When it comes to timekeeping, the term “Swiss-made” is most often looked to as a litmus test for the indication of quality and precision. Such a practice may soon come to an end.
The past decade or so has witnessed a reawakening of British watchmaking. Bremont for example, is looking to revive the trade in its home country – which was once the world leader in horology.
“The Swiss watch industry is very developed. They have all the technology. But historically, a lot of it came from London,” states general manager for Bremont Asia, Peter Lao.
“A hundred years ago, half of the world’s watches were made in the UK. After the World Wars, during which the country changed their focus to manufacturing weapons, all the expertise went to Switzerland.”
Today, Bremont is trying very hard to raise its brand awareness. This, according to Lao, is a challenge as there are so many strong Swiss watch brands out there in the market.
“Bremont build and manufacture all the cases,” he notes, adding, “Sure, we’re still getting parts and movements from Switzerland. But all the assembly, plus after-sales service, is done by watchmakers in the UK.”
He also points out that Bremont gets a lot of credibility from a military aspect. Twenty-five percent of its watches are sold to squadrons around the world – a testament of sorts to the designs’ robust nature.
“Our commercial watches are of the same standards with the military ones that were built to withstand all sorts of pressures. This is what Bremont has at its core,” Lao explains.
As it is, Bremont is actively shifting the focus of watchmaking back to the UK. After exhibiting at Baselworld in Switzerland for many years, the brand launched its 2017 watch collection in London instead.
The latest watches that were unveiled early this year included some fresh, as well as updated models.
These comprised new divers and pilots’ watches, plus extensions to the Norton, America’s Cup and Jaguar lines.
The event, which was held on home ground, proved to be especially significant.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Bremont’s debut watch collection, and 15 years since founders Nick and Giles English created the brand.
“We may not have a long heritage. But it also means we don’t have any baggage. Bremont is free to develop the brand according to its principles: British engineering, aviation, adventure and military,” says Lao.
In keeping with being quintessentially English, Bremont also adheres to an understated aesthetic. The watches all have a classic feel to them, without being too flashy.
As Lao puts it, “They were designed to be worn in a boardroom, or when climbing Mount Everest.
“Something that can withstand the years – both in terms of design and longevity.”
“The British people, they don’t want to show off too much. It’s all about being elegant. British classiness. Understatement is very much a British thing,” he concludes.