Brand Exclusive: The NEW Limited Edition Bremont Endurance – Tested Beyond Endurance On Trans-Antarctic Solo Expedition
Bremont watches are designed to be fit-for-purpose in the most severe places on earth, they are designed to be Tested Beyond Endurance. To have the opportunity to work with record-breaking polar explorer Ben Saunders on the testing and development of a new Limited Edition watch for his latest Trans-Antarctic Solo Expedition was a natural progression further to the success of the purpose-built Terra Nova back in 2014. Whilst the Terra Nova was designed to accompany Ben on what was set to be the longest human-powered polar journey in history, an incredible 1,800 mile trip, the new Bremont Endurance set out with Ben in November 2017 to make the first solo and unsupported crossing of Antarctica. This west-to-east traverse from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf via the South Pole and the Shackleton Glacier was planned by Ben’s close friend Lt Col Henry Worsley, who nearly completed the expedition before falling ill and passing away in hospital in Chile in January 2016.
Named in honour of Shackleton’s most famous expedition – one which saw him rescue his entire crew after his ship ‘Endurance’ was crushed in the sea ice – the route of which Ben was retracing solo, the name is of course also a nod to the company maxim of being ‘Tested Beyond Endurance’. Shackleton getting his men back alive is one of the greatest stories of human endeavour and leadership, qualities Ben has certainly demonstrated over his twelve expeditions in the polar regions, having covered more than 7,000km north of the Arctic circle and South of the Antarctic circle since 2001. Naturally, the timepiece had to be able to withstand the extreme climate conditions of the Antarctic continent, being worn on the outside of Ben’s jacket to serve as a crucial navigational device with its GMT hand. The black dial together with its robust bi-directional rotating sapphire bezel features orange compass heading markers, complementing the North indicator on the GMT hand, all designed for ease of navigation and clarity against the stark white of Antarctica.
Having already tried and tested the Terra Nova walking 1,800 miles across Antarctica, to the South Pole and back, Saunders was keen to be involved in as much of the design process as possible, insisting on titanium again for its obvious lightweight advantages. Knowing the level of micro engineering that goes into these mechanical machines and how beautifully finished the Bremont movements are, Ben also felt strongly that the Endurance should have an exhibition case back. To that end Bremont designed a new back, one which was robust enough to enable the watch to still reach depths of 500m and still be able to function in the rigorous climate conditions of the Antarctic plateau. The development for the thicker case back came from a military project, drawing on the experience gained from the brand’s links and work in this area. Only being made in a limited run of 300 pieces, the Endurance features new contemporary styling on the applied indexes and comes on an orange nato strap.
Bremont Co-Founder, Giles English; “As a business we are incredibly proud of Ben, he has an unrivalled list of polar achievements and we’re privileged to have him testing new watches for us out in the field. This is what we built the business on and is very much at the core of what we’re about as a brand. We actually had 3 adventurers all on Antarctica independently at the end of 2017 and to have had them all sporting Bremont is an honour; we’re thrilled to be the polar explorers watch of choice.”
Ben Saunders; “I am delighted to continue to be a Bremont brand ambassador. Bremont designed the bespoke Terra Nova watch for my 2013/2014 Scott Expedition, and I wore a prototype of the new Limited Edition Endurance during my Trans-Antarctic Solo Expedition. A reliable timepiece is a vital piece of equipment on a polar expedition, and this new watch performed faultlessly on some of the toughest conditions I’ve ever encountered.”
THE TRANS-ANTARCTIC SOLO EXPEDITION
28 December 2017, Antarctica – 52 days and 1,086km into his Trans-Antartic Solo Expedition, Ben Saunders reached the South Pole. He is the third person in history to have skied full-length expeditions to both poles solo, and the first person in the world to have skied solo, unsupported and unassisted to both poles solo.
Throughout the expedition, Saunders faced unrelenting sastrugi – hard packed wind-blown formations of snow and ice, which are usually ankle to knee height but on this expedition have reached shoulder level and higher – and endured almost continuous white out conditions, meaning navigation was a constant challenge. Saunders commented, ‘the physical exertion has felt more like a North Pole expedition, the conditions have left me depleted physically and mentally. I am 52 days into the expedition, and my Scott expedition in 2013 / 2014 saw us sled hauling for 105 days on the ice. I have never seen conditions like this in Antarctica’.
Having expected to reach the South Pole with 20 days of food remaining to see him through the final 576km of the journey, which he expected to take a minimum of 17 days, Saunders was left with only 13 days of food due to the ferocious conditions he faced, which drastically hampered progress. Taking on more food at the Pole would have rendered his unsupported record attempt a failure and continuing with depleted rations would have meant banking on near perfect conditions and unhampered skiing. There are also sections of the final glacier where air rescue was impossible due to the nature of the terrain.
‘I made a promise to Henry to get home in one piece. As much as I am determined to finish this trip for him, I need to make my decision based on safety and not let my own determination cloud my judgement. There is a very fine line between success and failure in extreme environments’.
‘I don’t think Henry would be telling me to go for it given my concerns about the diminished safety margin. It feels like the most respectful thing I can do after Henry’s fate is to be prudent and safe. I’ve been in this position before on my Scott expedition, gambling on leaving the Pole with less food than I’d planned. It resulted in us getting into serious trouble – Tarka and I were forced to halve our rations for a few days to try to make our first depot, the weather turned bad, we both became exhausted and hypothermic, I therefore have very little inclination to gamble on setting off
from the Pole again without sufficient food’.
Having reached the South Pole at 1600 on 28 December, and with 13 days of food left, Saunders decided to halt his expedition. In reaching the South Pole Saunders became the third person in history to have completed full length solo ski expeditions to both the North and the South Poles. He is the only Briton to have ever done so.
Ben is proud to be supporting The Endeavour Fund, part of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, which supports wounded, injured and sick veterans through providing opportunities in sport and adventurous challenge. Ben is dedicated to continuing the efforts of Henry Worsley, who was raising funds for the Endeavour Fund when he died in Antarctica. Henry’s legacy raised over £500,000 for the charity, and Ben is determined to continue this fundraising in memory of him.