When you think of the brand name “Rolls-Royce,” what comes to mind? For most, it’s probably any number of luxury cars, perhaps driven by a chauffeur, with a jar of Grey Poupon in the glove box. And we certainly think of the Spirit of Ecstasy, the iconic Rolls-Royce hood ornament (bonnet ornament, if we want to be appropriately British about it). But it’s less likely that we remember Rolls-Royce as the maker of aircraft engines, which is certainly a bit of a shame, as their history is tied directly to the history of flight itself, having developed engines for both commercial and military purposes since the earliest days of the airplane. Rolls-Royce is still innovating on this front, and that’s where their partnership with Bremont, and their new watch seen here, comes in.
Bremont’s new watch is called the ionBird, and it’s meant to commemorate an attempt by Rolls-Royce to break the speed record for a zero-emission aircraft with their “Spirit of Innovation” plane, which they hope to clock at speeds exceeding 300mph in early 2021. That would be an impressive feat for Rolls-Royce, who see themselves on the vanguard of sustainability in flight. Bremont, as their official timing partner, is calling attention to the project with their new watch, an aviation inspired GMT that Bremont says will be worn by Rolls-Royce test pilots.
The most prominent and unique design element of the ionBird is definitely the crown guard attachment protecting the 4:00 crown. Maybe it’s a result of seeing them start to appear in the wild, but I can’t help but be reminded of Seiko’s new SPB151/153, their reissue of the “Willard” dive watch, which has a similar asymmetrical case shape thanks to its crown guard implementation. On the new Bremont, the crown guard seems to flow directly out of the lug design, and vaguely resembles the brand’s propeller blade logo.
The ionBird case is 43mm wide and made of aircraft grade titanium, so it should be light on the wrist. The dial layout is, as you’d expect, heavily influenced by a pilot’s watch aesthetic, with high contrast Arabic numerals set against a black dial, with a rotating 24 hour bezel for the tracking of a third timezone. The movement is Bremont’s chronometer certified BE-93-2EV caliber, with GMT functionality and 42 hours of power reserve.
Bremont’s website features a video that has been put together to launch the ionBird, and here we find some interesting news about a unique product Bremont has been developing that is associated with the watch, but not quite here yet. To aid Rolls-Royce test pilots in their ability to pilot the all electric Spirit of Innovation, Bremont has developed a “smart” strap that links to the aircraft’s computer system and prompts the pilot to check critical system components. This latest attempt to mix the old fashioned charm of mechanical watchmaking with new tech is interesting because of the context of the Rolls-Royce project, and the long history of that company in aviation. We imagine there will always be purists who prefer their watches to not be connected at all (I’m raising my own hand here), it’s interesting to track how watch brands are reckoning with wearable technology, and Bremont’s new strap could be a compelling product for professional pilots, and we also expect this tech will trickle down to more traditional wearable applications (step tracking, heart rate monitoring, and so forth).
The new Bremont ionBird is available now on the Bremont website, with a retail price of $ 6,095 on a leather strap, and $ 6,695 on a bracelet. Bremont