Pilot and co-founder of Bremont Chronometers, Giles English extols the magic of aviation.
My father was an amazing engineer and was always building and restoring things such as old clocks and aircrafts in the workshop on the family farmhouse. I remember helping him fix a vintage plane and also flying with him at a very young age, so I grew up with a passion for aircrafts and all things mechanical.
You never forget the experience of flying on your own for the first time. When your instructor suddenly says, ‘right, it’s time’ and you think you can’t possibly do it but you have no choice. Whether you’re flying a jumbo or a vintage model, you never quite lose that feeling of the first time, it’s there on every flight.
I love vintage planes, purely because of the romance of them. They’re actually quite simple machines, control-wise, but there’s a real craftsmanship and beauty to them. It’s the same motivation with people who collect and restore classic cars.
When I’m in the air, I don’t think about work or any problems – it’s just a buzz of adrenaline and a sense of total freedom.
Myself and Nick [English, brother and co-founder of Bremont] have always been inspired by that golden age of aviation and historic aircraft racing. I love the Gypsy Moth planes, the kind flown by Amy Johnson in the 1930s. I’ve actually always quite fancied recreating the solo flight she made to Australia but I don’t think realistically I ever will. It took her 20 days and she crashed twice – it’s madness, really, but I can absolutely relate to what drove her.
I’ve seen some really fantastic landscapes and scenery in the air. One that is really memorable is watching the sunset while flying over the Norfolk countryside. That was quite special for me.
The experience of flying can be nerve-wracking, especially when you see storm clouds up ahead, but it is thrilling and it can also be relaxing, too. It’s a little bit like skiing downhill, when you’re on your own and you have to be focused and in control, but it’s also total escapism. When I’m in the air, I don’t think about work or any problems – it’s just a buzz of adrenaline and a sense of total freedom.
I always pack a watch when flying. I also find that a sleeping bag comes in handy, and a good winter coat is essential for standing around airfields, which can be freezing cold. I do have quite a big watch collection but at the moment I’m wearing our Limited Edition Bremont DH- 88, inspired by the de Havilland DH-88 Comet, Grosvenor House, which won a record-breaking race from Britain to Australia in 1934 – known as the World’s Greatest Air Race. There’s a strong history with aviation and watchmaking. They say that the first wristwatch was designed for a pilot, as timekeeping plays such an important role in aircraft navigation. Back in the day you would just rely on your map, compass and wristwatch, so flying and watchmaking have always been inextricably linked.
Giles English is a pilot and co-founder of Bremont Chronometers, which he set up with his brother Nick in 2002. Bremont timepieces are inspired by classic aviation, adventure and engineering, and are all made in the UK.