By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
History was a subject in school that I actually fell in love with. The events that unfolded and the various inter-related implications to other aspects of historical endeavors make me realize how interconnected the world is. What Bremont is doing with the launch of the limited edition de Havilland DH-88 Comet GMT & Chronograph watch is to acknowledge a piece of the historical milestone in long range air travel that kick-started the viability of intercontinental commercial air service.
This latest offering from Bremont whose founders, Nick and Giles English are known as aircraft enthusiasts, is named for the de Havilland DH-88 Comet, Grosvenor House, the British plane flown in the ultra-long MacRobertson Air Race back in October 1934. This grueling 11,300 miles (or 18,080 kilometers) race from Mildenhall in Suffolk, England to Flemington Race Course in Melbourne, Australia tested men and machines to the extreme limit. Pilots Charles W A Scott and Tom Campbell Black took up the challenge and with the DH-88 Comet completed the task in a record-breaking 2 days and 23 hours, winning race despite a number of near catastrophic incidences along the way.
There are two versions of this limited edition watch, either in stainless steel (limited to 282 pieces priced at £7,995) or rose gold (limited to 82 pieces and priced at £14,995). What is unique and may justify the rather steep asking price is that it contains an actual piece of the race-winning de Havilland Comet. Part of the Comet’s plywood undercarriage has been included in the propeller-motif red rotor, marked with the Comet’s number ‘34’.
Bremont’s DH-88 is a 43 mm and 16 mm thick pilot’s watch with red, gold and white accents on a black dial. The main crown and pushers are located on the right of the watch casing. It has a 24-hour GMT hand and chronograph sub-dials at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock. A date aperture is located in the 6 o’clock sub-dial. The arrow-tipped GMT hand follows a white track sloping up from the edge of the dial. An additional crown at the 8 o’clock position controls the internal bezel. Similar in capabilities with the Bremont ALT1-ZT/51 GMT Chronograph Watch except for the location of the date aperture, the DH-88 has a more vintage feeling to it due to the use of traditional styling such as the onion crowns as well as the use of Arabic numbering and the lack of any angles on the hands.
Another nice addition to the watch is the stamping of a propeller on top of the two crowns.
The DH-88 is powered by Bremont’s BE-54AE movement, a COSC-certified automatic caliber based on the ETA 7750. This movement uses red screws, Glucydur balance, Anachron balance spring, and Nivaflex 1 mainspring. It has a 42-hour power reserve. The watch also has a very respectable water rating of 10 ATM or 100 meters.
Another possible encouragement to increase the demand is the pledge by Bremont to forward a portion of the proceeds of every DH-88 sold to be donated to the Shuttleworth Trust, a unique museum dedicated to the preservation of dozens of historically significant aircraft.
I have to admit the DH-88 is a handsome watch. It has the vintage feel to it and yet, it has that evergreen design which also looks modern and clean.
For some people, the lack of a slide ruler (an important piece of tool needed especially for pilots in the age of flying by compass bearing, location of stars and land formations) was a mistake in the design process at Bremont. However, these people are missing the whole point of that historical event. The lack of such a complication does not diminish the relationship of the watch and the event that it pays homage to. In fact, the addition of the GMT complication is the key to identifying the significance of the watch. In reality, that event is a turning point of making air travel quicker and the DH-88 plus the GMT function reflect that fundamental watershed moment in history. For more info, please visit bremont.com