back to top

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Here’s a crazy number: according to co-founder Giles English, 25% of Bremont’s total business is with the military. It’s a figure that has steadily grown over the last decade, through hundreds of partnerships with a wide variety of military units around the world, including high-flying fighter squadrons, ocean-combing clearance divers, and secretive special-forces units all counted amongst Bremont’s customer base. Oddly, Bremont never really had aspirations to be such a sought-after supplier of military watches, but its destiny was sealed when, early on, while pursuing the development of what would later become its signature anti-shock movement technology, the brand’s founders Nick and Giles English were introduced to Martin Baker. With deep connections to air force units all around the world, the legendary ejection seat manufacturer would soon provide a unique opportunity for Bremont to create its first squadron watch — a special edition for U2 spy plane pilots — and the rest was history. This would set in motion a 10-year run of military collaborations and side projects that have culminated in a formal and exclusive partnership with one of the world’s biggest militaries: Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

It’s very important to note that these three new Armed Forces watches are not military-issue in the traditional sense. Granted, Bremont’s reputation in the global military community rightfully earned it the blessing of HMAF, who did collaborate in the overall design of the collection, but the watches themselves weren’t formally commissioned or purchased by the Ministry of Defence for field use (despite each being more than capable, in its own right). It still doesn’t undermine the significance of Bremont becoming the first watch brand to produce watches bearing the official insignias of all three branches of the HMAF: Great Britain’s Army, Navy, and Air Force, exhibited in deep relief on each of the casebacks.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these aren’t issued watches; after all, the relatively disposable, albeit reliable, quartz-driven alternatives deployed in most combat zones are a far more economical choice for military budgets. Still, that hasn’t stopped the proliferation of luxury automatic watches bearing insignias of various armed force units, or official NATO Stock Numbers (NSN) etched on casebacks of watches never formally contracted, both of which can be licensed or registered with relative ease and at a nominal cost, usually with the intent of forging provenance. The most in-demand names of certain spec-ops groups like the Navy SEALS usually yield the biggest offenders (c’mon, did the SEALs ever really deploy with that Master Compressor on wrist?), but the allure to collectors and watchmakers, alike, is impossible to deny.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

But actual military-issued watches — those with the provenance that make them so highly sought-after in the collecting community — often come from humble, unintentional beginnings. Spartan design, practical, purpose-built capability, and just the right amount of luck are often the magic ingredients that represent a lineage earned, and not bought. It’s what once worked for Longines, IWC, Omega, and for the rest of the “Dirty Dozen” watches issued to the MoD before and during WWII that would later become vintage military watch lore. But in a way, it’s been with a similar formula, though via a slightly indirect path that has also established Bremont as a trusted supplier to various militaries around the world.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Notably absent in all three of the HMAF watches is the Ministry of Defence’s classic “Broad Arrow” motif, a key dial signature on each of the Dirty Dozen watches. The reason for this is quite simple: that arrow belongs on products that are purchased, and therefore owned by, the MoD. Any other use of that mark outside this relatively specific context is technically illegal by British law. Now, none of these Bremont watches bears the Broad Arrow, as they were not purchased by the MoD for a military contract (i.e., for issue to military units in the field). However, that doesn’t mean the Armed Forces wasn’t still involved in the process. Each branch did provide specific design input for its respective watch: the Army for the Broadsword, the Navy for the Argonaut, and the Royal Air Force for the Arrow monopusher chronograph.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The collection is led by the new Broadsword watch, a contemporary interpretation on the classic three-hand military watch aesthetic pioneered by the Dirty Dozen. Granted, the case is a touch larger now (40mm) than those original MoD-issued watches, but it maintains the matte Arabic numeral dial and small seconds at 6 o’clock. The watch is powered by Bremont’s BE-95-2AE Chronometer-certified movement (which uses an ETA 2892 base) and is the same as used in most of the brand’s current three-hand models, like the Airco Mach 3. A snailed subdial and sloped chapter ring with 12 green luminous dots help lend a bit of depth and texture to the dial itself, but overall, it’s a relatively spartan execution, lacking the ornamentation or flourish traditionally found at this price-point – as it should be, though, for a watch of this ilk.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Even still, the hardened stainless-steel case does feel distinctly overbuilt in a “Bremont” sort of way, with its 100 meters of water resistance and semi-twisted, polished lug facets — all this, despite lacking the brand’s textured mid-case barrel, which has long been a signature of the multi-piece Trip Tick case design. This is a relatively standard two-piece case architecture, though, which helps bring the price-point down, effectively creating Bremont’s newest entry-level offering priced at $3,450. The case, itself, is still machined in Bremont’s London manufactory from singular stainless-steel bars and has undergone Bremont’s proprietary hardening process, rendering it five times harder than standard stainless steel. Both the case sides are finely brushed, and exhibit a trio of deep grooves designed to evoke the sides of an engine’s piston. Overall, the Broadsword carries a surprising weight to it – that of a stout tool watch, despite its relatively small footprint on the wrist.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

The Royal Navy gets a proper dive watch — the 42mm Argonaut, which brings a 300-meter water resistant compressor-style case design and an inner rotating bezel to the mix — a new combination for a Bremont dive watch. Inner rotating bezels are commonly found throughout the Bremont collection, particularly on the MB series of watches, which use Bremont’s patented “Roto Click” bezels that rotate in both directions on ceramic bearings. As a dive watch, the Argonaut’s bezel is only uni-directional and doesn’t use the same Roto Click bearing design, though each of its 60 clicks is still positive, and plenty confident.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Despite using the same typography and case architecture as the other two watches, the Argonaut feels like an odd duck. It’s either the most original of the three, thanks to its interesting case and orange, DOXA-esque hour hand, or it’s the biggest departure from the collection’s military theme, due to the bezel design and heavy use of color throughout. Like the Broadsword, the watch is powered by a Chronometer-certified automatic movement, and its proportions are classic and compact, wearing with a similarly confident heft, but quite easily, even on a smaller wrist.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Lastly, the Arrow – the Royal Air Force’s 42mm chronograph — is characterized by its super-simple bi-compax register layout and single pusher at 2 o’clock. At first glance, the 100-meter water resistant case is thick, but it’s no thicker than a Valijoux-equipped Sinn 103 or Bremont’s own ALT-1 chronograph and is spared on the wrist by its relatively merciful lug-to-lug length. Like the Broadsword, the dial is fitted with the same sloped, luminous rehaut, and 20/40/60-second counter. A 30-minute totalizer at 3 o’clock and a date aperture at 6 o’clock round out what amounts to a very nicely balanced, classic chronograph execution.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

As Bremont’s first monopusher, the Arrow is built using the BE-51AE, which appears to be a modified 7750. Rather than utilizing a dedicated start/stop and reset pushers, everything is done through one pusher alone. Simply click to start, click again to stop, and click a third time to reset. A fourth click starts the chronograph over again. It’s an infrequently seen complication, and though maybe not quick enough for racing applications, it’s neatly tailored here as a mission timer and a natural inclusion in the collection.

Bremont Armed Forces “Ministry Of Defence” Watch Collection Hands-On Hands-On

Whether or not you ascribe to military watch history (British, or otherwise), Bremont’s growing place in its timeline is growing increasingly difficult to ignore. And with no notable shortcut used to yield the HMAF partnership, what you’re looking at represents a pretty significant milestone and a potentially exciting harbinger for future collaborations. Price for the Bremont Broadsword £2,595, the Bremont Argonaut is £2,795, and the Bremont Arrow is £3,595. You can learn more about the Armed Forces watch collection over at Bremont.com.

Explore

Comments

Disqus Debug thread_id: 7279435382

  • aWtchslvr

    The tip of the hands is invisible. It is unnatural. It rages me up.

  • SuperStrapper

    The broadsword looks like an almost 1:1 interpretation of a Vertex watch. I think the diver is likely the most interesting and I do like compressor style cases, but this handset is a turnoff, especially that abysmal hour hand. Ew.
    No love for a valjoux monopusher.

  • TheChuphta

    I don’t hate these… Although the names are so silly: The broadsword? It’s a watch, take it easy guys. I doubt this is worth 10x what Hamilton charges or 3x the Oris Big Crown line (I don’t think Carr’s charges that high of a premium even though they are the Queen’s official biscuit maker) but the design is clean.

  • Nello Alexandri

    “…according to co-founder Giles English, 25% of Bremont’s business is with the military.” I am calling BS!

    • Ben

      You and I both! LOL

    • Totally get why there are skeptics with Bremont, but outside of having a candid on-the-record conversation with Giles during the Townhouse event which yielded the info above, do we need to go to Henley on Thames and take some pictures of spreadsheets? If the community asks for proof, I’d love to find a practical way to make it happen.

      • George Yang

        Ask for clarification. Are these government procurement contracts, or special one-off orders/limited editions that the members themselves are paying for?

        • Answered your question above George 😉

          • Nello Alexandri

            We don’t know the answer. Or, simply put, we don’t believe it.

          • Actually we do. The answer is that these are not watches for government contracts.

      • Independent_George

        but outside of having a candid on-the-record conversation with Giles during the Townhouse event which yielded the info above, do we need to go to Henley on Thames and take some pictures of spreadsheets?

        No. And it’s silly to even have to suggest this. But Bremont did make a conscious decision to market stories before watches, and when they did that, they also decided to invite the skeptics and haters along.

        • Yep, and honestly – I don’t disagree with you – they’ve earned a good many of those skeptics. I’m only asking in the hypothetical sense what it’ll take to move on.

          • Independent_George

            For some online enthusiasts — nothing. Engagement is the mother’s milk of the Internet and anger is the most efficient way of achieving it.

            I just went to Bremont’s website and I noticed they have shifted their “story” from a personal one of “near tragedy” and “re-birth” to “British Engineering.” Much better story to tell and they should have pivoted in this direction much earlier, and perhaps it shows that they do listen to their critics. I do hope that they have learned their lesson and keep the marketing department on a short leash because they last thing they need is a claim that something was made in Britain when it can be claimed that it was not, unless, of course, the English Brothers enjoy receiving angry emails from Watch Nerds.

  • Jerry Davis

    I like this, I do. But for this money there are a lot of options on the market I like better.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    £2,595.00 – £3,595.00
    Just think about all the macho activities I can do with this on my wrist. Stand aside Action man.

  • Andrew Buckley

    Another day, another spurious back story from Bremont. Presumably these are hand made by Chelsea Pensioners in a thatched cottage in Henley-on-Thames?

  • Independent_George

    Handsome albeit very safe designs, which is also a Bremont trait. The master compressor stands out for its splash of colour . The monopusher begs to be more interesting. Cathedral hands? Knurled bezel? Bund strap? I guess I am building a souped up Hanhart.

  • Nice to see a new case design from Bremont. I wonder what their total annual watch production is these days.

    • I’d like to know this as well – I’ll save that question for the next time I chat with the brothers.

  • Rhino67

    The hands appear short to me.
    I like looking at Bremont watches but their whole line is over priced in my view. TheChupta’s reference to Hamilton is germane especially as they intro 80 hr. Power reserve.

  • Ben

    Sorry but I cannot help laughing at anything that starts with “According to Giles English…” Reads like a sponsored post… provides no real story or “proof” of what is written (are we supposed to believe the three branches actually worked on these watches, giving input and style directions?) and falls short of contradicting itself… They work with the army but are not used by the army yet they bear the seal of the army… I got lost for a second LOL. Sorry Bremont but I will keep laughing at your tales… by the way, do you consider the Wright brothers as army pilots? Asking for a friend…

    • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

      See above – Ditto ?

  • George Yang

    I take umbrage with the 25% military-sales claim. Are Bremont producing watches for active military use as part of their kit and getting government procurement contracts? Are Bremont making watches and selling them to particular members of specific military units, no different than IWC Collector’s Forums special edition watches? If I had to wager, I would bet it’s the latter case.

    It’s crap like this that makes me dislike Bremont and can’t take the brand seriously. There’s marketing, and then there’s outright sociopathic skewing of words that borders on malpractice posing as marketing.

    • That’s a great question, and a super-valid one. To my knowledge, Bremont hasn’t ever made a military-issue watch to fulfill a government contract (unless it was with a special forces unit whose budgets enable more selective, discretionary spending, and even then, they wouldn’t be able to name names), likely because these are expensive watches, as noted in the story above. The article also makes it quite clear how issued watches and licensed watches differ, but I think the distinction I appreciate here is how Bremont has established a reputation of sorts in the global military community as being a source for a quality watch – whether it’s taken into combat, or only comes out with the dress blues.

      And remember, Bremont’s not the only luxury watch brand to do this sort of thing – check out Omega’s Seamaster 300 GMT for the British SBS, or the Rolex Deepsea for the Royal Navy Clearance Divers – these are clearly not meant to be worn in combat, but were created under the same principles. Bremont has just really leaned in to the military side of their business, as it has proven to be a successful one.

      I asked a simple question of how much of the brand’s business goes through its military projects division (https://us.bremont.com/pages/military-watches-usa), and the answer was 25%. Calling that ‘sociopathic’ is a tad dramatic, no?

    • Dominic Adler

      Bremont make project watches privately for military units and law enforcement. They’ve never pretended otherwise. As bulk unit orders, individuals get a good deal from Bremont and the company gets more sales. I fail to see where your allegation comes from, or has any substance. The article makes it abundantly clear how it works. As for military use? There are literally thousands of wrist-shots of pilots wearing Bremont watches in the cockpit of virtually any warplane you can think of.

    • PR

      Military customers, not the military itself 🙂

  • Pete L

    Bremont have never really done it for me but tall tales aside I actually really like the diver. A lot of competition at this price point but interesting nonetheless. Really not sure about the 80’s snow wash denim strap on the chrono. Made from the Levis worn by Freddie Mercury at Live Aid according to Giles English?

  • Independent_George

    I automatically think of JLCs when ever a compressor styled diver. Edited above.

  • Independent_George

    Actually, way, way back in the day when chrono watches were also used as instruments, there was concern about pushing the wrong button at the wrong time. From what I have read, it’s the reason why Hanhart made one of the chrono-pusher buttons red and why monopushers were developed in the the first place. I could be completely wrong about that, and that story could be complete BS, but it also does makes sense to me, so I’ll go with it.

    Also, if you are a pilot flying an airplane and you find yourself having to use your Chronograph wristwatch, I imagine you have bigger issues.

    • Polerouter

      Actually, the first chronographs were monopusher, the second pusher was an improvement by Breitling. Monopushers have come back to fashion recently due to a nostalgia factor, but considering a monopusher chronograph as a “complication” over a standard one is absurd.

  • Swiss_Cheese

    Gotta love some of the stuff they stick the Royal Warrant on, I can just imagine the Queen sitting down and squirting a generous helping of HP sauce on her gourmet chip butty.

  • Hamilton Khaki’s are also ok.

  • PR

    The broadsword is nice but the hand set is too small. The diver looks like something Ball will manufacture at half the price and nicer lume. The chronograph has the usual eta issue of being too thick. I don’t think the price has moved south enough to justify these watches ($2500-2750) for the first one would be the magic mark imo.

    As always we have a lot of marketing to go along with these and while it’s easy enough to ignore and focus on the watch, I can’t help but feel the engraving is a bit silly when it’s not an officially issued watch. But I guess they are going after that very state of confusion to help boost sales.

  • cluedog12

    Argonaut dial is the best here. The Broadsword and Arrow have a full complement of Arabics (minus the 3), forming a circle. The date window should be planar to this circle, or it looks out-of-place (and hence, cheap).

    The Argonaut only has 3 Arabics, the mind can draw a more general shape (e.g. an oval) and the date window appears to be planar on this shape.

    Overall, a nice collection. Good contrast, pure, nice casework. The price point is honest enough that the date window location isn’t a deal breaker.

  • Chaz

    No Royal Marines logo? No go.

  • Mikita

    3600 gbp = $4700. Once again, trying to sell Hamilton Khaki competitor for x10 the price, relying on some wet pseudo-military stories.

  • Lurch

    When I was in the Navy, I didn’t see anyone wearing a $5K watch. Honestly – nothing more than a few hundred dollars is what I recall.

    • Michael Happe

      This is something totaly true, as a young pilot you don’t have that money to spend , Under 400 is acceptable. This is why my watches works nicely there .

  • george hollingsworth

    How about some Bremont watches based of the four Ministries in George Orwell’s ‘1984’? They already have the ‘Ministry of Peace’ – just need to change the lettering a little. Maybe a microphone etched in the back of a ‘Ministry of Truth’ model. A really thin one for the ‘Ministry of Plenty’?