The Bremont DH-88 is a limited edition chronograph dedicated to a famous British air racer, the DH-88 Comet.
Bremont’s new DH-88 limited edition commemorates the de Havilland DH.88 Comet, a British plane used in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race. The race was quite an impressive test of strategy and stamina because it required competitors to travel from England to Melbourne. Three of these legendary planes competed and one of those three won, namely the Grosvenor House, named after a hotel, and from which this Bremont uses material for its rotor.
While we know the DH-88 is inspired by the plane, the DH-88 Comet, stylistically it’s very influenced by other 1930s watches. It certainly looks as if it’d fit in nicely 70+ years ago. It’s easy to “feel” that by looking at the DH-88, but how does Bremont accomplish it?
Well, I think it begins with these hands. Bremont skips the use of its far more clinical and modern stick hands, which it prefers in many of its watches, in favor of the classical leaf shape. The GMT hand, conversely, takes a slightly different approach, using what Tudor (in their Ranger) calls a “pear-shaped” hand and, lacking better terminology, I will call it that as well.
The other aspect that contributes to the vintage look is the use of subdued, slightly desaturated colors. While the chapter ring is still a clean white with bright red numerals, the dial itself uses beige for two of the subdials, off-white lume and a slightly washed out red. I especially like the seconds subdial with its tiny 5 second increments and red hand.
The lume on the DH-88 may look old, but it’s still quite bright. I also appreciate that the GMT hand has luminescent paint at the tip, a detail forgotten far too often in GMT watches.
One thing that always sets Bremonts apart is their case design and materials. This DH-88 is the stainless steel version (DH-88/SS), of which 282 will be made, but you can also get it in rose gold (82 made). Personally, I prefer the steel model. For one thing, I like how it looks more, but for another, it’s hardened, making it much more scratch resistant. Also note the small crown, which rotates the chapter ring. It’s quite well made insofar as each point on the chapter ring has a definitive click to it, not unlike a diving bezel.
Another element that gives the 43mm watch its more traditional feel is the use of a polished case, a look that is increasingly common over at Bremont. The crown is screw-down and contributes to the watch’s 100 meter rating. It has a 50mm lug to lug dimension and, thanks in part to a domed crystal, and in part to a 7750 automatic chronograph movement, the watch is about 17mm thick.
The chronometer-grade movement, which Bremont terms the BE-54AE, is clearly derived from the famous 7750 chronograph, or to be more precise, the 7754 (GMT version), but that hasn’t stopped Bremont from adding their own special touch.
Before we get to its pièce de résistance, I wanted to note the highly unusual, but quite cool, use of red screws.
I’ve never seen a company that cares more about rotors than Bremont, and not just their limited editions. They really put a lot of thought into this oft-ignored area. To many fans, their P51’s rotor is the coolest Bremont has produced, but I think the DH-88 gives it a run for its money. I love the slightly desaturated fire engine red with the number 34 on it. The propeller at the top is made from spruce plywood used in the original 1934 de Havilland Comet.
I don’t normally discuss presentation, but I thought that the DH-88’s was cool enough to at least show it off.
Obviously, the watch is shipped in the pouch on the right, not out there exposed like in the photo. This would actually make a very nice travel case for the watch if you were bringing a second with you on vacation. It’s large, but it lays flat, unlike traditional watch boxes which are a bit awkward to fit in luggage. You might be worried that you’ll scratch that nice red leather, but the carrying case actually comes with its own separate black drawstring carrying case.
Ultimately, the DH-88 is what I term a “vintage style” watch, a modern watch in more ways than one that takes significant cues from the past, as opposed to a “new vintage” watch, which is designed to fit right in within a certain era of watches.
There have been a lot of good ones in the past, but the Bremont DH-88 limited edition is one of their best. The most impressive was almost certainly the Victory, and the coolest perhaps the P51. Still, I appreciate the subtlety of the DH-88. It definitely flies under the radar in a way that those two watches didn’t. Is it my favorite Bremont historical piece? No, but that goes to the far more expensive Wright Flyer. The DH-88 is a close second due to most of the same reasons, namely that it gets “vintage” styling right.