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In the name of a classic: the Bremont Jaguar D-Type chronograph

It's one of the most appealing car-watch collabs, but feels like more of the same from Bremont

Bremont Jaguar D-Type Chronograph
Chris Hall

This is the Bremont Jaguar D-Type, the latest watch to mark the two brands' ongoing partnership, produced to coincide with Jaguar's announcement that it is going to produce 25 new D-Types as part of its massively successful continuation cars programme. In 1955, 100 D-Types were planned, but only 75 ended up being built. Now Jag has gone back to finish the job, building every one to the original specifications with the benefit of modern techniques and engineering. And if you're one of the 25 lucky owners, you're going to want the watch to match (although there will be 300 of them).

Jaguar D-Type Continuation
The Jaguar D-Type continuation model
Jaguar

The Jaguar-ness, the D-Type-ness of the whole thing is relatively interesting – it explains some of the design decisions that set this watch aside from the regular Bremont range, for one thing. But spending some time with this on my wrist felt more like a chance to take the temperature of the brand as a whole.

If that sounds lofty, maybe it is a little. But Bremont’s sales pitch and pricing pits it against the absolute powerhouses of the watch world, so while it doesn’t always feel fair to judge a brand with a dozen years’ of watchmaking under its belt against the likes of Rolex, Breitling, Omega, IWC and Panerai, they knew the risks, as they say. Another reason I’m often more interested in asking where Bremont is at right now is that you expect smaller, younger companies to iterate fast, changing what isn’t working, free from the shackles of a century of “brand DNA”. How is the Bremont chronograph evolving?

The D-Type is Bremont’s fifth watch produced in partnership with Jaguar, and the second chronograph. Design-wise it steps away slightly from the dashboard influences of the MKI, MKII and MKIII, although it retains the most obvious hallmark of the collection – the absence of hour markers and a minute track between 4 and 8 to give the overall impression of a rev counter. There’s an unexpected bonus to this little gimmick – it gives the date window a lot more space to breathe at six o’clock, and makes the addition of the unnecessary “automatic” below much more forgivable.

Bremont Jaguar D-Type Chronograph
Chris Hall

The dial is a matte blue, intended to mimic the Ecurie Ecosse livery – the racing team that won back to back titles at the 24 hours of Le Mans in D-Types (in 1956 and 1957). The case is brushed matte to match, with the silver subdials and polished pushers left to really catch the light – a nice touch for a chronograph. The case is Bremont’s familiar 43mm ‘trip-tick’ case that still looks smart and interesting with its grooved black caseband and scooped-out lugs. For whatever reason – maybe the thin bezel, maybe the colour, and maybe the relatively discreet nature of the dial, I found it wore smaller than expected and smaller than I remember Bremont watches wearing in the past.

Inside is Bremont’s modified 7750 chronograph calibre, BE-50AE, visible through a domed sapphire caseback. The rotor is openworked in the shape of a vintage Jaguar steering wheel.

Bremont Jaguar D-Type Chronograph
Chris Hall

The movement is finished with a mixture of flat polished surfaces or small-diameter perlage; it’s about as nice as a 7750-based calibre is ever going to look, but what I’d really like to see from Bremont is some experimentation with treatments, maybe some matte finishes on bridges or plates, just to add a little contrast and modernity. Although in fairness, maybe a watch paying homage to an icon of classic motoring isn’t the place for that.

My main bugbear with the Jaguar collection is the crown, which manages to be both obtrusively large and harder to use than any other in the brand’s offering. I get that the Dunlop tyre-print etching and silver heritage Jaguar logo in the enamel cap are all part of reminding you this is a watch for Car People, but you lose more in practicality than you gain in automotive kudos.

Bremont Jaguar D-Type Chronograph
Chris Hall

A couple of other things stand out too. I like that the sapphire crystal is slightly domed, but the exact point at the edge of the dial where the sapphire curves sits perfectly above the tachymeter scale, and it can make it a bit harder to read. Will you use the scale much? Unlikely. But if you have it, shouldn’t its usability be a priority? The scale uses the same appealing vintage font as found on the Jaguar MKII chronograph but the font used for the D-Type watch’s main hour markers looks uncannily like Helvetica, which seems like an odd choice. Why not mimic the Smiths instruments of old?

You could pick up on the fact that the running seconds hand and chronograph seconds hands are both in red, with chronograph minutes in blue, when it would be more logical to have both chronograph hands in red. You could ask why this watch costs £300 more than the MKII chronograph despite being mechanically (and almost aesthetically) identical - yes, it's a limited edition, but still. You could ask some questions about how quickly the leather strap on the press sample is wearing, given that a replacement will set you back £175. And you might well.

Bremont Jaguar D-Type Chronograph
Chris Hall

Am I being overly harsh? I don’t know – if I say now that I found myself warming to the Bremont Jaguar D-Type despite its handful of character flaws (which I did), you might see that as damning with faint praise. But it's true. The basic design is handsome, the mechanics of it are solid and the partnership with Jaguar feels like a perfect fit on more than just a marketing level – when you meet everyone involved, including Ian Callum, there’s a real sense of belief in the project. And moreover, I find it an awful lot more enticing than the vast majority of car-brand/watch-brand tie-ins.

But those things – a great case design, appealing, honest complications and an ability to nail down compelling collaborations – have been the Bremont template for a while now. Progress from here isn’t easy – going from good to great, turning 7/10 into 9/10 – but it’s where the focus needs to be.

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The Bremont Jaguar D-Type is limited to 300 pieces and priced at £5,495 - Shop Now


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