“For a pilot,” British watchmaker Bremont reminds us, “weight means everything.” With this axiom as a guide, the London-based brand known for its rugged, military-influenced aviation watches has finally given its flyboy fanbase a version of the MB — its most tortuously tested watch and one most prized by military pilots — in a tough but lightweight titanium case. Here’s what you should know about the MB Savanna, which touches down today as this week’s Watch to Watch.
For those unaware, the “MB” in the watch’s name stands for “Martin Baker,” a British aviation company founded in 1929 that today supplies more than 70 percent of the western world’s air forces with fighter ejection-seat technology. As one of the first partners of the fledgling Bremont Watch Company, Martin Baker collaborated with its founders, former RAF reserve pilots Nick and Giles English, to produce the first MB watch in 2009. It was notable for the unprecedented battery of tests it endured before being released, including but not limited to being strapped to the wrist of a mannequin in an actual ejection-seat test. The MB Savanna, like every watch in the MB series spawned from that first model, undergoes the same gauntlet but adds several other modern upgrades as well.
As alluded to above, the MB Savanna is the first watch in the series with a case made of grade 5 titanium, a material whose attributes, both practical and aesthetic are well known to watch aficionados by now: lighter yet harder than steel, heat- and corrosion-resistant, hypoallergenic. The 43-mm case, formed in the tripartite “Trip-Tick” construction familiar to fans of Bremont, has a smooth anthracite color and is finished in what the firm calls a “tactical” antireflective coating. The middle layer of the case, which is water-resistant to 100 meters (good to know in case your ejection seat lands you in a lake), features a knurled surface that is inspired by components on a Martin Baker ejection seat. The motif continues on the dual crowns at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock, the latter devoted to operating the bidirectional, inner Roto-Click bezel, a practical timing accessory patented by Bremont.
The pale, desert-like hue of the titanium case is echoed on the dial, making for a color palette evocative of military camouflage colors used in deserts and similar climates, particularly those of the parachutes used by pilots ejecting from cockpits. Hence the model name “Savanna,” as in African Savanna, which Bremont says was at the suggestion of Andrew Martin, VP of Business Development & marketing at Martin Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd., grandson of one of the founders. The dial also hosts the other established emblems of the MB collection, including the distinctive hands and numerals and the yellow-and-black loop counterweight on the seconds hand, which replicates an ejection seat’s pull handle.
The caseback, secured by six titanium screws with polished heads, has a sapphire pane to showcase the movement, an ETA-based caliber that Bremont dubs BE-36AE. Its rotor is another updated design element, skeletonized and boasting an advanced ruthenium treatment. As in previous MB watches, the automatic movement is secured by a patented anti-shock mounting system inside the case, which renders it extremely resistant to shocks and impacts. It beats at 28,800 vph, stores a 38-hour power reserve, and is chronometer-certified for accuracy.
The monochromatic look of the Bremont MB Savanna continues on the rubber strap, executed in the same color as the case and chosen for its durability and versatility in all types of conditions. Bremont co-founder Nick English refers to the watch, which was manufactured, finished, and thoroughly tested in the U.K., as “an eye-catching piece of military candy and a fitting tribute to arguably the most successful pilot’s watch in the market used extensively by real military squadrons.” The watch is available now, priced at $5,795.