“Wow, this is pretty cool,” was my initial reaction after pulling the new-for-2023 Bremont MB Viper watch out of its fancy packaging. Featuring Bremont’s “Made in England” caliber ENG352 (part of the ENG300 family of movements), the MB Viper is supposed to be a limited-edition run of a prototype watch Bremont created in order to test the durability of these new mechanical movements. The resulting product is both an interesting, purchasable item that shows a more industrial/functional side of the wristwatch industry and a testament to the “tested beyond endurance” motto that the Bremont brand originally launched with. More importantly, this watch is much more attractive and fun in the flesh than the marketing images (with their accompanying Internet commentary) might lead you to believe.
Soon after the formation of London area-based Bremont, they developed a relationship with the also British company Martin Baker, which specializes in the production of ejection seats. The idea was to use Martin Baker as both a market partner and also a test partner. Bremont wanted to develop watches that were certified to withstand the shock, vibration, and g-forces that occur during an active ejection seat deployment. I personally visited Martin Baker with Bremont in 2015 (read more about that on aBlogtoWatch here) and was impressed to see what they had done together. They showed me a box of watches that were the original prototypes. Bremont was very serious about making a watch that could withstand an ejection seat release – and part of the outcome was their now standard “Trip-Tick” case construction. This construction was designed to reduce the effect of vibrations moving from the case to the movement. Bremont developed a gel-based shock-absorbing movement ring that is similar in concept to how G-Shock watch vibration absorption works. You can see parts of that shock-absorbing component in red, around the periphery of the movement when looking at it through the MB Viper’s caseback.
Bremont apparently returned to Martin Baker more recently in order to not just test case durability, but also movement durability. When Bremont originally began working with Martin Baker, it was very early on in the history of Bremont when it did not make any movement components. Today, things are much different, and Bremont is testing the cases it makes as well as the movements it assembles in-house. More so, Bremont has introduced a new in-house testing process it calls the “H1 Timing Standard.” A logo to this effect is on the dial of the watch. The H1 Testing Programme is similar to that of Swiss COSC Chronometer testing which (in part) ensures that movements are accurate to within -4 / +6 seconds per day. A small reminder of this fact is printed on the dial in the form of the small red-colored “-4” and “+6” on the watch dial itself.
According to Bremont, the ENG352 movement and the new MB Viper case fully comply with the durability and performance standards that the brand was setting out for. The case has wider flanks being produced from matte-black DLC-coated titanium. The orange bezel and crown ring are produced from anodized aluminum. All of this helps makes the 43.5m- thick MB Viper case very lightweight, but also strong. I wouldn’t say that scratch resistance is a particular forte of the MB Viper case, so that is something to consider with this otherwise very cool timepiece.
The case isn’t particularly thin (10.8mm-thick), but it wears thin and feels flat and comfortable on the wrist. If Bremont had used heavier materials for the construction of the case, I don’t think it would be nearly as fun to wear. The case is further water resistant to 100 meters and has a lug-to-lug distance of 51.9mm with 22mm-wide lugs. The back of the case is as impressive as the front, revealing a large sapphire crystal window onto the decorated movement and perlage-polished movement holder ring.
The caliber ENG352 movement is something Bremont is very proud of — and for good reason. The British company has leveraged a lot of its brand value into what it produces in England. Thus, while it is possible to make a fantastic watch with entirely foreign parts, it has always been a big deal to Bremont to produce as many of its watches in England as possible. The ENG300 family of movements is mostly produced in England and assembled in-house by Bremont. The movement operates at the quirky frequency of 3.5Hz (25,200 bpm) but manages to offer 65 hours of power reserve without a larger mainspring barrel. High-accuracy performance is possible thanks to the use of a silicon escapement wheel. The automatic rotor is produced from heavy tungsten, which offers a good mixture of value and winding efficiency. On the dial, this ENG352 movement features just the time with central minutes, seconds, and hours.
The dial design is inspired by “test” watches that have simple utilitarian faces. It ends up being pleasant on the eyes with just enough interesting things to look at while not being crowded. Bremont chose to go with “double emergency” hands that have a look that is iconic to many Martin Baker watches. Only this time (for this limited-edition watch), Bremont decided to have a bit more fun and apply the black and white or black and yellow striping fully to both hands. The red-color seconds hands looks sober by comparison. I like the look of these hands in person and on the wrist, though, in pictures, I can see how it might appear a bit strange for a watch dial. The MB Viper watch dial does have luminant but in small painted squares on the periphery of the hour markers, as well as only on the tips of the hour and minute hands.
Bremont includes a strap-changing tool along with both an orange and black-colored fabric strap to go with the MB Viper watch. The canvas straps are nice-looking and comfortable, with matching DLC-coated black titanium buckles. The overall presentation kit that comes with the limited edition MB Viper watch is also fun, showing that Bremont put extra attention into this product. Will there be future versions of the MB Viper? Bremont has released this watch as a limited edition of 300 pieces but also mentioned that it will likely only be produced on order. Provided these watches sell out soon, or within the next few years, I think the MB Viper case and dial platform is ripe for creative expression and other materials. Bremont should make full use of this interesting and quirky tool watch to come out with further variations that continue the fun and storytelling that makes the Bremont + Martin Baker relationship so compelling. Price for the limited edition of 300 pieces Bremont MB Viper watch is $5,995 USD. Learn more at the Bremont watches website here.
>Model: MB Viper
>Price: $5,995 USD
>Size: 43.5mm-wide, 10.8mm-thick, 51.9mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a sporty watch for social settings. It is designed to be tough but is better when trying to catch attention due to more fragile materials.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Tool watch collector interested in design ethos of Bremont and the importance of actually testing watches and their movements to determine if they can indeed endure what they are designed for.
>Best characteristic of watch: Lightweight and comfortable on the wrist. Nicely made attractive movement and excellent product story. Good packaging.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Aluminum and coated titanium are not the most scratch-resistant materials – even though the watch is highly shock-resistant. Dial design is not for everyone.