The Power List | Nick and Giles English, Co-Founders, Bremont Watch Company
This week’s Power List profile focuses on the Game Changers of British luxury – those individuals doing something innovative in the sector. Brothers Nick and Giles English – the founders of Bremont Watch Company – discuss the history of British watchmaking and why, as a new brand, you have to be a disruptor to get your voice heard.
This short film was shot by Allied Content at Ennismore Sessions House in the heart of Clerkenwell (the great centre for watchmaking in the 18th century).
Nick English, born and raised in Cambridge, graduated with a First in Geography from Manchester University in 1993. During his teen years he spent many hours flying and displaying historic aircraft with his father Euan, and his brother Giles, and he also few with the RAF as an under-graduate.Nick the qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 1996 and then went on to work at a Corporate Finance boutique called Henry Ansbacher in the City. These years were interrupted by a horrific vintage plane crash in 1995 whilst practicing for an air-display in which his father, Euan, died and Nick broke over 25 bones. This was really a tipping point in Nick and his brothers lives and they left the City in 1997 to restore and maintain historic aircraft in a business their father had set-up as a hobby.Whilst surrounded by these historic aircraft Nick and Giles set up a secure digital media distribution business in 1999 called Virtue Broadcasting Plc, which they took public in 2001.
It was in 2002 that the brothers decided to follow one of their main passions in life – mechanical watches. Fully appreciative of the role Great Britain had played in the evolution of horology over the centuries, they embarked on the bold decision to set up a work-shop and start developing mechanical watches and The Bremont Watch Company was born. The watches, all of which were chronometers, took five years of development to get them to the stage where the brothers were happy and it was in July 2007 when the first watches were sold in the UK. The watches are now sold all over the work through high-end jewellers and Bremont’s own boutiques. The brand has won numerous awards and prides itself on manufacturing the watches on British shores.
Giles English grew up in and around aviation and inherited both this passion, and the love of engineering, from his father. Unsurprisingly he then went on to read General Engineering and Naval architecture at Southampton University. As a post-grad he joined Williams de Broe Corporate Finance to advise them on IPO’s for engineering businesses.In 1995 Giles’ life changed drastically after he witnessed his father and brother have a terrible plane crash, his father died but Nick English survived against all odds. Upon Nick’s recovery, Giles made the decision to leave corporate finance and, with his brother, he went to rescue North Weald Flying Services, a family business restoring historical aircraft based in Essex. It was here that Nick and Giles realised they worked well as a team and started to formulate a plan to launch Bremont Watch Company, a British watch making business very much based around their love of engineering and developed from a family love of horology. Knowing this was going to be a long and costly process they raised some funds by starting a business pioneering audio and video on the internet; Virtue Broadcasting listed on the Stock Exchange in 2000 and at the time Giles was the youngest Director on the UK Stock Exchange.
Bremont was founded in 2002 with Giles and Nick as founding shareholders but it was not until 2007 that the watches were on the market having spent 5 years in development; the brothers had had to mortgage their houses and commit everything to a business that everyone thought was impossible. Passion, dedication and a will to succeed has grown Bremont to be in the top 10 chronometer producers in the world today with global retail coverage. With Giles and Nick’s unique approach to product and marketing they have managed to build a strong business in a very crowded market and have brought watch making back home to Britain. In 2013 Giles was also in a serious aeroplane crash when his 1930’s Gipsy Moth had engine failure mid-flight. On forced landing Giles broke his back in multiple places but has luckily gone on to make a full recovery and his enthusiasm for life is stronger than ever.