Swiss Watch Gallery discusses role models, the next big thing, being British and the modern age in an exclusive interview with Giles English, co-founder of Bremont Watch Company.
G: My father, who was an amazing man and a wonderful PHD aeronautical engineer from Cambridge, is most definitely my biggest role model. He was a very practical engineer and had a workshop where he built planes and even a boat which we went to live on as kids. One of his passions was also watches and clocks. Life changed for us in 1995 when my father was in a plane crash with my brother. My father died and my brother, Nick, broke 30 bones and was in intensive care for many months. When he recovered, Nick and I agreed life is very short and wanted to do something we both loved doing, so that’s exactly what we did. I had trained as an engineer and we were working in the family aviation business at the time and we felt the timing was right to leave and start Bremont.
G: The next big thing for us is the upcoming launch of our new store in New York on 501 Madison, which is our fourth store in total. Our other boutiques are all in quite offbeat locations, so the Madison one is the first in a high footfall location. The US is already an important market for Bremont and we wanted a real home that was our space, to showcase the Bremont range as well as having a location where we can give back to our customers.
G: Bringing the manufacturing process over to the UK is most definitely our biggest challenge to date and also a big investment mainly because of the machinery required. We could just let someone else do the manufacturing and focus solely on being a ‘brand’ rather than a watchmaker, but that is of no interest to us. We are continuing to invest heavily in people and machinery with many parts now being made on British soil at our new parts manufacturing facility in Silverstone, which is key for us being able to manufacture movements in their entirety on these shores.
G: It is incredibly difficult when coming up against brands that have hundreds of years of heritage and much bigger budgets however it means that we have to be much more innovative in how we do things. Certainly the watches have to be of best quality in order for us to compete. As much as people thought we were crazy when we started out, being British has always been a big point of reference. Britain is a country known and respected for its heritage, craftsmanship and history. There is something about British products that is valued by consumers from all over the world.
G: I believe there will always be a demand for the precision and accuracy that a chronometer provides. Hundreds of components are used to make a mechanical watch, they are true works of art and really cherished items that are worn every day. Furthermore a well looked after chronometer will last several lifetimes and serves as a wonderful heirloom for many generations. Bremont is not about fashion or latest trends, it is about producing a beautifully engineered British timepiece which will pass the test of time. We are inspired by wonderful engineering and this is very clear not only from the watches we produce, but also from our aviation partners like Boeing and the ejection seat pioneer, Martin-Baker. Watches have always historically played a pivotal role in pilot navigation and aircraft operation, Up until as recently as 20 years ago, you would navigate in the air using a map, compass and your trusty mechanical watch.