Earlier this year, the British explorer Ben Saunders and his teammate, Tarka L'Herpiniere, trekked their way into the record books by completing Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated 1912 Terra Nova expedition across Antarctica while wearing Bremont Terra Nova chronometers.
The 1,795-mile journey from Scott's Terra Nova Hut on the north shore of Ross Island to the South Pole took four months, setting a world record for the longest polar exploration on foot. Braving temperatures nearing minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the duo covered about 17 miles per day, hauling nearly 440 pounds of gear and supplies. Naturally, their watches had to be as tough as the men to survive such a daunting undertaking.
"They couldn't wear quartz watches, because the batteries die after a couple days at those temperatures," explains Nick English, co-founder of Bremont, the U.K.-based watchmaker. "We designed a GMT with a hard titanium case that uses special oils so they don't freeze in subzero temperatures."
Bremont will produce 300 Terra Novas ($5,995), the company's latest addition to the brand's Supermarine diving watch range. At Saunders' request for the lightest timepiece possible, aircraft-grade titanium was used for the case. The movement is protected from shocks with an anti-vibration mount that doubles as a thermal insulator, and a soft-iron Faraday cage shields it from performance-altering magnetic fields, which are stronger at the earth's poles. The GMT hand not only allowed the team to track a second time zone, it also functioned as a navigational tool using the compass bearings on the bezel with the GMT hand pointed toward the sun.
"It is wonderful to think that Scott used mechanical watches on his trip," says Giles English, Nick's brother and Bremont co-founder, "and 100 years later, a mechanical watch remains the best tool for such extreme conditions."