Let me state right up front that I’ve always had a thing for world-time watches; to me it’s a style of timepiece that lends itself to both practical utility as well as, almost across the board, really attractive designs. Also, at the risk of being perceived as a trend-follower, let me admit that I have developed a particular fondness for the au courant blue dial/blue strap combo that has become so prevalent in the watch world, lo these past few years. Taking all that into account, it’s fair to say I was inclined right from the start to have a positive impression of this Bremont ALT1-WT world-time watch, which I had the privilege of wearing for a few weeks recently. But let’s step aside from first impressions and drill down into the details of this very distinctive watch from this fast-growing, quintessentially British watch brand. (All original watch photos by Robert Velasquez for WatchTime.)
Bremont refers to the ALT1-WT as “over-engineered,” and that might be an apt description: it’s evident after just a few glances at the dial that the world-time function isn’t this timepiece’s only attribute outside of traditional timekeeping. There are actually two major functions at your fingertips here: the world-time indicator (operated by a bidirectional crown at 8 o’clock) and a chronograph (with start-stop pusher at 2 o’clock and return-to-zero pusher at 5 o’clock). The dial has a classical tricompax layout, with a 30-minute chronograph subdial at 12 o’clock, 12-hour chrono subdial at 6 o’clock, and small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The date appears in an oddly shaped window — apparently echoing a display from a C17 airplane — at 3 o’clock. A particularly aviation-inspired city ring — more on which later — surrounds the dial, representing the 24 major time zones.
As far as operating the chronograph, I found the pushers just a bit stiff, requiring a firm press to start and stop the stopwatch. The bright yellow arrow-pointer on the central chronograph seconds hand was a good aesthetic choice, as it contrasts nicely with the blue dial. The propeller motif on the grooved, screw-down winding crown is also an attractive touch.
The watch’s world-time function is one that is distinctly its own, and tied to the brand’s ever-present theme of aviation. The ALT1-WT is, in fact, a civilian version of a military-issue watch, the Bremont C-17 Globemaster, and carries on that model’s distinctive feature of using the cities associated with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) airfield identifiers on the inner rotating bezel ring to indicate the global time zones. To simultaneously display the time in any of the global time zones, the wearer simply sets the UTC hand (the other center-mounted, arrow-tipped hand, made distinct from the chronograph seconds hand by its white arrow pointer with yellow border) to the GMT zero hour (London time) then turns the crown at 8 o’clock to rotate the “RotoClick” city ring — which conveniently moves in both directions, and offers a pleasant click for each stop on its “world tour” — to put the desired city/timezone at 12 o’clock. The GMT hand will then point to the hour (on a 24-hour scale) in the second time zone.
The movement that powers all of these aviator-friendly functions is the Bremont Caliber BE-54E, a modified ETA 7754 with automatic winding and a COSC chronometer certification. And don’t be so transfixed by the gorgeous, meticulously finished dial that you neglect sneaking a glance or three at the movement — and its crowning feature, the Bremont-customized, skeletonized rotor — through the clear sapphire caseback. Among Caliber BE-54AE’s notable features are 25 jewels, a Glucydur balance, Anachron balance spring, Nivaflex mainspring, a frequency of 28,800 vph, and a 42-hour power reserve. Peer through a loupe and you’ll also find blued screws and attractive perlage finishing on the plates and bridges.
The case — at 43 mm in diameter, it’s big but not ostentatiously so — is constructed in Bremont’s now-famous ‘Trip-Tick” style, with a black PVD-coated case middle sandwiched between the stainless steel bezel and the caseback, which in classical tool watch style is affixed to the case middle by five screws. The design, including the curved lugs, make for both a comfortable wrist fit as well as a very attractive side view. The navy blue of the dial — with its subtly engraved pattern evoking the longitude and latitude lines of a globe — is continued on the calfskin leather strap, which also features a white contrast stitching. The Bremont logo is etched into the steel deployant buckle, which fastens the ALT1-WT snugly and securely to the wrist. The watch is sporty enough to wear with jeans and T-shirt but will also draw admiring glances peeking out from the crisp cuff of a dress shirt. And needless to say, it makes the perfect color-coordinated accessory to a navy blue suit.
With its military DNA and air-travel functionality, the Bremont ALT1-WT earns a distinguished spot in Bremont’s growing repertoire of complicated watches, and I found it an ideal travel companion even though, during the weeks I spent with it, I only used the world-time indicator to inform myself at the office when it was too late to call Europe or too early to call Los Angeles. And my navy suit particularly misses its presence at cocktail parties. The watch — which I procured for this review from the friendly and knowledgeable staff at the recently opened Bremont flagship boutique on 501 Madison Avenue in New York — carries a retail price of $6,695.