Nick and Giles English
Bremont Watch Company Founders
Shoes featured in this profile
There is a certain synergy between Herring Shoes and the Bremont Watch Company. Both are inherently British brands, and both are influenced by the founders’ fathers.
Adrian Herring’s father Richard started out in 1966 with his first shop in Cheltenham. Giles and Nick English were also inspired by their late father’s interests…old aircraft and mechanical timepieces.
In fact, the launch of Bremont was a leap of faith on their part. Having lost their father Euan in a tragic aviation accident in 1995, they both quit their jobs in the City to honour him in the best way possible.
Both pilots themselves, Giles and Nick had spent most of their childhood making and restoring things in the workshop of their father, an ex-RAF and award-winning aerobatics pilot, Spitfire and airfield owner with a PHD in aeronautical engineering. They helped him to build an aircraft they still fly to this day.
Euan English was passionate about mechanical timepieces too. He would often bring home an old clock from an auction for the brothers to try and get going again.
Giles said: “My father was an engineer from Cambridge but very talented with his hands so effectively we both grew up in the workshop building things and I went onto study engineering at university. That passion never dies…watches, cars, motorbikes are all lovely mechanical things.”
Back in 2002, when the brothers first looked around the wristwatch market, it was well and truly saturated with Swiss brands despite there being a strong British tradition in watchmaking which began in 1760, when John Harrison invented the marine chronometer.
Even in the early 1900s, British watchmaking was still the envy of the world with the globe setting its time by Greenwich Meantime and more than 50% of the world’s watches and clocks being produced in the UK. But this was not to last. The demise of the British watch industry was led by two key events: World War One and World War Two.
Giles explained: “If you were a watchmaker, you could machine metal like no other industrial worker, so those skills were in great demand to support the war effort machining components for guns, engines aircraft etc. The Swiss, as a neutral country, did not have those external pressures.”
So, they set to work with their ideas for manly, resilient and ingeniously mechanical watches. The result was a watch that would be equally at home in a boardroom and out on more rugged terrain. They wanted to create watches that would stand out amid a sea of Swiss brands.
“If we tried to do what all the other watch companies were doing, we were never going to survive,” added Giles. “Being British with unique product and two founders meant we could be that little bit different.”
Even the name behind the brand comes with a story. Their very English surname may have been perfect for a British watch but instead they opted for the French surname of very welcoming host, Antoine Bremont. Having landed their 1930s German bi-plane in this farmer’s field during a heavy storm, M Bremont offered the brothers a barn for their aircraft and beds for the night. Luckily for the Englishes, this 78-year-old was a former engineer with a passion for planes, clocks and watches. Sound familiar?
And so, the Bremont brand was born with a French name and British engineering at its heart. All Bremont watches are put through the most extraordinary climate, height and vibration tests to ensure they are fit for purpose while a Cambridge factory, which manufacturers Rolls-Royce’s turbine engines, hand-finishes their watch cases.
Henley-based Bremont is ranked among the top 15 chronometer producers in the worn by the likes of actors Tom Hardy, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Laurie, Hugh Bonneville, Taylor Lautner, Jamie Bell, as well as the ex-SAS serviceman, Chief Scout and adventurer Bear Grylls, climber Leo Houlding and polar explorer Ben Saunders, among many others. Women also favour the Bremont brand with champion free diver Sara Campbell, F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot Carey Lohrenz and Australian model Miranda Kerr leading the charge.
Like Herring, it is pleasing to see these products worn by celebrities, but it is just as satisfying to know ‘normal’ people appreciate the quality they are buying into.
Giles said: "A Bremont customer is an independent thinker; a man who appreciates fine engineering and lives his life with a spirit of adventure.
"Ultimately, is about the quality and uniqueness of what we are producing wrapped up in an English no-nonsense style. Our watches are timeless and made to be worn and enjoyed; because we also make so few, they hold their value rather well.
We are very proud to see our watches out there. We always say that when you buy a Bremont, you enter into the Bremont family, so I would always go up and say hello."
Bremont now has 80 different retailers in the UK with a flagship store in Mayfair. They have an impressive following in the US and have ventured into the Hong Kong, the Middle East, Thailand and Australia. They are partnered with Jaguar, ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker and the aforementioned Ben Saunders. Their ambassadors, some of whom we share, are all men and women who push themselves to their limits. In short, they are no slouches!
Bremont is also the first watch brand to sign The Armed Forces Covenant, which is tailored to each business, organisation or charity that signs it and can include a whole range of pledges usually including the employment of veterans, service leavers, spouses and partners; providing a supportive environment for employees wishing to be Reservists; and taking part in Armed Forces Day events.
With both Nick and Giles sponsored through university by the RAF, the brand has always been proud of its relationship with the armed forces. Ever since Bremont started working with Martin-Baker in 2009, more than 20% of their annual sales have been from making watches for the armed forces around the world.
And are the Englishes, with three children each, ready to settle for a quiet life now Bremont is so established?
Giles concluded: "We are on a very long journey to produce more components here in the UK, train more apprentices and to grow around the world. So, we feel we have just started this amazing journey and love welcoming people to carry on and join us on it."
Herring Shoes is proud to work with both Nick and Giles. May Bremont continue to thrive for generations to come.