A Day Fishing with: The Bremont Supermarine S500
Let's get something out the way. I have never liked the Bremont Supermarine S2000. I know that it has many avid fans, desk divers and actual divers alike, but the design never spoke to me. Comparing my favorite Bremont, the MBII-WH, to the Supermarine is like comparing two extraneous relatives who happen to share a common ancestor. Both were large, chunky and built to last, but whilst the MBII-WH was clean, I always thought that the Supermarine had a lot of visual clutter. Released in 2009 and of the longest running Bremont collections, the Supermarine stood alone as one of the few dedicated dive watches that Bremont made, amidst a sea of pilot and adventurer watches.
So in 2017, when Bremont started reinvigorating old watches to pair better with an updated design language, I began to get excited. The Supermarine Type 300 and 301 were two totally new watches in the Supermarine collection that provided an answer to the horological 'what if Bremont had released a dive watch in the 60s and then used it as inspiration for a heritage piece in 2017?'. This year Bremont gave us a successor to the S2000 and I couldn't be happier with what they made.
After a few days of wearing the Supermarine S500, I realized that it had been almost exactly two years since my very first Bremont review. In 2016, I had been lucky enough to be heading out to Colorado when reviewing the MBII-WH and it performed admirably, but I felt restricted by two factors; water and the leather strap. There I was, with a rugged, adventuring watch that was built to survive almost anything, and I was putting it in my pocket as not to ruin the leather strap when fishing. With the Supermarine's rubber strap, I knew that wouldn't be a problem. In the proceeding two years, I've taken up fly fishing and I thought rather than do a regular Inside & Out review, I'd take it with me and see how it fared.
10:30pm - The night before
As I try my hardest to pull myself out of a Youtube rabbit hole before going to bed, I take off the Supermarine and place it on my nightstand (Does anyone under the age of 70 use the term nightstand anymore?). My initial reaction to the watch after a day or so of wearing it is positive. Like all Bremonts, the case construction and general 'feel' of the watch is top notch and provides a sense of confidence that it can take whatever you can (and probably a hell of a lot more as well). Yet I do have my doubts about how good of fishing watch it will be. Like most Bremonts, the Supermarine sits high on the wrist and has no qualms about showing off its 43mm width. I don't wear a watch whilst fishing and I'm worried that the weight of the watch will begin to tire throughout the morning. Guess we'll find out tomorrow.
As my alarm goes off and I roll over half asleep to put on the Bremont, the hands are still sickeningly legible thanks to the final remnants of glow emanating from the hands and hour markers. Why am I awake? Oh yeah, the fish. Little buggers, why can't they come to me?
Seeing as I went to sleep around 11pm, there is still around 32 hours left in the power reserve. Even though I never end up needing more than 12 hours or so when actively wearing a single watch, I still maintain that 38 hours is still a little low for a modern tool watch. I quickly unscrew the crown to wind the watch (a best practice habit even for automatic watches) and strap it to my wrist. The placement of the crown at 2 o'clock, above a protruding crown guard, is certainly interesting and a unique aspect of the watch, but I haven't figured out why its like that. Maybe it's a dive thing.
Anyone who frequents the strange and unforgiving land commonly known as 'nature' will tell you that no matter how early you are, there is always someone there before you. Even though I get to the state park mere minutes after it opens, there are several cars parked there and after talking with a fellow angler, (who, unsurprisngly is not wearing a $5000 watch) I venture down to my favorite spot in the hopes of finding something.
The beauty of state and local parks is that they can often go overlooked in favor of more well-known and larger parks.Right beneath a major bridge is an undisturbed stretch of river that could be 100 miles away from civilization, rather than the 5 miles it actually is. Upon scrambling over a few rocks and avoiding stepping on a friendly turtle, I turn the Bremont's bezel to mark my arrival at my first fishing spot and double check that I've screwed the crown down. Given my penchant for vintage dress watches, it's no surprise that I rarely wear a watch whilst fishing and I immediately begin to see the usefulness of it. The hypnotic rhythm of casting can allow time to seemingly flow away as quickly as the stream beneath me, or slow it down to an unbearable plod, and it can be easy to lose track of how long you've been at a particular spot and this bezel makes this task a hell of a lot easier. It also means that I'm not constantly in fear of dropping my phone whenever I check it.
I see movement just before a fallen tree trunk and after a few false casts, I cast my fly just a little past it and then bam (or is splash! mor appropriate?) a fish takes it. As I reel the line in I see a sunfish, probably about four to five inches and not worth the struggle (for both me and the fish) to take a picture. So whilst balancing the rod on my knees, I bend over to wet my handles so I can handle the fish without removing its protective slim coat. My hands reach beneath the water and I instantly recoil as I forget that a) this isn't my vintage King Seiko b) whether I screwed the crown down and c) this watch is water resistant to 500 meters.
My wet hands have no trouble gripping the bezel to move it forward to make the beginning of a new spot. The grooves are smaller and less pronounced than I've seen on other watches, but they work just as well.
Those who fish will know of the woolly bugger. This feathered fly is one of the greats and deserves place in every fly box. Invented by Russell Blessing in 1967, the bugger is the fly fishing equivalent of a classic 60s dive watch. 50 years later, the design is legendary, its use widespread and its legacy has been cemented as one of the all time greats. You could focus on collecting and using only varieties of this one watch/fly and you would never run out of options or surprises.
The woolly bugger is essentially the fly fishing equivalent of that classic dive watch. If you focused collecting and using just this particular type of tool, then you'd still have almost endless variety to choose from. Modern woolly buggers come in all shapes and sizes, colors and materials yet if you wanted to be uncharitable, you could say they all look the same. The same could be said for modern dive watches that use the blueprint set in place by 1960s dive watches. Black bezel, black dial and high contrast hands might sound restrictive but there are countless ways of implementing these historic elements into a watch, and the Supermarine is a worthy descendant. The new hour hand lacks the bulbous tip of the original S2000 and it is a vast improvement as legibility remains instantaneous, but the aesthetic looks more professional. I know that the blue S500 still has that original hour hand and the day date aperture at 3 o'clock, and I'm sure for some people it works, but I'm much prefer this new, simpler design.
I offended the fish and now they won't come say hello. Luckily I manage to stab myself in the thumb with a hook and a drop of blood falls into the river. Hopefully this satisfies the fish gods.
It's going to get hotter, but my porcelain English skin has already had enough. As I reach my final spot of the morning, I see a larger fish dart between an underwater grouping of rocks and I know that I'm not leaving until I catch it. As I throw cast after cast, I realize that I've forgotten I'm wearing the watch as the worries about the size of case turn out to be unfounded. Anyone who fishes will tell you that if a line can snag on something, it will snag on something, however small or out of the way. Maybe I was just having a good day, maybe the down-turned lugs and flush strap meant there was nothing to snag, but either way I was casting without fear or discomfort.
After a change of fly and a position, I manage to land a bull chub that is worthy enough for a picture. It's hardly the biggest fish anyone has caught, but I'm happy with it. Knowing its better to end on a high rather than cursing at the f#@king branch for stealing my f#@king line, I slodh back to the shoreline and trek back to my car.
I realize that bringing a Bremont along as a fishing watch is overkill and that everything I said about utility and functionality could have been accomplished by a G-Shock, but that's never the point when it comes to mechanical watches, is it. That sense of tradition and purpose built design is a powerful pull and I think the Bremont Supermarine S500 is a worth torchbearer of the tradition of great dive watches.