Custom-built like a racer
BRM Chronographs prides itself on its links with motor sport – an influence that shows in its hand-made timepieces
Three letters: B, R and M. For Motor Sport’s readers, they will be forever associated with British Racing Motors, Formula 1 team of the nation that scored 17 World Championship Grand Prix victories between 1959 and ’72, and the 1962 world title thanks to Graham Hill.
But BRM means something else today, especially in the world of luxury timepieces.
Bernard Richards Manufacture has been making chronographs since 2002 and is the only French manufacturer in standard serial watch production. However, it is not just thisthat has made the company famous in a very short space of time — far from it. Founder Bernard Richards is an avid motor sport fan and this enthusiasm is clearly evident in the design and manufacture of his chronographs.
The racing influence on the timepieces is obvious in the use of chequered flags on the cases and straps. Then there are the race numbers on the facias, the names of the watches — the V8, V12 and the motorcycle engine-inspired R50, to name a few — and the racing car construction materials used in the manufacture, too. Every single BRM component is hand-made in France and Richards never has to worry whether his timepiece creations will sell. They always do.
The ties between the company and motor racing go far beyond the aesthetic parts, however.
Like a BRM single-seater, every single piece of a BRM watch is machined one after the other — the link the company makes to the racing car industry is certainly a real one. Like a 1960s BRM every watch is unique, as every one is finished and polished by hand.
With these strong links to the motor sport industry it’s no surprise that existing teams, such as Peugeot Sport and historic sports car racers OAK Racing, partner BRM.
The differences to other watch manufacturers don’t end there, though, as BRM Chronographs is well-known for being different. Richards and his team aren’t happy unless new designs, new materials and new concepts are introduced on a regular basis. You need only look at the ‘shock absorbers’ holding the movement to the case on the R50 to see that this isn’t any old manufacturer churning out unimaginative timepieces. Like a race team, the company is always looking for that extra bit of performance, and consequently has become a trendsetter rather than a trend follower.
The company makes 2000 units a year in its workshop outside Paris, and thanks to a €5 million investment, BRM Chronographs has been able to move further towards total independence by purchasing a micro-lathe to machine all the staffs in-house.
It has taken only a few years for BRM Chronographs to be accepted as one of the world’s leading watch manufacturers, and a large part of that is due to the talent of Richards and his team. The attention to detail is such that Richards is often asked to build components for other watch manufacturers. However, one of the great benefits of making the watches and their components by hand is that every model can be customised.
There are four models that can be customised online (www.brm-manufacture.com) — the V6, V8, V12 and V14 — but here you only get half the picture. In reality there isn’t a limited number of colours you can use as BRM Chronographs can work with every client individually to create any colour scheme they want. Like a Dulux advert, you can take a picture of a colour you like, or even bring in some bodywork off your racer, and they will use those colours to manufacture your watch. Thus the chances of someone else having the same finished product are very slim.
The cost of having a watch that is built specifically for you? There are two main types of BRM product: a Swiss movement timepiece which starts at £1900, and one that uses BRM’s unique movement — designed in-house — which starts at £16,400. As well as these there are even more intricate movements such as the Tourbillon, Birotor and Trirotor.
BRM Chronographs really is different from other watch manufacturers in terms of its specialised knowledge, its strong links to motor sport and the opportunity to customise every piece. It’s not surprising that BRM Chronographs has become one of the major players in the industry in such a short space of time.