Since the closure of Smiths in the late 1960s/early 1970s, British watchmaking on a large scale came to a halt. There are certainly noticeable and highly respected independent watchmakers such as Garrick or Roger Smith, both producing almost entirely their watches on UK soil, but of course, we’re talking about small production runs. When it comes to larger-scale manufacturing, it all comes down to Bremont, which is now increasing its position and wants to reinvigorate the British watch industry on a new scale for the country. Hence the opening today of “The Wing”, the new Bremont Manufacturing & Technology Centre.
Bremont started in 2007, and has now found its place amongst the top chronometer manufacturers. Importantly, it is the single largest British mechanical watchmaker manufacturing watches on British soil – something that died when Smiths closed its doors in the early 1970s. Today, the brand is opening a new production site named “The Wing” that aims at being a manufacturing and research centre, a new flagship location for the brand and a boutique for enthusiasts – all with undisguised British pride. Located in the Oxfordshire town of Henley-on-Thames, this 35,000 sq. ft purpose-built watch manufacturing facility enables the full machining and manufacturing of Bremont’s watches. The intention of founders Nick and Giles English is clear: to promote British watchmaking by working with more high-quality local suppliers and producing more and more habillage and mechanical parts in-house, under this new roof.
This new wing will be creating jobs and Bremont anticipates a 20% increase in staff numbers per year. It will also invest in internal training. As Chris Reynolds, Managing Director, explains: “We genuinely wish to invest in ourselves, in high quality local UK partners and suppliers. We wish to reduce our reliance on others and own our supply chain as much as technically possible. To reinvigorate British watchmaking is the snappy, slightly simplified tag line.” An increased focus on movement manufacturing and assembly will see Bremont further develop its apprenticeship scheme and will ultimately lead to the recruitment of more technical engineers as well as skilful craftsmen and women.
More details about this new step in the history of Bremont in the video above as well as at www.bremont.com.
All photos by Alan Schaller.