It was the last dive of the week and I was trying to stay shallow, casually kicking a few feet over the reef on a dive site, ominously named “Witch’s Cauldron”. The flight home was in 20 hours and, after a week of some deep dives, I didn’t want to risk fizzing into fits of the bends on the flight to Dallas. It had been an amazing week underwater. The legendary clear Bahamian waters lived up to their reputation and we had seen sharks on every dive, some following us like wary dogs. They were Caribbean reef sharks, some approaching six feet, sleek and purposeful in their endless search for a next meal. We had heard rumors of hammerheads in these waters off the outermost island of San Salvador and indeed some in our group had spotted a couple, swimming far off the wall in deep water. But I would have to wait until next time to get my chance. The bezel on my Bremont Supermarine 2000 told me it was time to make the turn back to the boat and, with some regret, I reluctantly headed for the mooring line.
When Bremont offered to send their newest dive watch, the Supermarine 2000 ($5,900), for a review, I wanted to give this timepiece a fittingly rigorous program. After all, the company’s tagline is “Tested Beyond Endurance”, and some of its watches had accompanied adventurers on polar expeditions and round-the-world motorcycle journeys. The Supermarine 2000 is arguably Bremont’s most rugged and capable watch to date. Its chronometer-certified movement is surrounded with a patented floating carrier, making it highly resistant to the effects of shock and vibration, a technology proven out in the company’s Martin-Baker watches, which have been tested on equipment used to test fighter jet ejection seat components. The movement is also encased inside an anti-magnetic Faraday cage which protects it against harmful magnetic influence. And while Bremont’s Supermarine 500 already boasted an impressive water resistance of 500 meters, the newest diver is rated to four times as deep. Of course, for a dive watch, all these features, while impressive on paper, are worthless if the watch doesn’t perform well underwater. So it was time to take it diving.
For a watch so ruggedly built, the Supermarine 2000 has a refinement befitting a timepiece born in England.
The Bahamas are made up of over three thousand islands and are only an hour’s plane ride from Miami, so it sees a predictably high number of American tourists. Most stop in Nassau, where they bake on the beaches and queue up for endless resort buffets. But the Out Islands are wild and remote, accessible mostly by small turboprop puddlejumpers that land on short weedy airstrips. San Salvador Island is the furthest east of the Out Islands and reputed to be the first landfall for Christopher Columbus in 1492. More recently, it was a strategic U.S. military outpost during the Cold War, a listening post at the spot where Soviet ships made a hard left turn to head towards Cuba. Thick communication cables can still be seen draped over the steep reef walls heading to Florida. Topside, San Salvador Island is barren and sparsely populated. But its position out on the Continental Shelf makes for some of the world’s most spectacular wall diving.
For a watch so ruggedly built, the Supermarine 2000 has a refinement befitting a timepiece born in England. The case, now swollen to 45 millimeters, is a three-part design Bremont calls “Triptick” and features lugs that twist down with alternating brushed and polished surfaces, contrasting the black, textured center barrel. A crown guard is bolted on with tiny hex screws, terminating in the crown, which resides at a comfortable two o’clock position. The dial manages to strike a balance that can only be described as “functionally elegant”. Huge applied markers have an almost military appearance, and their blue luminescence proved up to the task on a night dive, glowing reassuringly as ghostly sharks cruised past just at the edge of my light beam. The hands are distinctive, falling somewhere between Rolex and Big Ben — delicate but easy to read at a glance. The sweep seconds hand now features a round lume flag, which addresses perhaps the only quibble people had with the watch’s predecessor, the Supermarine 500. The center of the dial is a textured pinstripe surrounded by a railroad track minute scale and a depth rating in a subtle touch of red.
Modified calibre BE-36AE automatic chronometer, 25 jewels, Glucydur balance. Anachron balance spring, Nivaflex 1 mainspring, 28,800 bph, 38-hour power reserve, Bremont decorated rotor.
Hour/minute/second, date and day.
Stainless steel case with sapphire uni-directional rotating bezel. Case diameter 45mm, lug width 22mm. Inner soft iron anti-magnetic Faraday cage to protect movement. Protective patented anti-shock movement mount.
Stainless steel screw-in and decorated case back.
Sapphire uni-directional rotating bezel with SuperLumiNova luminous coating.
Domed anti-reflective, scratch resistant sapphire crystal.
Water resistant to 200 ATM, 2,000 meters.
Integrated rubber strap, hook-and-loop nylon, or stainless steel bracelet.
The dial’s pinstripes are nicely carried through on the rubber strap which, while very comfortable and plenty long for wear over a 7mm wetsuit sleeve, proved to be a magnet for sand and grit. If you’re slightly OCD, you may want to consider swapping out the rubber for the supplied nylon hook-and-loop strap for beach wear, lest you find yourself constantly cleaning grains of sand out of the corduroy. Trust me on this.
Dive watches are simple brutes. They need only be able to track elapsed time easily and be legible, rugged and highly water resistant. Of course, few divers actually use a watch anymore and the genre has become more of a novelty of a symbol of adventure rather than a tool for it. But a dive watch should still be judged by its ability to meet its basic purpose as an underwater timing instrument and by this criterion, the Bremont Supermarine 2000 excels. Its rotating sapphire timing bezel turns with just the right resistance and is easy to read, the dial and hands are legible under all conditions, the self-winding movement keeps time accurate to chronometer specification and the watch is resistant to water pressure far greater than that any diver will survive. The fact that the watch is so handsome is an added bonus but one that makes the time between dive trips all the more bearable.
As I was making the turn back to the mooring line on that last dive, something appeared in my peripheral vision—a shark, but one far bigger than that the lean reef sharks I was used to seeing. It was a seven-foot scalloped hammerhead cruising across the reef. The shark’s blunt, alien head swung from side to side, one eye trained on me as it swam past mere yards away. Water magnifies things by a third but this was a large fish by all accounts. Its girth made me wonder if it had just consumed a large ray or perhaps it was a pregnant female ready to give birth to a litter of pups. I hoped for the latter, imagining a school of hammerheads on my next visit to San Salvador. The magnificent creature swam on, over the edge of the wall and out over 3,000 feet of blue water and disappeared.