• A Week With the Bremont Terra Nova

    A Week With the Bremont Terra Nova

    At Baselworld 2014, Bremont updated two of their most popular watches, the MBII and Supermarine 500, with a GMT complication. Youíve already read my thoughts on the MBIII, but now Iím pleased to share with you my experience with the amazing new Terra Nova. But first, lets take a look at the history of the Bremont Supermarine.

    While Bremont are primarily thought of as makers of pilot style watches, in 2009 the English brothers managed to infuse their aeronautical DNA into a classically designed dive watch, the Supermarine 500, named after the British Supermarine S6B Seaplane. The S500 featured the familiar Bremont 43mm Trip-Tick steel case, but with a new brilliantly luminescent external diving bezel. The watch was warmly received both by fans of the brand and by dive watch enthusiasts.

    A DLC version of the S500 called the Descent was released in limited quantities later that year, and since that time a few Special Project watches have been made for eligible units, including the North Sea, the Royal Navy Clearance Diver, and the Royal Marine Commando, all of which feature superficial aesthetic changes to the dial and caseback. In 2012, the Supermarine 2000 was released with a slightly larger 45mm case, red accents on the bezel and dial, lollipop-style lume on the second hand tip, a new case back, and a depth rating improvement to an impressive 2000 meters!

    However, the Terra Nova is the first adaptation of the Supermarine chassis that offers major modifications to the overall design of the watch. These changes were purposefully implemented to create a watch capable of accompanying renowned explorer and Bremont Ambassador, Ben Saunders, on his unbelievable Scott Expedition from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole, and back! Hence, the first modification Iíll point out is the Terra Novaís caseback, which simply states ďTHERE & BACKĒ.

    Ben and his small team accomplished this trek over the course of 105 days. They hiked 1795 miles entirely on foot through extreme cold, not to mention climbing 8,000 ft in elevation across the Beardmore Glacier to prove to themselves and the world that when equipped with the right tools, knowledge, and physical skills, men and women can conquer nearly impossible challenges. Talk about a true testament to Bremontís motto of ďTested Beyond EnduranceĒ!

    Of course, when planning a journey of this magnitude, one of the most important considerations was limiting the weight of the gear they were to carry with them, including one of their most important tools, their wristwatch. As supporting partners for the adventure, Bremont were challenged to decrease the weight of their Supermarine by fashioning the case out of Titanium rather than the hardened Stainless Steel they usually use. Thus the Terra Nova is the first Bremont watch to feature a titanium case. Here is a shot of Ben wearing his Terra Nova during the Scott Expedition.

    I personally own a Supermarine 500 made from steel, so I was anxious to get my hands on the Terra Nova to see if the weight difference between the steel and titanium was really noticeable. Conclusion: It isÖespecially when the watches are mounted on their corresponding bracelets. Bremont were kind enough to send over one of their new titanium bracelets with the watch for me to check out during my beach vacation, so here are several pictures of the Terra Nova and my S500 side-by-side.

    I personally was able to weigh the two watches on their bracelets and the results were pretty significant. My S500 on its steel bracelet weighed in at .45 lbs/7.2 oz. Fairly heavy! The Terra Nova with its titanium case and bracelet weighed .30 lbs/4.8 oz. In percentages, that means the standard steel S500 and bracelet is 50% heavier than its titanium counterpart!

    But those are just numbers, to get a real world perspective on the difference, I went straight to the bossÖmy wife, who knows nothing about watches. I asked her to put out both her hands and close her eyes while I placed a watch in each palm and asked her to tell me what she felt. She immediately said, ďThis ones heavy, and this ones a lot lighterĒ. There you have it, people. I tell you no lies! From my perspective, while the Terra Nova is significantly lighter than steel, it is still heavy enough to give the feel of a luxury mechanical watch, and not a cheap imposter. I think that if you were to feel it on your wrist, youíd have the same perspective.

    The titanium case and bracelet of the Terra Nova have a slightly darker tone than steel, but itís not as dark of most titanium you see. Here are some pictures to illustrate the difference in the two watches and their bracelets.

    The next major modification of the Terra Nova is its spectacular yellow-tipped GMT hand for keeping track of a second time zone. For me, this detail perfectly stands out from the rest of the watch face, and adds interest to the overall character of the timepiece. It would have been easy, or dare I say obvious for Bremont to use red instead, but I am so glad that they chose to go with yellow on this watch. In my opinion, I prefer the GMT hand on the Terra Nova to the more subtle hand used on the MBIII.

    Not only does the GMT hand serve as a reference for a second time zone, but also in the case of the Terra Nova it was designed to be used with the compass styled bi-directional external bezel as a solar compass. If you synchronize the GMT hand with your 12-hour hand, lay the watch flat, and point the yellow-tipped GMT hand to the sun, your 12-hour hand should be pointing towards Solar North. A pretty cool tool, eh?

    The center portion of the dial on the S500 features a ring of textured vertical lines that perfectly match the lines on its accompanying rubber strap for a fluid design element incorporated across the watch. On the Terra Nova, this detail is eschewed for a tilted globe, complete with textured longitude and latitude lines. Fans of the brand may note that Bremont have previously incorporated this ďglobeĒ detail on their military C-17 Globemaster watch and its civilian counterpart, the World Timer. Nonetheless, itís a fantastic visual detail on the Terra Nova and a subtle reminder of the Scott Expedition across the southernmost continent on Earth.

    One little niggle I have with the Supermarine 500 is its second hand. For a dive watch with incredible lume on its bezel, markers, and hour and minute hands, Iíve always found it odd that the S500 lacked any luminescent material on the tip of the second hand. While, I sadly canít claim to want a lumed second hand for any practical diving purposes, I do enjoy watching the even glide of mechanical second hand slowly tick in circles across my wrist when Iím in a dark place.

    Fortunately, Bremont chose to incorporate the round lollipop-styled second hand from the Supermarine 2000 into the design of the Terra Nova. If you look closely at the dial, youíll see a ticked chapter ring around the globe. The small lumed circle of the second hand travels precisely within the confines of this ring, making it the best location to reference exact seconds on the Terra Nova, as the bezel does not have designated markers for seconds or minutes, but rather for 24 hour and compass scales respectively.

    Finally, I must also point out that the Day window, which is featured on the rest of the Supermarine watches, is omitted from the Terra Nova in lieu of the GMT complication. Just like with the MBIII, it should also be mentioned that the GMT hand is not a jumping hand, but can only move in the clockwise direction by the crown in its first click position. Of course, you still get a COSC certified Swiss movement with Bremontís patented anti-shock and anti-magnetic technology used in many of their other collections.

    After spending several days with the titanium bracelet mounted, I switched over to my Kevlar strap, which I felt would complement the black dial of the Terra Nova. Iíll let the pictures do the talking, but it worked exceptionally well for me.

    I also wanted to try out my broken-in brown Nubuck strap because I usually like the way black and brown look together. I loved the way this pairing looked together.

    Final Thoughts

    The Good

    -Titanium-On the Terra Nova, itís not too heavy and not too light. It feels great when mounted on its bracelet, not nearly as cumbersome as the steel S500. It has a masculine hue with both satin and polished portions of the case. Look for Bremont to be using more titanium in the future, especially with their Boeing models.

    -GMT=Gets My Thumbs-up Ė This year, Bremont have taken some of their best models and added a GMT complication. While the Terra Nova is limited to 300 pieces, the MBIII is now a permanent member of the core collection. Of the two, I prefer the yellow GMT arrow tip on the Terra Nova. Itís extremely visible and provides a healthy helping of interest to the watch dial.

    -Price-Bremont have bucked their trend of making increasingly expensive Limited Edition watches by pricing the Terra Nova at $5,995, which is only a slight increase from the S500 which comes in at $5,400. For the features you get in this piece (anti-shock, anti-magnetic, 500m rated, HEV, GMT complication), I think itís a reasonable price for such a uniquely cool blend of dive and tool watch.

    The Not So Good

    -Limited Quantities-It would be nice to have a GMT complication permanently featured in the Supermarine collection once the Terra Nova has sold out. Based on the strong response it received since Basel, I have no doubt that if the Terra Nova hasnít already sold out, then it will very soon. I know that several Alt1tude members have one pre-ordered already, with others strongly considering taking the plunge.

    -Although the grade 5 titanium is extremely durable, itís less scratch resistant than Bremont's hardened steel- This will likely mean more nicks and scratches, particularly on the underside of the bracelet. On the bright side, titanium is much easier to refinish than hardened steel, so all is not lost if you end up with a few battle scars.

    -Bracelets are not interchangeable-Some people have asked about using their steel Bremont bracelet on the Terra Nova. It wouldnít work. The color difference is to substantial, the end links are shaped differently, and you would miss out on the dramatic weight difference that the titanium provides. Unfortunately, that means extra investment in another bracelet if you already own the steel version. Fortunately, we have a marketplace on Alt1tude where you can buy and sell accessories from other members if you wish.

    The Verdict

    I may sound like a broken record here, but Iím just very impressed with the Terra Nova. Iíve been extremely happy with my personal S500, but Iíd be lying if I said I didnít think about selling it to fund one of these beauties. Those of you who have ordered one, I congratulate you for picking up a fantastic watch. It will be worth the wait, and I doubt you will be disappointed.

    If you typically enjoy your watch on a bracelet, I would go ahead and spring for ordering one to come with your watch. It looks great when mounted and again, the weight difference is dramatic. My S500 on a rubber strap feels about the same weight as the Terra Nova on its bracelet. I feel confident recommending it. If you donít care about bracelets, the rubber strap that comes standard with the watch is soft and very comfortable, as is the Temple Island rubber strap. It can also pull off leather, Kevlar, and nylon easily, so youíve got plenty of options.

    Look for the titanium Supermarine Terra Nova to ship in the next three weeks, with the titanium bracelet also available. If you have any more specific questions about the Terra Nova, please feel free to ask and Iíll be glad to get an answer for you.

    Thanks for reading!

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