New Zealanders may not be too familiar with the names Nick and Giles English, but this may soon change, as the brothers are the energy that fuels the Bremont Watch Company. Bremont, a fairly new and small British watch brand, is quietly becoming a behemoth in the world of watches, and is thrilled to be the official timing partner for the America’s Cup. Our Verve Reporter was thrilled to have a chat with the brothers on the eve of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
When did your interest in horology begin, and how did you become so involved in watches?
It started at an early age; Giles and I had this wonderful upbringing spending most of our time in our father’s workshop where he built everything from aircraft, cars, to musical instruments. He also built a sailing boat that we lived on as children. Another of his passions was watches and clocks – basically anything mechanical. He would buy old clocks on auction and get us to help restore them as children. Life changed for us in 1995 when my father and I were in a plane crash. My father died and I broke over 30 bones and was in intensive care for many months. When I recovered Giles and I agreed life is very short and wanted to do something we both loved doing, so that’s exactly what we did. We decided to make watches. We knew Britain had an incredible history for watchmaking and we wanted to help re-establish it. It was five years until we launched our first watches onto the market. These were very much created out of passion and a lot of sweat and tears!
What inspired the name ‘Bremont’?
Giles and I never wanted to restart a brand from the past. A lot of watch brands in the market place have had this done to them having remained dormant for many years. There are many famous old British watch and clock brands out there from the past but we really didn’t want to trade on someone else’s history. Obviously our surname is English too, which would also make any form of trademark on the name difficult, so it all came from an experience after dad died. We were in an old biplane flying down through France, it was bad weather and we needed to land. We knew we were only a few miles from an airfield, but the weather was worsening by the second and so eventually we took the decision to land in this farmer’s pea field. In England, when you land in someone’s field because of a problem you give the farmer a bottle of whiskey and say sorry. In France they impound your aircraft and make you take the wings off, ship it to an airfield. Luckily the farmer came out and helped us push the plane into his barn, where we stayed with him for a few days. He turned out to be a keen pilot in the past himself and loved mechanics. He had old clocks and old bikes in his workshop and we just built up a friendship with him. He really reminded us of our dad. His name was Antoine Bremont. So, a number of years later, we needed a name and we thought Bremont was a lovely sounding name and it meant something to us.
Have you considered doing a woman’s watch?
The solo 37 is actually extremely popular with women and we have also noticed that many women are wearing larger watches these days. We do have a lot of woman asking why we do not make a smaller watch, so watch this space!
What do you think about the Apple Watch – is it a watch?
The Apple watch is clearly a timepiece, but just a very different type of timepiece. For me, they are extremely clever and fun looking devices and they are certainly introducing a whole new demographic to actually wearing watches. An iWatch will be used, do some funky things and then most likely be discarded, as a mobile phone would, a year or two down the line. Mechanical watches truly are a work of art that will last a lifetime. They are minor miracles happening on your wrist. People appreciate the craftsmanship behind mechanical movements and look at a mechanical timepiece as more of an investment or an heirloom.
Do you feel that the watch industry is experiencing a renewed love for this craftsmanship?
People are definitely more aware of the craftsmanship that goes into watchmaking now more than ever. There is so much more readily available information out there for those that are interested. Collectors are really grasping that a mechanical watch really is for life. You can find out what time it is on your computer, in your car, on your iPhone, but a mechanical watch does it in a way that makes you feel special and brings a smile to your face.
Bremont has had some inspiring partnerships like Jaguar and Boeing for instance. Can you give us a few insights as to why the Americas Cup is such a good fit with you and your brand?
Giles and I grew up with flying and sailing in our blood so it’s a dream come true that we have this opportunity to support and promote the amazing story of this world famous race that has such historical importance. The America’s Cup is an iconic sporting challenge and provides us with a superb opportunity to promote Bremont on a global stage. No other English watch company has been a timing partner of the race since 1851. Given the America’s Cup is a unique combination of incredible history and cutting edge technology, the fit is perfect for us. Ever since the Englishman John Harrison invented the marine clock in the 18th Century there has been a close association between Britain and marine chronometers. There are strong links between the USA and Great Britain in the America’s Cup, founded over the course of 34 campaigns. To that end, we are delighted the 35th America’s Cup will be hosted by Bermuda, which is the perfect meeting point between both sailing nations. Bremont’s home is in London but we have just opened a boutique in New York, which is only a short hop from Bermuda and which will undoubtedly play a part in future Americas Cup events.