On the basis that most people who appreciate great cars also appreciate great ’planes, let’s highlight two watch makers marking this year’s 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with special models. Zero West’s is first (described right), while resolutely British brand Bremont has produced a series of limited-edition sets of two watches which respectively honour the vital roles that the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker
Hurricane played in the historic conflict. Bremont was established in 2002 by pilots Nick and Giles English, both of whom were taught to fly as schoolboys by their late father, the noted aerobatic pilot Euan English.
Since selling its first watch in ’07, Bremont has made a string of themed limited editions that began with 2008’s EP120 containing
material salvaged from a 1942 Spitfire MKV. That was followed by the P51 incorporating aluminium from a 1944 Mustang, the Wright Flyer (canvas from the pioneer aircraft’s wings); the DH-88 (plywood from the de Havilland DH–88 Comet ‘Grosvenor House’ which performed a record-breaking flight from England to Australia in 1934) and the ‘1918’ marking the centenary of the RAF and carrying metal from a Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and Bristol Blenheim.
All of the above sold out fast and most have proved worthwhile buys – EP120s, for example, can change hands for up to £20,000, more than three times what they cost new.
But these latest models could prove even more successful, not only because they come in sets of two, but every buyer also gets to fly in a Spitfire which actually took part in the conflict that dominated the British skies from July to October of 1940.
The Bremont Battle of Britain Collection will be available in 80 sets each comprising the BOB Spitfire – a special version of the ALT1-ZT GMT chronograph with a dial inspired by the type of Smiths clocks used in Spitfire cockpits – and the BOB Hurricane, a 40mm three-hand automatic based on the existing Airco.
Each has an image of the relevant ’plane on the rear, while the BOB Hurricane also gets a ‘bund’ cuff strap of vintage-look leather.
Buying a set entitles the owner to a flight in a two-seater Spitfire organised by the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire, with each set being supplied with a special disc which is intended to be engraved with details of the flight.
Despite the five-figure asking price, these are likely to be in demand – and, as investment pieces, their finest hour may be yet to come… Bremont
Battle of Britain Collection
Zero West’s watches are designed by founders Andrew Brabyn and Graham Collins at The Old Boat House in Emsworth, Hampshire – once the garage of panelling expert George Gray who, as well as creating bodywork for Vanwall and Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird land speed record machines, also built fuselages for Spitfires. It’s fitting that it has produced this Battle of Britain tribute using aluminium salvaged from the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine of a MK I Spitfire downed over The Needles on November 29, 1940.
Zero West S4-P9427
Reservoir specialises in watches inspired by the dashboard gauges of cars and aircraft, with one of its most popular models being the GT Tour driver’s model. It recently announced that it will be the official timing partner of the IDEC Sport team for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, and it is creating 24 special GT Tour watches. Each one will travel in the IDEC Sport ORECA LMP2 before being sold, with each eventual buyer being offered a behind-the-scenes visit to next year’s event with the team.
Reservoir GT Tour Le Mans.