Watches: Bremont Martin-Baker MBIII (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on June 16, 2014

Launched in 2002, British watch manufacturer Bremont did not launch its collection of highly developed aviation inspired timepieces until 2007. It is approximately at that time that Nick and Giles English, the brothers behind the brand, were approached by Martin-Baker, the world’s largest manufacturer of ejection seats to develop the ultimate aviation watch.

Instead of simply putting a logo on an existing model, these two seasoned pilots spared no efforts to create a timepiece able to withstand the same rigorous testing programme as the ejector seats themselves. The result of this adventure was the Martin-Baker MBI, a watch only available to those lucky pilots who have actually bailed using one of Martin-Baker’s products.

Shortly after, though, the brand introduced the Martin-Baker MBII, a model quite similar to the Martin-Baker MBI apart from the Red knurled case band now replaced by Orange, Anthracite or Green Clous de Paris. This time around, the watch was available to all and proved to be an instant hit, particularly among aviators in the military and civilian worlds alike.

Building on this huge commercial success, Bremont introduced the Martin-Baker MBIII at Baselworld 2014. Although the first two versions were equipped with the self-winding BE-36AE calibre featuring the date and day of the week in addition to the time, the new model houses the automatic BE-93-2AE, the first non-chronograph GMT movement presented by the brand.

The aesthetic codes of the Martin-Baker collection have remained untouched. In particular, the Martin-Baker MBIII still showcases the 43 mm stainless steel case with a bi-directional rotating bezel and two knurled crowns on the right-hand side. The back still bears the “Martin-Baker Ejection Seat” engraving and the watch comes with a black embossed calfskin leather strap with beige stitches as well as a NATO military nylon strap.

The very distinctive case band decorated with Clous de Paris has always been an important factor of this collection’s appeal. Not surprisingly then, this feature remains on the latest addition to the line. The Martin-Baker MBIII is available with the Orange- or Anthracite-coloured knurled barrel but also with a brand new Bronze version to make the watch even more different than its predecessors.

Like the rest of this line, the Martin-Baker MBIII passed the extensive battery of tests that guarantee the robustness of the watch. This includes salt-fog, altitude, extreme temperatures, vibration, and ejection tests. Lastly, the watch also passed more watchmaking-oriented tests as it is a certified chronometer (C.O.S.C). This extremely masculine model retails for £ 3,995.

This is a no-nonsense timepiece like the rest of Bremont’s offer. It is very well-crafted with a lot of attention to details and extremely reliable. But what makes it particularly attractive it the fact that it is extremely great-looking and has a very nice story attached to it. It is an excellent choice for anyone in search of a genuine pilot’s watch.

The extremely demanding battery of tests of the Martin-Baker models

Extreme Temperature Endurance

The watch is held for one day in temperatures as low as -40° Celsius.

It is then taken from -40° to +40° Celsius to ensure that it is capable of surviving in extreme temperature changes.

Altitude Test

The Martin-Baker timepieces are taken up to altitudes of 100,000 feet and decompressed to simulate airman descending either by parachute or in an aircraft.

Vibration Test

The Martin-Baker MBIII is being placed on the wrist of a Martin-Baker dummy for the vibration test. The test simulates the degree of vibration experienced during the 30-year life of a helicopter.

The vibration test in progress.

Ejection Test

The ejection seat testing that puts the dummy and his watch through 12-30 g within the first second of leaving the cockpit.

Aircraft Carrier Deck Test

Simulates the level of salt fog and humidity that an aircraft carrier deck would endure during a 6-month tour.

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: