A four-figure watch needs to be damn near perfect. The Bremont MB Savanna titanium watch is very nice — but you’re not paying for ‘very nice.’
It was a serendipitous moment. Just a week before flying out to test Yamaha’s latest UTVs in the Colorado mountains, Bremont, a maker of luxury watches, reached out to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of its most durable offerings.
Namely, we’re talking about the Bremont MB Savanna, an aviation-style timepiece that claims to have been “Tested beyond endurance.” Its resume includes such trials as “Live Ejection and MFOS Crashworthy Testing, Extreme Temperature Endurance, Vibration, Altitude Testing and Aircraft Carrier Deck Testing.”
With that kind of pedigree, the MB Savanna would be a natural fit for the bounce and rattle of a serious offroad trek. Sand, rocks, and high elevations — what better way to test its blend of luxury and real-world capability, right?
In short: The Bremont MB Savanna is a watch aimed at a market segment about the size of a skydiver’s landing target. With a cost of around $5.8K, the concept is rich in design and material choices favored by aviation pros. Unfortunately, my particular tester failed to live up to both its pricing and pedigree.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. When I made my plans known to Bremont’s PR crew, my enthusiasm wasn’t exactly shared. Instead, the brand sent along a consignment and conditions form, stating, among other things, that should the watch suffer any damage during its stay, the Cosignee (that’s me) would be required to pay full retail price for the timepiece: $5,795.
Look — on some level, I get it. This is a very valuable object, and the folks at Bremont want to make sure I’m not going to smash it against a rock. They’re doing their job and were very courteous to me.
But when a brand’s entire marketing campaign is built around legendary durability, this is a bad look.
GearJunkie is an outdoors adventure website, after all, and we actually test the gear we review. In the end, I signed the document, hoping that the bad taste would fade by the time the watch arrived.
Bremont MB Savanna Review
Let’s take about 20 steps back and look at the specs. As with most pilot-style watches, the case here is fairly large — 43 mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug total of 50 mm.
Still, due to its “Grade 5 Titanium,” the total weight comes in at just 64 g.
Within this case (and beneath its domed sapphire crystal) beats a “Modified calibre 11½”’ BE-36AE automatic chronometer, 26 jewels, Glucydur balance, Anachron balance spring, 28,800 bph (4Hz) 38-hour power reserve.”
That’s a lot of words to say that Bremont took a relatively stock mechanical movement (ETA 2836-2) and polished it with its own bits of flair. Its gears and springs are cradled in a shock-absorbing rubberized mount, and it can be wound either with the motion of your wrist or via the upper of its twin crowns.
The lower operates the inner bezel, which rotates with a satisfying click. Both the hefty crowns and the excellent display case-back combine to provide the Savanna with 100 m of water resistance — an exemplary figure for a watch in this style.
The tan rubber strap is comfortable and equally indifferent to moisture.
Expectations vs. Execution
From its specs and description, the Savanna appears to be an interesting, thoughtful hybrid of capable luxury. The design is clean, and the knurled titanium case is really a thing of beauty. I also like the display case back, and the personal touches they’ve applied to the movement within.
The eject-handle counterweight on the second hand is clever, as well.
But once I began to dig into the details, the wings came off in a hurry. It started with the inner bezel. Almost immediately, I noticed that its markers didn’t line up with their counterparts on the watch’s face.
The difference is subtle — just a portion of a millimeter. But after consulting the internet, I found that I’m not the only one with this complaint.
My eyes then went to the numerals and indices. According to its website, Bremont applies “as many as 20 coats of Super-Luminova paint to ensure optimal visibility in the poorest of lighting conditions.”
What perplexes me here is the phrase, “as many as.” The entire concept of luxury watches hinges on precision in both timekeeping and craftsmanship. And if there’s not a set number of coats to the lume, I’d say Bremont missed a few on my test model.
The hour and minute hands pop, sure. But the lume on the indices was so poor that, until I charged it with a bright flashlight, I didn’t think they were painted at all.
And the glow you see here faded about a half-hour after the sun went down.
So, that’s a fault in craftsmanship. But what about timekeeping?
Bremont lists the MB Savanna as a certified chronometer, meaning that it meets or exceeds ISO 3159 standards: -4 to +6 seconds per day.
No such luck with my tester. Over multiple days on the wrist, it ran closer to ±15 seconds per day. That’s on par with my $60 Vostok Amphibia, and less accurate than either of the sub-$200 Orient mechanicals in my collection.
Bremont MB Savanna: Conclusion
In the end, the Savanna did wind up accompanying me to the mountains. But see the photo above? That’s as close as it got to the UTVs. While I was out tearing up the trails, it stayed tucked away in my suitcase. The rest of its time was spent in shuttles, rental cars, and milling around airports.
And that’s a genuine shame. Maybe if I’d had the chance to put the anti-shock system through its paces, I would have found something, anything to justify the watch’s price point.
But as it stands, I simply can’t recommend the Bremont MB Savanna. It’s attractive, yes, and its component materials speak for themselves. But I can’t justify paying nearly $6,000 for the “idea” of ruggedness and luxury.
You wouldn’t drop that much on the “idea” of a used car, would you?
Still, on some level, I feel bad. I was offered the chance to test out a premium watch, and the experience turned out to be less than I’d hoped for. In some ways, it’s strengthened my conviction that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a rugged, do-anything timepiece.