March 16, 2017
by James Stacey
Announced last week as part of their London-based Baselworld replacement event, the new Bremont AIRCO represents an entirely new look for the brand’s first 40mm pilot’s watch. Actually, it’s arguably two new looks. Launched alongside the new 40mm S300 and S301 divers we showed you here, the Bremont AIRCO is inspired by WWII pilot’s watches and offers an entirely non-flieger appeal that branches in two very different directions.
Named in tribute to one of Britain’s first military airplane manufacturers, Aircraft Manufacturing Company Limited, the Bremont AIRCO models come in two different flavours. The Bremont AIRCO Mach 1 is the more vintage-inspired of the two, with an overall design that could be loosely described as that of a field watch. The WWII styling works really well in 40mm and the Bremont AIRCO Mach 1 is nothing short of beautiful, with strong proportions and a legible display aided by a railway minute track, red-orange accents and minimal dial text. The Mach 1’s case is satin finished with a polished bevel on the edge line that looks fantastic on the wrist, especially on the pictured matte brown leather strap.
Along with the red-orange seconds hand, check out the tip on the minute hand and the font used for the 10, 20, 40, and 50-minute markings. I think the saturated red-orange looks great with the matte dial and the brushed case, somehow offering a more modern flare to an otherwise old-school design. There is a simple and functional date display at three and Super-LumiNova on the hands and markers. With legibility matched only by on-wrist comfort, the Bremont AIRCO Mach 1 has the makings of an excellent everyday watch.
Described by Bremont as “more of an officer’s dress watch” the Bremont AIRCO Mach 2 may be the same size and case as the Mach 1, but they barely look like siblings. With a polished case and an opaline matte metal dial finished with brightly-polished arabic nickel numerals, the Mach 2 is surprisingly dressy for a core Bremont model.
Undoubtedly inspired by the success of the ALT-C Polished (among others), the Mach 2 is beautiful, with less dial text than the Mach 1, a date relocation to six o’clock, and elegant polished hands. The dial is wondrously monochromatic, with just a tiny splash of red at the 60-minute marker for the scale on the chapter ring. With such a quiet but well-considered design, the Mach 2 is the sort of watch that will change depending upon your strap choice. It has a grandfatherly charm that I really really like and the wearability is undeniable. Just like the Mach 1, the Bremont AIRCO Mach 2 is simply excellent on-wrist, with a low profile, good proportions, strong legibility, and a classically dressy vibe.
Both Bremont AIRCOs use a 40mm case made of hardened steel with a DLC-treated middle barrel and a sapphire display case back. Total thickness is just 12.5mm, including the dome on the anti-reflective and scratch resistant sapphire crystal. The sapphire display case back offers a view of the Bremont-prepped and COSC-certified BE-92AE automatic movement within. The BE-92AE starts life as an ETA 2892, ticking at 4Hz and offering a power reserve of no less than 38 hours. Additionally, both the Mach 1 and the Bremont AIRCO Mach 2 have screw-down crowns and 100 meters of water resistance, further displaying their intention as everyday pieces.
Of all the new models Bremont showed at the London Townhouse, the AIRCOs were my favorite. While the initial press images sparked some interest, it wasn’t until seeing these in the metal that I experienced the appeal. Maybe it’s that a 40mm Bremont is something of a new idea, or that they managed to make two very different versions, each with their own charm. Part of the charm is definitely rooted in the 40mm sizing and the way that the proportion works with the relative simplicity of the two designs. With the possible exception of the date display (which is an important feature for many watch buyers), the Bremont AIRCOs have a reserved but accessible styling that manages to be minimal within the guise of the vintage-inspired trend.
Priced from $3,895 USD on a strap ($4,495 on a bracelet) for either the Mach 1 or the Mach 2, the AIRCOs are Bremont’s new entry-level men’s watches (40mm and larger, that is – as the SOLO 37 starts at $3,695). Given the ETA-based movement and similar competition from the likes of the less expensive Tudor Ranger, the similarly-priced IWC Mark XVIII ($3,950, also with a modified 2892), and the more premium in-house-powered Nomos Ahoi, while the AIRCO is priced into some hot competition, it’s not out of its depth on pricing or features. To my eyes, the AIRCOs are nothing short of a hit. I really like the sizing, the variation between the two versions, and the push by Bremont into the sub-$4,000 space without cutting features like their Trip-Tick hardened steel case or a COSC-certified movement. bremont.com