You could easily spot the watch geeks, er, guys at Bremont’s late-summer party in the penthouse lounge of 230 Fifth Avenue: They were the rather studious-looking bunch in the corner, huddled in a circle to intensely examine the trays containing the British watch brand’s latest debut.
And why wouldn’t they? Bremont collectors were savoring their first opportunity to eyeball the brand’s new Codebreaker, which doesn’t arrive in stores until November. While the history-laden timepiece had been unveiled at trade events such as BaselWorld in April and Las Vegas’s Couture Jewelry Show in June, US consumers hadn’t yet had a chance to hold a Codebreaker in their hands.
Aviation- and military-inspired watches have long been popular among collectors, and while Bremont likewise embraces the theme -- Nick and Giles English, the two brothers who co-founded the company in 2007, are both pilots -- the brand takes the idea a step further, combining innovative technology with romantic-driven details imbued in the craft of each piece. Last Tuesday, experienced pilot Giles English, 39, crash-landed a vintage plane in the National Trust grounds when the engine failed, saving himself and an 11-year-old family friend Oliver Nuttall on board.
The limited-edition Codebreaker is Bremont’s latest example of history-meets-modernity. Taking its cue from a 1940s-style officer’s watch, the Codebreaker is an homage to the famed codebreaking factory Bletchley Park, which decrypted codes and ciphers including the Enigma throughout World War II; its results were deemed so vital that it’s estimated to have shortened the war by two years. A first-time design, the model’s Flyback Chronograph GMT automatic movement includes materials taken from Bletchley Park, such as pine from the floor of one of its buildings and metal from one of the original codebreaking machines, the latter used to craft a portion of the rotor. Only 290 pieces will be made, 240 in hardened stainless steel (priced at $18,500) and 50 in 18k rose gold (selling for $33,995).
A portion of the proceeds from Codebreaker sales will be contributed to the ongoing restoration of Bletchley Park. The site figured heavily in the 2001 code-breaking film Enigma, starring Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott. The famous codebreaker Alan Turing, soon to be played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2014 film The Imitation Game, worked there.
Previous Bremont limited editions include 2011’s P-51, its mechanism containing metal from one of the famed World War II Mustangs, and 2012’s HMS Victory, the brand’s first gold timepiece, which employs oak and copper taken from the iconic British battleship.
“How can you not be moved by the history of what that watch represents?” says Nick English. “It’s a phenomenal history, but we also wanted to design a watch that would feel wonderful right now and feel just as great 20 years from now. It’s timeless and not meant to be gimmicky at all.”