The watch business has truly joined the online configurator game that has proven so popular in the car industry. One of the most engrossing systems can be found at the Bamford
Watch Department, the official customising house of Zenith, TAG Heuer and other LVMH- owned brands, while the likes of IWC have their interactive customising tools. The latest to offer the service is Bremont, which has launched a configurator dedicated to one of its most popular models, the MB-II.
‘MB’ stands for Martin-Baker, a name that represents the difference between life and death for military pilots of over 90 air forces worldwide, since the Middlesex-based firm is the world’s leading producer of the aircraft ejection seats that have saved over 7600 lives since John Oliver ‘Jo’ Lancaster used his MK.I version to escape an AW52 aircraft in 1949.
Andrew Martin, the grandson of the firm’s founder Sir James Martin, went in search of a watch collaboration, partly in a bid to achieve wider recognition for the company. Martin chose the then-fledgeling Bremont in 2007 because its founders, Nick and Giles English, are experienced pilots and were willing to develop an ultra shock-resistant mechanical watch using many of the systems used to create ejection seats at Martin-Baker.
Prototypes were subjected to nine live ejections at speeds of up to 600 knots and at forces of up to 30g, with the guinea pig watch undergoing hours on a vibration device to simulate the entire service life of a military helicopter. It was also housed inside a corrosive fog exposure cabinet to simulate six months on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and placed inside a heat chamber for extreme conditions.
To help it survive such situations, the M-B watch movement is protected by a Faraday cage and supported by a specially designed ‘suspension’ system that can absorb the massive shocks from M-B’s front-impact test that simulates the 18.4g of a crashing aircraft.
Since launch, the watches have been sold under the MB-II moniker, with a second version, the MB-I (distinguished by a red- anodised case band) available to those who have ejected from an aircraft using an M-B seat.
The MB configurator can mix and match elements, such as the colour of the dial and anodising and the strap material. Hundreds of combinations are available, but there’s only one way to earn the red case band… Bremont MB-II. £3995.
Try the configurator tool at bremont.com
When Switzerland’s Zenith watch brand was acquired by Chicago’s Zenith Radio in 1971, the new bosses ordered the destruction of swathes of old timepieces, plans and tools, believing that quartz was the future. Zenith’s Charles Vermot secretly stashed the material in an attic beside the Le Locle factory, including a curious chronograph made from blackened steel. It has inspired the Revival Shadow, with a ’70s-style case recreated in micro-blasted titanium and fitted with a visible El Primero movement.
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Revival Shadow
Paris-Based sports watch brand Bell & Ross has marked its fourth year as the official timing partner of the Renault Formula 1 team with a trio of new chronographs, our favourite of which is the BRV3-94 R.S.20 pictured here. The 43mm watch echoes the racing team’s livery, while a subtle pattern around the minute track recalls the hard-fought prize of the chequered flag. Just 999 examples will be made, and they can be had on a black and yellow ‘carbon effect’ calfskin strap or a steel bracelet.
Bell & Ross BRV3-94 R.S.20