British watchmaker Bremont opens new Manufacturing & Technology Centre
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Despite first launching watches on the market mid-recession in 2007, Bremont is one of the leading chronometer manufacturers in the world and is the single largest British mechanical watchmaker, manufacturing watches in the UK.
Bremont has reinvigorated the British watch industry and brought it to the fore, marking the first time since Smiths in the late 70s that mechanical watch manufacturing of any scale has been done in this country. The Bremont Manufacturing & Technology Centre is the next chapter in the brand’s story and the new site paves the way for a new era in British watchmaking with capacity for exponential growth, increased manufacturing capabilities, job creation, skills development, and a resolute intention of working with more high-quality British suppliers.
Bremont will be creating jobs and anticipates a 20% uplift in staff numbers per year. As part of the brand’s onshoring programme, Bremont anticipates additional jobs will also be created across the UK’s supply chain.
“The Wing’ is a 35,000 sq ft purpose-built state-of-the-art mechanical watch manufacturing centre enabling the full machining and manufacturing of Bremont’s watches. Located on the edge of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, it was designed by award winning architects Spratley & Partners on a former piggery with strong eco-credentials including a living roof, and recycled air heating system.
The site has been transformed into an end-to-end mechanical watch manufacturing centre with CNC machining, finishing and assembly as well as an on-site boutique and significant entertaining space. Just as importantly, the site will provide a destination for watch lovers to visit from all over the world.
The firm has recently strengthened its management team to help it fulfil its ambitious plans. In March 2019, Chris Reynolds joined the business as Managing Director bringing with him wealth of expertise in engineering and manufacturing operations.
Reynolds remarks, “There is something really quite special in taking a high-quality design concept through to bulk production. To create something that will stand the test of time. The wonderful thing about joining Bremont was the extant sincerity and clarity over the direction the brand needed to go. We genuinely wish to invest in ourselves, in high quality local UK partners and suppliers. We wish to reduce our reliance on others and own our supply chain as much as technically possible. To reinvigorate British watchmaking is the snappy, slightly simplified tag line. The truth is there are a number of wonderful boutique watchmakers doing some incredible things on these shores, but nobody quite like what we are already doing, in fact our current facilities and certainly our ambitions extend far beyond what many of our Swiss counterparts are doing.”
Bremont has been running its own apprenticeship scheme for some time now, training up its workforce in this very specific and exacting craft. Working with partners like Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Williams F1 presents a remarkable opportunity to collaborate and learn from some of the finest engineering businesses in the world.
Bremont is committed to building up a team of first-class engineers to reduce reliance on its non-domestic supply chain and as a key part of its onshoring programme. An increased focus on movement manufacturing and assembly will see Bremont further develop its apprenticeship scheme and will ultimately lead to the recruitment of more technical engineers as well as skilful craftsmen and women. As proud supporters of the British School of Watchmaking, Bremont will be looking to integrate training courses for its students at The Wing.
Jeremy Spratley, Spratley & Partners, “Having designed the original, oak framed barn headquarters for Nick and Giles over ten years ago, it has been such an honour to be part of the design team for their new, “Wing” building. I have seen this ingenious, Henley-on-Thames based company, develop into an outstanding British brand. It is a truly inspiring journey and to be part of this amazing new vision in the Company’s future, as a local practice, has been a huge pleasure. We are immensely proud to have helped craft such an iconic design for Bremont to create and make in for the next generation.”
Co-founders Nick and Giles English said in a statement:
Bremont has been on an unwavering 19 year quest to manufacture watches in the UK and the opening of our new centre is a considerable leap towards that dream. The Bremont Manufacturing and Technology Centre, aka “The Wing”, is a state-of-the-art facility for manufacturing mechanical watches, the likes of which hasn’t been seen here in the UK since the 70s. We believe it will also be the envy of many of our respected Swiss friends too!
It provides the perfect foundation for the future growth of Bremont enabling us to manufacture more components here in the UK and cement our global position as a luxury watch manufacturer. Not only has The Wing been designed to perfectly fulfil a manufacturing requirement but also with architectural merit that makes it a destination for watchmaking. At the start of Bremont all those years ago, we aimed to be more than just a marketing company outsourcing the watch manufacturing overseas, and we knew it would be a massive challenge. Bremont’s mission statement remains the same:
“To make exquisitely engineered mechanical timepieces on British soil with the lofty objective of reinvigorating the nation’s horological past, using our adventurous spirit, passion for detail, desire to innovate and dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction.”