To say that the HMS Victory is a ship with history is akin to saying that the Dali Lama is a man with faith. Launched in 1765, she is the only remaining 18th Century ship left in the world, as well as the oldest commissioned warship. The Victory’s record at sea is the stuff of legend, though perhaps her most notable role was as the flagship of ill-fated Lord Nelson during the battle of Trafalgar. Subsequent years saw her continue service as a flagship, until finally she was placed into dry dock in 1922, where she currently resides. Since 2010, the HMS Victory has been undergoing an extensive restoration to bring her back to her original glory. So, what does all this have to do with watches, you ask? Find out after the jump.
Brothers Nick and Giles English asked themselves the same question, though unlike you, they own the British watch company, Bremont, and they had a novel proposition for the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which is carrying out the extensive restoration. They proposed to create a watch whose proceeds would go in part toward funding the not inconsiderable expense involved with bringing the HMS Victory back to her original glory. One twist, however, is that the watch in question would incorporate actual pieces of metal and wood from the ship. Mind you, this isn’t the first time that Nick and Giles have taken pieces of history and folded them into their watches, or even the first time that it has been done. Back in 2006, IWC issued a limited edition Aquatimer Chronograph that included pieces of Jacques Cousteau’s ship, the Calypso; and as for Bremont, their limited edition P-51 chronograph, used pieces of the fuselage of an actual WWII P-51 Mustang in the movement’s rotor. Even so, this is the first time that an object as old and as historically significant would be used in such a fashion. Fortunately for the Brothers English — and the lucky sods who will own this watch — the museum enthusiastically embraced this idea, and thus the Bremont Victory was born.
This time around, not only is the rotor modified — it employs copper plating from the HMS Victory — but fragments of original oak are inlaid into the case back as well. Not content to stop there, Bremont modified the chronograph movement to include dual retrograde displays that show the seconds and the date; the whole shebang is sewed up in their trademark Trip-Tick case, which can be had in either hardened stainless steel or 18K rose gold.
The Bremont Victory may be perceived as a departure for this young company with an airplane propeller in their logo and a reputation for building tough pilot’s watches and aviation-themed divers (they’re named after seaplanes), yet it remains true to their veddy British roots all the same. For all its overtly dressy pretensions, the Victory remains a Bremont through-and-through, thanks to its robust movement, patented three-piece case design and a full 100 meters of water resistance.
And so, godspeed to both the Bremont Victory and the HMS Victory. May one hasten the rebirth of the other.
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