October 11, 2010
by Ariel Adams
It was love at first sight with the Supermarine 500. That doesn’t happen too often with watches. It wasn’t the first watch I loved, and it won’t be the last, but this timepiece certainly has a place in my heart. If you recall I first discussed the Bremont Supermarine 500 watch here back when it was released. At the time I was smitten by the design and the features – though I had never seen one. I paid close attention to Bremont, and followed their activities. Then Bremont invited me to check out their watches at Baselworld. I finally got a chance to check out the Supermarine 500 pieces hands-on. In both of those articles you’ll find a lot of details on the watch specs, and the various colors options. This version is the Bremont Supermarine 500 Ref. S500/BK. That means it has a black dial, with black bezel. The lume color just hints at green. There is of course the famous model that combines black and a beautiful almost electric lime green (key lime?). Choosing the right color scheme in a Supermarine is tough because they all look quite nice. For me, this black on black model with whitish indicators is the most lasting… classic look. And it really is a classic look. I want to shake the hand of the designer. The ability to design an instant classic is really tough. Not only that, but the watch is actually rather unique looking in today’s landscape of luxo-divers.
Bremont’s core philosophy is a wise one. They stand close to function and durability. They know that men buy watches because of those reasons. Things like beauty and fashion are important, but they come second (or third). Sort of why we like Ferrari cars – we admire and respect their performance first, and feel good knowing they are pretty too look at. The Supermarine 500 has a long list of durability features – as do most Bremont watches. To get most men excited about this watch, it is just a matter of educating them on the fact that the Supermarine 500 line:
-Has excellent, thickly coated SuperLumiNova lume
-Is 500 meters water resistant
-Has an automatic helium release valve.
-Has a very nicely operating rotating diver’s bezel that is covered with a sharp looking sapphire crystal
-Is optimized for shock with its Trip-Tick case construction
-Has a well-done anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal
-Has a COSC Chronometer certified ETA 2836-2 automatic Swiss movement
-Is solid and well-made, and looks damn good in the process
I usually don’t like such “laundry lists,” but everything works nicely here. This isn’t the first watch that boasts all these features (not by far), but the power of the Supermarine 500 is that it feels like it is more than a mere sum of its parts. The design is influence by the Supermarine water landing place. I discuss this in my first article on the watch (link above). You can feel the retro influence in the dial, the numerals, and the shape of the case. It feels pleasantly nostalgic and tasteful – as opposed to ephemeral in its appeal. Over a year of knowing about this watch and it still looks good. Which is actually a test for if a watch has a nice design. You should all remember this. See a watch and are not sure whether it is a design you’ll love in a few months? Here is what you do. Look at the watch you want to buy. Then don’t look at it for a bit. Instead, look at tons of other watches. Online, in stores, where ever… After that go back to the original watch you liked and wanted to get. Does it still look good? Still hold that place in your heart compared to everything else you’ve look at? If so, you know it might be a good purchase choice.
For me, the Supermarine 500 passed that test. It even has two personalities, as it comes on a vertical strip textured rubber strap and a metal bracelet. It seriously looks like a different watch on either one. The metal bracelet is really nice looking and has a pretty good polish. The fold-over push-button deployment operates smoothly. My only small issue with the bracelet is adjustability options. It does have two small micro adjusts, but it could use three or four. Again, this is extremely dependent on your wrist size. Plenty of people find that the watch will fit perfectly. Other will find it always a bit too loose or too tight. Again, if you are one of those people and worry about this, the rubber strap is a good option when you need a comfortable, yet secure fit for sport activities.
The dial continues to be highly reliably and legibly. The lume (again) is really excellent on the watch, and the dial is easy to see in most situation. Bremont did a good job with the size and proportions of the hands. The dial comes complete with a full minute scale on the flange ring in addition to the large applied hour markers. I am usually not a fan of domed sapphire crystal (prefer flat ones), but this watch pulls off a domed one well. Meaning that there is very limited distortion on the dial, nor glare. Chalk it up to Bremont’s use of a high quality sapphire crystal that uses lots of AR coating. The polished hands and hour markers add a gentle luxurious component to the otherwise retro tool style of the piece.
I continue to love the shape of the lugs. Just a great elegant curve that is common on Bremont timepieces. The middle section of the steel case is in black. The case is 43mm wide and rather tall. This is a good feeling “chunky” dive watch case. The body of the watch is made more interesting by this middle PVD black section (part of the Trip-Tick construction). Not only is the middle section black, but it has some nice horizontal lines that add texture and visual interest to the case.
Opting for an off-centered crown (that has a Bremont propeller logo engraved in it), Bremont designed an interesting “swoosh” crown guard that helps integrate the look of the crown into the overall watch. Like the watch case, the crown has a small middle black section to it – a nice little detail of the variety I now come to expect from the brand. With an assortment of very well-made, highly desirable watches, Bremont has set a very high bar for itself moving forward. There are promises of in-house movements, in-house modules, and other exciting things from the British brand. Are they eager to put the UK back on the map as a serious destination for watch lovers to look for high-end brands? Or are they interested in putting British charm into the Swiss watch industry? They could really do either at this point.
The screw-down caseback of the watch has a relief engraving of the stenciled Supermarine plane. Inside the watch is a Swiss ETA 2836 automatic day/date movement that Bremont calls their BE-36AE movement. Like I said, it has been Chronometer certified for accuracy. Bremont has also placed their own special rotor on the movement. Bremont places the watch in a clever cylindrical leather case. It has a hard middle section that is good for storing three watches while on the go, and in the middle of the inner cylinder “pillow” is a storage area for the extra strap, etc… I love it when watch boxes are actually useful.
A good diver watch is a stepping stone for serious brands. All good brands have good dive watch. Not all of them hit a home run right away. Bremont has succeeding in defining itself through the Supermarine 500 diver. This is also the second Bremont watch that I reviewed, the first was a review of the Bremont U-2 watch. It is a beautiful timepiece that is nice to wear, and easy to own. At $5,150 it isn’t very cheap, but neither is the brand’s persistence or ability to impress. As an alternative (or compliment) to a Rolex, Omega, or other highly popular luxury dive watch, the Bremont Supermarine Certainly holds its own. I can easily recommend (and do suggest) this timepiece.Thanks to Bremont for the review unit. Opinions are 100% independent.