Hot Take: The New Bremont MB Viper And Vulcan Pilot’s Watches
British watch brand Bremont continues to celebrate military aviation with a limited-edition Vulcan monopusher chronograph and an all-new model, the MB Viper. Watch brands have long worked with outside companies and organizations on timepieces. Think of, for example, Doxa and Synchron collaborating with Poseidon Diving Systems or Patek Phillipe partnering with Tiffany & Co.
These collaborations often involve a small detail added to a watch, such as an emblem or a bit of text signifying the presence of the relationship between the two companies. Rarely does that collaboration entail a ground-up project leading to an entirely new timepiece. Bremont, however, has made exactly that, and with Martin-Baker, a manufacturer of the ejector seats found in fighter planes, no less.
The Bremont MB Viper
Today, Bremont introduces the MB Viper, a limited edition in collaboration with — you guessed it — Martin-Baker (hence the MB). Bremont has a history with Martin-Baker, having worked with the company on its MB collection more than a decade ago. The Viper name comes, it seems, from the nickname of the General Dynamics F-16 aircraft. Though “Fighting Falcon” is its official designation, many in the industry refer to it as the “Viper.”
As a watch, the MB Viper is an unusual-looking pilot’s piece. This 43.5mm three-hander features an orange and black case, a red seconds hand, a yellow and black striped minute hand, and a white and black striped hour hand. It is also quite light at 58 grams.
The movement in the MB Viper is the new automatic ENG352 caliber. According to Bremont, it boasts a 65-hour power reserve, a silicon escape wheel, a free-sprung hairspring, inertia weights for precise adjustment, and KIF shock protection. It also displays rhodium-plated bridges and a gold-plated automatic bridge and runs at a 25,200vph (3.5Hz) frequency. Finally, the whole movement sits within a rubberized anti-shock mount.
Taking pride of place on the white dial are Arabic numerals for every five minutes. Surrounding them, the minute/seconds track and lume plots for hours inhabit the rehaut. The chevron-patterned hands are a reference, Bremont says, to the pull handle pattern on fighter ejection seats — a nice and unusual detail! The crystal is sapphire, and the watch has a 100m water resistance rating.
A complicated case
The 43.5mm Grade 5 titanium case is a complex series of shapes with an octagonal base. It features a matte black DLC protective coating and large trapezoid-shaped guards flanking the screw-down crown. Its short lugs angle downward, and Bremont has machined pockets on the underside of the case to reduce the overall weight. The most noticeable element, however, is the aluminum case middle with a rounded square framing a circular bezel. This component is anodized in a vivid shade of orange that anyone familiar with lifejackets and emergency lifeboats will recognize. My take on the case is that it will be a divisive design and shape for many. However, as a statement watch with serious capabilities to match, this latest piece by Bremont is a home run.
A series of excruciating tests
Bremont says the unique watch case shape comes from a special mount engineered by the brand, designed to fix the watch movement in place while being subjected to Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT). This comprises several rigorous tests completed by Martin-Baker in a lab.
The tests sound absolutely brutal, and they include:
- An ejection test, which is one of the closest representations of a real ejection. The test manikin, with the watch strapped to the wrist, is propelled from zero to 120 feet in two seconds while experiencing forces of up to 15 G.
- A 24-hour temperature exposure test at +49°C and then a four-hour test at -46°C.
- Freezing the watch completely for 21 hours while submerged at -5°C, testing the watch’s seals and gaskets.
- Holding the watch in an Altitude Test Chamber to simulate taking it up to 100,000 feet for 60 minutes before rapidly bringing it down again over 15 minutes.
Bremont said it carried out these tests with Martin-Baker as the company tested MK-18 ejector seats for the Korean Air Force. The MB Viper comes with two canvas straps — one orange and one black — and is limited to 300 pieces. Each will have a price of £5,495.
A Cold War nuclear bomber
Turning to the Vulcan, the overall approach by Bremont is a little less disruptive and more in line with what we have come to expect from the brand — tasteful interpretations of timepieces mixed with British military themes.
The Avro Vulcan B-1 was an iconic jet bomber of the Royal Air Force from the 1950s to the 1980s. And Bremont’s ode to this piece of military design is the Vulcan, a 250-piece limited-edition monopusher chronograph that clearly draws on the canvas of the Bremont Arrow. It has a 42mm × 51.5mm × 14.9mm case in hardened stainless steel with a 100m water resistance rating. The matte black chronograph dial features a running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock with a camouflage design. You’ll also notice a nuclear symbol in the minute counter at 3 o’clock, indicating the arsenal carried aboard these bombers during the Cold War.
Two lines of text grace the bottom half of the dial — “Avro B-1” (the name of the plane) and “1952” (the year of its first flight). The blue chronograph seconds hand, Bremont says, takes inspiration from the clocks found in the old bombers. Hiding the Sellita SW510-based BE-51AE caliber with its 28,800vph frequency and 56-hour power reserve is a solid steel screw-down case back. It is decorated with an engraving of the Avro Vulcan B-1 bomber and the heraldic badge of the Royal Air Force. The Bremont Vulcan also comes with two 20mm-wide sailcloth straps — one in “RAF Blue” and another in Avro Vulcan-inspired camo. The price for this model will be £4,295.
Both of these novelties from Bremont are quite striking, especially the MB Viper. Furthermore, it’s always encouraging to see a watch brand clearly put a lot of effort into the technical aspects of the watchmaking process and produce exciting results. For more information on both of these watches, please check out the Bremont website.
What do you think? If you had to pick one, which would you choose — the MB Viper or the Vulcan? And if there are any pilots out there, I would love to hear your views in the comments!
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