Luxury watches. It’s likely that phrase conjures an image in your mind of Swiss timepieces, assembled by the steady hands of an elderly gentleman. It’s the job of Giles English, co-founder of Bremont Chronometers, to change that.
“We’re one of the few British watch manufacturers making high-end mechanical watches today,” he says. “We’ve got this amazing history of watchmaking in the UK, and I think that really differentiates Bremont.”
English founded the company in 2002 with his brother, Nick, shortly after the death of their father, Euan, in 1995. Nick and his father were piloting a 1942 Harvard plane when it crashed; Nick escaped breaking over 30 bones, but sadly, Euan English lost his life. But their father didn’t just reveal the fragility of life to his sons – he also instilled in them a passion for watches, planes, cars and all things mechanical.
“My dad was this amazing PhD aeronautical engineer from Cambridge who loved building things – whether it be boats, planes, guitars. But one of his passions was watches and clocks.”
“Nick and I had always talked about watches, but it was just a bit of a fantasy. Post dad dying, I lived thinking I could be dead tomorrow. And I’ve been through a plane crash since, so I still live very much by that motto.”
Bremont is taking on the giants of Swiss watchmaking by investing in UK talent and manufacturing. Its Henley-on-Thames HQ houses fresh-faced watchmakers – many the result of the company’s apprentice scheme. The English brothers have also built a metal-machining facility that can produce movement parts to an accuracy of two microns – thinner than a human hair.
The pair work on the early sketches of every model before assembly by skilled watchmakers. The resulting chronometers are subtle, stylish and hard-wearing. But to English, they’re more than just luxury items.
“It’s lovely to actually create something tangible you can wear that’ll last forever,” he says. “There are very few things you can buy today that really do.”
And the name? The brothers were once forced to emergency land in France. A farmer gave them sanctuary, hiding their plane from police and welcoming them into his house filled with clocks. This French ex-pilot had a taste for risk, excitement and mechanics. Monsieur Bremont was the perfect namesake.
Investec Private Banking featured Giles’ story in WIRED magazine earlier this year as his entrepreneurial spirit is something our people relate to. As a founder managed business ourselves, we understand the journey Giles is on and his belief that anything can be achieved – afterall, we’ve had to go through that journey ourselves.
Giles English is Co-Founder of Bremont Chronometers.