Bremont and The Watch Gallery: A High-Flying Limited Edition

I’ve no doubt there was a time when the vast majority of people who wore pilot’s watches were, among other things, actually pilots. Pilot’s watches were tools before they were accessories, and if you name any iconic pilot’s watch you’ll be naming a watch that was originally designed to fulfil a purpose – Breitling’s Navitimer, Rolex’s GMT Master and IWC’s Big Pilot Watch to name a few.

But although those designs live on, they’ve long since outlasted pretensions of usefulness. A pilot’s watch today is symbolic – it suggests virility, internationalism and, less exotically, an appreciation for build quality. I own several pilot’s watches and yet the only flying I ever do is tucked in the back of a passenger airliner.

Many brands have tried to appropriate these values, and yet few, in fact, none of the newer generation have grasped them as authoritatively as Bremont.

The British brand introduced its first watch, the ALT1-C, in 2007 (yesterday in watchmaking terms), and yet it’s already one of the first names in pilot’s watches. I’d argue Bremont is now second only to Breitling among brands synonymous with aviation.

Headline partnerships with Boeing, Martin-Baker, The Wright Flyer and half the world’s military air forces have helped, but behind those is a range of hardy, cockpit-ready timekeepers. Hardened cases, anti-shock devices, legible dial designs, chronometer certification across the collection, practical complications – these are all signifiers of watches pilots might really wear (and do wear) on the job.

So strong is the Bremont aesthetic and so convincing is its narrative that it has also lured in watch buyers whose primary reason for purchase is how a watch looks and feels. You don’t have to be a pilot to get Bremont, in other words.

It’s against that backdrop that the latest ATL1-C arrives on the market. A limited edition made in partnership with The Watch Gallery, it takes the form of the brand’s classic pilot’s watch, only with a dial and strap coloured in the sartorially versatile blue of the British retailer.

This is the second time The Watch Gallery and Bremont have collaborated, and the first since 2012, when Bremont created a limited edition Martin-Baker watch to mark the 100th anniversary of Selfridges, home to The Watch Gallery’s Wonder Room. The new watch has a 43mm polished stainless steel case, is water-resistant to 100 metres, and is powered by an automatic chronograph movement chronometer-certified for accuracy. Only 20 will be made – a rare slice of Bremont’s increasingly rich pilot’s watch heritage.

SHOP THE BREMONT ALT1-C WATCH GALLERY LIMITED EDITION

Robin is a contributor to the Financial Times, International New York Times and the Telegraph, and is Esquire’s watch columnist.