We covered Bremont Watches in our exclusive interview with co-founder Giles English and were intrigued by the kind of work they are doing in their premises in Silverstone and Henley-on-Thames, England. In that interview, we discovered the roots of Bremont is in aviation. We highly recommend you read that interview. This year, we also discovered that the brothers are also equally rooted in sailing. So it is with great interest that they announced their appointment as the official timekeeper of the America’s Cup and Oracle Team USA, the current Defender of the Cup. With this partnership, Bremont built a special regatta timing watch, where the importance of the countdown functionality during the racing is especially taken care of. Here is our review of the Bremont Regatta OTUSA watch and a special mention of the Bremont Regatta AC.
The America’s Cup
The America’s Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy, and still being raced today. The race format is rather interesting. Only two teams compete, each fielding one yacht. The defender represents the yacht club who currently hold the America’s Cup. And a second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club challenging for the cup. The trophy which goes to the winner is affectionately known as the “Auld Mug”, was originally awarded in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around the Isle of Wight in England was won by the schooner America. The trophy was renamed the America’s Cup after the yacht and custody was passed to the New York Yacht Club under the terms of a Deed of Gift, which made the cup available for perpetual international competition.
The current holder of the Auld Mug is Oracle Team USA who retained the cup in a showdown with Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013. The two watch brands who sponsored the race of 2013 was TAG Heuer for Oracle, and Omega who continued in a long relationship with Kiwis. TAG Heuer has since changed its strategy, now re-focused on auto racing and the New York Marathon, and Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team was in search of a new watch sponsor. Bremont now fills this spot. The next race will be held in 2017 in Bermudas. Team Oracle USA, as The Defender will have crew wearing Bremont watches. Actually the team is already wearing the Bremont watches now as they train and as the Louis Vuitton Cup races begin. The challenger is yet unknown as the qualifying rounds are starting soon.
Bremont has been appointed Official Timing Partner to the 35th America’s Cup and to the defending champion, Oracle Team USA. This Baselworld, they announced two special watches: The Bremont Regatta AC (available in steel limited edition of 235 pieces and rose gold limited edition of 135 pieces) and the Bremont Regatta OTUSA titanium case available with a black or white dial, limited edition of 235 each).
The regatta watch is required to provide a count down to the start time of the yacht race. Sailing boats start off from a rolling start. The start line is an imaginary line between two buoy markers. The boats maneuver nearby, and await for a cannon shot to signal the start of the race. Only then can they cross the line to begin racing.The boats gather around the start area, and race officials announce via blasts from an air horn the start of the countdown clock, in five minute intervals. Updates are announced every five minutes until the final five minutes, where every minute is announced, and finally the last 10 seconds are counted down.
For the skipper and crew, even though the boat carries a central digital clock, it is helpful to have the countdown in a watch on his wrist. The boat is constantly on the move, and the skipper needs to maneuver his boat to be in the best position possible so that when the signal to start the race is given, he is ready to race. If he is not able to anticipate to be as close to the start line as possible when the signal goes off, he loses precious seconds. And if he crosses too early, he may get penalized or even disqualified.
The Bremont Regatta OTUSA
The Bremont Regatta OTUSA is a chronograph with special regatta functions. The watches feature three countdown apertures on the dial, as well as a 15-minute “count-up” window and a 12-hour totalizer. These functions are designed to help the skipper time his maneuvers so that he can cross the start line as close to the cannon fire as possible.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a derivative of Bremont’s Boeing edition, with a three part construction comprising of the bezel/lugs, middle case and case back. The bi-directional rotating bezel carries a turbine like textured surface on its vertical sides. The same turbine like stripe texture is also found on the sides of the pushers.
The case is in in a satin finished titanium treated with the Bremont Trip-Tick construction with a highly scratch resistant DLC treatment. As a nod to the 2013 winning OTUSA boat, the crown carries a piece of carbon fibre. The carbon fibre, taken from the AC72 yacht foils which won the cup in 2013. For yachting fans, this is quite a cool feature.
Case finishing is immaculate, and very beautifully executed.
As a special feature for regatta timing, the dial carries three apertures in place of a counter at 12. The aperture on the right side shows a countdown disc which is activated when the chronograph is started, and moves half a position every 30 seconds, counting down from 5-4-3-2-1, turning from red to blue. The left aperture reveals another part of the disc, going from blue to fully revealing the word “START” as white characters on red at the end of the five minute interval. And the final aperture is near to the center of the dial where the hour/minute/chronograph seconds hand’s arbors are situated. This bears the cycling 15 minute counters of the chronograph, to keep time with the intervals broadcast of the race officials marking the intervals leading to the start.
The regatta counters can be obstructed when the hour and minute hands are near 12. Perhaps if Bremont had used skeleton hands, this may be alleviated.
The operation of the chronograph pushers are decent. Not as light as one would expect on a column wheel chronograph, but for some reason, it feels subjectively lighter than a regular 7750 sourced chronograph. The turbine like knurling on the crown and the pushers (which are screw down) provide easy slip free grip even in the wet. We are not clear if the chronograph can be operated under water, but as a sailing watch, this feature is not critical.
The movement BE-17E
The movement is designated Bremont BE-17E and is a modified Valjoux 7750. The modification is done by Bremont partners, La Joux Perret in Switzerland. The main modification that we can identify over the standard 7750 is the regatta counter at 12. This is not as easy as it might seem on first sight. The left and right apertures reveal what is probably a single disc printed 5-1 on one side, and blue/START on the other. The third aperture shows probably another disc which sits around the circumference of the first and makes one revolution every 15 minutes.
The movement is COSC certified, and beats at the usual 28,800 bph, 42 hour power reserve of the Valjoux donor.
Movement finishing is not spectacular, but in keeping with a utility tool watch. No special decorative hand finishing is applied, though machine made perlage and Côtes de Genève are found on the movement. The rotor is engraved “AMERICA’S CUP” and carries a wave motif.
Priced at S$ 9,900 incl GST, it seems to be competitive for a sporty chronograph. But we think it is only meaningful to compare with other watches which feature regatta countdown funciton, and the landscape thins quite a bit. The former and current sponsors of the teams who are vying for the Auld Mug are perhaps as good a place to start as any.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M ETNZ (S$ 10,100 incl GST). The case is also in titanium with a ceramic bezel. The movement is perhaps more advanced, as it is an in-house column wheel chronograph Omega C.3300 with Co-Axial escapement and a silicon balance spring. The watch is rated to a depth rating of 300m, while the Bremont is only rated to 100m. Case diameter is similar, the Omega has a diameter of 44mm and the Bremont clocking in at 43mm. It also features a 5 minute countdown feature, but incorporated into the 30 minute totalizer at 3 o’clock.
Maurice Lacroix Pantos S Regatta ( € 6,990 which converts to approximately S$10.700). The Maurice Lacroix is housed in a forged carbon fibre cage, and is rated to 200m. The movement is quoted as ML162, and we are not able to confirm the source of the base movement. The case is 45mm diameter so comparable to the others. However, instead of 5 minute count down and 15 minute counters, it features a huge aperture on its dial revealing a rotating disc showing a count down from 10 minutes. This is shown as blue markers indicating “Ready” to 6 and then 5-0 section marked in red. At the 0, the pointer in the aperture indicates “Race”.
Another might be the Rolex Yachtmaster II Ref. 116680 (€ 12,650 converting to approximately S$ 20,800 incl GST). Note, not the Yachtmaster which we reviewed recently. The Yatchmaster is NOT a regatta watch, but a glorified Submariner with the 15 minute count down engraved on the bezel, while the Yachtmaster II is a full fledged regatta watch. The Rolex is in 904L stainless steel, and comes with a white dial with a blue Cerachrom bezel. It is rated to 100m water resistance and is equipped with the Rolex. C.4161. The movement is more advanced than the Valjoux derived Bremont, and is equipped with a column wheel, and is not only COSC certified but also Rolex Chronometer Certified to +2/-2 a day. Build quality of the case, dial, hands and movement is the typical Rolex high standards.
The way the YM II does count down is a little different from those we have examined here. The count down system is a bit more complicated, and can handle count downs up to 10 minutes. The bezel is also connected to the movement, and is the key to lock and unlock the setting system for the count down system. The user (skipper) can program the count down by rotating the bezel 90° into setting mode. Unscrew the crown and use the crown to move the red arrow hand to the correct count down number indicated on the scale. Screw the crown back and rotate the bezel to the operational position, which locks the count down setting. The chronograph can then be operated the usual way, and the count down is from the programmed timing instead of a fixed time of 15 and 5 minutes on the Bremont. Rolex calls this the Ring Command bezel. Quite brilliant. However, the price is more than double that of the Bremont, and a premium over their own Daytona. But as is typical of Rolex, resale value will tend to be higher than the competition.
The Bremont Regatta OTUSA watches are quite nicely designed. The aesthetics are typical of the English. Quiet, distinguished, and a little quirky. As a sporty watch which is not small at 43mm, it wears nicely, as the titanium case is light and the design feels good on the wrist. The curved lugs and flexible Temple Island rubber strap contributing to this sensation.
We rather like Bremont. Their products are serious, often with innovation in engineering and a fresh perspective to watches, which we do not often see from died in the wool horologists. After all the brothers who founded Bremont are aviators and sailors. And as mentioned in the caption of one of the photographs above, Giles English was trained as a Naval Architect, an both grew up sailing boats built by their father. The linkage to the America’s Cup, with its origins in England is also a tie-back to the Bremont facilities. As with most Bremont watches, pricing is rather moderate, and represents a fair value.
Another version, more sober and perhaps more suitable for the boardroom, is the Bremont Regatta AC, which is available in steel and rose gold. We show the rose gold version below. The gold Regatta AC retails for S$ 23,800, and the Steel version retails for S$ 9,900 incl GST.
Bremont Regatta OTUSA Specifications
Custom Bremont automatic movement, 25 jewels,
Glucydur balance, Anachron balance spring, Nivaflex
1 mainspring, 28,800bph, 42 hour power reserve.
America’s Cup decorated rotor.
Hour/minute with chronograph centre seconds.
Running seconds at 9H. Date and 12 hour counter at
6H, 15 minute Regatta timer and 5 minute countdown
Satin titanium case with bi-directional rotating
bezel with Super-LumiNova®. Bremont Trip-Tick®
construction with scratch resistant DLC treated case
barrel. OTUSA AC72 foil material integrated into
crown. Case diameter 43mm, lug width 22mm.
OTUSA engraved satin titanium open case back with
integrated flat crystal.
White or Black metal dial with Super-LumiNova® coated
indexes and hands.
Domed anti-reflective, scratch resistant sapphire crystal.
10 ATM, 100 metres.
C.O.S.C chronometer tested and certified.
Temple Island rubber strap and titanium pin buckle.
Individually serial numbered with accompanying