British luxury watch manufacturer Bremont made the most of Sandvik Coromant and DMG Mori’s strategic partnership as it introduced a turnkey manufacturing cell to double capacity at its factory.
Luxury watchmaker Bremont Watch Company is a true British manufacturing success story.
Founded by brothers Nick and Giles English in 2002, the company specialises in making chronometer-certified aviation-themed timepieces that are painstakingly assembled and pressure and quality tested at Bremont’s purpose-built headquarters in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, UK.
The British military is a key customer, with watches such as the Argonaut finding favour among servicemen and women plus members of the Royal Air Force. Many watches are customised for specific units and regiments, and demand for the company’s designs, which retail from around £3,000 to £25,000, is growing.
The 'right first-time' solution
That means Bremont’s dedicated manufacturing facility, located a few minutes’ drive from the HQ, is very busy. The factory has recently been able to double production capacity to make stainless steel top bezels, mid-sections and casings for six new watch designs. This is thanks to the introduction of a state-of-the-art machining centre from machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori, using Sandvik Coromant tooling.
The project was six months in the making, explains Mathew Bates, a machine tool investment specialist from Sandvik Coromant’s UK Machine Tool Solutions team. “From the beginning, the objective was to deliver a ‘right first time’ solution,” explains Bates. “We wanted Bremont to be able to use the new system straight away.”
The benefits of a rapid ROI and the maximisation of machine uptime make turnkey manufacturing cells a highly attractive option, as the cost per part is typically much lower
That meant working closely with engineers at DMG Mori to select the appropriate tooling for the job. “We knew we had six new watches to make,” says Bates. “Once drawings became available, we met with DMG Mori’s application engineers to draw up a list of standard tools to use and decide where non-standard tooling was needed.”
Operating without operators
Bremont watches feature minute threads and chamfers, which sometimes require specialised tools. For one project, for example, Bates was able to track down the only company in the UK able to supply a particular type of tap. “When you are manufacturing something big, there is a lot more choice in terms of the tooling available,” he explains. “With something so small, you are limited in what you can use.”
The machine was installed with Sandvik Coromant tools and the system now machines from stainless steel bar to finished component without operator intervention, around the clock.
Frederick Shortt, applications manager at DMG Mori, explains that his engineering team spent quite some time programming the machine ahead of installation. “We spent a lot of time working on this before we went on-site. With Sandvik Coromant, we were able to streamline the number of tools required, so Bremont only bought what it needed.”
This combined effort has meant teething problems have been kept to a minimum, and a rapid return on Bremont’s £500,000 investment is expected. James Rhys-Davies, strategic relations director, north Europe at Sandvik Coromant, says that implementing turnkey manufacturing solutions such as this is on the increase. “Although the upfront cost is sometimes higher, the benefits of a rapid ROI and the maximisation of machine uptime make turnkey manufacturing cells a highly attractive option, as the cost per part is typically much lower,” he says.
Once the new machine had been installed, Bremont was able to start full production of watch components immediately, exactly as planned.
Malcolm Kent, Bremont manufacturing manager, has been delighted with the results. “We’ve been surprised with how easy it is to produce components,” he says. “We were struggling to keep up with demand from Henley. Now we are asking them for more work, and that is the way it should be.”