Bremont Broadsword Gets Armed Forces LE Treatment

Henley, Oxfordshire. Pimm’s and Regattas. The splendid River and Rowing Museum.  Particularly vindictive traffic wardens. And ‘The Wing’, Bremont’s HQ. There are plenty of reasons to try to wangle an invitation to look around. Nick’s dog Pedro, for a start – he’s lovely.  The coffee’s good. The building itself is remarkable. Where else do you find a regularly changing selection of classic cars in a reception area? Last time I was there it was a restored Land Rover half-ton Lightweight. And, if you’re into your military watches, there’s an entire wall of them with an example of every unit, squadron or crew model the firm has made. Some you’ll have heard of, others are, quite deliberately, not exactly household names.

It’s not surprising. Bremont tend to build their watches (‘build’ seems like a better word than ‘make’ in this context) to take a knock or two. I’ve had one of their MBIIs since 2011 and, despite almost G-Shock levels of abuse, it’s never missed a beat. So even though you’re more likely to see a G or an F-91W on exercise (losing a $15 Casio in the mud is easier to stomach than a nearly $4k Bremont), there’s little doubt they’d hack the pace. 


Now there’s a new watch for the Armed Forces Collection – the Broadsword Recon. Bremont’s Broadsword range has been around since 2019, the year the firm signed the Armed Forces Covenant to support those who serve or have served. Practically, in the case of the Broadsword, that gets you a 15% discount if you’re in the UK armed forces.  

The Broadsword watches are designed to be rugged, simple (no chronos here) and easy to read. In other words, the sort of watch you’d wear in the military even if the nearest you get to combat is the lunchtime sandwich line (although they queue in Henley, old chap).  

The Recon uses the same movement and case (more on those later) as its fellow Broadswords, but the dial is very different. Rather than a standard printed dial the Recon uses a ‘sandwich’ dial. You’ll know what a sandwich dial looks like if you’ve ever seen a Panerai or a modern Vertex. Rather than just printing the dial on one, single flat surface and then applying lumed batons or markers, the dial is made up from layers. The base layer carries the lume with the upper layer carrying the printing.  Because the top layer of the dial has the numerals cut out, the lume underneath shows through.

It’s a lot of fuss making a sandwich dial and adds more complexity to the production process. For a start, you need to align the top plate with its cut-outs with the lumed numerals on the bottom plate precisely. That means adding tiny feet to both dials so they locate properly. Mind you, Panerai didn’t bother being quite so careful on their vintage watches from the 1940s. A blob of radium lume on the bottom dial plate was fine – who needed precision when you had enough becquerels to light up a room?  Bremont have been a bit more scientific in their approach. 

So why bother with something that’s more complicated to make? It’s a point of difference – always handy, especially at this price point – but there’s more to it. A sandwich dial gives you the ability to have a far greater density of lume than a standard paint-on job. That’s because luminous paint (paste, really) – like any other – will start to flatten out as the amount you apply increases. It doesn’t take much for it to just blob. A sandwich dial holds the paste in place and means you can not only get more depth to it but a broader stroke to the numerals too. Add in green Superluminova and it’s so bright you can throw away your torch.

It also gives depth and texture to the dial’s appearance. And – because of the need to support the inner spaces of the numbers on 0, 8 and 9 with a sprue – a slightly military stencil look to a sandwich dial. Where the metal top dial is matte black, the numeral edges are gloss painted, so you get stand-out in daylight as well as in low-light.

Sitting behind all this dial-based cleverness is the Bremont cal. BE-95-2AV. That’s essentially a chronometer-rated (ISO 3159 standard), top grade Sellita SW260-1 beating at a standard 28,800bph. We’ve not had a Broadsword apart, so can’t confirm or deny if Henley have worked their magic with their in-house CNC kit. But no matter, it’s a solid, 31 jewelled bearing movement running a pretty much temperature-impervious Glucydur balance wheel, a pretty unbustable Nivaflex mainspring (giving 38 hours running) and an Anachron balance spring. There’s no Faraday cage as one might expect from a military-style watch but, with an antimag balance and hairspring like this, you’ll have to try pretty hard to magnetize your watch even if you spend all day laptop-bashing.

The two-piece, 40mm case itself is classic Bremont – you could use it as an engine mounting for a Sherman. At $3,695 you’ll probably be a little more careful with it, but it’s a watch you could wear every day, knock it about and simply not worry. It’s the sort of watch that’ll look better with a few dings and scrapes in any case – this isn’t a cocktail bar Cartier. The NATO strap in stone and grey means it’ll stay on your wrist even if a spring bar lets go. And, if you fancy, there’s a second strap option, either black rubber or a vintage brown leather with white stitching.

It’s not the only limited edition in the Broadsword range. Bremont have produced short run Broadswords for The Gurkha Welfare Trust and to commemorate being awarded a Silver Armed Forces Covenant. This one is a run of just 200, so don’t hang about if you want one.  

Should you buy one?

The whole military-style thing is always a bit divisive. Some people will say it’s Walty, others will just happily wear a Broadsword and enjoy the sheer indestructibility, function and ease of use that comes from a ‘military’ watch.  

There are really two tests for watches like this, in my opinion. First, does it stand up in its own right, once you’ve stripped away the marketing and associations?  In other words, can you just wear it, enjoy it and use it without constantly thinking you should be in khaki or blue?  Second, does it try too hard?  Some ‘007’ watches do this with Bond-theming everywhere from the box to the strap.  In my view, the Recon is its own watch and happily works without the story behind it.  And it doesn’t scream ‘Ministry of Defence’ despite the ‘HMAF’ (His Majesty’s Armed Forces) on the dial. All-round, a decent bit of kit. Bremont.

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Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
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