Launched in June this year, Brellum’s latest watch release, the stunning Pilot GMT LE.2 Chronometer, is inspired by avionics instruments, a constant reminder of the spirit of adventure and exploration. This feature-packed watch incorporates GMT and chronograph complications and is a limited edition of just 23!
Due to the low production volumes I’ve not managed to get my sticky mitts on this one in person. However, I can say that Sebastian appears to have put together a compelling package for CHF 3150 (under £2900 at time of writing). Keep reading to find out why I think the Pilot GMT LE.2 could be an exciting alternative to equivalent watches from mainstream brands.
Brellum was founded in 2016 by Sébastien Muller, a fourth-generation watchmaker who gained valuable experience working for other top brands, before switching his attention to making watches under his own name. In less than a decade, this independent Swiss brand has gained a loyal following amongst watch enthusiasts prepared to look beyond the high street. The brand sets itself apart from many other by offering small-production quantities and limited-edition watches, with high levels of finishing, design prowess and timekeeping precision.
Inspired by avionics instruments, ready for modern travellers
The Brellum Pilot GMT LE.2 has a diameter of 41.8mm and a case thickness of 11.7mm. However, if you include the top and bottom sapphires crystals it’s a more substantial 15.9mm thick. It’s certainly a full-sized watch, but considering it incorporates GMT and chronograph functions, that’s to be expected. The dimensions also allude to the fact that this is a watch where function is every bit as important as design, and this makes for quite refreshing change in a time when vintage sizing is prolific.
Whilst the watch is inspired by avionics instruments, it drops the austere white on black colour combo found in cockpits, in favour of a blue opaline dial. The blue dial brings a nice pop of colour whilst retaining the high level of legibility associated with avionics. The balance is just right here, as the dial could have easily become too busy if Sébastien had introduced too much colour. As it is, the dial is about as attractive as a GMT chronograph gets in my books.
At the outer edge of the dial, you’ll find the minute track and 24-hour register for the GMT function, printed in white. The main hour markers are a mix of satinated applied Arabic numerals with generously applied Super-LumiNova, and printed blocks of pure Super-LumiNova for the 12, 3, 6 and 9 hour markers. This should give a strong glow to ensure excellent legibility in low light.
The large chronograph registers sit on their own layer beneath the main dial. You’ll find the 30-minute counter at the 12 o’clock position, the chronograph seconds at nine, and the 12-hour register at the six o’clock position, which also houses the date window, printed black on white. Dial markings for the chronograph functions are printed.
The distinctive, brushed hour hand and minute hand manage to be both sporty and elegant, and again feature Super-LumiNova. The same shape is also used for the chronograph hands. The red-tipped seconds hand has a lovely diamond-shaped counterbalance, and the GMT hand culminates in a skeletonised red arrow. For those that aren’t familiar with a GMT, the additional hour hand can be independently set, and makes it easy to track a second time zone. The handset choice throughout is well considered and the same colour red is used for the ‘GMT’ dial text within the 30-minute sub-dial.
Case finishing looks to be very good and comprises brushed and polished finishes to the stainless streel, with bevels that widen towards the outer lugs. Completing the dial-side package, we have an embossed signed crown, and gorgeous box sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inside. Water resistance is 100m.
To the rear you’ll find a stainless steel caseback secured by screws and deeply embossed with some of the watch’s specifications around the circumference. The large exhibition window is crafted from sapphire crystal and given anti-reflective treatment to the inside. The choice to display the Brellum BR-754 GMT automatic movement (based on the Valjoux 7754) was a good one as it’s attractive and has been decorated to a very high standard, with blued screws, perlage and Geneva stripes. A stunning customised 4N gold coated rotor proudly displays the individual number of your watch (e.g. ‘Limited edition 01/23’) and features a silhouette of a fighter plane. Like all of Brellum’s watches, the movement is officially COSC certified too, so the watch has chronometer levels of accuracy, within +4/-6 seconds per day. The movement has a power reserve of 46-hours and beats at 28,800.
The Pilot GMT LE.2 Chronometer comes with a brushed and polished stainless steel bracelet with deployment buckle, and a custom-made blue Nubuck Pilot strap with contrast stitching. Strap changing tools are also included.
To my eyes, this watch is a thing of beauty, and whilst I find myself leaning towards more modestly sized watches nowadays, I’m very happy to make exceptions for watches that have additional complications. The Brellum Pilot GMT LE.2 is certainly a fully featured watch, with no less than three complications – a GMT function for tracking a second time zone, and chronograph function for precise timing, and a date window – so the fact that it’s a larger watch is entirely appropriate. In fact, combined with the impeccable dial design, its larger size is partially what makes this watch so successful as the legibility looks to be exceptional. Form and function have been given equal billing here. The Pilot GMT LE.2 Chronometer not only looks good, but it has clearly been designed to be used as a tool. The whole package is very well balanced, with no area left as an afterthought.
Despite this, some prospective buyers might still be put off by the thickness. As I’ve not got hands-on with this watch, I can’t say for sure how it wears on the wrist, but I’d imagine is wears somewhere in-between its ‘case only’ dimensions (11.7mm) and ‘with crystals’ dimensions (15.9mm). For others, the biggest barrier will be not being able to see the watch in the flesh. However, if you get past this and you’re the sort of person who likes to stand out from the crowd and you’re prepared to look outside of the established mainstream brands, surely the Brellum has to be on your shortlist. In fact, if you’re scouring the market for GMT watches with chronograph functions it won’t take you long to realise that pickings are scant. So when you then consider that this watch is Swiss made, chronometer certified with a fully decorated movement, produced in very limited numbers, and beautifully designed and engineered, you could argue that it’s a bit of a bargain for sub-£3k.
With just 23 pieces of this limited edition available, if you like the look of what’s on offer, you’d better get your skates on!