History, the meridian and a new watch


To create its new watch, the English company Bremont acquired metal from an unlikely source: the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the English institution probably best known as the cradle of the Greenwich meridian, the line of longitude used since the end of the years. 1800 to set the world time. .

Each watch in the 300-piece limited edition, slated for release on October 20, features a thin band of brass encircling its see-through back. The brass came from a strip that the observatory had until recently mounted on a wall to represent another meridian designated by 17th-century astronomer John Flamsteed.

The back is also engraved with the geographic coordinates of Greenwich and Henley-on-Thames, the headquarters of the watch brand, about a two-hour drive west of the observatory. On the dial there is a line which is a tribute to the Greenwich meridian and a red circle which fades when the automatic watch loses its reserve charge, inspired by the Greenwich Time Ball, a 19th century sphere on the observatory formerly used to denote daily time.

“It’s about nodding to that story without letting the watch become overgrown and almost whimsical,” said Nick English, co-founder of Bremont.

The watch, called the Bremont Limited Edition Longitude, is part of a new partnership with the museum, and while neither party describes what that might involve, Mr. English said additional watches were not planned.

Bremont has already offered historical themed timepieces, each with its own original details.

For example, a 2018 watch to mark the Concorde’s 50th anniversary featured aluminum from one of the supersonic passenger planes, for example, and the 2020 timepiece honoring physicist Stephen Hawking used wood from his desk.

“We were immediately reassured that they knew how to work with the heritage sector,” said Lucy Cooke, development manager of the Royal Museums Greenwich, the organization that oversees and operates the observatory as well as several other institutions in Greenwich.

She added that working with Bremont in what is essentially a license agreement with an additional donation was another attractive factor. “We really like that it’s British.” The observatory only observes such partnerships occasionally; About 20 years ago she was working with another British watch brand, Accurist.

Mr English said that, like many people raised in England, his connection to the institution began early: he and his brother, Giles, co-founder of Bremont, first went on a school trip from their home. childhood near Cambridge. “It’s such an important landmark in British history, I think it’s pretty hard to avoid going there,” he said.

Nevertheless, the alliance seems as much strategic as it is sentimental. “You get that story and transfer that essence,” said Ravi Dhar, professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Management and director of its Center for Customer Insights. “It will appeal to people who genuinely care about the traditions, history and the science behind them.”

The watch comes in three versions – steel, white gold, or rose gold cases – with prices ranging from 14,995 pounds to 21,995 pounds, or $ 20,370 to $ 29,880. It also marks the debut of Bremont’s first in-house movement, the first in a series, which Mr. English said had been in development for over a decade.

While the observatory may not be a household name in some countries, its involvement with the watch could have more of an impact than publicity endorsement, especially with fans of high profile watches.

“He is really not a movie star or a celebrity,” said Professor Dhar, “but it is history, and the history of knowledge or of science or of innovation, which is which is really powerful in the watch industry. “

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