Posted on January 24 2022
As the marketing guru Rory Sutherland put it, "we don’t value things; we value their meaning".
I've thought about this quite a bit.
I've always been a fan of watches with a story and a purpose. And that's what interests me about Bremont watches. Although the prices may stimulate discussion, their watches are more than a collection of components.
You could say that I've bought into the brand. They're British and they're constantly developing and improving. And they're the only luxury watch manufacturer approved by Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
So I jumped at the chance to get one on my wrist.
Let's take a closer look at the Bremont Broadsword - their modern take on the WW2 Dirty Dozen watch design.
Bremont Broadsword Bronze Sotek
- 40mm Diameter
- 12mm Thick
- 20mm Lug Width
- CuSn8 Bronze
- Swiss Automatic movement
- Domed Sapphire Crystal
- 100M Water Resistance
- RRP £2995
Bremont Broadsword Dirty Dozen Watch Review
Having emphasised the stories behind watches, that's probably the best place to start with the Broadsword. It's a watch that gives a nod to history from a modern brand establishing its place in the luxury watch market.
Firstly, the design.
This is a watch that may look familiar. It's inspired by watches used by the British Armed Forces in the Second World War. Built by twelve manufacturers, including Omega and Longines, these iconic watches are affectionately referred to as the Dirty Dozen. A group of watches with a simple standardised design and built for combat. They're straightforward, functional and very legible.
Bremont proudly states that their Armed Forces Collection takes its design cues from these vintage pieces. With their ongoing partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) it feels authentic rather than forced. My first impression is that of a modern interpretation of a design classic. A faithful update of a British military watch by a British brand with military connections.
And that first impression is important.
This isn't a watch that you buy for cutting edge innovation. Neither for complex functionality - there's no moon phase or perpetual calendar feature here. And it's not the most affordable Dirty Dozen influenced watch either.
Instead, you're buying the look and the brand - albeit with high-quality workmanship.
So the first impression was important for me. Because above all else, it's the watches aesthetics and the Bremont brand story that will sell this watch.
My first impression of the Broadsword - the bronze variation with the sotek dial - was that it ticked the boxes that I wanted. It's militaristic, sensibly sized and the bronze case and teal dial combination is eye-catching.
Importantly, I took the watch with me when I met Dave from DoubleOwatches for a coffee. His first question was the size - he didn't believe that the case is 40mm wide. He thought it was smaller - like the original Dirty Dozen watches.
I like that.
It's a modern watch - sized for today's tastes - that wears a little smaller. As a military watch should. And it's when you take a closer look that you see why.
The Bremont Broadsword Watch in Detail
Dave remarked on the sizing and noticed that the Broadsword is a compact watch. As a military piece, it's satisfying to know that there is nothing superfluous or ornate about this watch. It feels and looks like a tool.
The case is 40mm wide, but the plain bezel is a little smaller. This cleverly keeps the size down. The case itself is a two-piece design made of CuSn8 bronze, so it should patina nicely.
Again, the use of a 20mm strap reduces the bulk somewhat and the one on this model is a substantial leather strap with a slightly aged appearance.
The bronze case has a stainless steel back, which Bremont use to display the crests of the British Army, Navy and Air Force. Remember, this is with the approval of the MOD.
Finishing off the case is a substantial screw-down crown with the brand's logo on a black enamel background.
I've been keen to point out how comfortable the watch wears. It's reasonably slim and doesn't overwhelm my wrist. But don't think that this is a lightweight watch. It's a comfortable wear despite the weight. This is still a relatively substantial piece.
In part that is due to the mechanical movement. It's a BE-95-2AV - that's a modified Swiss Sellita movement. It's a COSC certified automatic with a 38hr power reserve. The movement has been finished by Bremont.
And that leaves the dial.
They call it sotek. I'd call it teal or maybe turquoise. Either way, it's a rich blue green that contrasts beautifully with the bronze case (but it's a nightmare to photograph). It adds a colour not used on the original Dirty Dozen models, but doesn't harm the military aesthetic. Indeed, it has an outdoors, rugged look that enhances the tool watch vibe.
As you'd expect, it's a straightforward dial layout. A set of simple, lumed numerals and a neat logo. The HMAF under the logo refers again to Her Majesty's Armed Forces. There's a subtle chapter ring - with lumed pips - and of course, a sub-second hand at 6 o'clock.
There's no doubting the build quality of the Bremont Broadsword. And I'm taken with the design. In addition, the specs are as I'd expect. A Swiss-Made automatic movement, a domed sapphire crystal and all the small finishing details that we value in a luxury watch.
But the price could be an issue.
The Bremont Broadsword is a £3K watch. Both Tudor and Omega have watches at that price point. Why get the young upstart rather than the safer, established Swiss brands?
A Brief History of Bremont Watches
At the risk of repeating myself, to appreciate the Bremont Broadsword you need to buy into the brand. But that's not too difficult. They have a great backstory and a clear vision for taking the brand forward. To enjoy this watch - and to justify the price tag - you have to value that journey.
Take the name Bremont. There's a cracking story behind that.
The companies founders - British brothers Nick and Giles - fly vintage planes. On one flight - in a 1930s biplane - they were forced to make an emergency landing in France. Keen to avoid the French authorities, they were taken into the home of a local farmer. He too shared a passion for engineering and had an aviation background.
The name Bremont is a tribute to that farmer, Antoine Bremont.
And aviation remains at the core of the Bremont story. Equally important are their military links and the brothers life long interest in engineering.
That passion for tinkering with machines came from the brothers father Euan. His death in a flying accident - that also left Nick with 30 broken bones - was pivitol to the creation of Bremont.
Following the accident, and with a new appreciation of life, Nick and Giles embarked on a mission to turn their interest in mechanical devices into a business. Bremont was born and the progress has been astounding.
To give you an idea of the business growth, Bremont was founded in 2002. In 2021 they relocated to a new facility - The Wing - at the cost of £25M. They now produce over 10,000 watches a year with a turnover measured in the tens of millions.
Where are Bremont Watches Made?
For decades, the British watch industry was dead.
But Bremont - and a handful of other companies - have tasked themselves with rebuilding the industry. Bremont is clear, the aim is "to make exquisitely engineered mechanical timepieces on British soil".
And that is the journey you're asked to buy into.
They're not quite there yet - but the progress is undeniable. And that get's us back to the price - probably the main reason you're not currently wearing a Bremont watch.
I get the sense that you're being asked to fund that expansion and innovation with a watch purchase now. Buy a watch now - and get that exquisitely engineered mechanical timepiece. But also know that you're taking Bremont a step nearer to re-establishing Britain as a watchmaking nation.
Currently, all Bremont watches are designed, manufactured and assembled in England. And that includes the packaging. The impressive leather case that holds the Broadsword was hand-made in Manchester.
Ok, so the movements are still built from Swiss bases. But the intent is clear. The opening of The Wing was the next major step. It's a 35,000 sq ft watch manufacturing plant that screams ambition.
That answers the question of where Bremont watches are made. They're made in Henley-on-Thames in England.
The Bremont Broadsword Bronze is an impressive watch. It takes an iconic military design as a template and updates the sizing, specs and colouring. It pairs bronze with an uncommon teal dial.
For me, they've nailed what they set out to do.
The design is simple - almost spartan. And the proportions work well. It's 40mm wide but looks and feels a little smaller. It has an authenticity that not all vintage-inspired pieces manage and it was a joy to wear.
But the price tag will be a deal breaker for some.
I've suggested in this post that you don't judge the Broadsword as a collection of components. Instead, to get the most out of a Bremont watch I'd advise that you learn more about the company. About its creation, and more importantly, about its future.
Bremont is proudly British and they're investing in a British watchmaking factory. As you'll see from their partnerships, they're also working with the MoD. On top of that, they've collaborated with Rolls Royce, British Airways and England Rugby.
As a standalone watch, the Broadsword Bronze is a beauty. But you'll enjoy it even more if you see it as one step on Bremont's long journey.