From the watch company that specializes in flying instruments, yacht racing instruments, and race driving instruments, comes a timepiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic dress chronograph. The English brothers (that’s right, Bart and Tim Grönefeld aren’t the only fraternity in the watch industry) have unveiled three new models ahead of Baselworld 2016, including their latest chronometer, the Bremont ALT1-C/PB. We went hands-on with the watch this week.
At first glance, you’d be confused if you mistook the S301 to your critically-acclaimed Tudor Black Bay (image above). With its gilt and faux-patina accents, thick bezel, big crown, and dial up configuration, the S301 attracts much of the exact same era and lots of similar watches since the Black Bay for its various influences. Most prominently, you’ll see design influences in the late 1960s Rolex Submariner 1680, also referred to as the “Red Sub” (picture below, via FratelloWatches) for its reddish “Submariner” script toward the base of the dial, along with different 1950s Tudor and Rolex “Large Crown” models with their prominent unguarded crowns and gilt dials. Generally, early Submariners shared a lot of traits — like the distinctive hour markers, matte black dials, thick bezels, and bigger case diameter hovering around 40 mm–all of which are features seen in the S301.Yet, for all of the vintage-influenced components, Bremont’s view is distinctly modern and its particular. Using its triple-layer case structure and application of DLC coating, together with the sculpted and lifted lugs as part of the initial layer, this watch’s case is not in the compact Oyster style. Its summit, while clearly recalling a “Big Crown” style, is still not nearly as prominent about the S301 as about the historical pieces, and differentiates itself by applying a golden accent and printed logo on its periphery. Additionally, on the dial, whereas the hour mark are very similar to those previously referecned, the S301 has shrunk the overall proportion of those marks, and changed the 12 o’clock from a very simple triangle into a more “arrowhead” shape. The hands will be the aviation-inspired syringe design, as compared to the famous Mercedes and Snowflake styles seen on early Subs.
Part dress watch, part timekeeping instrument, it strikes an interesting balance between the brawn of the original ALT1-C chronograph, and the elegance of the ALT1-C Rose Gold Classic Chronograph. It is to dress watches what the Range Rover is to SUVs – a large piece of kit with a very powerful engine, all packed under a rather luxurious hood. It certainly fits the bill as a dress chronograph, but only if you consider there are no limits to the size of a dress watch – more about this in a minute.
The ALT1-C/PB does feature some of the hallmarks of the dress chronograph genre, such as delicate feuille hands, which stretch gracefully to the hour markers and the inner edge of the railroad chapter ring. Nickle-plated, polished, and integrated with Super-LumiNova for legibility at night, they were present in previous editions of the ALT1-C line, but never in such refined form.
One of the distinguishing features of the new watch is the contrast between its polished stainless-steel case and the golden tinge of the Arabic numerals. Also nickel-plated, they have been polished to achieve a cabochon affect. This is quite an uncommon sight, particularly in modern watches. However, it works really well, adding both style and practicality. Applied onto a brooding black dial, they stand out instantly and add depth to the design.
Two dark grey sub-registers, displaying running seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute totalizer a 3 o’clock, sit opposite each other on the inside of the dial in order not to trouble the hour markers. Slightly recessed, they are finely circular-grained and add great texture.
Given how well balanced the dial is, I find the placement of the date window, a few millimeters above a missing 6, rather intriguing. It’s consistent with previous ALT1-C chronographs, but could it sit closer to the chapter ring given the extra space? And then there’s the design of the window itself.
While the use of finely beveled edges to delineate its contours is really clever, it feels rather narrow, especially when the dates go into double digits, at which point they’re so close they almost touch – which is all the more surprising considering the size of the watch.
Sitting 43 mm across the wrist at a height of 16 mm, it’s not exactly an under-the-cuff dress watch. Despite its highly polished case, it preserves the rugged edge of all ALT1-C chronographs due to the signature Trip-Tick design and scratch-resistant, DLC-treated case barrel.
Whenever a watch straddles two genres, it inevitably ends up leaning toward one side. In this case, I found the ALT1-C/PB worked much better as a casual watch with an air of elegance (few do, and I’m impressed by this achievement), than a dress watch that can be worn casually. But that’s exactly what you’d expect from, and why you would turn to, Bremont. Either way, it wears very comfortably thanks to a large alligator strap and a polished stainless-steel pin buckle. It is water-resistant to 100 meters.
You’ll have guessed it by now – the height of the watch is largely due to the movement that powers it. Based on the chronometer-rated Valjoux 7750, the self-winding Calibre 13¼”’ BE-50AE is a heavily modified chronograph beating at 28,800 bph, with a twin-register (the hour counter found in the original movement has been dropped), and a 42-hour power reserve.
It’s also one of few calibers that can be felt operating – quite aggressively – when it’s worn, such is the force with which its rotor spins. Those who know it well – and the Valjoux 7750 is used so ubiquitously that many do – enjoy the unmistakable feeling of its spin quite a lot. Others, be warned, may not enjoy it as much, as it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Chosen for its heft, the movement happens to offer stunning architecture, and Bremont Watches Interest Free Replica has taken full advantage of it, making use of its layered construction by applying a perlage finish throughout and adding blued screws for good measure. And that infamous rotor? Bremont presents its own version, molded and engraved with the name of the company.
Bremont’s new entry-level dress chronometer is priced at $6,695 and will be available in April. That’s a massive reduction in price from previous iteration, the ALT1-C Rose Gold Classic Chronograph ($18,250), and one that won’t go unnoticed.
For more hands on reviews with Bremont, make sure to catch up on our coverage of the Bremont Boeing Model 247, the MKI and MKII, the Codebreaker, the special Kingsman Collection and the Bremont Supermarine 2000. Visit Bremont online right here.
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