• A Week with the Bremont Martin Baker III

    A Week With the Bremont Martin Maker III

    In the seven short years since Nick and Giles English first offered their watches to the public, we’ve seen some great pieces come and go, but the staple ingredient to Bremont’s early success has to be the Martin Baker series. Bremont jumped out of the gate in 2009 with an attractive aviation inspired tool-watch that boasted some impressive innards. Every Martin Baker watch features a COSC certified movement suspended in a special rubberized “anti-shock” enclosure and then wrapped in an anti-magnetic faraday cage and finally secured in a water-resistant, hardened steel case. In addition, the external aesthetics feature several unique elements: the trademark “ejection-seat handle” on the base of the second hand, the unmistakable knurled aluminum Trip-Tick center barrel in various colors iterations, and the always appreciated “twin crowns” with patented Roto-Click bezel. When you combine all of these elements, you can appreciate how the MBII has been the best selling Bremont watch to date, and has earned the young brand respect amongst its peers. For that reason, the MBII chassis has been used as the template for countless military (U2, F-22, A-10, etc…) and special edition projects (MB1.5, The Watch Gallery MBII, and the ALT1TUDE SE).

    It would be difficult to significantly improve on a watch that was so well executed in its initial installment, but Bremont fans have had one project in mind for a long time; to build a GMT version of the MBII. Well, I’m happy to say that your requests over the past several years were not in vain! At BaselWorld 2014, Bremont announced four new watches: the Boeing Model 247, Boeing Model 1, the Supermarine Terra Nova and the highly anticipated Martin Baker III with a GMT hand!

    While the first three watches were very warmly received by horology press and retailers, the MBIII was instantly hailed as “The People’s Watch” due to its grassroots origins dreamt up from fans on Alt1tude and other watch forums. Customers were overwhelmingly satisfied to know that Bremont had been listening to the wishes for a MBII-GMT, and in return, it garnered loads of attention, and presumably an equal number of pre-orders! It will be available from Authorized Dealers for a MSRP price of 5995 USD/3,995 GBP.

    The MBIII is to deliver in July 2014 and will come with three different barrel color options: The legendary orange, classic anthracite, and a new bronze that will be unique to the MBIII. - NB: the bronze barrel was first released on a military edition MBII for the F22-Raptor, but is not available to the general public.

    Speaking of the MBII, the new MBIII offers a few notable changes from its predecessor. From the dial perspective, the red triangle that was previously positioned below the Bremont insignia is no longer present. However, the “ANTI-SHOCK” logo and text remain, as does the text below that now reads, “AUTOMATIC GMT” instead of “AUTOMATIC”. The bi-directional rotating inner bezel is now a 24-hour scale instead of minute makers. You will also note that the day window was omitted to allow for the addition of the GMT complication. The movement is the Bremont modified caliber BE-93-2AE, based off of the ETA 2893-2 with GMT complication. It boasts a 42-hour power reserve, which is a slight improvement from the 38-hour reserve on the MBII.

    The one lingering question from potential buyers about the MBIII was how well it functions as a GMT watch compared to its competitors. The archetype to which all GMT’s are measured seems to be the Rolex GMT Master II, which features an independent jumping hour hand to easily adjust travelers to a new local time while maintaining the 4th hand as a Greenwich Mean Time constant and allowing 24-hour bezel rotation for further time reference. While the MBIII does not have this feature, it remains very functional as a GMT watch due to its 24 hour Roto-Click inner bezel, which can be easily adjusted during travel to keep track of a second time zone.

    Nick English was recently asked about how the MBIII GMT feature was implemented compared to watches that feature an independently adjustable hour hand and this his reply:
    "I think that it’s just a different way of doing it. Look at what’s available out there. From our perspective it is a very robust movement. These are for the military and these are very reliable, tested movements. We’re giving a watch at a particular price point that’s not silly. The movements are as good as we can get, and what we do is protect them as well as possible. We’re very proud of that. We want to produce a watch that’s the best it can be for the price it is. I can say hand in heart that it’s worth the money. Very robust, time tested. It’s also very easy to operate."

    After the recent Alt1tude GTG in Greenville SC, I convinced Bremont’s North America Director, Michael Pearson, into letting me borrow the MBIII for another “Week on the Wrist” review. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but suffice it to say; the MBIII is a crowd pleaser!

    Here is a lume shot to give you an idea of the layout, including the new GMT hand. The Superluminova coated hands and numbers give off a nice blue color which keeps a good charge, and is easily legible in the dark.

    Because I’m a strap junkie and always looking for the perfect pairing for watches, I tried the MBIII on various straps throughout the week. First up on Sunday was the standard issue black calf leather strap on buckle. I must say that I think Bremont have done well to improve the calf strap over the past few years, giving the middle section a bit more thickness than in the past. It adds more definition to the strap that isn’t present on my personal Bremont black calf strap. The tang holes are also positioned in a slightly different position to allow for a better tuck through the keepers. It gives a classic look for any occasion and the Ecru stitching complements the bronze barrel very nicely. A very solid standard strap option!

    For Monday, I decided to go ahead and switch to the strap I was most excited about trying, the Bremont Hambleden leather NATO strap in brown! Ever since Bremont launched these back in February, I’ve been ITCHING to try one out! At $185, they aren’t cheap, but they do feature a very nice 22mm Bremont buckle in either DLC or steel finish, which match the metal keepers that are sewn into the soft 2mm thick leather strap. Keeping with the traditional NATO style, the straps are made long enough to tuck back through the keepers. One of my favorite details is the embossed Bremont “prop” logo placed in a few strategic locations.

    For me, this was the winning pairing for the week. What do you reckon?

    On Tuesday I went with another one of my favorite straps, the brown Bremont Nubuck, It has an aged appearance and lighter shade than all of the other leather offerings from the brand. No surprise here, but it worked out really well on the MBIII.

    For Wednesday, I strapped on my old faithful Bremont Vintage, with its deep rich brown hue. This strap looks good on EVERYTHING, and its clear to see that it suited the MBIII very well.

    On Thursday I switched over to the Bremont Miltary Canvas strap in Desert Sand. Of all the Bremont Velcro color options, this one has always been my favorite, and I wear it a lot in the Summer, particularly at the beach or pool. I’m sure it will look sporty with the black version as well.

    To wrap up the workweek on Friday, I decided to mount the Bremont Kevlar strap on the MBIII. The texture of the Kevlar really complements the knurling on the center barrel and twin crowns, giving the watch an even more rugged look.

    Final Thoughts

    The Good

    -Total Package - Everything you could want in an attractive mechanical tool watch, with the added benefit of a 4th hand for GMT reference. It’s exactly what fans have been asking for since the MBII release in 2009. There are no unnecessary frills, just accurate and unabashed utility. The prototype model I wore operated as expected, within COSC specifications, gaining about 2 seconds a day.

    -Bronze=Awesome - The new bronze barrel color really grew on me! At first, I assumed that I would prefer the traditional orange barrel of the MBII, but after a few days on my wrist, I think that the bronze will be the star of the color options. It is potent enough to catch your eye, but not so loud that it would eventually become a burden. Just right!

    -Versatility - I’ve said it before, but the MBIII is another versatile offering that can easily be dressed up or down for any occasion with a simple strap change. I think it looks perfect on a leather NATO like the Hambleden, but in more formal situations, a switch to black leather will complement a suit. However, if you’re spending the week in your bathing suit, a change to a nylon or rubber strap will serve you well and still look great while you get wet.

    The Not So Good

    -Triangle? - What happened to the red Martin Baker triangle on the dial? While I honestly didn’t even notice its absence until it was on my wrist, once I realized it was omitted on the MBIII, I wanted it back! The extra red detail would complement the other bits of red on the tip of the second hand and the GMT hand very well.

    -The GMT hand is a little subdued and could stand to be a bit flashier in my opinion. The red arrow tip was a safe choice with a good size and lume, but after seeing the Terra Nova’s awesome yellow arrow tip, I’m left wanting something that makes me say, “WOW! This is a GMT!” As it stands, it sits in the background with a quiet presence that complements the rest of the watch, but doesn’t pop like its Supermarine Counter-part. But I can still live with it.

    -No independent functioning hour hand. One click out from the 2:00 crown allows you to roll forward to rotate the GMT hand clockwise, or spin backward to advance the date. Two clicks out moves the hour, minute, and GMT hands in unison to hack the time. The Roto-Click bi-directional inner bezel allows you to manipulate time zones pretty easily, but some customers will still expect an independent hour hand at the MBIII’s price point. Perhaps Bremont will make a change when they begin making their own in-house GMT movement?

    The Verdict

    The Martin Baker watches from Bremont are still the quintessential offering from the brand. Back at Basel, fans were thrilled to learn that a long-awaited GMT version of the MB range was finally being released, and when they eventually land at retailers in July, I have no doubt that they will sell very well.

    But for customers who already own an MBII, is there a reason to ditch the MBII to add an MBIII to the arsenal? If you have a strong interest in the functional aspect of a GMT watch, the answer is Yes. If you aren’t a frequent traveler or don’t interact on a consistent basis with people on the other half of the world, you’d probably be served just as well with the MBII.

    For folks who don’t yet own an MB based watch or who only want one watch to serve all purposes, this is a GREAT choice! With its unique aesthetics, GMT functionality and anti-shock, anti-magnetic, and water resistant case technologies, you’d be hard pressed to find a tougher alternative; After all, these watches were built and tested to withstand fighter jet ejections at 12-20 x gravitational force!!

    I can confidently recommend the MBIII, as well as the MBII to anyone interested in purchasing a well made, chronometer grade automatic watch. If you have any specific questions related to the MBIII, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them!

    Thanks for reading!

    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Week with the Bremont Martin Baker III started by jwalker9 View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Bc321's Avatar
      Bc321 -
      Excellent write up Jeremy! The Kevlar strap looks sharp.

      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1. CaptLeslie's Avatar
      CaptLeslie -
      Jeremy, great review of the MB111! I am with you on how the brown Hambleden strap is a winning combo! I think I will be looking for the HAMBLEDEN strap that comes with the Code Breaker which looks like a Nubuck leather, if it is possible to snag one! The closer it gets to the shipping date in July the more anxious I am getting about the watch! I already have my AD on speed dial! Once I recieve my MB111BZ I am sending my MB1 to the Bremont Spa for a tuneup and make over. In 3 years of use I have put her thru quit a bit of abuse, then she is going into the special occasion use case! The MB111 will be my go to watch! Being one of the outspoken customers who cried for the creation of an MB111, I feel that some smidgen of my DNA is in every watch! How lucky we are to be in an association of fans who help influence a company like Bremont! Cheers Jim
    1. jwalker9's Avatar
      jwalker9 -
      Thanks Brendan and Jim!

      Captain, I believe that the Codebreaker strap is called the "Crazy Horse", and one of our members just purchased it for his new SO15 special edition watch last week. It sounds like they are a bit more accessible now than when the Hambledens were first released? I'm sure your MBI deserves a nice vacation at HQ! I was thinking of you as I wrote the part about this being a watch that was dreamt up on the forums...I know you'll be very pleased with the MBIII once it arrives, which should be very soon!
    1. chipbutty55's Avatar
      chipbutty55 -
      Thanks for an excellent review on this stunning new piece. That bronze certainly does some to grow on you the more you look at it and you have certainly shown it off in it's best "Suits" with some of those strap options. Personally, with owning an orange MBII, I haven't been able to justify one of these to now but that may well change now your review has shown how versatile the watch is with that colour barrel. I have always strived for gold, now I yearn for bronze......
    1. Jim's Avatar
      Jim -
      Fantastic review, thanks for spending time on it.
      I think the bronze is now THE colour to have, it looks great. Just need to decide what to sell so I can pick one up now!
    1. NUFC1's Avatar
      NUFC1 -
      Great review Jeremy, goes well with all the strap combinations.

      I'm sat here with my MB11 on and what catches my eye is the 24 hr bezel on the MB111, makes the watch look bigger, don't notice the lack of day function or the red triangle unless I look for them.

      Would I add the MB111 to my collection on top of the MB11? Probably not.

      If I did not have either, it's a tough one, day function or GMT, bronze option exclusive to the MB111, the overall look of the watch to consider...... trying to put aside the general excitement of the new version I think it is a hard one to call.
    1. samuelhogg's Avatar
      samuelhogg -
      Truly beautiful watch. Excellent review. Thank You.
    1. rockmastermike's Avatar
      rockmastermike -
      Thanks for taking the time in putting this together. The MBIII is great in pictures and just flat out cool in person and handles various strap options easily as seen in your great pictures. The Bronze is extraordinary and easily my new favorite color barrel. I like the subtle GMT hand as it is there when you need and not distracting when you don't.

      In typical Bremont fashion, they not only listened to the fans but didn't just settle for slapping a 4th hand on being satisfied....This is an extremely well thought out watch and well executed watch. They took what we wanted and gave so much more.

      Now I need raise the funds.
    1. jwalker9's Avatar
      jwalker9 -
      Thanks for the feedback, gents!
    1. Embles's Avatar
      Embles -
      A great review and some excellent pictures Jeremy. I really like the bronze barrel and wonder if Bremont will sell these in the future for MB11s as I would definitely be interested? I also like the different strap options you tried, the Hambleden looks great and is one I've been considering but I have some reservations that it's too bulky - I currently have my MB on a nubuk which is a great combo.
    1. samuelhogg's Avatar
      samuelhogg -
      A few more nice pictures of the MBIII Bronze - http://www.watch-agora.com/p/282-wat...biii-live-pics
    1. dukerules's Avatar
      dukerules -
      Great review, Jeremy. The MB III is a fantastic addition to the Bremont lineup, and is such a versatile piece.
    1. richslaney's Avatar
      richslaney -
      Wonderful review and pictures.

      I would love one, but to be honest I would prefer:-

      1. Day and Date. I think day is very useful on a GMT especially when you are flying everywhere. I think they are missing a try too.
      2. I'd rather retain the normal Rotoclick inner bezel as I personally use mine on my U2 loads for timing food, parking meters, stuff in general.
      3. Due to number 2, the watch would need a slim outer ring on the dial for the GMT time.
      4. It would be nice then if the Rotoclick crown at the 4 oclock would be dual purpose, let in operate the inner bezel as usual, Pull out to a stop to then allow the GMT hand to be moved independently or like my Seiko 600m MarineMaster Springdrive leave the GMT hand fixed with the watch action and make the crown move the main hour hand forward and backwards as required.

      I'm not sure why you would want to lose a useful timing feature which has routes in Aircraft (mission timer) for GMT which as per my Seiko really only needs to a separately adjustable hour hand which is used against a static GMT scale.

      I also wish Bremont would also develop a quick change option for there straps. Bremont's look great on so many different straps and you see so many with scratches / marks on the lugs from changing the straps. Panerai have a push button system, others have solid screws instead of spring bars or drilled lugs so you can release the spring bar with a tool from outside the watch.
      I like the simple solution on my Raymond Weil Don Giovanni Cose Grande. The RW uses quick release spring bars which have an extension button out of the side which protrudes in little slot on the leather (inside the band). Therefore, you simple slide the button with your fingernail and the spring bar releases. Plus is keeps the spring bars in place with the strap so you don't lose them. It's an ace system which makes strap changing quick and simple, no scratches lugs, no lost spring bars. Really simply and can be quickly done to finished straps, they don't even need to have it made into the virgin straps.

      It's not even expensive, here's a link to a website which sells the tools and the springbars to do it:-


      Here's a link to the quick release Springbars (just need to find curved ones now):-
    1. jchlu's Avatar
      jchlu -
      I recently purchased a Brady Straps distressed leather with this type of self-fitting springbar with a notch and it's great!
      Easy delivery to the UK, good price, what's not to like.


      I think most of their stuff comes with tool-free bars.

    1. watchstudent's Avatar
      watchstudent -
      Excellent read, thanks. I agree that the Kevlar strap looks really good. Could well be my first Bremont.
    1. endo's Avatar
      endo -
      Thanks for the excellent write up, and of course the pictures.
      I had my name down for the MBIII at my local AD already but after reading your article, the day it arrives can't come soon enough

      Only small gripe is i'd prefer a quickset GMT hand like i'm used to on the GMTII
    1. glacierjb's Avatar
      glacierjb -
      First of all, thank you Jeremy for the in-depth write up accompanied with such stunning photographs. The MBIII has long captivated me since its announcement!

      This is nitpicking but I'm curious about the knurled crowns on the MBIII. In comparison to MBII's crowns, the MBIII's seem to be of a two-piece design? As if the crown is a knurled barrel with a cap attached on top. Thus giving the MBIII crowns softer / rounder edges too.

      I'd like to ask especially those who can compare MBII and MBIII side by side, am I seeing things lol? Or any insights on the change in crown design? I know this annoys me more than it should, but I personally prefer the simpler look on MBII crowns.

      Not a deal breaker. Just wondering...
    1. Great_mazinger's Avatar
      Great_mazinger -
      Nicely done. I would love the MB III, but I am beyond happy with my MB II
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