[Editor’s Note: In the interests of transparency: yes, Bremont is a sponsoring partner of Force 12 Media and Fightersweep. Yes, we have a project in the works with them. That being said, no, we didn’t get free MB II watches, and no, there’s no incentives for us in doing a review of their product. Let’s be clear on that, okay?]
For a moment, picture–if you will–a fighter pilot walking out to his or her jet. What items complete the ensemble? From top to bottom you’ve got the flightsuit, parachute harness, G-suit, and flying boots. Let us not forget the helmet and pubs bag, usually gripped on the non-dominant hand or slung over the shoulder while stepping to the jet.
There’s the flying gloves tucked into the top of the G-suit or slid beneath one of the retainer straps on the thigh, lineup cards on the other thigh (or sometimes both), the omnipresent sunglasses, and lastly…a sizable wristwatch.
The Big Watch is something fairly synonymous with fighter pilots, and has been for decades–but we’ll examine that particular tradition at a later date.
I’m not a watch guy, first and foremost, but I wanted to know what the Weasels would be getting into when they purchase their special watch. These are my thoughts and impressions about a particular watch I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on: the Bremont MBII.
The Bremont MB was designed to be the definitive aviation chronometer. The watch has been both tested and designed in conjunction with Martin-Baker, another British company known renowned for its manufacture of ejection seats widely used in all manner of military aircraft. As for the watch itself, there are three models available: the MBI, MBII and MBIII. The MBI is only available to those individuals who have ejected using an MB ejection seat and can be quickly identified by its red aluminium barrel.
For more on that, watch the video above featuring Jimmy Fallon and his father.
The movement of the bespoke components is protected by an anti-magnetic cage and a specifically-designed, anti-shock case mount. The MB range had to withstand the same rigorous testing as the Martin-Baker seats themselves–to include shock, vibration, temperature extremes, and salt-fog tests, and a myriad of others.
While the Weasel watch is based on the MB III, save for a Zulu hand, the watches are the same size and overall weight. My first impression? It was heavy. As compared to what, you ask? Compared to the Casio G-Shock line that I’ve been wearing for as long as I can remember. I’m notoriously hard on watches, as I spend a lot of time in aircraft interiors under a variety of conditions, and also indulge in other…dynamic physical endeavors.
Aside from the noticeable weight difference, the craftsmanship on this watch is absolutely stunning. Perfect fit and finish, smooth edges, clean lines, and a comfortable feel against your skin. This particular watch had a leather band which was also very comfortable for day-to-day wear. Although a larger watch (the case is 43mm across), it’s certainly not a ridiculously huge one; the Casio Pathfinder, for example, is 2.2 inches across, whereas the MB is 1.69.
This is where I found the Bremont to be set apart from other watches I’ve worn over the years. First off, it doesn’t have a battery. It’s mechanical. You actually have to operate this watch. As a pilot, I love that. Just as I have to physically operate the aircraft I am flying, whether it’s a Stearman, Mustang, or even the F-15, I have to operate this watch: if I haven’t worn it for a couple days, I have to wind it; I have to set the time; I have to adjust the date as required. At first it was a pain; I would forget to wind the watch after not wearing it for a while and wonder why the heck it wasn’t telling the correct time or showing the correct date. Operator error.
Over the course of the few weeks I had the timepiece, I actually grew to enjoy those details and being mindful of its care and feeding–again, just like any airplane. I also very quickly grew accustomed to the weight difference, to the point where I didn’t even notice. The watch was so comfortable to wear, I often forgot I had it on. It fits beautifully under Nomex flying gloves; there was no snagging or catching. Again, because of the fit, finish, and smooth edges, I never encountered an instance where the watch caught on anything–in or out of the cockpit.
Would I own an MB-series watch if given the opportunity? Without a doubt.
Here’s a disclaimer: Bremont watches are very expensive. There’s absolutely no denying the hit your pocketbook will take, but with these watches the old addage holds true: you get what you pay for. In this case, it’s flawless craftsmanship, comfortable feel, amazing functionality, and meticulous attention to detail, all in an elegant yet understated design.
The MBII is a magnificent watch. I really enjoyed wearing it for the period of time it was under my care.