Hands-On: The Bremont Supermarine S302 GMT
A (smaller) Supermarine packed with do-it-all charm.
Over the past several years I’ve devoted a not inconsiderable amount of time to thinking about watches that display more than one timezone. They come in myriad versions, and from GMTs to travel times, twin times, and world timers – I love them all.
But, you might ask, which GMT is the best GMT? Some may want the mid-century charm of a world timer, others the simple but flexible function of a flyer GMT, and still others the fuss-free (and “cheap as chips”) nature of a 12-hour bezel. For me, the sweet spot is in an uncommon variety with a very specific layout: The Dive GMT.
Characterized as a dive watch with a GMT function, a Dive GMT retains a dive watch’s usual uni-directional elapsed time bezel. Thanks in no small part to the extreme popularity of the Rolex GMT-Master II (and of course the always excellent Tudor Black Bay GMT), many sporty GMT watches put the GMT part ahead of the diving part. And while a rotating 24-hour bezel does allow one to track a third time zone, I prefer the additional function and flexibility of a traditional dive bezel.
While not exactly rare, this dive-specific layout is rather uncommon, and so when one is announced by one of my favorite brands – like the new Supermarine S302 from Bremont – I’m immediately curious.
The Supermarine line is Bremont’s dive-specific model range and it launched with the 43mm Supermarine S500. Back in 2011, the S500 was my first introduction both to the brand and to the idea of a luxe dive watch outside of the scope of Rolex or Panerai. I’ve always appreciated the line and its specific take on dive watches, but my interest really spiked in 2017 when the brand launched a 40mm version of the Supermarine. While 43mm isn’t too big for my wrist (I have and enjoy a 43mm Solo), the past decade has certainly seen my tastes shift towards smaller case sizes.
The final stage in this preamble came just this past March when Bremont announced the opening of a brand new facility in England. Dubbed “The Wing”, the new HQ unifies Bremont’s manufacturing and assembly into a 35,000 sqft home for the company’s specific take on British watchmaking. As watch brands do, Bremont also announced a series of new additions to its lineup, including the new S302, the first GMT in the S300’s smaller 40mm format.
The S302’s 40mm case uses the brand’s three-piece construction and hardened steel wrapped around a DLC-black center case barrel. My calipers show the case size at more like 39.5 along with a thickness of 12.5mm and a lug-to-lug length of 49mm. Water-resistance is 300 meters, the case back is closed, the crown screws down, and the lugs are 20mm wide (and ready for all of your straps).
The edge of the steel lugs has a lovely polished strip that accents the short and curved form of each horn. Mounted atop and matching the curve of a well-coated anti-reflective crystal is a matte black ceramic dive scale insert with a lumed pip and a mix of warm tan and crisp white markings. The bezel action is light, perhaps a bit over-sprung (so the bezel tends to spin a bit faster than you might expect), but with 120 clicks, accuracy is simple and the entire experience is satisfying. Most GMT/divers have 24 or 48-click bezels to help align the additional hour markings, which costs you some resolution if you wanted to use the bezel to measure or track anything else.
Likewise, the crown is sturdy, well threaded, and easy to use. Fitted with a handsome copper accent and a Bremont propeller logo in the cap, the crown is connected to a Bremont-prepared, COSC-certified version of ETA’s ubiquitous 2893-A2, which the brand calls their BE-93-2AV. In the GMT world, this is what I like to describe as a “caller GMT,” as the ETA-base offers an independent 24-hour hand that can be set to any timezone, rather than a jumping main hour hand that can be updated to your new local time when traveling.
Each format has its merit. For a dedicated travel watch, I very much prefer the local jumping functionality. But, for an everyday dive watch that one might use more as a sport watch and less as a travel tool, the independent 24-hour hand offers a lot of usefulness and, in the scenario of the S302 (and other dive GMTs) you get to keep the dive bezel while adding the ability to easily watch another timezone. In my eyes, the ETA-base is less elegant, but if you’re not physically changing timezones with frequency, I think I’d prefer the dive GMT layout.
As an aside, while the local-jumping functionality has historically been limited to brands willing to create capable in-house movements (such as Rolex) or those willing to complete considerable modification to an existing movement (as Omega did in creating the caliber 1128, with local jumping, for watches like the Seamaster 2534.50), the times are changing. ETA (under the Swatch Group) has created a less costly GMT movement with local jumping in the caliber C07.6XX (there are several versions). I hope they find a way to put it in a lot of watches, as it would entirely change the landscape surrounding GMT availability, especially for watches under $2,000.
Speaking of cold hard cash, at a bit over $4,000, the S302 is on the high side of the conventional range for a young luxury brand using an ETA caliber. Furthermore, thanks to brands like Nomos and Tudor, the ceiling for a quality in-house movement has come down over the past several years, ensuring that watches like the S302 have strong competition from all sides.
I, for one, genuinely like ETA movements. I like that they’re proven, not especially expensive to service, and not the sort of movement that can only be serviced by a specific watchmaker. In-house can be great, but the math is not the same and exclusivity means more hoops to jump through in terms of service and (typically) more costs as well. For my money, and on my own wrist, I’m generally less concerned with in-house vs third-party, unless the function, performance, or service scenario is greatly improved.
As such, in a watch with a closed caseback and sporty intentions, an ETA doesn’t bother me in the least. But you should always know what you’re paying for (movement, finishing, technology, branding, etc), and this question of movement vs. price is one metric in which Bremont’s comparatively small size has left them a step behind some of the competition when it comes to movement progression.
On my 7-inch wrist, the S302 is just about perfect and its proportions feel as though all of the dimensions are nicely balanced. With its matte black bezel and dial and the brown accents, the S302 instantly reminded me of the latest 007 LE from Omega, but here the accents are less brown and more tan. In short, I think it’s a fantastic-looking watch that looks even better on wrist.
Maybe the faux-tina look has grown on me, or maybe it’s just the way it mixes with the matte black, but I really like the tan accents. I do wish Bremont had opted for one color on the bezel markings and for the date wheel text, rather than a mix of tan and white, but the general look is toolish, super legible, and makes strong use of colorful accents on the GMT and seconds hands. As someone who has experienced a lot of what Bremont has to offer, this feels like a really successful porting of the best design from the brand’s larger watches in a package meant for those who prefer a more classically sized sports watch.
The S302 comes with either a striped NATO or the tan leather strap shown here. I don’t care for the look of the striped NATO at all (more of a grey man myself) but the tan strap looks great. Like all of Bremont’s padded leather straps, you have to be prepared to break them in. From the factory, they are stiff and will pinch the outer sides of your wrist. But, once broken in, they make for a comfortable and suitable match for the general sprezzatura of the Bremont vibe.
In terms of touch and use, everything about the S302 feels great and works well, but the biggest surprise for me was the lume. For some reason, it feels like it has been a while since I praised a watch for its lume but, despite smaller markers and more svelte hands than you might find on most dive watches, the S302 shines a bright greenish glow well into the night. Combine this element with the aforementioned case proportions and, on a NATO at least, the S302 passes the sleep test with comfort and legibility to spare.
The final consideration likely needs to be competition, and this (as alluded to above) is an area where Bremont doesn’t set the bar for raw value in the category. This brand does things its own way, and if you’re a fan you’ll have to be prepared to pay something of a premium. As such, the S302 costs $4,195, which means it’s likely going to be cross-shopped against watches like the Tudor Black Bay GMT ($4,270, 41mm with an in-house movement), the Oris Aquis Date GMT (43.5mm, SW 330-1, $2,800 on a bracelet), the Sinn 857 UTC (43mm, $2,190 with an ETA 2893 and a leather strap), and a great many more GMT-equipped sport watches.
The competition in this price range is fierce and those concerned primarily with the movement will (correctly) point out that you can get a nice GMT/diver from Mido, Zodiac, Baltic, Seiko, or many others for well under $2,000. I can say that for my wrist, the Bremont feels as nicely made as the Tudor, the Sinn, or the Oris, but wears better than all three thanks to its smaller size.
But really, I didn’t ask to borrow an S302 because I thought it’d deliver some ground-shaking value proposition. And if you want a great GMT for less than $2k, I’m not suggesting you double your budget to get to the Bremont. I asked for the loan because this watch absolutely piqued my personal interest. Sometimes I need to do one of these for me, you know?
I’ve been keen to see a small GMT Supermarine for some time, and I’m happy to report that the S302 does not at all disappoint. In fact, in a trend that seems to be continuing since last year – remember hot dive watch summer? – the S302 is easily my new current favorite model in the Bremont lineup. What a time to be into sports watches.
The Bremont Supermarine S302 GMT is a 40mm silver-cased dive watch measuring 12.5mm thick and 49mm lug to lug. With 300 meters of water resistance, a steel case back, and a matte black dial, and a matching ceramic bezel. The S302 uses Bremont’s BE-93-2AV (based on an ETA 2893-2), a COSC-certified automatic movement with a 24 hour independent GMT function. Priced from $4,195, visit Bremont.com for more information.