Unboxing the Bremont DH-88 Limited Edition
Earlier this year in England, we attended the launch of the DH-88, Bremont's latest historical limited edition. Now, after much anticipation, the watch has come in and we are using the occasion to share the experience of "unboxing" this special limited edition.
As we described after the launch event, this latest Bremont historical limited edition celebrates the British plane that won a famous MacRobertson air race from England to Australia in 1934. It's easy to see why the story of the DH-88 is inspirational to Bremont founders Nick and Giles English. It's the tale of an international air race where a number of the fastest and most advanced planes from different countries around the world competed for history and national pride. The Americans were the expected favorite as they enjoyed a technological hegemony of the time. Though there had been British planes that had won major air races, other planes such as the American Douglas DC-2 and the Boeing 247 were highly favored to win. However, it was one of three De Havilland DH-88 Comet planes specifically created for the race that reached Australia first. Specifically, the "Grosvenor House", a vibrant red plane that had been purchased and named by the Managing Director of the prestigious namesake London hotel.
The DH-88 certainly isn't as well known as the Wright Flyer, which is of course a priceless artifact, but it provided a compelling story of British ingenuity beating the odds. The DH-88 was also incredibly influential in advancing British aviation and the development of trans oceanic travel. When describing the plane, the line that stood out that most was Nick's opinion that the streamlined DH-88 Comet must have looked as futuristic then as a Saturn V rocket looked in the 1960's.
The Grosvenor House is housed at Shuttleworth Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire, England under the custodianship of the Shuttleworth Trust. The Trust is a charitable organisation created in 1940 by Dorothy Shuttleworth with the mission and purpose of promoting education and training in the science, practice, and history of aviation and automotive transport. The collection contains some of last airworthy aircraft of their type remaining anywhere in the world, including the famed DH-88 Comet and other historical aircraft which are all kept working as intended.
The beautiful and historic plane regularly thrills crowds at air shows, reminding spectators of its victorious performance in the world's greatest air race. By providing proceeds from the sale of each DH-88 Limited Edition to the Shuttleworth Trust, Bremont is supporting their efforts to keep the Comet airborne.
The dial and style of the timepiece is representative of the more refined Bremonts. While the piece has its own look, you can see the technical and stylistic influences of Bremont limited editions that have come before it. The case features the hardened high polished case that is used on the ALT1-C/P models, Jaguar, Oracle, and Wright Flyer. The font and chapter ring are something between the Victory and Wright Flyer. The internal chapter ring is reminiscent of the Victory and the ALT1-C formal watches that came after it. Like all other Bremont historical limited editions, the watch features the signature 43mm case with a 22mm strap width.
The DH-88 features a BE-54AE movement which is a Valjoux movement that has been reworked by La Joux de Perret. Like the P-51 and EP120, the DH-88 features a chronograph and a GMT complication. While those two prior watches had the vintage feel of a "war watch," there is something brash and optimistic about the tone of the DH-88. You see that in the playful use of red in areas including the small second hand, triangle on the internal bezel, GMT hand, rotor, and movement screws. The part of the piece that has the most direct calls to the plane is the case back. The rotor includes an inlay of wood from the original spruce undercarriage of the plane, specifically the wooden planks that would be manually lifted to retract the landing gear wheels. Later in its life, the Grovesnor House was retrofitted with a modern hydraulic system for actuating the landing gear.
The number "34" on the rotor is a direct call to the plane's number in the race, which coincidentally took place in 1934. The color surrounding the propeller shaped rotor is a vibrant red that matches the plane. Where heat-blued screws have been featured in past limited editions, such as the Codebreaker, the screws in the movement of the DH-88 are red in celebration of the plane.
In addition to the pre-orders already filled, this unique piece is currently available at Topper Fine Jewelers with a retail of $10,995 which includes both a leather strap (as shown) and an alligator band as pictured on the Bremont site.
Below are the photos of limited edition watch and its unique and themed packaging.
Inside the box is a black cloth bag adorned with schematics of the DH-88 Comet.
Inside the bag is supple and stylish red leather pouch affixed with the number "34" on one side.
On the other side of the pouch are two straps affixed with chrome snaps.
The liner of the presentation box depicts a map of the 1934 transcontinental race from England to Australia.
The warranty registration and user manual (complete with autographs from Bremont founders, Nick and Giles).
Included in the pouch is a leather and polished steel key chain emblazened with the signature "34".
A look at the high polish case and leather strap of the DH-88
A look "twelve o'clock side" of the leather strap for US customers
A look "six o'clock side" of the leather strap for US customers
A look at the hands of the DH-88
The silver guilloché subdial at six o'clock
A look at the profile, push buttons and crown
The "nine o'clock" side of the case with second crown at eight o'clock.
The case back of the DH-88
A closer look at the historical wood rotor of the DH-88
The gleaming red (and newly Bremont branded) fuselage of the DH-88 "Grosvenor House", photographed at the Bremont launch event
Nick and Giles tell the story of the DH-88 at the launch.