It’s not a secret anymore; vintage watch market is booming and this means that pieces that were once accessible, if not affordable, have reached new stratospheric price heights and are not really an option for reasonable consumers and collectors any more.
I have long changed my approach to watch collecting and although I used to focus on vintage pieces, I soon realised that there is a lot of value to be had on neo-vintage, special editions, micro-brands or even new pieces. Some people buy as an investment but most collectors want to enjoy new acquisitions on their wrist. Unfortunately, quite a lot of them find themselves tucking away lovely timepieces, out of fear of damaging them and taking a blow on the newly assigned values!
I recently stumbled across a Bremont ALT1-ZT on Ebay for a bargain price and decided to give it a try. I had always liked looking at them but at 43mm I always thought they were too big. My sweet spot has been at 40mm but the recent acquisitions of an homage HKED Bund, a Sinn 156 and a Monte Carlo Excelsior Park showed me that 42mm was still manageable.
As soon as the package arrived I was very pleasantly surprised. And it all started from the packaging. A lovely leather folio, with a pocket for the instructions, compartments for two straps, a Bremont spring bar tool and a padded zipped compartment for the watch! At last something more useful that a huge box! I now know where Omega took inspiration from, with their latest limited editions…
On to the watch though... As soon as I took it out I was impressed by the build quality and the attention to detail. I have a relatively small wrist and I really struggled to find a good fit with the stock strap. This is not to take anything away from the strap or the deployant quality. Both are really top notch. Anyway, as soon as I got home I pulled out a 22mm NATO strap and Voila! Instant, slightly belated love!
Let’s start with the most common part of the watch, the movement, although a 7754 based, COSC certified, GMT movement is not such a usual sight. If you have followed the blog I am sure you know that I am a huge fan of the Lemania 5100 and the Valjoux 7750 movements! Both were designed to be robust, reliable, accurate and very easy to produce. An engineer’s dream some might say… The 7754 is indeed a Valjoux 7750 with the added function of an independently adjusted, in 1hour increments, 24h GMT hand. The BE-54AE as Bremont calls it is COSC certified, meaning that it is extremely accurate.
So, with the most pedestrian part out of the way let’s drill into the case, dial and hands. You can tell a Bremont watch from quite far away. They all use the same tri-toc case design which consists of following components:
Upper part: bezel and upper lug case, which for the ALT1-zt is radially brushed, hardened steel using the XB-EBE2000 technology which ensures scratch resistance similar to that of sapphire and marginally lower than that of diamonds. Only Sinn and Damasko are currently offering similar treatments and they are considered to produce some of the world’s best toolwatches.
Mid-part: steel or aluminium anodised barrel that encapsulates the case. It this case, ridged, black PVDed steel.
Lower part: a steel/sapphire caseback that is secured in place by 5 bolts.
All the above guarantees a 100m water resistance… It is reassuring to know that the watch you have strapped on your hand can withstand pretty much whatever you throw at it! During my recent visit to Jordan it had to withstand some serious Dead-Sea diving and mud bath abuse...
The ALT1 is probably Bremont’s longest standing offering and the ALT1-ZT is an evolution of the previously offered ALT1-Z. Compared to the previous model this flies under the radar due to its more modestly coloured dial!
The ZT has a black, matte dial with very nice, trapezoidal applied hour markers. The chronograph subdials, which are dependent on the Valjoux 7750 architecture, are radially brushed and surrounded by nicely raised chapter rings which give the dial a bit of depth. The chronograph 30 min and 12h markings are painted red bringing some colour to the watch. The dial chapter ring houses the 24 GMT hour markings and can be independently adjusted in 1/2h increments using the 8 o clock crown. The 24h mark is a white, lumed triangle, framed by red paint, in line with the other red markings. The chapter ring uses Bremont’s patented roto-click function which offers a very satisfactory, tactile click every time the bezel falls on one of its increments. It really is a joy to use!
The ZT is the first member of the ALT1 family to use fully lumed hands. The hour hand has a nice sword type shape and the minute one is fully straight. I especially like the fact that even the chronograph hands are lumed, meaning that the chronograph can be used in low light conditions unlike other chronographs from well-known brands. They are all framed in black meaning that they give the impression of flowing around the dial. The running seconds hand is also framed in black but it is filled in with red paint faithful to the theme of the watch. I especially like the execution of the 24h GMT hand which extends all the way to the edge of the dial and almost touches the chapter ring. It is a slim, long, black shaft that finishes on a bold, red painted, arrow frame filled with white lume. The white chronograph seconds hand also houses a red framed lumed lollipop which is a nice homage to older aviator watches.
The date is white on a black background disk, similarly finished to the dial so it matches nicely to the watch and does not distract at all. The logo is neatly sitting next to it. The choice improves the symmetry of the Valjoux based architecture.
If you are looking for split second accuracy, you might be disappointed. Although the movement can time events down to 1/8th of the second, the second markers only correspond to second intervals but this has never bothered me so far.
The case is fully brushed and the hardening treatment gives it a very nice, dark grey, titanium-like hue which I really like. The pushers and the crowns are fully polished and are contrasting very nicely with the top and mid-case. The time-setting crown features a lacquered propeller, Bremont’s symbol, while the chapter setting crown features a bullseye motive, homage to military airplanes of the past.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I was a bit hesitant when I decided to go for the ALT1-ZT. A couple of months later I can honestly say that even the more modest pieces of my collection are safely hidden away, not from fear of damaging them but because it feels that none of them can compete with the Bremont in day to day endurance and usability. I really think that Bremont hit a homerun, or a bullseye if you prefer, with this one!