Once the cases have been machined the work really starts. Finishing any form of metal, time and time again to the high standards expected by the watch industry, is difficult, which is why few brands attempt it. We have developed some of the most advanced and innovative techniques for finishing cases anywhere in the world and rarely seen in-house within watch companies. This is achieved by CNC machining the case from bar but then laser guided CNC polishing, which also grinds the centres of the cases. This delivers a perfect case that can then be hand polished. For any polished case, hand finishing plays a pivotal part. Once we have finished the case we then use specialist UK based companies for a 2000 Vickers case hardening process, a process that few other watch companies use.
All Bremont watches including our polished cases are treated for hardness with B-EBE2000 technology. During this special stage in the case production the metal is heat-treated and defused with carbon, then bombarded with electrons. The process dramatically increases the hardness and scratch resistance of the stainless steel. On the Vickers’ scale of hardness, for example, B-EBE2000 produces a watch case with a value of 2000Hv – approximately seven times that of the normal stainless steel used for watch cases.
But what about a British movement and its constituent parts? Whist Bremont currently manufactures some parts for its BWC-01 movement and finishes many more, the end goal for Bremont is its own British movement, or series of movements. A British movement built and designed from scratch, a base movement that will provide a platform for further complications. With many years of development now under its belt, and with very talented British movement designer Stephen McDonnell (responsible for MB&F’s ‘Legacy Machine Perpetual’) designing the movement, a working prototype is on the not too distant horizon. The challenge will be to make this movement in numbers to chronometer specification, as per all Bremont watches. Making a handful of movements a year can be achieved by prototyping. Making thousands of consistently accurate and beautifully finished movements is something very different. We are fully aware of the challenge, and investment, that lies ahead.
We have invested many millions of pounds to get to this stage and will need to invest many more over the next few years as we continue to innovate. Unless you are making hundreds of thousands of individual components it is often cost prohibitive to manufacture that individual component hence why most watch companies do not attempt to build everything in-house. The skill is identifying where you can make quick wins with the skill sets you have based on the volume of watches you are producing, this naturally develops all the time. For Giles and myself it is lovely to see the skills flourish here in the UK, the apprentices developing into technicians, this is what really interests us and is the legacy that we want to leave both personally and for the British watch industry. Whilst there is certainly always much more to be achieved, occasionally we look around at our staff and feel some sense of achievement.
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