Monday, August 12, 2013

Review of Bremont Supermarine 500 Automatic Diver

Model # S500/BL

Brand/Model:  Bremont Supermarine 500
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and rubber strap or bracelet, depending on model
Complications:  day/date display
Price:  MSRP around $5,000 USD

Plenty of pictures follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Bremont would be classified as a high-end boutique brand, the company being founded by two chaps in England in 2002 and selling their uniquely designed watches since 2007.  Bremont has its watches made in Switzerland currently, but the company does have plans to begin making the watches in England at some point in the future. 

The company claims every watch in their standard range is COSC chronometer certified.  Sounds good on paper, but unfortunately, this has not been my experience.  More on this later.

Bremont puts on a good show with their thoroughly engineered designs that should suit those looking for diver-style or aviation-influenced pieces.  While definitely pricey, the watches can be found on the second hand market at considerably less than MSRP, but still beyond the reach of many collectors.

I was interested in seeing what the Bremont Supemarine had to offer, since there seems to be a good deal of enthusiasm for the brand in the WIS world.  Truth be told, I was somewhat let down when I finally added one to my collection.  To me, it just doesn’t feel like a several thousand dollar watch.

The Supermarine starts with a unique case construction of brushed and polished stainless steel with a visible black Faraday cage (inner part is soft iron) that gives the watch its high anti-magnetic properties.  Bremont refers to this three-piece case as ‘Trip Tick’ construction.  The case also carries a patented anti-shock movement mount.

Many a watch enthusiast sees the stylized case and oohs and aahs over it.  It does look pretty cool, but it is also quite thick, measuring 16.5mm, which is pretty much in Valjoux 7750 territory, but the Supermarine is not a chronograph.

The case measures 43mm without the screwdown logo signed crown located at the two position.  With the crown included, diameter is 46.4mm.  The screwdown satin finish caseback is heavily embossed with a raised and polished Bremont aviation logo.

Lug width is 22mm, with a helium escape valve (HEV) located in the center on the left side of the case.  The stylized crown guard is held in place by visible hex head screws, but the guard only protects the lower part of the crown.  Since the crown is located at the two position and is closer to the upper lug, I guess Bremont thinks this design will protect the top part of the crown.

The Supermarine is factory rated for 500 meters of water resistance.

The dial is fairly detailed, the color on my Supermarine being a dark blue.  Other Supermarine models come with black or silver dials and different colored bezels.  A new Supermarine 2000 has also been recently introduced.

The inner part of the dial has a circle with a seconds track surrounding vertical striping.  Outside this circle the dial is smooth and encompasses the round luminous applied markers.  A slightly raised chapter ring with minute dots and small arabics at each five minute mark complete the dial.

A quickset day/date window is located at the three position with a silver frame surrounding the window and a divider between the day and date.  The wheels are black on white, with the day reading in both English and French.  Alignment of the wheels inside the window is just okay, but could be slightly better to my eye, especially at this price point.

The hour and minute hands are silver with white inset lume (a welcome change from the garish green lume used on other Supermarine 500 models).  The seconds hand is a plain silver stick, with no lume, which raises questions at to the functionality of this watch if it is used for diving.

The name ‘Bremont’ appears in smaller text below the 12 position, while ‘Supermarine’ and ‘500M-1660ft.’ reside above the six position.

A nicely luminous 120-click unidirectional sapphire coated bezel is colored white for the first 20 minutes, then is dark blue for the remainder of the hour.  The bezel rotates easily (almost too easily) and doesn’t have an expensive sound or feel to it.  Along with the bezel, the lume quality of the dial is excellent and glows in the increasingly popular Superluminova blue color.

A slightly domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal covers the dial and is recessed a bit from the inside of the bezel.  Examination of the dial under my 8X loupe reveals a clean build devoid of dust or fingerprints.

Inside the Supermarine is a modified Swiss Made 25-jewel automatic movement beating at 28,800 bph that hacks and manually winds.  It’s referred to as Bremont Caliber BE-36AE, which I believe is an ETA base movement.  Since the watch has no display back, I cannot comment on what I hope is some nice decoration, at least according to the pictures on the Bremont web site.  The rotor is stated to be a ‘moulded and skeletonized decorated rotor.’  Too bad I can’t appreciate it.

Now back to my earlier comment about COSC accuracy.  Bremont states all their standard watches are COSC chronometer rated (-4 to +6 seconds daily rate) and my Supermarine runs at +10 seconds per day.  Not bad, but definitely not chronometer spec.  It would be a hassle to have to return the watch to Bremont for a regulation, so I have not done so.  Power reserve has been measured at 41.5 hours, pretty standard stuff.

The winding, setting and performance of the movement, other than being out of COSC spec has been okay, but another note, the crown action on this watch is very stiff and it’s hard to feel the detents for the quickset day/date and for the time setting.  I don’t know if this is an anomaly to this one particular piece or if all their crowns are overly stiff.

My Supermarine is currently fitted with a blue 22mm aftermarket leather strap which I feel compliments the blue dial perfectly.  The photos show this strap on the watch, albeit with the OEM signed buckle installed. 

The blue dial Supermarine comes standard with a ribbed dark blue rubber strap that has molded and curved ends to mimick a solid end link on a bracelet.  While giving the watch a more integrated appearance, this will also reduce the flexibility of the strap, making it harder to achieve a good fit if you have a smaller wrist.

Bremont also sells leather straps and a hefty stainless steel bracelet for the Supermarine as well.

Presentation is a rectangular black cardboard box with a lift-off top.  Inside is a dark brown leather roll wrap with a pocket for the watch and a buckle strap to close and secure the roll.  It’s a nice way to present this watch.

The big question is…is the Supermarine worth the price?  A lot of people apparently think so, but I really can’t say that it is, as I believe this watch is over-rated.  While the case design and finish work is top notch, the bezel action, crown feel and hand set fall short of a multi-thousand dollar piece.  If you want a brand that hardly anyone has heard of or a nifty looking case style, the Supermarine will do the trick, but in this case, the ‘Trip-Tick’ design was not enough to ‘tick’ all my boxes for an upper end diver.  An Omega Seamaster or Planet Ocean is a much better choice for about the same price.

Pros:  unique case design, strong lume, nicely embossed caseback, dark blue dial looks good

Cons:  poor bezel action and sound, stiff crown makes setting difficult, hand set just average, watch not running at COSC spec., quite pricey

Verdict: an interesting watch that’s not for everybody due to the price point, the Supermarine has its merits but maybe not enough of them to win us all over

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.



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