Today we look at a new and dressier incarnation of Bremont’s popular ALT1-C chronograph line, the ALT1-C/PW. The ALT1-C has always been on the restrained side for a chronograph, but aside from a gold model, it isn’t offered in a polished case–until today. Not only is it a highly polished, it’s still hardened, so while it’s more elegant, it’s no less tough. There are actually a number of smaller refinements made throughout the watch as well to keep with the relatively dressy theme, and, more surprisingly, a much bigger window into the movement. Read on as we go in depth with the ALT1-C/PW and compare it to another Bremont chronograph, the ALT1-C/SI.
The new ALT1-C/PW is one of 7 production watches available in the ALT1-C line and just one of two models available with a polished case–the only one if you want hardened steel (the other, the ALT1-C/RG, is rose gold). So if you’re looking for a dressy Bremont chronograph without losing their trademark toughness, this is pretty much your only option–but on the plus side, it’s one more option than you had last year. Indeed, it’s one of the only options for a dressy chronograph with hardened steel on the market today.
But don’t think that Bremont just polished the case of an existing steel ALT1-C and called it a day–it has a host of other small changes as well that add up to make an altogether dressier watch. It’s basically fair to say that it is the steel equivalent of the rose gold ALT1-C/RG, but they both separate themselves from the other chronographs by using a simpler, more understated dial. Namely, the subdials now match the rest of the dial, reducing the appearance of clutter, the hands are no longer lumed, but simply black, and the numerals aren’t as bold either.
Interestingly, another change occurs on the back, and this one has nothing to do with dressiness. Bremont has substantially increased the size of the sapphire window which now allows the owner to appreciate the 7750 automatic in its entirety. When compared side by side with an original model, the difference is actually quite an improvement, but we’ll get to that later.
The face of the new ALT1-C/PW is pretty much identical to the gold ALT1-C/RG, at least as far as I can tell. I’d say that it, along with perhaps the Solo, and Wright Flyer if you count limited editions, is probably the dressiest watch Bremont makes right now. Subtle changes from other ALT1-Cs have been made throughout to accomplish that feat.
Perhaps the most significant change is in the hands. Gone are the lumed stick hands and provocative red lumed tip on the seconds hand. In their place are solid black feuille hands, a very traditional choice for the watch giving it an early 20th century look. While I’ll miss the lume, the contrast created by the black hands over the white dial is quite high–at least in lit areas, it’s actually easier to read than the sportier models. While I don’t have a Bremont Victory here to compare, these may be identical to the hands used on that limited edition.
Another subtle difference between this and the other ALT1-Cs is in the subdials. All but arguably the ALT1-C/SI (which uses shiny silver subdials on a grey dial) use highly contrasting subdials, but the ALT1-C/PW simply adds a fine guilloche texture and keeps the same coloration. It actually reminds me a lot of a Nomos subdial. Like those Bauhaus classics, this helps reduce the perception of clutter on the dial, and ultimately, the PW (and matching RG) come off as the cleanest looking of all Bremont chronographs.
The Arabic numerals are a little more subtle as well. Combined with its new railroad-style minute markers it really gives the watch an American rail watch feel. This, along with the Wright Flyer, might mark a subtle shift into vintage American styling cues (which I actually quite like).
One of the last changes in the new PW is the date window. Like its siblings, it’s a finely beveled port, but unlike them, it lacks a black printed line demarcating it. While I prefer date frames generally, if given the choice between a printed border and this approach, I’d take this one every day. Thankfully, the date ring matches the color of the dial well, which, strangely enough, seems to be an issue for many brands and models.
All of these tiny things really work on the whole. I wouldn’t call the ALT1-C/PW a dress watch in the traditional sense, but it’s certainly dressy enough to be worn every day. This may not sound like much, but it’s worth remembering that this is all in Bremont’s super tough case–it’s a traditional, dressy looking watch that’s ready for just about anything. There aren’t many watches that fit that bill.
The case is the real story here. The addition of a high polish to their hardened steel really combines the best of both worlds. Many people shy away from fully polished cases for fear of hairline scratches, but this is simply not going to be a problem with this Bremont. The size is 43mm, hardly small, but not cartoonishly large either–you won’t forget its rugged roots, but neither will it attract unwanted attention.
The polishing work is superb–I wondered if the quality would suffer due to the super hard material they had to work with, but it clearly hasn’t–it looks just like any other high quality polished stainless. Bremont uses a process they call B-EBE2000 in order to make the case vastly more scratch resistant. Basically, the steel is heat treated, a technique used in many forms of steel work like knife and sword making, and then diffused with carbon and “bombarded with electrons.” What does that mean exactly? Well, beats me, I’m a watch guy, not a metallurgist, but what’s important is that it creates an ultra-hard surface that’s about 7 times as hard as conventional watch steel.
The crown is large and flat, not protruding much from the case. It doesn’t screw down, making frequent hand winding a practical possibility, although it may be something to consider if you plan on spending a lot of time in the water with this watch.
The polishing continues onto the case back, which reveals one of the more interesting updates–a lot more of the back has been removed to reveal the movement underneath. This looks much better in my opinion. It’s a difference that’s probably going to go unnoticed by most, but it’s a real improvement. It makes me wonder why they ever covered up more of the movement anyway.
Bremont’s Trip-Tick case design looks better than ever here (well, along with perhaps the MB line). The polished steel contrasts really well with the DLC coated barrel. Trip-Tick design basically breaks the case down into three sections, allowing greater customizability on the part of Bremont and cool features like this DLC coated barrel or an anodized titanium one.
The movement, of course, is the venerable Valjoux 7750, or rather, Bremont’s iteration of it, the BE-50AE automatic. The 7750 is easily the most battle tested chronograph ever made and, thanks to its simple but rugged design, it will stand the test of time. Given Bremont’s philosophy of “tested beyond endurance” this was the ideal fit for their chronograph models.
Bremont’s version is a bit unique, even from other ALT1s, in that it’s a two register chronograph. You do give up some time-measuring ability in the process, now limited to 30 minutes, but you also get a much cleaner dial, which on a dressy watch like this, only makes sense. This is likely the result of a module.
Naturally, it’s the highest possible grade of 7750, a chronometer variant, so excellent accuracy is guaranteed. It’s also beautifully decorated, about as good as you’re going to get from a 7750. Everything is covered in perlage and most of the chronograph components are highly polished. It even has blued screws for good measure.
Bremont’s rotor looks great here too.
Want to know more about the 7750 itself? Well, first off, you should take a close look at its fine adjustment system, as it has a very unique appearance. It looks quite different than most other fine adjustment mechanisms in the business, so if you’re still learning how to tell one movement from another, this style of index is a really strong indication that you’re looking at a 7750. The design itself is basically similar to any other modern ETA movement–28,800 BPH, a regulator and a smooth balance wheel. It may not be exotic, but it’s definitely proven to work.
Another interesting feature, and one that seems to be coming up in my reviews constantly, is the unidirectional winding mechanism. The 7750 was (voluntarily) doing unidirectional winding before it was cool, but today, major watchmaking powers have adopted it as well, including Patek, Girard-Perregaux, and Jaeger LeCoultre. The theory presented, largely by JLC and GP, is that unidirectional winding is actually more efficient in real life. On the other hand, you will likely encounter the famous “rotor wobble” of the 7750 (and Jaeger 899) and might be able to hear the rotor freewheeling. 7750 fans have actually adopted rotor wobble as part of the charm of the movement, however. When they wear a 7750, they want to know it.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the 7750 is what we call an integrated chronograph. That means that the 7750 was designed from the ground up to be a chronograph–the chronograph is literally integrated into all of the normal (non-chronograph) components. Contrast this with a modular chronograph, which is an otherwise non-chronograph movement but with an added layer of components to give it chronograph functionality. Enthusiasts generally prefer integrated chronographs for a few reasons. First, and this is also a great way of telling whether a chronograph is integrated, you can normally see the chronograph components (which are quite complex) through the back of the watch. On most modular chronographs, the new components are on the other side of the movement so you can’t visually enjoy them. Second, integrated chronographs are inherently thinner than modular chronographs, all things being equal. That’s not to say that you can’t make a modular chronograph that’s thinner than an integrated one–these exist. But all things being equal integrated chronographs are thinner than modular ones.
This 7750 is actually a bit of a hybrid, because, although the chronograph is integrated, there is also a module that makes it a twin register. 7750s ordinarily have three subdials, which includes an hour subdial. This modified version has had the hour subdial removed, and the two remaining subdials have been rearranged for purposes of symmetry.
All in all, a very robust and proven chronograph movement, perfect for this application. I really like the expanded sapphire crystal as the decoration is actually quite nice.
As I mentioned earlier, the ALT1-C/PW is just one of many ALT1-Cs, although it is the dressiest one with hardened steel. To help illustrate the differences between this one and a more typical ALT1-C, we’ve brought along the ALT1-C/SI. Let’s call them the PW and SI respectively.
Immediately you can see that, although there is no single huge difference between the watches, the PW is far more dressy than the SI, although the SI isn’t particularly over the top either.
Aside from the obvious difference, the polished steel, there are myriad tiny changes. The PW’s numerals are less bold and there is less writing on the dial. The border around the date has been removed. Perhaps most noticeably, the luminous hands and hour markers have been removed, replaced by more traditional variations. Swiss Made and a bold 6:00 index have been removed in favor of a simple London. Finally, the subdials have much less contrast with the rest of the dial. The SI actually has the least contrast of all the other ALT1-Cs in this arena, so the difference is more profound when compared to one of the other models (aside from the rose gold model, of course).
One of the more interesting, and unexpected, differences between this model and the original is a case back that has been really opened up. This is a big improvement–makes me wonder why they didn’t do this from the beginning.
The high polish continues onto the side of the case. I think it looks better this way, contrasting with that black DLC barrel.
Of course, this isn’t to say the PW is superior–it’s merely a different option. But it’s a nice, dressy alternative to the “Classic” chronograph collection, certainly befitting the title.
The ALT1-C/PW is a great new addition to the ALT1-C lineup. The ALT1-C is the “classic” chronometer line in general, so it really could only go even more classic. Once they had enough dial variations of the original lineup, the dressy rose gold and polished steel options were all but required to round it out.
The PW is part of a styling departure that is probably best represented by the new Wright Flyer. It’s a nod, at least in my view, to early 20th century American watches–it even has a seconds subdial, although, of course, that’s more a product of the chronograph layout. In general, it’s not only dressier, it’s simply more understated–more demure, if you will.
The success of the ALT1-C/PW can be attributed to reduction. To quote the great Bruce Lee: “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away the unessential.” What do you get with the PW? You lose the lume. You lose the date border. You lose the 6:00 marker and Swiss Chronometer writing. And the result is a watch that is immediately different from the other ALT1-Cs, yet it’s hard to figure out why.
You do gain something, however–a much better view of the well decorated chronograph movement. This is the one point where I’m willing to say this is superior to the other ALT1-Cs–this just looks much better.
Ultimately the ALT1-C/PW is not necessarily better, in general, than its ALT1-C siblings, but it’s a great addition to that lineup. It’s such a refined niche that Bremont has targeted with this piece–those who want a chronograph that’s dressy and has an extremely tough case (but doesn’t look it). If that describes you, this is pretty much the only way to go.