In 2018, the British Royal Air Force will celebrate its centenary year and in recognition of this, Bremont Watch Company, has launched a new limited edition chronograph GMT watch called the Bremont 1918 – available in stainless steel, rose gold, and white gold variations, each with a different dial color. A connection to the RAF is nothing new for the British watchmaker, which has always associated itself with and taken design inspiration from aviation.
The Bremont 1918 has a 30-minute chronograph, a second hour hand for tracking a second time zone in a 12-hour format, an AM/PM indicator for the second time zone, and the date. It is powered by the caliber BE-16AE, which is a modified Valjoux 7750 and beats at 28,800bph with a 42-hour power reserve, and comes with a COSC certification. To be pedantic, we should note that the strict definition of a GMT watch means it displays the second time zone in 24-hour format – but with the AM/PM indicator, well... close enough. Like previous Bremont limited editions, a lot of effort has been put towards the design of the rotor, which in this case apparently has metal and wood veneer from 4 different planes from the WW1 and WW2 eras – a Bristol Blenheim, a Supermarine Spitfire, a Hawker Hurricane, and a 1917 SE5a.
The metal from the first three is shaped into propeller blades, one for each plane and the wood is from the 1917 SE5a. All of this is visible through a sapphire caseback. With the use of an automatic chronograph movement with GMT function, a display back, and 100m of water resistance, it's no surprise this watch is 17.2mm thick. With a case diameter of 43mm, this should give the watch plenty of weight and presence on the wrist - especially with the gold case materials.
The case is assembled using the brand's signature TripTick method, which gives the case band and lugs their signature look from the side and back. It has a sporty double-step bezel and a large (perhaps, a tad too large) knurled crown, and round pushers. Overall, the case does look like that of a large, contemporary pilot's watch with a sporty edge.
The dial however, isn't as immediately legible as one might expect from an aviation watch, as pilot watches make a point of being simple and super legible. Each case material comes with its own dial color – blue for the white gold case, black for the rose gold case, and white for the steel case. At first glance, it is easy to confuse the dial for that of a moonphase chronograph due to the indicator at 6:00 – but that is in fact the AM/PM indicator. This indicator has been designed to depict the Spitfire dogfighting in the Battle of Britain in the AM and the Avro Lancaster bomber on a night mission in the PM.
There are the usual sub-dials at 3:00 for the 30-minute chrono counter and at 9:00 for running seconds. The Arabic markers are applied and the baton shaped hour and minute hands are filled with SuperLuminova. Despite the large 43mm case size, a significant portion of the dial area is taken up by the telemeter scale, and while thematically it is fitting, it may prove distracting to some wearers in practice due to the increased clutter.
Another contentious choice is the date window, which is in the infamous 4:30 position. With all the different indicators on the dial, I think the date window could've been left out. A curious design choice is the contrasting sub-dials on the white gold variant (white on blue) but the other two variants have sub-dials with the same color as the primary dial. I don't see any obvious reason for this choice, but it does give it a "panda" kind of effect.
Like previous limited-edition Bremont timepieces, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the Bremont 1918 will be donated to the Royal Air Forces Association. The Bremont 1918 is likely to appeal to the collector with a personal connection to or interest in the Royal Air Force. All variants ship on an alligator strap with the stainless steel version retailing for a price of $11,495, rose gold for $21,495, and white gold for $22,995. bremont.com