anti-reflective treatment on their sapphire crystals. Many watches offer dual-sided AR coatings but Bremont preps the crystal with a nine layer treatment on each side, and then hardens the treatment to preserve the native scratch resistance of the sapphire. Bremont's treatment of the sapphire crystal negates the majority of reflections and much of the "blue haze" effect that many AR coatings display under direct light.
On the wrist, the ALT1-WT's 43mm width and 139g weight (with leather strap and deployment) is quite manageable and I think the World Timer wears a little slimmer than its 16mm height would suggest. The dial is a flat black and exhibits a subtle but effective globe design which is carried over from the aforementioned C-17 Globemaster. While I was at first skeptical of the design, in person it adds depth and character to the World Timer and sets the ALT1-WT apart from the other chronographs in the Bremont family. This is not a cheap watch and it is these sorts of details, from the hardened case to the detailed design and fine finishing which set the Bremont apart from a less expensive watch or even many of the watches available at a similar price point.
I think Bremont has really nailed the proportions for the dial design for this case size (which is the same on the majority of their watches) and buyers will be able to choose between versions with a blue, white, or black dial. The ALT1-WT comes fitted to a leather strap with a sporty Bremont deployment buckle and includes a leather wallet to hold the watch and strap tool. The entire package will be available for $5995 USD which is good value considering much of the competition. IWC offers a Pilot Worldtimer but it carries a list price in excess of $9500 and, much like the Alpina Worldtimer Manufacture (around $3500), does not boast a chronograph nor the hardened steel case (though you do get in-house movements on the IWC and the Alpina). Even within Bremont the ALT1-WT is well priced, as it represents only a small increase in price over the ALT1-P or the ALT1-Z chronographs ($5250 and $5450, respectively)
Some readers will note that Bremont is not exactly a household name and I would agree that you are paying less for the Bremont name than you would for some of the more recognizable brands (consider Rolex, Omega or IWC). Still a rather small company from across the pond, those that need their watch to be of a specifically renowned brand should likely look elsewhere. If you wear a watch because it speaks to you, and not simply about you, Bremont is definitely worth your consideration. With their first boutique having recently opened in London, it would seem that Bremont is still very much on the rise and many early adopters may soon by saying "I told you so" to those who doubted this small brand from England.
Generally speaking, I am a dive watch guy who never really gets excited about chronographs, but the ALT1-WT simply blew me away. I really like Bremont's interpretation of what a modern sport watch should be. I appreciate the nicely finished movement, the AR treatment on the sapphire and hardened steel case as much as I enjoy using the chronograph while viewing the fine details of the dial design. Is about $6000 ($5995) a lot for a watch? That is ultimately up to you. All I can say is that if you're in the market for for a luxury watch and you aren't considering a Bremont, then you are overlooking one of the most complete sport watches available today.
By James Stacey