Simon De Burton
Fans of British watch company Bremont will likely know that founding brothers Nick and Giles English built the brand around their passion for aviation. But it’s not only planes they’re interested in – if it has an engine, if it moves and if it’s a little bit different, they’ll soon be in it, on it or under it.
So when the chance arose to involve Bremont at the pinnacle of motor sport through a partnership with the Williams Racing F1 team, the brothers jumped in quick.
The opportunity came in 2021 after Williams parted company with watchmaker Oris. Bremont as “official timing partner” has struck up a close relationship with Williams, not least because of the proximity of the two businesses (just an hour apart in Oxfordshire) and because they have an important common denominator: they are both British engineers.
‘The partnership is very much a technical one,’ Nick English told Brummell. ‘Williams is interested in what we are doing at our new manufacturing facility, and we can learn a great deal from having access to the team’s amazing engineering facility. They can, for example, teach us how to optimise through-flow of components at The Wing [Bremont’s manufacturing HQ].’
The first fruit of the collaboration was the Bremont WR-22, a 43mm chronograph with a touch of “Williams blue” on the dial, and ‘1970s-inspired hands’ that recall the team’s founding 46 years ago. And thrown in with each watch is an original wheel nut from one of the marque’s historic grand prix cars.
Bremont has also produced 45 sets of two watches comprising a blackened, DLC-treated version and a 40mm three-hand watch with dial details in Williams blue and a blue nubuck leather strap. These came with a race day “experience” at Williams HQ in Grove during last year’s Singapore and Mexico grands prix, with each buyer and a guest getting a guided tour of the facility that included a visit to the “mission control” room where the technical team review the cars’ race metrics in real time and liaise with the drivers and engineers trackside.
Williams Team principal James Vowles agrees with English about the suitability of the tie-up. ‘The synergies between motor racing and high-end watchmaking are clear, not least in terms of the crossover in manufacturing skills and similarities in complex CNC machining to very high tolerances,’ he says.
The most recent watch to emerge from the collaboration is the Bremont WR-45, which was unveiled during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July. The 43mm chronograph is made from DLC-treated steel with a transparent back that reveals the Williams Racing logo and a wheel-rim- inspired winding rotor. Limited to 244 examples – a reference to the number of times one or both Williams F1 drivers have climbed the podium since Alan Jones took second place for the team in 1978 – the watch is largely black with flashes of Williams blue on the dial and blue-coloured “lume”. Finished off with a strap made from black Alcantara (a suede-like material frequently used in motorsport) the WR-45, like the WR-22, is also supplied with a certified Williams’ wheel nut.
Look out for it on the wrists of team drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant at the final three races of the 2023 season – Brazil (5 November); US (18 November) and Abu Dhabi (26 November).