The Bremont AC I (“AC” for America’s Cup) watch was one of several limited edition timepieces London-based Bremont produced in honor of their now completed sponsorship of the America’s Cup boat race series. Popular with wealthy fans (and of course boat owners) the America’s Cup is the premiere sailing sport event in the world, and I’m here in Bermuda as this current America’s Cup series is about to come to a close.
I was with Bremont co-founder Giles English as he excitedly pointed out a row of J-class sailing ships. These long and lean sailing boats became popular in the early 20th century, and the assortment of them here in Bermuda was likely a rare sight. A day later, Giles was equally enthused to watch them competing in a regatta in the deep blue waters off the dramatic Bermuda coast. Those boats – or at least the elegant theme of the J-Class ship – was the stated aesthetic inspiration behind the AC I (AC 1) watch dial. It’s elegant and classy, but sporty and built for purpose.
Bremont has been getting a lot of life out of its 43mm wide “Trip-Tick” case – that is the basis for most of its timepieces – just as it is in the AC I. The case is comfortable and distinctive to the brand. It also makes use of a middle barrel produced from colored anodized aluminum. Here, that barrel is in black with smooth horizontal lines, which are a stark contrast to something like the knurled texture barrel in orange on something like a Bremont Martin Baker watch. Don’t forget that the steel parts of the case are both machined in-house by Bremont, but are also given special heat treatments to make them harder and more scratch resistant than untreated steel.
One reason that I’m reluctant to predict that the AC I a game watch is the lack of luminant — but that I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. With the high level of dial comparison, although the hour hands and markers aren’t painted with luminant, the dial of the AC I’m actually legible, in more light situations than watches with luminant. Rarely are individuals in complete darkness with charged luminant dials. So while there’s some missing functionality in that the dial does not have luminant, its high-contrast layout makes it legible the vast majority of the time.Let’s be fair about the fact that the dial design, albeit elegant, is extremely conservative and a bit old-school. As mentioned above, the design sensibility of the dial feels like a combination of IWC and A. Lange & Söhne — equally excellent brands to be related to. However, the combination of refined elegance and activity is a art that Bremont has managed to hone its own — even though other brands are likewise motivated in regards to the aesthetic look of the dials. When it comes down to it, what all these is designing is initially inspired by ship instruments and clocks.Inside that the Bremont AC I is a movement the newest calls their quality BE-36AE. This base Swiss ETA automatic movement offers the time and date, and so is COSC Chronometer certified for accuracy. The motion works at 4Hz with two days of power reserve. It’s well decorated, includes a habit Bremont rotor, and is exhibited through the caseback. Do not forget that Bremont made the case to have a gel-style holding ring for the movement, which is meant to absorb shock and vibration which could damage or affect performance of their movement.
The AC 1 case’s mostly steel material is also entirely polished, which adds a more classy and retro element to the watch. Bremont even made the case a bit thinner for certain models like the AC I. The caseback feels a bit flatter or it might just be an optical illusion. A more expansive sapphire crystal display back offers a view of the base ETA mechanical movement, but also the red-color strips which make up the special shock-absorption system meant to protect the movement if the case is dropped or subjected to harsh shock or vibrations.
At 100 meters water resistant and without a screw-down crown, the AC I isn’t as durable as a more dedicated Bremont dive watch – but it is durable enough. With its comfortable blue rubber strap, I didn’t have any problems wearing the AC 1 over a wetsuit while spending time swimming at the beach. I even took the AC 1 a few feet underwater. I can say that legibility was excellent given the high-contrast face. I was told that the gasket system in the crown should be enough to keep the watch dry at the depths people experience during recreational diving.
The question I was asking myself while wearing the Bremont AC I is if I had suddenly just discovered a gentlemen’s sport watch when I was thinking that I was simply wearing a gentlemen’s watch. You see, the simple but attractive lines on the dial of the watch are not what I typically grab for as someone who likes sportier, more aggressive designs. Here, we have a deck clock-style dial with serif font Arabic hour numerals, blue-colored steel hands (properly-sized might I add) and a textured silvery dial with a pattern created from repeating graphics of the ‘Auld Mug’ trophy cup that is presented to the winner of the America’s Cup.
Under the Bremont logo on the dial of the AC I (along with other America’s Cup models) is the “America’s Cup” name. Other than this subtle text (and the dial pattern motif) there is nothing that connects this watch with the America’s Cup. Sometimes I worry that event-branded watches will feel stale in the future, no matter how cool they are at the time. How much will someone care about an event from 2017 in 2027 when they stare at their watch? I’m not sure, but you can see why event-tied limited edition watches typically worry me as a collector.
With that said, the America’s Cup integration here feels a bit different. This watch feels more inspired by the institution of the event versus one particular year or season. Thus, the Bremont America’s Cup watches tend to feel more inspired by the sport than a particular execution of the sport – if that makes sense. So, you don’t need to have participated in the recently-ended America’s Cup series to appreciate this watch. Though it does help if you have some appreciation for the sport in general. So at the least, you’ve seen other aesthetic visuals that allow you to know where the dial design came from.
A rather spoken rule at Bremont seems to be that no matter what purpose one of their watches has functionally, it needs to be a timeless, elegant, assertive, and classy design. The AC I is most certainly that, even if it risks looking boring to some people. I’ll admit that while I always respected the look of the AC I, I was a bit bored by it at first. Bremont didn’t do anything wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure that there was a market for a thick three-hander that looked like a slightly more masculine version of the IWC Portuguese. There actually is a chronograph version of this in the Bremont AC II.