“Learn from your mistakes” – and from those made by your competitors – should have been in Bremont’s handbook. However it wasn’t. Remerber in 2009, TAG Heuer’s Calibre 1887 created huge discussions after its release. What TAG Heuer claimed to be an in-house movement was in fact based on a Seiko ebauche, that was modified by TAG Heuer. No big deal in terms of product or quality (lots of brands use externally sourced movements) but a massive loss of credibility and bad communication. You thought the lesson was imprinted in every brand’s mind. Wrong! Bremont made the same mistake with its new Wright Flyer Limited Edition. – UPDATED WITH FORMAL STATEMENT FROM BREMONT –
The Bremont Wright Flyer
Bremont is a UK-based watch brand specialized in chronometers inspired by aviation. If you’ve been reading Monochrome for a longer time, you would have seen our coverage of their chronometers and the review we did of the Supermarine 500.
Usually, the brand relies on externally sourced movements from ETA and the likes, to power its watches. But a few days ago, they came with a brand new and exciting watch, a limited edition inspired by the Wright Brothers and the world’s very first airplane. A first distinctive element of the watch is the rotor that includes a small bite of the fabric used on the wings of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The second and main interest is the movement used in this watch.
For the first time, the brand claimed to use an in-house movement, designed and developed in their own manufacture in Britain. From the official press release, we can read “Many of its constituent parts have also been crafted at the company’s workshops in Henley- on-Thames“. This movement has a 33.4mm diameter, a self-winding capacity, 50+ hours of power reserve and 25 jewels. From the official photos, we can see a nice finish with Geneva Stripes, bevelled angles on the bridges and a rotor that resemble an airplane’s propeller.
The Bremont Wright Flyer Limited Edition presents a 43mm case with a vintage pilot-style design. The watch is available in 3 editions: stainless steel with black dial (limited to 300 pieces), pink gold with white dial (limited to 100 pieces) and white gold with white dial (limited to 50 pieces). At first sight this is quite a nice watch from Bremont and a great step for the brand that presents its first in-house movement. But this is just the visible part of the iceberg.
What went wrong?
Brands, be aware that some potential clients and collectors know more than all of us about pretty much everything linked to watchmaking, specifications and brands’ history. When our colleagues from Hodinkee published the first story about the Bremont Wright Flyer, some of the readers questioned the ‘in-house’ qualification given to the movement. On forums and other websites people also noticed that something was wrong with this movement. After a closer look, it was clear that Bremont’s in-house movement was based on a La Joux-Perret calibre.
La Joux-Perret is a renown manufacture based at La Chaux-de-Fond (Switzerland) that creates movements for several brands, like for example Arnold & Son. Looking at the shape of the bridges and the tmovement’s layout, the parentage between Bremont’s movement and the Calibre 6003 from Arnold & Son is quite obvious. Even if Bremont’s movement has been modified, it is not designed and developed entirely by them. Yes, the brand’s name is engraved in the movement’s bridges and the rotor is custom-made for this movement, but the base was developed with La Joux-Perret.
ABlogToWatch had a conversation with Bremont that admitted having work WITH La Joux-Perret in order to develop a unique movement. So the base (gear train, automatic winding mechanics (except rotor) and main spring barrels) is identical to Arnold and Son’s movement. On the Arnold & Son DSTB it features an off-centre display of the hours and minutes and a dead-beat second module. On the Bremont the hour and minute hand are positioned centrally and there’s an off-centre small seconds sub dial.
What is the issue here? In terms of watchmaking or quality, we can’t blame brands that for using externally sourced movements or developing movement with an external partner. Especially not when talking about La Joux-Perret! Developing and manufacturing an entire movement is a complex, long and very expensive process (think: years and millions). In a statement Bremont now says that the movement was developed by Bremont AND La Joux-Perret (the two companies have a long-term relationship) and that some parts are bought from La Joux-Perret and that some others are manufactured by Bremont.
As the Brits would say, they “cocked up.” Massively! On top of that a slow response and (again) too many vague statements, and the lack of clarity. We would applaud it, if Bremont could clearly state who did what. Once again, we are not saying the movement is no good. We actually believe this could well be a very nice movement and honestly, we do like the looks of Bremont’s new Wright Flyer and the by Bremont AND La Joux-Perret “mutually designed” calibre BWC/01.
PS. the retail price is not announced yet, but we’ll keep you posted
Bremont’s formal statement:
We can confirm that we have worked with LJP (our long term partner) in close collaboration between our technical teams in order to achieve Bremont’s first exclusive movement (so it is not a ‘modification’). This has been a massive development for Bremont and working on a project such as this we wanted to make a reliable movement where we could machine some key components in the UK. We are investing a lot of money in the UK to be able to do this and are proud of our achievements. More specifics below:
– the bridges etc. are all specific to the BWC/01 with an amazingly high quality of finish.
– the overall look from the back-side is somewhat similar than another exclusive movement produced by LJP because of the use of the same gear train and automatic system which we could not produce in the UK. So, quite naturally there is a relatively strong resemblance. However the design of the movements differ in many details.
– the dial side of the movement is totally different from the LJP movement. This clearly shows that Bremont’s movement is exclusive and only used by Bremont.
– the Bremont movement has a different diameter and number of jewels.
– the click spring is different.
– the base version of the Bremont movement has a date system.
Bremont also gave the formal pricing:
- £17,950 for the stainless steel
- £27,950 for the rose gold
- £30,950 for the white gold
More info: www.bremont.com