Bremont EP120 SPITFIRE Limited Edition

Bremont, successfully launched in 2007, offers a range of exceptional quality, highly-developed timepieces designed to exacting specifications with high aesthetic values. Bremont watches, although made using only fine-quality Swiss components hand-assembled by the best watchmakers working from a dedicated atelier in Biel-Bienne, contain an air of quintessential Britishness, derived from the brands founders, brothers and aviators Nick and Giles English. Following on from the ALT1 and BC ranges introduced in 2007, and the success of the BC-S1 and the BC-S2 series, now comes the new EP120, named after and inspired by a very special aircraft that first flew in 1942.

The limited edition EP120 watch is named after (and contains parts of) a famous 1942 Spitfire Mk V aircraft, which is possibly the most credited WWII fighter in existence and is now based in Duxford in Cambridgeshire. It shot down 6 German aircrafts on one day during 1942 in WWII, and the aircraft has been used in films such as The Battle of Britain, and starred as the lead Spitfire in Pearl Harbour and Dark Blue World. Some of EP120’s original parts, saved during restoration, are integrated into Bremont’s EP120 range in beautiful ways, including the dial and movement.

With a limited number of 120 to be made and each one unique, there has been much interest in the beautifully hand finished time pieces. The EP120 features a black DLC treated steel and titanium case and COSC certified skeletised movement. It has a modified 13 ¼” BE-53AE Automatic Chronometer with 24 hour UTC function and 30 minute Chrono ‘Time of Trip’ dial, which is an original Spitfire part.

Your EP120 shows you the time in hours, minutes, seconds and the date. It also shows the time in another time zone using its 24-hour hand (or UTC hand).With the chronograph you can measure up to 30 minutes (in minutes and seconds) through the ‘Time of Trip’ dial positioned at 12 o’clock.

The mechanical movement with automatic winding has a free-swinging rotor that keeps the mainspring wound via the motion of your wrist. The movement in your EP120 has 25 jewels, runs at 28,800 bph and has a 42-hour power reserve once fully wound. The watch is water resistant to 100m (10 ATM) and the dial is protected by a dual anti-reflective sapphire crystal that is retained securely (in the case of low pressure found at extreme altitudes).

The case of your watch is made from an especially hardened stainless steel with a DLC (diamond like carbon) coating. To ensure that this rather special watch continues to run beautifully for years to come, you must follow a few important operating instructions.

EP120 was built at Castle Bromwich, and entered RAF service in May 1942 with 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron at Ibsely in Hampshire. Whilst in the hands of the Ibsley Wing Leader, Wing Commander ‘Pat’ Gibbs, she claimed her first kill; a Do17. There are Spitfires in existence with a wartime combat record, however Spitfire Mk Vb EP120, at seven ‘kills’ represents a proven fighter with something quite special. EP120 is currently one of only four airworthy Mk V Spitfires in the world.

EP120 sustained some damage on 16th July 1942 after a ground collision as was very nearly written off. After repairs, the aircraft returned to 501 Sqn in time to provide air cover for the withdrawal of forces involved in Operation ‘Jubilee’, the disastrous Dieppe raid, flying three sorties to protect the shipping convoy taking troops and equipment off the beach at Dieppe. The third sortie was flown by Wing Commander Gibbs, which saw a number of encounters with FW190’s before three Dornier Do-217’s were sighted south of the convoy. Gibbs was able to bring EP120 onto the tail of one of the Dornier’s and open fire with the cannon and machine guns before himself being attacked by an FW190.

Gibbs shook the FW190, dived to sea level and met the rest of Yellow Section before heading home and being credited with the kill. The aircraft was damaged again later in July 1942, but after repair she was allocated to 19 Sqn at RAF Perranporth, part of 10 Group in Cornwall. At this time, the RAF’s Spitfire Mk Vb fleet was being upgraded in an effort to combat the new Focke Wulf FW190, which was superior to the RAF’s Spitfire V. EP120 was modified having her wings clipped and the Supercharger impeller blades cropped to improve the performance of the engine. EP120 flew a total of 61 combat sorties with 19 Sqn over a seven month period, most of these being channel shipping protection patrols.

22nd April 1943 with the Canadian 402 (City of Winnipeg) Sqn, and it was here that EP120 was re-coded AE-A. As EP120 arrived, so did a new squadron commander, Malta veteran Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wilson Northcott DSO, DFC and he adopted EP120 as his own personal aircraft. Northcott scored his first victory after five days as 402 Squadron’s commanding officer. Flying EP120, Northcott made his first kill against a Bf109 which was defending a German convoy from attack by Beaufighters off the Dutch coast.

After minor modifications at 3501 Servicing Unit at Cranfield between 1st and 6th July, the Squadron returned to Digby. The 2nd of August proved to be another eventful day both for EP120, and Northcott, when 402 Sqn was tasked with providing cover for another Beaufighter strike against German convoy’s operating around Den Helder. After refuelling at Coltishall, the squadron flew across at low level under thick cloud, arriving at around 11:00hrs to take up station. Six Bf109’s were spotted to the North East; 402 Sqn and sister unit 412 Sqn, turned to engage. Northcott flying EP120 was able to bring down two Bf109’s in this action using 30 rounds of cannon ammunition and 300 machine gun rounds.

This action earned Squadron Leader Northcott a bar to his DFC. Apart from providing cover for RAF Beaufighters, the squadron also flew escort missions for USAAF B26 Marauders. On 22nd August 1943 402 Sqn was ordered to provide top cover for an attack on Beaumont Le Roget, in which the bomber formation came under attack by 15 plus FW190’s. In the following encounter, Northcott latched onto the leader and shot him down with a short burst of combined cannon and machine gun fire. On another B26 escort mission over Lille on 4th September, a mixed force of Bf109’s and FW190’s rose to attack the bombers, although largely driven off by 402 Sqn, though some were able to attack the bombers.

The formation was attacked again over Le Touquet by FW190’s, but they were once again engaged by the escorting Spitfires with Northcott flying EP120 attacking another FW190 tearing off it’s port wing in the process, one of four FW190’s shot down with another claimed as damaged. The last two victories claimed by Northcott in EP120 were another Bf109 on the 3rd October 1943, and the last on the 3rd November while escorting 72 B26’s on a raid over Schiphol with 412 Sqn. The wing sighted a formation of Bf109’s en route to the target and engaged, the wing brought down a total of nine enemy aircraft with Northcott claiming one destroyed.

On the 12 February1944 EP120 suffered another accident and was transferred to 33 MU, after which she was allocated to 53 Operational Training Unit at Kirton-in-Lindsey, until May 1945. Her flying service ended on 2nd June 1945 when she was transferred to No 4 School of Technical Training at RAF St Athan as 5377M to assist in the education of RAF mechanics. EP120 has been used in several feature films since its ‘retirement’, including ‘The Battle of Britain’ and ‘Pearl Harbour’. The aircraft is now owned and operated by the Fighter Collection based at Duxford, Cambridgeshire and can be seen flying regularly throughout the year.

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