BRM should be a favorite watch maker for Francophiles, racing fans, and watch lovers alike. Bernard Richards brings a love of auto racing and the desire to express himself with the same style and aesthetic. BRM (Bernard Richard Manufacture) makes incredibly unique and almost whimsical watches for the anyone who loves racing or unique style.
The French are actually impressive watch makers and designers. The quickly up and coming Bell & Ross is French. Tag Heuer and Zenith are owned by the French, and some wonderful “artsy” watch makers such as Alain Silberstein are French.
More on French watch making some other time. Lets look at the Replica BRM V12-44. Here is a ultra race themed watch, which you can tell at first glance. Unlike other “race watch” makers, BRM focuses on the mechanicals of race cars, not just the theme or the look. As such, each of his watches contains some element of race car engine appeal. The V12 series focuses on retro styling and serves as a reminder of when cars were literally bolted together. The highly polished screws that cover most surfaces remind us of hand craftsmanship and lasting strength. It further relates to the rich chroming that older race cars enjoyed. The large crown and pushers are designed to resemble engine pistons, complete with the valves.
The case of the watch has well sculpted horizontal lines and bolted on lugs that add to the “constructed” quality of the watch. My interpretation of the case is that it is supposed to resemble race car wheels (without tires of course), while the dial of the watch is retro race car dashboard. The various holes in the parts (such as the hands) alludes to weight saving techniques typically employed in high performance machinery. Adding holes in structural elements can save weight in most instances. I don’t think BRM was thinking about Swiss cheese.
Inside the watch you’ll find a newer ETA Valjoux 7753 “Valgranes,” which is basically a newer and larger Valjoux 7750. Functions provide the time, date, and 12 hour chronograph, which is well integrated here with a tri-compax subdial array. I do like how well the rear window has been placed to allow for view of the movement in its lightly decorated manner. The watch itself is 44mm wide without the crown; good size.
One of the real stars here is the leather strap. The race inspired checkered pattern is a true hand stitched interwoven design. I’ve seen a lot of checked straps, but this one is by far the best offering separate black and red leather pieces put together. The buckle is beautiful looking, and perfectly matches the style of the rest of the watch.
While not cheap, the BRM V12-44 is an excellent “entry level” BRM watch. Some BRM watches that exhibit amazing specially deigned movements are well in excess of $20,000. The v12 series typically retails for about $5,000 retail, but a mint one on eBay is available for about $3,400. Probably a good deal considering the rare exclusivity of these watches.