04 May 2015

My Obsession with Bremont Watches

Bremont Chronometers
I have always had a passion for watches...pretty much all time machines.  A few months ago, I was shopping for watches and came upon some lesser known brands (at least to me).  One of these brands is Bremont.  From a design and aesthetic perspective, these watches are wonderfully crafted.  Their design is inspired by aviation, as their founders Nick and Giles English are pilots themselves.  I also have a passion for aviation that dates back to movies like Top Gun, which started my love for military planes.  Bremont collaborates with military squadrons to create exclusive watches, as well as other limited edition watches like the Victory, Wright Flyer, Codebreaker, and many more.

Bremont's story is amazing, it is one of the reasons why fell in love with this brand.  While they are fairly new to the watch market, founded in 2002, they have made a huge impact in the industry in a short time.  All their watches are hand built in England and are all COSC certified.

Bremont Alt1-C Anthracite
So, it is decided that my next watch is going to be a Bremont Alt1-C.  Since learning about Bremont, I have been learning about their watches and the company itself.  One weekend, I went to check out these watches in the only Authorized Dealer of Bremont within 275 miles.  Boy, pictures do not do these watches justice.  Once you see a Bremont (and I guess any luxury watch) in person, you realise the work that goes into to them. 

Technical drawing of Bremont watch
The Bremont website has this wonderful technical drawing of their watch. Technical drawings like these have a special place in my heart, I used to spend hours making these types of drawings...for fun.  All their watches follow these basic measurements.  While there are some variations in case diameter, over 95% of their line uses the same 43mm case.  The detail drawings gave me an idea to make one. Hey, it is what I do, I make things to fill the voids in my life.
Solid buck
This was made before I saw the real watches.  My only references to Bremont watches are from internet images and videos.  Since I had yet to see one, I wanted to see what the size was in three-dimensions.   While I have watches ranging from different sizes, you really do not know how a watch really 'fits' you, until you put it on.  At 43mm, hopefully it does not make my dainty wrist look even smaller.  The first version I made is a solid buck.  This was made one-to-one so I can see how it would sit on my wrist.

Bremont's NATO strap with red stiching
Speaking of wrist, I need a band for the watch.  Since I do not leather around, the traditional leather strap is out.  A leather strap would also require a buckle or clasp system that would need to be made.  Although, I do love that deployant clasp, perhaps some other time.  A bracelet woulds also need extensive fabrication.  A simple strap to make is Bremont's NATO strap.  So, I copied the NATO strap...using a lanyard.

Printout of watch and making of NATO strap
I studied the images of the strap and made my best guess on how it was constructed.  Made some initial sketches and measurements and off I go.  Luckily, the lanyard I found was pretty darn close to the 22mm width.  The length of the strap was just eyeballed as the real strap is one size fits all.

Strap was hand sewn.
The lanyard I used is obviously not as tough or thick as the nylon used on the NATO strap.  It is just a cheap give away lanyard they hand out at conventions.  Instead of leather keepers, I am also using the same nylon. The loop was made from cut styrene. I had some hook-and-loop strips laying around and stuck them on the strap, sewing the ends. 

So, what is next?  A solid buck will not do. Sure it gave me a great idea of size.  But, I have to take it up a notch.  One of the unique features of a Bremont is their Trip-Tick® Case Design.  Basically, a three piece construction consisting of a top bezel, center barrel, and case back.  Time to part out the buck I made and make a Trip-Tick® like construction.

Exploded parts - top
While I was at it, I wanted to separate the crystal pieces and have them printed out in clear to see the dial and movement.

Explode parts - bottom
Oh, heck.  Why not get the rotor in there as a separate piece?  We have a window, why not see the rotor?  This is a seven piece construction:  top crystal, bezel, barrel, dial/movement, rotor, case back, back crystal.

Exploded view of Bremont's Martin Baker Series
I combined a lot of pieces together for ease of modeling, printing and clean up.  The image above shows a more detailed exploded view of a Bremont watch.  Even this illustration is simplified as the hands, movement, rotor, etc., have been combined.

Layout of markers and image planes
Most of the work was getting the details of the face.  I am limited to the resolution of the printers so some parts, like the hands. had to be drafted to the face of the watch. The lettering, numbers, and logos are raised instead of painting these on.  This meant I needed to recreate the graphics in order to sculpt them in relief .

Detail of watch face
Since the hands do not move, they are sculpted in the the beauty pose as seen in the top image of watch.  The hands are drafted to the face for ease of printing.

Layout of movement and image planes
On the back, I tried to get as much of the movement detail as possible.  Again, due to the resolution of the printers, I opted out of sculpted each tooth on the gears and omitted some of the smaller details. These details would not print and/or would break during clean up.  Instead of teethed gears, they are represented with discs of the same diameter.  Some spring details were also omitted.

Detail of movement with rotor
The rotor is a separate piece so it can be pinned, allowing it to rotate.  This will be seen through the back crystal.

Enough of the screen shots, you probably want to see the print outs.

Print outs
The clear pieces are not super clear, but it is good enough as you can still see into the dial and movement.  On to assembly.  The tolerances are super tight on this, so there was some minor sanding involved to get the parts to fit.

Assembly of parts
The crystal pieces are pressed in and held by friction.  A pin is pressed into the movement piece for the rotor to spin on.  The build lines of the print out makes the surfaces a bit rough, so the rotor does not turn as smoothly as I would like.  Even after greasing the area, it still tends to stick a bit.

Trip-Tick® Case Design
The dial/movement piece was press fitted into the barrel piece. This was a real tight fit.  There was quite a bit of sanding and testing before I could press the piece into the barrel.  I do not think I can even pop it back out without damaging either piece.  At least now, I have the three main pieces of the Trip-Tick® represented.

Close up of movement detail with case back removed
The three main pieces lock into place with friction as well as mortises and tenons I sculpted into the pieces.  The holes and pins follow the five point pattern of where the screws would be on the real watch.

Assembled - back
Had I more knowledge of how a watch movement works, I may have made this work.  Okay, not really.  The material is not strong enough for that.  But, as you can see it does not look too bad.

Assembled - front
The crown and buttons were sculpted to be part of the barrel for ease of print and assembly. They would not have been able to 'adjust' watch or 'activate' the chronograph, anyway.  I also omitted the flutes on the crown.

Both versions of Bremont watch and NATO strap
I used styrene rods to represent the spring bars.  These are just forced in the little dimples on the lugs, held on by tension.  No springs were used.  You can also see the completed strap.  I even tried to replicate the stitched triangles on the straps.

So there you have it.  Not sure what I am going to do with these.  Although, I do admit, I have been wearing it around to get the feel of the size.  The weight is totally off, since there is no weight information at the time and the material used is fairly light.  Perhaps I will make other Bremont models like the Martin Baker or models that will be nearly impossible for me to acquire like the Codebreaker, P-51, or EP120.

Maybe I should bring these to the watch dealer the next time I go.  Hopefully, I will leave the dealer with a real Bremont Alt1-C.


Anonymous said...

I have a Bremont Alt1C/CR and I have no doubt you will buy one when you see it for real. I bought mine the first time I saw it.

I enjoyed reading about your Bremont build and the model you made looks terrific. Well done.


Alistair said...

You are brilliant... such a cool thing to do... if ok I will post some pics and link at ATG Official Forum if ok? great, great job.. I wear an ALT1-C daily and this really made me smile... cheers!

Alistair @ ATG

Noodlefish said...

This is brilliant! I'm giving a talk on Saturday on the theme of "steampunk" - would you mind if I used your project as an example?

enthusedwatch said...

Where have I been. 3D printing seemed to gain traction so quickly.

Very nice watch.

Martini said...

I'm not impressed. Make one that WORKS! Kidding. It's pretty remarkable, actually.

Ripped Off Buyer said...

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Read about the guy who thought he was buying a new Rolex watch but it came missing all stickers and AW refused to take it back.

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There are many more horror stories on the BBB and other site. Just spend a few minutes searching before you buy. Buyer beware!