Rolex has Formula 1, Hublot the FIFA World Cup, and Omega the Olympics. But very few watch brands can lay claim to time-tested associations with the world’s most illustrious and respected sporting events—let alone one not even two-decades old. Bremont now finds itself in such company, having been appointed the official timing partner to not only the 35th America’s Cup, but the defending champion, Oracle Team USA, as well.
“As a small brand, we didn’t think this was possible, but we managed to do a deal and we’re really excited to be a part of it,” says Giles English, who with his brother, Nick, founded the British brand (headquartered in Henley-on-Thames) in 2002. “It’s the big next stage in our development. To think no British company have done this is quite a massive thing.”
Speaking from aboard a luxurious catamaran docked in a prime position in Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour to view the six sailing teams battle for bragging rights in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series—and, ultimately, victory in the same venue in 2017—the brothers have been graciously lent the vessel by the America’s Cup organization. “We always have been involved with aviation; from day one, one of our first ambassadors was this chap called Mike Golding, a sailor,” says Giles, a casual reference to the 55-year-old top ocean yachtsman.
Indeed, the analogy between sailing and flying has always been very close, so the fact that a brand best known for its prowess in aviation—pardon the pun—diving into sailing isn’t off brand at all. After all, the America’s Cup is a sport oft referred to as “flying on foils.”
“Just look at the boats themselves,” Giles points out. “Airbus designed the wing of it and Jimmy learned how to fly [in order] to sail his boat in three dimensions.” Jimmy, as the better of the entire sailing community has come to know and admire, is none other than Jimmy Spithill, the superstar Aussie skipper of Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA and, as it would later be revealed, a big fan of the English brothers.
“We work with a lot of partners, but with Bremont in particular, they’re supportive in every sense of the word and it’s really been an awesome experience,” Spithill says (the Giles brothers are both avid sailors and Giles trained as a naval architect). “Nick and Giles have such a passion for what they do and you can tell their level of enthusiasm goes beyond just slapping their brand on a poster.”
Because, lest one forgets, Bremont has also outfitted all of Oracle Team USA with a special Oracle I timepiece—one of four special pieces created in honor of the America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in international sport and whose first competition took place in 1851 on the waters off, coincidentally enough, England’s south coast.
It’s hard to miss the bright red rubber straps of the watch, which has been thoughtfully crafted to be the ideal sailing partner. “We designed it based off the engineering and development of Martin-Baker,” says Giles, a nod to the Bremont MBI pilot’s watch available for purchase only by “ejectees” from a doomed aircraft. Strong, durable and water resistant up to an impressive 500 meters, it’s not all fluff with no substance. The movement sits in a rubberized vibrant mount so if it’s hit, the vibration is fully absorbed. The whole lot is also encased in an anti-magnetic Faraday cage.
Whereas Oracle I and Oracle II are suited for no-holds-bar water adventures, brother AC I and AC II timepieces are, as Giles puts it, “more of a dress watch that resonates the history of the America’s Cup sailing.” Moreover, there simply aren’t that many heritage sports where engineering is a focus. There’s Formula 1 (“Quite a crowded space for us,” Giles admits), but the one thing about sailing, he adds, is that “it has this lovely element to it.”
As Spithill and Oracle Team USA defend their title, the 36-year-old’s zeal for a well-designed watch—and, by default, accurate and precise timekeeping—is contagious. “Timing, there’s no question about it, is critical in our game so we can’t accept anything but perfection,” says Spithill, coming off stage after his team placed third overall in the regatta (the Ulysse Nardin-sponsored Artemis Racing team achieved top honors, despite a collision that threatened to sideline them completely.) “As the start is the most important part of the race, we are completely reliant on our watches. This isn’t just about wearing watches, it’s not a vanity project; we’re using them as tools on our vessels.”
This form-meets-function adage is not lost on the Bremont brothers, who succeed powerhouse TAG Heuer as Oracle’s partner. “We love to tell stories as a brand,” says Giles. “Properly, this is our big part in sports. We’re making our own history.”