Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Icarus Revisited

Point of full disclosure -

I made the decision over a year ago not to cover Bremont.  Those reasons are my own, the folks at Bremont know what they are - we keep a respectful distance from each other at BaselWorld and JCK.  I am writing about Bremont and the recent events below, but I want to be clear that in writing this post this evening, I will only be writing about the events of the past week or so.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Now for most of the folks who read the various forums, blogs, etc. the news of Bremont's recent misadventure have been aired-out for all and sundry to see.  In all fairness, this is something that even befell the mighty Tag Heuer. And for those of you just tuning in, here are the "basics":

With a great deal of hoopla (and to quote the late, great Mr. Plimpton), ballyhoo, Bremont announced, and formally released their latest limited edition - the Wright Flyer.  Bremont went so far as to say that this would be a doubly great release as the watch would house Bremont's… wait for it… first "in house" or "manufacture" movement - the BWC/01.  

But a funny thing happened on the way to the release.  Word started to swirl on a certain UK based watch forum asserting that Bremont's new "in house" movement was about as English as Napoleon.  This got people talking, talking led to doubt, doubt led to assumption - and unfortunately for Bremont - the assumptions in the end were proven to be true.

Essentially, what Bremont had placed in the new Wright Flyer was a movement that had been designed and manufactured by that well-known British brand….La Joux-Perret, and the caliber BWC/01 turned out to be, in fact, the La Joux-Perret caliber 6901.

And here is where, at least for me, the rubber met the road.  

Bremont's first response was that a disgruntled employee (former or current, we may never know, but a sort of "Boris Badenov" type) had absconded with the "blueprints".  And frankly, whether this was true or not, I find this to be a bit disingenuous.  It's a bit of "the dog ate my homework".  

A few days passed, more "chatter" filled the blogs and forums, and Bremont informed us that an important message (i.e. response) was coming.  And much like celebrities will turn to Oprah to regain their standing in terms of favorable public opinion, Bremont was featured on a video produced by Hodinkee.  And in fairness to Hodinkee, their role was simply to give Bremont an opportunity to share their side of the story - and Hodinkee is to be applauded for that.  Hodinkee in many ways sets the standards for the rest of us, and their diligent follow-up to the story is a good example of why they are so well (and deservedly) respected.

And the second "much awaited" response from the "good-looking English brother" essentially was not unlike Hugh Grant batting his eyelashes after getting caught with a call-girl.  By golly, he sure looked and sounded earnest.  If you have not had a chance to view the video, you can do so by visiting Hodinkee and viewing it here:

Pals and gals, let me speak plainly - Mr. English's explanation of  "We were naive" in terms of understanding the "terminology" of what exactly a "manufacture" movement meant was…
CODSWALLOP!  American translation - I'm calling bullshit.

Giles and Nick English did not just fall off of the turnip truck, and for them to say that the "poop-storm" that they are currently navigating is a matter of "semantics" is beyond the credulous.  

1.  They announced a new release of a watch that contained an "in house movement" that they warranted to be:
In House

2.  Word leaked out that said movement was indeed manufactured "in house", but that the "house" in question was one time zone and several countries away.  A country where the "house meal" was more likely to be fondue as opposed to shepherd's pie.

3.  They offered up a video that really managed to do even more damage to the notion that this was all an honest misunderstanding.  Essentially saying "You misunderstood us, and it's not our fault because golly, all this watch language stuff is so confusing".  

Now in fairness to Bremont, it is very clear that there was someone out there on a few forums and blogs working intently to do them and their business very real harm.  I think we can all agree that is a shitty thing to do and should call into question the veracity of the person's claims.  Sadly, the claims that the movement was not, in fact created (designed, crafted, etc.) by Bremont turned out to be true.

But ultimately watch fans, it is up to you.  I'm not buying it, but in fairness that feedback and a few bucks will get you a cup of coffee!

Enjoy your watches - and don't believe everything you read  ;  )


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