‘Land Once Lost Can Be Retaken, Time Once Lost Is Lost Forever.’
Bremont Special Projects UK IMINT Solo Watch. Photo Credit @danc21cy
Conflict is won and lost on timing.
Napoleon is quoted in saying ‘Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the former than the latter. Space we can recover, lost time never.’
Time, more accurately the implementation of time, in the military is crucial. This point is engrained into any recruit undergoing military training from day one. One of the most important pieces of personal equipment in the military is a watch. Moreover, a reliable and accurate watch.
Watches have been an itemised piece of military equipment, large scale since the Second World War. Historically, militaries would produce official specifications to which timepieces would need to achieve in order for them to become issued pieces of military equipment. Such specifications would outline nuances such as accuracy, water resistance, dial legibility, shock proofing, magnetism and luminosity (watch geeks would argue this is the most important element). Probably the most famous type of watch issued to the military were the W.W.W. series of watches which would later become known as ‘The Dirty Dozen’.
Fast forward to the present day, issued watches are not as common within the military as they previously once were. The modern battlefield is dominated by cutting edge technology: advanced computer systems, GPS, satellite communications and laser guided munitions. One could be forgiven for assuming that a simple watch could be seen as an antiquated, outdated and almost unnecessary piece of personal equipment.
Issued watches can seen as a ‘Gucci bit of kit’ as they are few and far between. The reason for this is two fold. Firstly, a soldier can purchase a watch (Casio F91W at the time of writing) for as little as £8. This is the most common route that the average soldier will undertake. Secondly, you would be hard pressed to find a soldier ‘brave enough’ to confront their unit Quarter Master in order for them to be issued a watch.
Watches in the modern military have taken on a slightly different connotation. A watch can almost be seen as a right of passage or a badge of honour. An example of this stereotype would be fast jet pilots in the squadron bar, recounting stories of their (potentially exaggerated) tales from their day’s mission. A group of them stood around, enthralled by an individual, who is using their hands in order depict the motions of their aircraft during the previous mission. Those listening to the tale would be able to spy what is peaking out the bottom of their sleeve, a big and potentially unique looking timepiece. That stereotype would almost be incomplete without the presence of that ‘Gucci bit of kit’ on their wrist.
Cue Bremont (specifically Bremont Military and Special Projects).
Most reading this article won’t need an introduction to Bremont, but for those not in the know here is the low down. Bremont was founded by two brothers, Nick and Giles English. They have designed and produced a variety of chronometer graded mechanical watches in Britain since the mid 2000’s. Since their inception, Bremont have strived to produce tastefully designed watches which, whilst aesthetically pleasing to the eye, are over engineered. They believe that their watches have the ability to accompany the wearer through their daily life and any adventures or hardships (both intentional and non-intentional) along the way. Bremont watches are designed so that they can be ‘Tested Beyond Endurance” and this is where the watches and the military have come together.
Bremont now produce specific watches to the military under their Military and Special Projects Team. Globally, across all arms and services, units approach Bremont in order to produce unique and limited timepieces. The eligibility of these projects are outlined between the Project Leader and the Bremont Military and Special Projects Team. These special timepieces are made to same exacting specifications which Bremont maintain across all of their watch lines, but where they differ is they incorporate design features which commemorate the unit which the project is for. This makes for an individual and unique timepiece which enables the wearer to stand out from the crowd.
Speak to any watch geek and they will all agree, every watch has a story and these watches all embody the unique story of both the unit as well as the wearer. The unique dials, rotors and case-back engravings will all tell an element of that story but not in a way a kin to shouting down the street, but more in a quiet, confident manner a kin to the ‘if you know, you know’ concept.
Bremont Special Projects UK IMINT Solo & 657 Squadron AAC Alt1-C Watch(@stu_coulson). Photo Credit @danc21cy
For those of us lucky enough to know, or be exposed to individuals who are fortunate enough to wear such a timepiece, I implore you to ask them about it. However, a word of warning, be prepared to settle in and get ready for a long and enthusiastic explanation of the watch, its story and potentially, the story of the owner as well.
As a collector, for me, it is all about the story of these watches, the story of the individuals, as well as the story which they embody of their unit and its traditions and history. To an outsider, the military is all the same, but to those within it, it’s almost tribal with different traditions, histories and battle honours which are proudly displayed through out the differing uniforms and now even on a Bremont Military and Special Projects timepiece.
The military operates on the correct utilisation of time, and in my personal opinion, if the time is measured on such a unique timepiece, that can’t be a bad thing either!
Photos Courtesy of D Clayton @danc21cy.
Watches owned by @danc21cy @commandosundials @stu_coulson.