"I survived a plane crash, but it hasn't put me off flying"

Not even a series of tragic plane crashes will stop this man’s quest to restore pride to Britain’s watchmaking industry.

Matthew Priest January 18, 2015

An interview with Giles English, co-founder, Bremont.

Being British
Britain has an amazing history when it comes to timepieces. They reckon that 60 per cent of the first mechanical watch was developed by British watchmakers, let alone the fact that the world sets its time by Greenwich Mean Time, and even up until the 1960s, brands like Omega and Rolex were testing their watches in Kew Observatory. 

But, sadly, there hasn’t been a British watchmaking company since the 1960s. It’s a shame that our watchmaking industry has gone, which is why we are making every effort to bring it back, regardless of how long it takes.

Time flies
Bremont has aviation in its DNA. My father was a former Royal Air Force pilot and had a business where he would restore old aircraft. Aviation was very much part of what my brother (and co-founder) and I did when we were growing up. In fact, I still fly a plane that my dad built. Bremont interview founder Giles English. Recovering from tragedy
When my father died in a plane crash in 1995, everything changed. My brother Nick was in the plane too, but he survived. It was that moment when our lives changed and it inspired to go into watchmaking. We thought, life is too bloody valuable to do something that doesn’t make you happy, so we will only work with the people we like, and people that are as passionate about our beliefs as we are.

Outdoors tested
We’ve worked with explorers from very early on, because we believe that adventurers are the best people to test watches. We developed our Terra Nova watch for the explorer Ben Saunders who last year became the first man to trek to the South Pole and back on foot – there is no better way to test your product than that! Ultimately we want to work with people who inspire us. I don’t aspire to be a film star, I want to be someone who is out there doing something different.

Dicing with death
About 14 months ago, I was flying an old 1930s bi-plane called the Gypsy Moth, when the engine stopped during a turn and I smashed into the ground. I was bashed up pretty badly, and was very lucky to survive. It hasn’t put me off flying, but it has put my wife off me flying! I am currently trying to rebuild the plane, which will be a long job. Bremont interview founder Giles English.High-water mark
One of the pinnacles of our career, so far, was being approached by the family of Orville and Wilbur Wright, to collaborate with them on the Wright Flyer timepiece. We actually were able to touch and use pieces of the first plane that ever flew, in one of our timepieces. It quite literally brought tears to my eyes.

Soul searching
I think a soul is very important to have. The pace of life is getting quicker, so doing some good is important. You need to find time to take a step back and appreciate just what you have. I have some friends who are busy saving all their money for their pensions, and to me that is bizarre. Just go out and live life! My father had a saying: It’s better to live life and lose it than to have never lived at all. My wife doesn’t like that expression.

Details: visit bremont.com