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BaselWorld 2014: Belles of the Fair: Bremont Supermarine Terra Nova & MBIII

by Robin Lim on June 18, 2014

Bremont is a brand that is synonymous with aviation and adventures; there is no surprise that their latest offering was derived from an expedition in Antarctica.

The Bremont Supermarine Terra Nova. This watch journeyed with the explorers across 1,975km in Antarctica.

The Bremont Supermarine Terra Nova. This watch went on a 1,795 miles journey with the explorers across Antarctica.

Earlier this year, two British polar explorers managed to trek 1,795 miles across Antarctica. Ben Saunders, as well as his teammate Tarka L’Herpiniere, managed to break the world record for setting the longest polar journey on foot. The watch they were wearing for this expedition? The Bremont Terra Nova.

Around 4 years prior to the expedition, Ben has been working with Bremont. The British watchmaker was keen to challenge boundaries in terms of technology and design, and henceforth that led to the collaboration between these two entities. The partnership culminated with the Terra Nova, a watch that is capable of working in extreme conditions.

The case of the Terra Nova is made with aircraft-grade titanium. The choice is clear, as titanium is very strong and extremely lightweight. This made it suitable for the expedition, as it would not be too heavy to be a burden for the explorers themselves. The watch is also able to resist water depth of up to 500 meters as well.

The watch runs on the modified caliber BE-93-2AE, an automatic chronometer that is COSC tested and certified. This movement features a date and a GMT function (together with the MBIII, it is the first time that Bremont has introduced this function into a non-chronograph timepiece), in which the latter is able to point the explorers to the South Pole (using the GMT hands and the Sun). The movement is also specially oiled to withstand the extreme weather conditions there, and a Faraday cage is present to prevent the magnetic fields from interfering with the movement. The movement is also protected from shocks and the cold, as it is incorporated with a special vibration mount.

The Terra Nova is a no-nonsense piece; it is tough and practical.

The Terra Nova is a no-nonsense piece; it is tough and practical.

In a nutshell, we think that the Bremont Supermarine Terra Nova is a very cool (pun intended) and masculine timepiece. The use of the titanium allows the watchmaker to create a very solid watch without making it too heavy or bulky. The engineering and the thought process that goes behind this watch is just staggering. The story behind this watch makes it even more fascinating, even though it may not be as significant as the Moonwatch. This is not a watch for people who are looking at complications; it is a practical and functional watch. The only drawback? Only 300 pieces are available.

The Bremont MBIII. Many  of its design cues were derived from the aviation world.

The Bremont MBIII. Many of its design cues were derived from the aviation world.

Another piece that caught our attention was Bremont’s MBIII. There were two previous variants of the MB (mainly MBI and MBII), and it was a tremendous success, thanks to its distinct case design and rigidity.

The MB range of watches, in which it is collaborated with the ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker, have to undergo a series of rigid tests. This is to ensure that the watches are solid enough to withstand harsh conditions in the aviation world, just like the ejection seats that the company makes. It includes placing the watch in extreme temperature conditions, vibration tests, altitude test, g-force tests, and an aircraft carrier-like condition test.

Unlike its predecessors, the Bremont MBIII has included a new GMT function, as well as the option to have bronze aluminium for the barrel. But having said this, many of the MB DNA still remains. This includes the knurled effect on the ejection seats, the hands of the watch (which looks like it is from an aircraft instrumental gauge), the arabic numerals (which also looks like those from an aircraft cockpit), and the “black and yellow” loop at the end of the second hand which signifies the ejection seat activation handle.

Overall, the MBIII is a wonderful timepiece. Just like the Terra Nova which we have featured above, the MBIII is another rugged and functional watch. As an airman, I am leaning towards the MBIII because of its stronger associations with the world of aviation. I like how Bremont has managed to put different elements of a fighter jet into a watch design, without compromising on its functionality and legibility.

Just a thought. Should MBIII’s successor (which is probably MBIV) contain various parts of a historical airplane/ fighter jet in the construction of the watch itself (such as the case, straps, or probably the dial)? That will be something awesome, and it will certainly raise Bremont’s association with the world of aviation. What do you reckon?

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